MSB Technology Signature Data CD IV

Multi-format disc players
MSB Technology DATA CD IV

I started out using this transport with a matching Signature DAC IV and was quite astonished at the amount of resolution the pair delivered. Frankly it’s in another league to the majority of alternatives encountered. The nearest competition I could muster in terms of digital transport was Naim’s UnitiServe via its BNC S/PDIF output; this connection is theoretically not the DAC’s strongest input because of the MSB Pro I2S option, but it delivers a none to shabby result as well. The clocked link gave an advantage in detail terms, but when it came to musicality the division was less clear-cut. When it came to emotional communication, I got the best result by combining the Signature Data CD IV with a Resolution Audio Cantata DAC. This was a killer combination; the sheer data extraction capability of the transport is phenomenal and when combined with a converter of the Cantata’s calibre via Chord Co Sarum TA coax cable, it’s in the premier league. The music comes through with a pace, vivacity and finesse that very few digital systems can match. CD went from being a format to get a good rip from, to a source of musical enchantment. Steely Dan’s ‘Your Gold Teeth II’ (from Katy Lied) has never sounded this good... not even on vinyl to be frank.

The timing is absolutely spot on, locking the groove down and leaving oodles of space and time for the band to strut its stuff. What became apparent after I’d acclimatised to the thrills being produced is that the faster and denser the material the more it shone with this combination of components, a combination normally headed up by a very capable file server. It’s true to say that the UnitiServe sounds better via UPnP, but that’s because that transfer protocol seems to have inherent advantages. The Signature takes CDs and turns them into the source of ‘perfect sound forever’ that they were always meant to be, and it does so by using technology that’s in every PC on the planet. In a highly refined form of course and a serious bit of casework, it is nonetheless ironic that the answer was under our noses all the time!

This is only fully apparent because other elements have evolved to the extent that they have. The Cantata is a remarkable DAC (and now UPnP player) and Chord Co’s Tuned ARAY cables are in another league when it comes to delivering a musically addictive result as my findings prove.  

I had a brief opportunity to compare the Signature Data CD IV with its rather more affordable Platinum brother. If you are not using the Pro I2S link they appear very similar on paper, but the paper may not be telling the whole story. The Signature is clearly superior when both are connected with coax. With the Jazz Club of San Francisco HRx disc, there is more depth of image, solidity of treble and greater detail which when combined produces clearly enhanced musical coherence. This sounds like a jazz band of skill rather than an audiophile demo disc, which in my book is worth the asking price any day.

This is a CD transport, but not as we know them! It elevates the humble CD to the plane of the best network streaming and computer audio sources. I hope that other companies go down this route, but this seems unlikely given the prevailing trends in digital audio. Regardless, it would be great if the less well heeled could hear the full potential of a format that we will undoubtedly miss when it’s gone.

Technical Specifications

Outputs: S/PDIF Optical, S/PDIF Coaxial, S/PDIF Balanced AES/EBU, MSB PRO I2S Interface
Media type: CD, CDR, HRx and DVD ROM
Maximum Sample Rate: 44.1 to 384 kHz CD or DVD ROM
Maximum Bit Depth: 32 bit on MSB Network output
Vibration Control: IsoRack Feet allow stacking with complete mechanical isolation, Metal Drive and drawer.
Price: Signature Data CD IV – £6,800. Signature Power Base – £4,100

MSB Technology

Hi-Fi Traders
Tel: 07842 126218

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