dCS Puccini Clock

I had yesterday the oportunity to hear for first time the Puccini clock.

I must admit that I was a little sceptical. The system consisted of:

Howland preamp HP-200 SE
Howland amp RADIA SE
Avalon Indra
Transparent power cleaner / station ?
I can't tell which cables

Well the effect is quite amazing and you can easily recognize it in a blind hearing. If I have to describe it I would say, you become aware of the hall / the space in which the recording has been done. The difference is very noticeable when you switch the clock off, suddenly the music sounds dryer, shorter and the space all around the whole music desapears.

I heard:
Luiz Bonfa plays and sing Bossa Nova (Verve)
Bruckner 4th by Jaap van Zweden (bad SACD & interpretation)
Bruckner 4th by Günter Wand (the last recording)
Ports of Call by Eiji Oue (Ref. Rec. bravo Prof. Johnson you are a great sound engeneer!)

One of these days I will take it home and have a test on my system ... and will make some blind hearing with my wife ;-)

I will report then about the experience.

I own the dcs puccini and thought that it is the best single box CDP that is in existence.Having said that, I thought the performance is not as good as the dcs Stacks, even compare the the older ones.

Could the Clock be the answer to narrow the gap? From your descriptions,it seems to be the case.I will find out soon and will let you know;)
quote : it is the best single box CDP that is in existence

I have not heard the Nagra neither the Spectral 4000, but from the others single box I have heard I agree with you
Clavil you just don't take a break. Maybe there is a chappel in Las Vegas to make your wows :-D
Teddy-bear / ours en peluche

what is your problem?

is it so difficult for you to accept that the dCS Puccini is excellent and that it is even better with the clock?

relax and try next time to bring some more constructive post

I agree about Puccini beeing an outstanding player. Prolly the best single box CDP available right now. I have had it in my system on loan for 2 weeks (without the clock).

A friend of mine, who owns Puccini, also reported excellent resoults with a Puccini Clock, so his expirience mirrors yours.
A very reliable source who has extensive experience with this equipment told me that the Puccini is not quite as good as the separates, even the old separates, and that the Puccini clock makes a dramatic improvement.

I just heard an A/B comparison of the Puccini with and without the clock, and it offers a substantial improvement.
The clock is more than just a clock, however. The biggest selling point in my opinion is that it unlocks music server functionality because it has a highly perfected asynchronous USB interface. This would allow any USB capable computer to serve as a transport. The asynchronous USB allows the computer to basically override whatever clock signal the computer would normally generate and use the Puccinni's vastly superior clock. What you then have is a music server TRANSPORT that is clocked by Puccinni--something a conventional Squeezebox device cannot do.

Not to mention, I believe, that asynchronous USB is supposed to be a better sounding interface than coax to begin with.
Sorry what I meant to say was that asynchronous USB allows Puccinni to override the computer's clock signal. Basically it tells the computer that it is the clock.
any experience with diferent cables beetween the clock and the Puccini?
I don't have experience with it but my dealer said that the cables do not have to be expensive.
Blackstonejd - how does the U-Clock compare to Squeezebox ?
Clavil I expect my clock after the new year and i have gathered the following cables to test with: Stereovox, Nordost silver shadow, Stealth Varidig. I'll let you know when i have news.
Elberoth2- I haven't made an actual comparison with the Squeezebox yet because the U-Clock is not yet available. My dealer had a "CES" demo and they were actually still breaking it in when I heard it. The U-Clock was actually being fed by the Puccini one box player, not a music server. The A/B comparison was with the Puccini with and without clock.

My understanding is that dCS did not have this USB technology readied in time for the launch of the Puccini and Paganini lines. The Scarlatti Upsampler and Puccini U-Clock are two new devices designed with music servers in mind. My dealer left me with the impression that a USB computer and U-Clock would be better than the SPDIF Squeezebox in the same way that a word clock synced transport would be.
I've had the Scarlatti Upsampler in my system for about 10 days now. It is a wonderful piece, more liquid than the Purcell yet as resolving. I still have a CD based system and cannot comment on the USB input performance, but do use the Scarlatti Master Clock sync'd to an Antelope Audio Isochrone 10M. Such master clocking has improved the realism of my CDs to the extent that I cannot believe the best vinyl rig is audibly superior. I bought my first lp in 1962 and greatly admire analog "sound". The new dCS Scarlatti line gets you there, and I trust much of the magic is present in the Puccini/Paganini lines. Hope to hear from those who will soon receive their U-Clock!
Can you DCS guys give me some description of how the full stack (elgar+ or Delius) sounds sonically? Maybe throw in some other digital front ends it is similar to in signature and how it betters/doesn't competitors....

Also, where does the Puccini with clock stack up against say an Elgar+ stack?

Thanks all, just trying to get a handle on the sound before pursuing an audition.
Arthur I should probably leave this question to people who have actually fully auditioned Puccini at their home. I'm not THAT familiar with it. My intuition from hearing it is that it is not quite as good Delius + stack and certainly not as good as Paganini. A pretty reliable source hinted he does not like Puccini as much without the clock compared to the old separates. I can't confirm that. Don't hold me to that you'd have to test it yourself.

I normally wouldn't taint your audition with my opinion but this won't be the type of change you have to strain to hear, especially if you are upsampling to dSD. As far as the overall dCS sound, the imaging is pretty uncanny. The upsampling to DSD makes CD sound like a different format to my ears. The imaging and separation is something you have to hear for yourself, and the overall presentation is smoother than you might expect from digital. It is extremely neutral, however, and you might find it a little cold and analytical sounding if your amps and speakers aren't on the warmer side.

90% of the time, dCS DACS sound better with no preamp straight into the amp. There are exceptions but probably not many.

Delius by itself is very good but without Purcell in front of it I thought it sounded a little brittle. With Purcell it is out of this world. You just have to try it yourself. You need extremely refined amplification, cabling (including digital), and speakers to get the FULL benefit though. I find with my Squeezebox, even using a secure ripper like EAC is a dramatic improvement over the standard iTunes ripper.

I agree with JB0194 that it is hard to image vinyl being much better and I am not even using Scarlatti or clocking--just the Purcell+Delius.
A friend of mine, who owns the old stack (Verdi LaScala, Verona Clock, Elgar Plus) has auditioned Puccini in his system (Nagra PL-P + VPA; Avis Acutus/SME V/ZYX) for the period of 2 weeks.

He came to the conclusion that his old stack betters Puccini (sans U-clock) in the following areas:

- resolution,
- HF air,
- bass definition,
- dynamics,
- soundstaging.

Acording to his words, dCS Puccini was better at portrayig midrange, had more texture and was more fluid sounding.

Overall he prefered his old stack, but it all depends on personal preferences.

I should have the Puccini with the U-Clock on loan in the next two weeks.
I would suggest using a good quality clock cable for the Puccini. The dCS technical staff recommended such to me. My experience validates this:

I use the Esoteric P-70 transport which has two different word sync terminals. "Mode 2" has a PLL filter cutoff frequency about ten times that of the other terminal and, per the users manual, "almost completely eliminates jitter". The manual, however, notes lock status takes much longer to achieve with "Mode 2" and essentially says to use the other more "forgiving" terminal. I tried both the generic dCS-supplied and a Stealth BNC digital cable - only the Stealth Varidig Sextet allows a reliable lock with "Mode 2", and the lock occurs with a second or two every time.

Just my 2 cents
Thanks Elberoth2, I'd be interested in your impressions in relation to the MBL 1531 which I know you had for some time and that I would be moving from. I am interested in whatever I get having digital in, not so much SACD. I expect the Puccini with or without U-clock to be an overall improvement over the MBL, I'm specifically curious as to how it is different/better. I plan to audition Puccini and a couple others at CES and then determine how to get my favorites to Dallas for a demo in my system. I had the Playback Designs here already and it is on my short list. Any added thoughts are always helpful.
Elberoth2, I am very curious about your opinions concerning the Puccini versus the ARC CD7. I have tried several CD players, but always returned to the CD7. Although it is not as detailed as some of the competition, it is airier and handles large orchestras in a way no other player did in my system. Also its fast transients complement very well the Sound Lab A1PX.

a curiosity, your loudspeakers look like the Focus Line Source LS9 ... could you tell me more about them.

You have e-mail Clavil!

Definately. ARC CD-7 was already an improvement over the MBL 1531, and Puccini is even better. Another player worth considering with the digital in is Accuphase DP-700 - it is smoother, not as detailed, but overall it is a very good CDP.


I already had Puccini in my system for a week or so, now I'm gonna have it again, this time with the U-Clock.

Compared to the ARC, Puccini has much better resolution, more air and better HF extension, the harmonic structere of music is better presented, image specify is better (CD-7 is a bit out of focus in comparision), bass is better defined, miscrodynamics and transcient speed are much improved and overall - it just sounds more like live music.

I personally hated the previous dCS offerings - the 8Pi integrated was the worst of them and absolute disaster, sounding very bright and mechanical, but Puccini is a real gem.
Thanks Elberoth2! I'm going to CES and have time set up to hear Puccini, Vitus, Stahl Tek and VAC DAC's (just convert the MBL to transport duty) and Lindemann 820S...I'll need to add the Accuphase to my list as well. Hope to narrow it down (show conditions and all) and have a couple in after that to demo down to a final decision, having already heard the Playback designs in my system....
a british dCS dealer reports big improvements by using MIT cables between the Clock and the Puccini.

Had somebody a similar experience?
I have been playing with the U-Clock for the past week, but unfortunately, did not hear the difference other ppl reported. The sound may be a bit more smooth and palpable, but differences are very small at best. To give you a proper perspective - I got a much bigger efect from swapping power cords.

I tested the dCS U-Clock as supplied by my dealer - with $2000 Shunyata Anaconda Helix VX PS and Stereovox VX2 BNC-BNC digital cable.

So if the U-Clock was to be judged purely as a clock, its value for money at +$6000 with the supplied cabling has to be regarded as poor. However, the U-Clock has an additional feature - USB->S/PDIF (on RCA) converter, which IMO is exceptional.

It allows to connect a computer through USB out to the Puccini (although due to a certain "soon to be fixed" bug in Puccini software, when in external source mode, Puccini cannot sync to the U-Clock - which, ironicly, is when it needs the external colck THE MOST).

More on the quality of PC-Audio through the U-Clock later. So stay tuned.
I've heard the Puccini.

It sounded great.

I would expect the clock to be pretty darn excellent, about as good as it gets already for that price though.

I don't doubt the external clock is even better, but I wonder what it is exactly that makes it better? Is it just a better clock for even lower jitter or is there more to it than that?
You would think for 6,000 you would here an improvement in sound of the puccini. Could you use an esotric clock with the puccini or does it have to be the u-clock?
You can use whatever clock you want, as long it supports 44.1k rate. You can get a Puccini U-Clock, the older dCS Verona, one of the Esoteric offerings or even one of the studio clocks available, like the Apogee BigBen (~$1000 from ebay).

Effectivnes of using external clocks with single box CD players has always been questionable. I remember coments posted by another user on this forum a while back - he connected uber-expensive Esoteric Rubidium (Rb) clock to his Esoteric X-1 single box unit and also did not notice much of a difference.

any tentative with MIT shotgun or oracle?


If you buy the clock directly in England it will cost almost half of 6'000$

and by the way the Puccini is also down in price to some 12'000$

all of that because the £ is sharply down in last months
maybe the good'ol us dollar will make a comeback.
Clavil - I do not belive different digital cable would make much of a difference. The price I gave you does include $2000 Shunyata Anaconda Helix VX power cord.

I belive the Puccini U-Clock itself is around $4000. I'm not from the US anyway, so this is just rough estimate.
here some british dealer with another opinion

quote: A new clock cable needn't cost a fortune, we get very good results with the MIT AVt1 at £130. However, the differences made by the better cables need to be heard to be believed. The MIT Shotgun digital cable at £599 is a significant improvement on the AVt1, and Oracles (starting at £1,500) are absolutely stunning.

This may be a difficult concept to accept, but no one so far who has heard what these cables do in this context have been anything other than bowled over. END
I have spoken directly with Martin Reynolds about BNC cable, I think they use with MIT Oracle bnc cable. I think this unit is up to fixing clocking errors. IMO, there is no need to apply excessive powercord and BNC cables on U clock. I have a Stereovox XV2 BNC cable and will be using together with its stock powercord. If any change occur, than it means OK. If not, will try with maybe MIT oracle BNC.
If you do get the Oracle BNC, see if they can get you the old one without the useless switch on it as it's cheaper and better performing.
hello to all, just contributing my two cents to this string. i recently bought a puccini and have heard it in two other settings with and without clock. the first time was at a dealer and i did perceive a improvement in body and smoothness with the clock. the quality of this system was in fact so good (isn't this often the case at the dealer!) that it motivated me to buy the puccini in the first place. the second time i heard the clock was in another audiophile's system. in his system i could barely notice the difference. my tentative conclusion is that you need to have everything dialed way up (the dealer used all Valhalla) to get the most of the benefit, and that at this level, other tweaks: upgrading to highest end interconnect, power cord, speaker cables, etc. may provide equal, or greater benefit. I am open to your views....

