MSB Select Electrostatic Headphone Amp...
Apr 12, 2021 at 5:28 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 37

Katzky

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Recently I set on the path of creating a “world class” headphone system for my bedroom. My initial budget was $100k but... it appears there is no real upper limit a person could spend. After studying the msb dac design and this amp it appears $180k is the price of admission for the ultimate headphone experience.

Anybody here have experience with this amp?
 
Apr 12, 2021 at 8:18 AM Post #3 of 37

Ragnar-BY

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I wonder if MSB ever sold this amp 🤣 They are a DAC company, I would look for amplifiers elsewhere.


If you want to spend that much on electrostatic headphone rig, you should look at HiFiMan Shangri-La or Sennheiser Orpheus. In these systems headphone amps are built and tuned to specific headphone pair.
 
Apr 12, 2021 at 10:16 AM Post #4 of 37

Katzky

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I wonder if MSB ever sold this amp 🤣 They are a DAC company, I would look for amplifiers elsewhere.


If you want to spend that much on electrostatic headphone rig, you should look at HiFiMan Shangri-La or Sennheiser Orpheus. In these systems headphone amps are built and tuned to specific headphone pair.
I think there is significant synergy in this combo. I’m looking at the reference dac so this isn’t really in the picture for me. I’m also a bit scared to ask the price on the dynamic headphone amp. This is a crazy game.
 
Apr 13, 2021 at 1:44 AM Post #6 of 37

Benny-x

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If you are looking for an electrostatic amplifier, I would look at the last Ray Samuels Audio A-10 Thunderbolt II he just completed.
Wowsers! I can't believe RSA is still in the game. I haven't heard much of their gear since 5-10 years ago.

Do you know anything else that's been going on with him these past couple years? More on the dynamic/standard amp front?

Thanks for the heads up.

Edit: I continued a little googling and found out that Ray really had slowed down these past years, but continued tweaking and updating some of his top amps, like the the one you recommended. But, he's all done making them now or there might be 1-2 left new.

Your mini review + SR-009 made it sound like a pretty amazing amp and pairing. With bassier Stax like the 007, it might finally make Stax something to think about for me. Until now, similar to what you said in your review, I haven't enjoyed any of my times with Stax because the bass never felt right.

:beerchug:
 
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Apr 14, 2021 at 6:56 AM Post #11 of 37

Benny-x

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I don't know, man.

If it were me, and money wasn't the issue, and based off your initial post about $100,000 or $180,000 it certainly doesn't sound like it, then I'd bring in the top 3-5 amps all at the same time and just find out the actual answer. Take the guess work and forums posts out of it.

Pretty much nobody has the money for that, so we all speculate and say "what's better" based on guesses. The number of people who've actually heard the MSB Electrostatic amp are only a handful, and I don't mean tried it in passing at a Show or a meet. Then let alone had one at home for some real quality time, and finally who've compared one at home to something else at the top is likely so few that you wouldn't hear from them even here. If I were playing up in that league, I'd just throw out a feeler thread like this, try to get some consensus on the top 5, then buy all of them. The ones that you don't like, you'll be able to move them for little loss even if you buy new.

This is just my take on the situation, but I don't know why you'd do it any other way if you've got the cash and the time investment isn't even that much.

Top 5 I know of:
1. MSB Electrostatic amp (~$40,000)
2. DIY T2 (might be able to buy someone's for ~$15,000, otherwise it's around $10,000 + find a builder + wait a long time, thus I'd throw some money at it)
3. RSA Thunderbolt II (~$7,000 last I heard)
4. BHSE (~$6,000)
5. Not sure what else is up in this league.

The benefit of going electrostatic is that there aren't that many amps. Most people say the DIY T2 (now i think it's like rev.2) is the end of the line, then Audio Addict said the updated Thunderbolt II was it. Then there's the MSB Electrostatic at the top of the money pile. That's only like 3 amps. The BHSE, just based on my reading, is never in that league, it's kind of the "everyman's" best answer, while the other ones either cost a ton more or are hard to track down if you just want to pay a reasonable price.

Anyway, I'm no authority on this, but when you start out talking megabucks, then I'd just solve the problem, not cut any corners, and enjoy my system until the end of my days. Good luck.
 
Apr 14, 2021 at 12:20 PM Post #12 of 37

paradoxper

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I don't know, man.

If it were me, and money wasn't the issue, and based off your initial post about $100,000 or $180,000 it certainly doesn't sound like it, then I'd bring in the top 3-5 amps all at the same time and just find out the actual answer. Take the guess work and forums posts out of it.

