The HAL MS-6 - A brief review (and why you should buy one)

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Tyson

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  • Audio - It's all a big fake.
Our tale begins the same way that is so often does... with a text.  From my buddy Jason, saying "Man, you need to hear this".  To which I usually emit a sigh because I already know that this means I will soon be parting with some of my hard earned money.  Jason is waxing wildly enthusiastic about the MS-6 music server he got from HAL.  I'm pretty grumpy at the whole idea.  Here's my thoughts about trying out a new server (in order):

  • I already have a dedicated music server in my basement system, and it works just fine, thank you very much
  • My streamer that I use upstairs, the Auralic Aries Femto, sounds great as it is
  • I don't want to mess around with another server, the last one was a PITA to set up and I just don't want to go through that hassle again

Jason is undeterred and insists I have to hear it.  Fine.  A week later he's at my house with this tiny little box.  Even smaller than my Aries.  Its like a smurf sized computer.  Just plug in your keyboard, mouse and monitor and you're able to set it up like you would any other Windows server/PC.  So far so good.  We get it set up, I sit down in my listening spot, Jason presses play and.... shit.

This is going to cost me $$ again.  Because it's not a little better than my old streamer.  It's a lot better.  There was all kinds of grunge and noise that were injected into the signal by my older streamer that was just .... gone with the new server.  What really stood out to me was the mid and upper bass.  There was a renewed clarity and vigor to this area that had just been washed over previously.  You could hear the difference between different drum kits more clearly.  Or between bass guitars.  Or between cellos and double basses.

OK, so it wins on sound quality.  Were there any other areas where it brought something good to the table?  In my case, YES.  Because it was so small, I could hide it behind my table instead of having to place it on the table.  And for me, the less things are seen, the better. 

In addition, for my downstairs system, I ordered a 2nd HAL MS6 to replace my main server.  Again because it sounded WAY better than my old large format server did.  Another bonus is from the small size.  I was able to place the MS6 directly behind my DAC which allowed me to use a 1m USB cable.  With my old server, it was in the closet off to the side and I was having to use an 8 foot USB cable!  Ouch.  Glad I was able to get rid of that thing. 

So, my advice, do yourself a favor and pick up one of these pocket sized servers.  They sound great, take up almost zero space, and they have some the best after-the-sale support and customer service of any tech device I've ever used.  Highly recommended.    :thumb: