MS-6 server extraordinaire

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MS-6 server extraordinaire
« on: 12 May 2021, 09:36 pm »
Hey AC,

I wanted to drop some notes on my experience with the MS-6.  First a disclaimer. I am a vendor on this site. I have my own forum etc. I want to give my impressions, but also want to lead with the caveat that I most definitely am one of those damned biased human types with opinions, thoughts, and delusions that most definitely need to be accounted for prior to considering my words as the ‘end all be all’ of hifi opining. Now that that super obvious, yet somehow still obligatory statement has been made, here are some of those opinion, thoughts, and delusions.

The lil’ server that could! Flanked by Meze Empyrean and Sony MDR-Z1R headphones

Just to give a bit of background, I’ve been contemplating upgrading my current server/transport the Auralic Aires. The company sells a few versions, so just for clarification mine is the plastic body flying saucer shaped version. An excellent piece of equipment no doubt. Great sonics and a used price that is affordable. I haven’t performed a ton of mods on it, I replaced the wireless card because it was acting up and I changed out the RCA coax for a BNC instead. All that said, the unit is what I would consider ‘stock’ in the sense that none of the changes I made were for sonic reasons. Any way, this is what I’m comparing against.

In the context of what I’m using the MS-6 for, it is most definitely over-spec’d. I reference everything in this discussion with my headphone setup which means I don’t have any use for room correction or any of the mic calibration capabilities of the machine (more on this later, read on!).  What I am most concerned with is pretty straight forward, does it work with Roon? and does it sound amazing? Well, for those of you who think I’ve already droned on long enough here’s the TLDR; the answer to both is an emphatic YES! For those of you who need a bit more nuance to inform your decision on whether or not this machine is worth it’s salt, read on.

The Headphones I use as my reference are the Meze Empyreans, Sony MDR-Z1Rs and Campfire Solaris all of which are among the very best performers I have heard regardless of price-point. Other equipment involved are the iFi iCan Pro with linear power supply and a few other upgrades and the iDSD Pro. Cabling is a mixture of my companies cabling from Quiescence S and C as well as some upcoming designs. The headphones are utilizing my Lady K cables in silver as well as a few cables I threw together that are not products, but just basic DIY things.

The reason I use headphones for my referencing is simple, in designing cabling I want to hear every single nuance and detail. In order to extract the highest quality possible the ability to hear the waveform with as little aberration as possible is paramount. Of course I do use a good ol’ 2 channel system(s) as well in the process but for my personal enjoyment I drastically prefer head-fi.

The MS-6 is feeding my iFi Pro rack

I’ll spare you the long winded explanation and get right to the meat of this review. The MS-6 absolutely crushes it on the most important parameter to any music lover or audiophile. That being sound quality. Clean, powerful and textured. This is one of those situations where, right out of the box, the MS-6 bested my current server by quite a large margin and only got better with break in.  There’s an immediacy to the way it presents.

It took me a while to figure out why there was something familiar about the sound I was hearing from the MS-6 that I found so appealing. Then it hit me. What I think was the most surprising aspect of what I was hearing was that the way the MS-6 presents midrange and high frequency data while utilizing high resolution music that was, to my ears, reminiscent of analog R2R systems. There’s a fluidity that is just so appealing. It reminded me of the first time I heard R2R and thought ‘OHHH! That’s why people love this format!’ Warmth, air, body, and presence. All things that if you tried to peg me down on, I’d likely define each as a certain Je ne sais quoi. Useless to try to describe on paper, but if you’ve heard it yourself you likely know what I’m talking about. That’s what you get with this server. In heaping portions. Lovely lovely stuff.

On sound quality alone, HAL has an absolute winner on their hands with this server. When you stack on all the extra features that the MS-6 is packed with, you have a formula for next level room/system correction capability. needless to say, the MS-6 has found it’s way into my system and will not be leaving any time soon. I’m looking forward to showcasing it at RMAF at the Hapa Audio booth. I also want you all to know I’ll be bringing the MS-6 over to Tyson’s house so we can play around with some of the RoomEQ and calibration software. More to come. :thumb:


Re: MS-6 server extraordinaire
« Reply #1 on: 12 May 2021, 10:20 pm »
Thank you for the write-up and glad you are enjoying the HAL MS-6 Music Server!   :D

I am demoing a Hapa Audio headphone cable with my Audeze LCD-MX4 planar headphones with my MS-6 and multiple DAC's including the iFi DAC's for trials.  Fun stuff with this level of sound quality.

The system is very transparent here with the headphone rig.  Even helped me debug some things I was hearing over a headphone system in test.  That says a lot to me.

Will be looking forward to Tyson and your adventures into MathAudio's RoomEQ with the calibrated measurement mic. 

Anyone who says MS Windows 10 x64 audio cannot sound good, needs to try this system!

« Last Edit: 13 May 2021, 03:19 pm by HAL »