Pretty much nobody has the money for that, so we all speculate and say "what's better" based on guesses. The number of people who've actually heard the MSB Electrostatic amp are only a handful, and I don't mean tried it in passing at a Show or a meet. Then let alone had one at home for some real quality time, and finally who've compared one at home to something else at the top is likely so few that you wouldn't hear from them even here. If I were playing up in that league, I'd just throw out a feeler thread like this, try to get some consensus on the top 5, then buy all of them. The ones that you don't like, you'll be able to move them for little loss even if you buy new.

This is just my take on the situation, but I don't know why you'd do it any other way if you've got the cash and the time investment isn't even that much.

Top 5 I know of:
1. MSB Electrostatic amp (~$40,000)
2. DIY T2 (might be able to buy someone's for ~$15,000, otherwise it's around $10,000 + find a builder + wait a long time, thus I'd throw some money at it)
3. RSA Thunderbolt II (~$7,000 last I heard)
4. BHSE (~$6,000)
5. Not sure what else is up in this league.

The benefit of going electrostatic is that there aren't that many amps. Most people say the DIY T2 (now i think it's like rev.2) is the end of the line, then Audio Addict said the updated Thunderbolt II was it. Then there's the MSB Electrostatic at the top of the money pile. That's only like 3 amps. The BHSE, just based on my reading, is never in that league, it's kind of the "everyman's" best answer, while the other ones either cost a ton more or are hard to track down if you just want to pay a reasonable price.

Anyway, I'm no authority on this, but when you start out talking megabucks, then I'd just solve the problem, not cut any corners, and enjoy my system until the end of my days. Good luck.
Technically the Circlotron is end of the line, however, that design is quite simply monstrous and downright intimidating for 98.9% of the community. Ha.

DIY T2 is the answer but if you are a STAX zealot, everyone does their meandering to the truth. :wink:
 
Apr 14, 2021 at 12:25 PM Post #13 of 37

Benny-x

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Technically the Circlotron is end of the line, however, that design is quite simply monstrous and downright intimidating for 98.9% of the community. Ha.

DIY T2 is the answer but if you are a STAX zealot, everyone does their meandering to the truth. :wink:
Not being a d**k, but how long did you spend with the DIY T2 vs. MSB Electorstiatic amp at home before you came to that conclusion? I have read in other threads that you used to own a DIY T2+SR-009 before the CFA3+TC, but I'm not sure what other gear you bought while you were still doing the Stax stuff.

I've never spent time with either, but if the OP has the money, it seems worthwhile to get hands-on with both the big dogs; excluding this Ciclotron answer, I'll have to try to read up on that.
 
Apr 14, 2021 at 12:34 PM Post #14 of 37

paradoxper

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Not being a d**k, but how long did you spend with the DIY T2 vs. MSB Electorstiatic amp at home before you came to that conclusion? I have read in other threads that you used to own a DIY T2+SR-009 before the CFA3+TC, but I'm not sure what other gear you bought while you were still doing the Stax stuff.

I've never spent time with either, but if the OP has the money, it seems worthwhile to get hands-on with both the big dogs; excluding this Ciclotron answer, I'll have to try to read up on that.
Dick away. I probably spent 3 months with the T2 and MSB before deciding to move to speakers full-time. I also got to spend half a day listening to a Circlotron build which took the awe factor up a notch.

And I didn't exactly crap on the MSB, it's a nice integrated solution, however, I will note it's impossible to divorce from the Select which makes evaluation a bit convoluted.
 
Apr 14, 2021 at 12:57 PM Post #15 of 37

Benny-x

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Dick away. I probably spent 3 months with the T2 and MSB before deciding to move to speakers full-time. I also got to spend half a day listening to a Circlotron build which took the awe factor up a notch.

And I didn't exactly crap on the MSB, it's a nice integrated solution, however, I will note it's impossible to divorce from the Select which makes evaluation a bit convoluted.
Is that really f**king true? That their Electrostatic amp -needs- the Select DAC II? I didn't really buy that when I read it when it was released, so I never looked into it. Why would that even be, do they have a proprietary link? The Select DAC II does have normal XLR outs... crazy. Anyway, what you're saying is that the MSB amp doesn't cut it, it's a total cash grab for MSB-ecosystem clients, and just go to the DIY T2. MSB amp straight to the dumpster.

I just read up on the KG Circlotron, what limited info there is. Did anyone even build a fully functioning, like "owned" one not on KG's bench? It fits in a 5U chassis and weighs what a speaker amp does, but that sounds rather tame to shoot down audiophile ambitions... I think I read that the build costs weren't terribly more than a DIY T2? I can sort of understand why they're not flying off the shelves like the Carbons, but I was a bit surprised I could barely find any pictures of finished ones.

Anyway, there you have it from the horse's mouth. Someone with real feedback across the top electrostatic amps and posting right here on head-fi. I hope the OP is still following this since he says he bought a BHSE.
 

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