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post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
How good is the original MSB Link DAC? Not the II or III, just the "Link".

About what year(s) was it made?

Will MSB's optional power supply work with the original Link?

Any idea on what it is worth??
post #2 of 9
Originally Posted by fredpb
How good is the original MSB Link DAC? Not the II or III, just the "Link".

About what year(s) was it made?
From what I've read, the MSB Link sort of took over the "Budget DAC of choice" niche after Audio Alchemy went out of business. It won Stereophile's "Budget Component of the Year" award in 1999.

I haven't heard one, but here's some good reviews:

Originally Posted by fredpb
Any idea on what it is worth??
One sold not too long ago on Audiogon for $125. It sold really fast, which tells me that it probably should have been priced closer to $200.

Its a popular mod item, presumably because it had a good design but less-than-premium parts (to keep costs down). Great if you want to buy it and mod it yourself (or just use it as is), but if you're thinking of sending it off somewhere for mods, you'll quickly run the price up to where you could get a new Channel Islands VDA-1. In the words of Dan Wright, who performs mods to the MSB units:

We have found the new Channel Islands VDA-1 DAC to be a steal, at $350 for the stock unit. Combine the VDA-1 with the upgraded VAC-1 power supply and you have an upgraded DAC combo, for $500 that is better than anything up to twice its cost. We feel that the VDA-1 easily betters the MSB Link DAC III and other comparable products.
post #3 of 9
Most people say that all the Links sound the same, but the III is more easily upgradeable via socketed modules. I like the sound of it. A big improvement for most mass marketed cd players. Lots of reviews out there. Getting it upgraded by modwright or DIY (http://www.themorgue.org/audio/msb-link/) makes a big difference.

The P1000 and also the monolithic PS will work with the Link I.

Link I's usually go for $100-150. Not sure how old Link I's are (maybe 5-6 yrs).
post #4 of 9
For equipment that I've owned

1. EMU 1212M (Best)
2. MSB DAC Link III (stock)
3. Sony MD MDS-JB940
4. Philips 963SA (stock)

I'm not sure about the difference between 3/4 since I've sold 4 already. I've had the DAC Link III for about 3 years, so I think it should be out at least in 2000.

The 121M sounds more airy, so I'm thinking about selling my Link (would the PS upgrade justify the $300?).

I keep suspecting my ears since I never think the Philips is good (big difference going from analog out vs the MSB output), maybe my Philips is bad?
post #5 of 9
The monolithic PS can be found for $200 or less used. Most say get the upgraded PS before paying to have the Link modded. I got my PS at the same time my Link was modded, so I'm not sure which made the most difference. However, the combination of the PS and the modwright mod's does make a huge difference (elevated the combo over the stock Perpetual Tech P-3A in my system). If you're comfortable soldering, replacing the op-amps (about $10 for parts) isn't difficult if you're careful and don't lift any traces. It's the most cost effective mod. A Monarchy DIP also is an improvement.

Althought I've never heard a 963A, I'm not surprised that the Link sounds better than your 963A on redbook.
post #6 of 9
I owned a Link II (which I understand was essentially the same box, but with some upgrade options - less than the III). It's a pretty nice unit, and I think it's a bargain at the used asking prices that I'm seeing out there.

I'm all but 100% certain that the upgrade power supply will work for all the MSB line - I think the same jack and pin configuration is used in all models. Having said that, it's a costly upgrade. I found a used Audio Alchemy PSII for a lot less, and it powered the Link II (and the Gold Link III that I replaced it with) very nicely. Monolithic makes an excellent PS as well.
post #7 of 9
Anyone has the chance to compare the PSU-upgraded MSB with other DACs (e.g. MF A3.2 24, or Benchmark)?

I felt uncomfortable paying the same amount for PS as the MSB, that's why I bought EMU 1212M, thinking it would cost much more to get better sound.
post #8 of 9
I've not heard any of those DACs, but I suspect that the upper range MSB's (Gold and Nelson series) would give most DAC's at least a run for their money. Particularly when one considers the upgrade path (up to 24/192 upsampling, for example), the MSB's are a great value.

I used my Link II for a long time with the stock PS, and was very pleased. However, it was clear that when I switched out the PS to the AA PSII, it made a HUGE difference in soundstage and bass response. The difference is even more pronounced when one moves up to the Gold Link series.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that the power supply isn't a very important part of the total package. Clean, high quality power - with the ability to handle transitions effectively - is one thing that separates good gear from very good gear.

Again, I'd suggest looking for used alternatives for PS. Old Audio Alchemy PS's do very nicely, and one can even find used MSB P1000's occasionally (although they get snapped up quickly).
post #9 of 9


I have one original Link DAC from 1998 decoding a Micromega Stage 6 transport, and still sounds amazing. Great machine.

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