MS HD Power featured in Hifi Pig a couple months ago with their new take on the UK wall plug and here we have their MS-E01 filtration distribution block. The MS-E01 has six upwards pointing rhodium plated sockets arranged around its elongated triangular shaped all aluminium body. The end plate has a standard iec input rather than the 16amp horizontal pinned design of others similar in style.
Next to the iec connector is a push button circuit breaker rated at 20amps which is a far more transparent feature than fusing the unit.
The block is beautifully designed and constructed and its crowning glory is the highly polished gold branding plate, etched with the company’s logo.
The unit comes in at slightly over 5kg and feels very substantial. On the underside there are 3 rounded brass spiked cones which are removable if chosen allowing the unit to be seated on its rubber feet. This is a useful feature and interchangeable dependent on either the surface you’re standing the unit on or personal preference.
Also supplied for review was the MS high current MS-30PUK, a thick, well constructed, silver plated copper, shielded mains cable with a rhodium plug.
Placing the E01 block on my wooden rack with its brass cones in place I connected it in using the Oriton AC-5 mains cable which usually feeds my Isol-8 Axis Powerline DC Blocking distribution unit. I have used many different units from the likes of PS Audio, Isotek, Dezorel, Vertex AQ, Power Inspired, Russ Andrews/Kimber, Black Rhodium and Ayre amongst others and my greatest success has been with the Isol-8 which I do tend to recommend frequently coming in at around the £500 mark. It’s terrific value for money and has been a better performer for me against far more expensive units of varying technologies ie regenerators, filters and conditioners.
For initial set up I left the Emille Ki40-L integrated plugged directly into the wall as usual and used Oriton AC-3 cables from the MS Filter to power the modded squeezebox and the Totaldac d1 tube.
The first piece of music I played was ‘All Of Me’ by John Legend and immediately I stood back and thought ‘wow, this is more holographic’. Legend’s vocal was rendered with a quality which I could only describe as organic, the end phrasing of each word had a breath of such natural throatiness that I have not heard using my Isol-8 Axis. Piano notes hung in the air for perceivable longer period of time and sounded more accurate and true to the instrument.
The initial feeling was that adding the conditioner wasn’t like opening a window to the music it was more like opening up a window to the artist.
I played the duet ‘Say Something’ from Christina Aguillera and A Great Big World deciding to stay with recent popular music I’d been listening to during the course of the day. I found myself completely engrossed in the music – more so than I have done with my current system previously. The vocals were so expressive and meaningful, piano, violin and bass were totally magical and the airy nature to the soundstage conveyed that the music was set in an intimate scene. There was a definite finesse to the softer side of Christina’s voice which is a rarity on many albums from her.
The E01 seemed to make sense of the music adding a greater sense of appreciation for my system, conveying notes and harmonics which I have simply not heard produced in such a manner before in this listening space and making more efficient use of the room.
Playing a range of Dance and Electronica pushed the rooms boundaries so far that the room didn’t seem to exist anymore, all that was left was a front to back, left to right encapsulation of absolutely holographic, detailed rhythmic beats and rhythms, a glorious mass of intricate detail, dynamic rushes sweeping the void my system had carved into the atmosphere with such complexity I can only describe it by referring it to visiting the French Science Museum and experiencing 4D technology.
Dynamics, details and harmonics were just dashing around in all directions and what was so special was that this never became exhausting in the slightest.
I had a friend come over as I had to involve someone else in the excitement that I felt towards the improvement the unit has given the system. After he had stopped looking around for hidden surround speakers he just sat there and said “it sounds ridiculously incredible. What have you done to the setup?” When I showed him the MS E01 he just stood there with a blank look on his face and I said ‘honestly, that’s all I’ve changed’. He still continued examine the rest of the components on the rack and cables, looked at me and just sat back down staring into the centre of the soundstage whilst I went and made a drink with a grin.
The beautiful saxophone solo by Candy Dulfer on ‘Nikki’s Dream’ Live in Amsterdam again conveyed excellent emotion, a trueness to the soundstage and concert hall acoustics with reverbs manifesting as I felt they should have being seated a few rows back of centre stage. Similarly the electric guitar solo was smooth and echoed through the room decaying tremendously as each note cut through the last and the odd tighter pluck held a very different space slightly bouncing towards the left rear of the room.
