Benefits of adding a 10MHz Master Clock to a digital system


As a long time DCS stack owner (first Paganini, currently Vivaldi V2) I’ve been a convert to the value of dedicated clocking systems. In the context of a DCS setup this means including a dedicated clock unit that provides a combination of 44.1KHz and 48KHz signals to each of the other units in the system (the transport, DAC and up-sampler in the case of a full four box stack).

The DCS clocks are pretty darn expensive boxes and while they (like all DCS gear) benefit greatly from upgrading power cords, 75 ohm interconnects and feet I had never really thought that adding a further reference clock would bring any benefit. However piqued by the following recent review of the Vivaldi One in which the addition of both the Vivaldi clock and a Cybershaft 10MHz reference brought great benefit I wondered if I’d been mistaken and if an external 10MHz reference could add even more to my system.

Some on line research quickly made it clear that the Cybershaft OCXO clock used in the review is unobtanium so the question is who else makes a good clock? Online commentators seemed to think quite highly of the Ref10 from Mutec so that’s what I opted for from an Amazon seller. The Ref10 is a solidly made but very utilitarian box. It provides up to 8 outputs all on BNC, a mix of 6 at 75Ohm and 2 at 50Ohm so will match with whatever you have.

The DCS is 75Ohm so as soon as I had the Ref10 I installed it using a generic 75OHM BNC and the stock power cord. Notwithstanding recommendations to leave it on for 48 hours to stabilize the first impressions were very favorable. With the addition of the reference clock I was hearing further into the recording and also appreciating a surprisingly large increase in rhythmic consistency and bass realism (i.e. bass seemed crisper and less boomy with the elimination of a sense of overhang in the 80-120Hz range that had plagued my system before)

What then amazed me was how much further improvement upgrading the power cord (to Marigo Iridium V2) and BNC (to Marigo Apparition Extreme 75Ohm) brought - even more air and clarity. The final icing was optimizing the support under the Ref 10 with Marigo RHZ feet on a Marigo platform. I've now had the Ref10 in my system for several weeks and frankly it's probably the first time I'm really beginning to believe that digital can give my analog setup a real challenge -- with how I have it now I feel as if I'm hearing two increasingly similar takes on the same absolute -- digital converging on all the best in terms of space and realism I've found in analog, while the latter (with the recent addition of Ron Heydrich's latest power cord on my turntable PSU) getting the speed stability and rhythmic integrity that digital can do so well.

Overall in the context of a megabuck DCS setup it was surprising how much benefit a relatively modestly priced ($3595) professional grade add on brought. That I then added nearly $9K of tweaks to it probably speaks more to my obsessive nature (and budget I guess) but overall consider me a full convert to the benefits of 10MHz master clocking in any attempt to scale the heights of digital reproduction.
33b07c8b a6d8 4786 bcd8 c42e79bdc595folkfreak
I'm into it as well, and also determined to escaping the financial hypertrophy of vetted high-end marques. After all it's a lab instrument.  I have a Stanford Research Systems Perfection 10mHz Rubidium clock powered at 12Vdc by a Hynes SR-7.  This is synchronized to an Esoteric K-01X, two SOtM USB-to-Ethernet endpoints, and an Antelope LiveClock at 44.1 into a modified Tascam DA-3000 for DSD128 recording of vinyl.  The only thing I'm restless about is that I haven't tried boutique 75 ohm BNC cables above the level of Canare.