MSB Firmware Upgrades
The MSB Firmware Upgrade System
Distribution method of both temporary free upgrades and paid permanent upgrades.
MSB has developed a flexible method for MSB dealers and OEM customers to offer firmware based features to their customers without having to handle the equipment again. Firmware upgrades come in two forms. Temporary files can be loaded, but at some predetermined condition are lost and the product reverts back to the original condition. We offer temporary digital filters on our website that a customer can load and evaluate, but will be lost when the unit is powered off. The activation time can be made more restrictive, with limited play time or some other restriction in function. These filters can be installed on any product with that function.
Permanent firmware upgrades are different. They remain once installed and can only be installed on the product with the serial number requested. So they are custom made for each order, and are generally supplied with a permanent removal file as well, which also only works on the specific unit. For example when a customer orders upsampling for an iLink, they must supply the serial number of the iLink. Each MSB product or OEM product knows its own serial number inside. We take the customers number and make a unique upgrade file for them. It will always work on there product and on no other.
A variation of the permanent firmware upgrade can be used by the OEM customer or MSB to assign the original serial number to the product when manufactured. When the serial number is entered a checkbox allows this file to write that serial number to the unit upgraded permanently. This master file capability is kept secure as once distributed, could be used to create multiple units with the same number and able to accept the same upgrade.
Firmware files are audio .wav files that must be played by the product in order to be installed. They are sometimes captured in a several minute long verbal instruction file, so that when the customer plays the file, they hear instructions and get a confirmation that the upgrade has worked. In other cases, it is adventitious to make the files extremely short and very quiet. Firmware files alone play at a level of -60db for just a few seconds. They can be appended to the beginning or end of a music file to modify the playback of that particular song without changing playback for some other song. For example, the phase could be inverted for a particular song. Any time that song is played, the phase would be inverted.
Firmware files can be distributed many ways. They are .wav files so can be emailed, downloaded or burned on a CD. The customer can play them directly from a computer using the digital output or USB output or with a network player. They can be loaded on an iPod an played using our iLink. Finally, they can be put on a CD and played on any transport.
In all cases, the files must be played bit perfect. Problems customers encounter include digital volume controls, upsampling, soft mute and various equalization methods all of which result in an output that is NOT bit perfect. In most cases there are options somewhere that can be turned off.
Creation and Management
MSB has created a password protected web site which allows our Dealers and OEM customers to create firmware upgrades directly. You log into the site, select the kind of firmware upgrade and enter the product serial number. Next you select if you would like an audio message to accompany the file. The web site creates the file and presents it to you as a download, with the serial number incorporated into the new file name. This file can now be sold to the customer and will only work on his unit. MSB keeps an archive of these upgrade files. The dealer or OEM customer is charged for each file made. This has a huge advantage for the dealer in that nothing needs to be stocked, but the product is instantly available. For example a dealer may have a USB Power DAC in stock, but the customer requests it with a volume control. The dealer gets on-line, enters the serial number and downloads and plays the file on the USB Power DAC. The product is instantly upgraded, the customer pays and takes the product home. The dealer can then submit payment to MSB for the upgrade. The dealer will log in with a unique user id and will be charged for all upgrades created using their id so will be very motivated to keep it secure.
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