When both musicians joined forces and began playing together I could feel the rush of excitement in the crowd as if I was sat there.
A common trait of many filtering conditioning appliances is a brightness, a leanness, a lack of dynamics or a sucked out midrange whereas the MS E01 only adds spatial awareness, more natural tonality, timbre and an overall lifelike appeal coupled with an absolutely silent background which allows decays, smaller harmonics and that magical breath of a vocalist which people spend thousands in other areas of the system to obtain.
‘Swinging on the Tree of Life’ Eric Komar and ‘Mi Shebeirach’ Debbie Friedman (two tracks produced by Craig Taubman) expresses the timbres and tonality of instruments against the dark background allowing strings, piano and woodwind to really tell the story of the song so elegantly without being pretentious.
The E01 from MS HD Power almost seems like it has the intelligence to adapt itself to the musical genre and give sonic benefits which make it more interesting and enjoyable. Vocals have breath and tone, instruments are true to the engineered construction, intimate passages have refinement and hard beats have drive and rhythm.
Listening to Chris Jones’ ‘Angel From Montgomery’ clearly showed the enhanced soundstage attributes I have talked about, with air and space between instruments (and around the vocal) being greatly improved and the soundstage appearing more realistic and taller in comparison to the Isol-8.
Supplied with the distribution filter was a MS-40PUK mains cable as recommended by MS HD Power for its high current capabilities. The cable is an added cost of £450 and is constructed from 6N Silver plated Copper in an all shielded design. It’s extremely thick and solidly made with MS Rhodium UK plug and IEC.
Switching out the higher current Oriton cable, which also use MS plugs, I began to troll through the music previously mentioned and a range of other tracks I had been previously listening too.
The overall sense of the music was still there, although in comparison to the Oriton cables (£795) the MS 40 had a slightly warmer and bloomier midrange whereas the Oriton is more focused and more refined and natural to the vocal presentation and has a more holographic sensation to the soundstage.
Drive of lower notes was similar yet slightly more rounded in bass presentation, although layering and control was marvelously informative.
Higher end notes were still airy and the soundstage involvement was still terrific, the cable is just slightly smoother throughout.
Comparing to the $700 DH Labs Red Wave mains cable showed the MS to give a wonderfully central focus just a handful of rows from the performers. In comparison the DH Labs was very much more upfront and its overall presentation was heavily detail driven. The DH Labs is an impressive cable, but I felt the richer smoother tones of the MS 40 made for a more musical and intimate listening experience with a delicate approach to recreating smaller details with generosity and finesse.
The MS 40P is quite similar in presentation to the Harmonic Technology Fantasy AC10 with proportions of front soundstage performance depth and detail leading to an unforced and easy to appreciate cable with no nasties.
I am still a firm believer of running the amplifier direct from the wall and although I have terrific results using isolated or balanced power supplies I still continue to use this method.
The MS-E01 filtered distribution unit is a product which is extremely well constructed from high-end parts with great attention to detail.
With a simple swap out of the Isol-8 the performance of my system reached new heights, particularly in the rendition of detail in a superbly organic and natural way, a real sense of feeling from an artist and a presence to instruments which gave them a true “in the room” feeling that allowed for even the body construction of wood based instruments to be conveyed.
Using my everyday Oriton mains cables for me was a bigger improvement in performance all around than the supplied MS-40PUK cable but then they are twice the price. However, the MS cable in its own right is still a fantastically musical cable. It is non-offensive, non-fatiguing and actually performed better than some other higher priced cables. It conveyed a smooth sound with no forwardness, had good soundstaging abilities and great detail retrieval all presented in a musical manor.
Build Quality – 8.5/10
Sound Quality – 8.5/10
Value for money – 8.5/10
Overall – 8.5/10
Highly recommended for its build quality and holographic natural sound.
Price when tested £1699
Recommended for it’s musically detailed and smooth presentation
Price when tested MS-40PUK – £450
Author – Danny Worth