regarding dealer comments re: clock cable, forgive me for not being surprised that said dealer insists that sonic benefits continue to accrue as cable price goes up (!)
If you want one of the best word clocks available the Black Lion Audio Microclock MKII is exceptional. It is hands down better than the Apogee Big Ben which several of my friends own. The Big Ben apparently uses older PLL technology for reducing jitter. The Microclock uses a different approach and has less accumulated jitter than the Big Ben. The Big Ben has around 100 to 150 picoseconds of accumulated jitter & the Microclock MKII is rated at under 10 picoseconds to give you an idea. For $425.00 you can not beat it considering Big Ben's $1300 tag. Black Lion offers a 30 day demo period as well for you to try it in your system. They recommend using as short a BNC cable possible and longer than 3 meters degrades performance. I personally have found going from a cheap 3 meter Hosa cable to a 1 meter premium cable was noticeably different in the sound with a smoother, less fatiguing presentation. They also recommend plugging the power of the clock directly into the outlet for better results. There are .5 meter cables at Thecableco and I will try one of those next to see if theres any difference. I even prefer the sound of the Microclock to the Antelope Audio Isochrone OCX, another popular clock. I have no affiliation with Black Lion except that I'm a satisfied customer and finally settled on a clock.
strangely on my system which is very holografic, the clock is producing less difference than on the Indra / Howland combination mentioned here above.
I am running the clock with the cables delivered by dCS.

positive effects
- the space beetween instruments is a little cleaner
- the general colour seems a little dryer when I take the clock off

? effect ( I still don't know if it'is positive or not)
- the tonal balance has changed, more high frequencies and less direct power in the medium / bass

I am quite perplex
I just got this info from dCS:

"March 24th will see the release of v1.10 software update for Puccini Player that provides a number of enhancements to Puccini Player. All dCS distributors will be sent copies of this update disc for the Puccini users in their country. I can also mail you a copy if you would like?

Features provided in this update include:

- Lock time for digital inputs is substantially improved
- A menu allows the user to lock to wordclock on per-input basis for digital inputs
- It is now possible to turn off the LEDs when the display is set to “Off”
- Upsampling from digital inputs is now possible, dependent on the user buying a unit-specific license from our website

All Puccini users should be encouraged to install this update.

For users who want to purchase the upsampling feature from dCS, this update is a pre-requisite and must be installed before upsampling on the digital inputs can be enabled. We recommend that if users want to hear the differences that upsampling makes then they play a CD in CD mode with upsampling disabled. This can be done in the menu section by setting the CD upsampling page to PCM.

Hope this helps

David J M Steven"
So they're going to charge extra for upsampling? Isn't the Puccini 20K already? That's just so wrong.
This is only for the external inputs.
I understand and my comment stands; that's ridiculous.
What a bunch of nonsense.
Nothing wrong with having to pay for extra features that expand units functionality, IMO.

If they ask you to pay for software update that fixes bugs etc - that would be another story.
It is gouging.
I think dCS is sort of a joke, at this point. I mean the prices for their products, as good as they are, are so disgustingly inflated now that they are basically the exclusive playthings for oil sheiks and other greedy corporate types. At a certain point, "high-end" just becomes "high-falutin" nonense. Selling a licensing for firmware that enables functionality that the unit should have included to begin with? The only reason for requiring such a license is that they know that once the upsampling functionality is enabled, users will be able to use music server on the cheap products like Squeezebox and Transporter to great effect, bypassing the need for U-Clock, Scarlatti Upsampler and whatever other outrageously overpriced USB to SPDIF converter they can cook up this year. They are basically holding proper music server functionality hostage.

If Microsoft could enable true 1080P output on its standard XBOX with the flick of a switch but we were expected to pay them a license for the firmware update there would be mass upheaval. I have $100 sound cards and $300 PC graphics cards that get almost monthly driver updates free of charge. My computer motherboard practically gets a free firmware update everymonth--in some cases enabling radically new functionality. But as an audiophile, I am supposed to simply lap up David J M Steven's marketing bullshit and pay for a basic functionality fix--why exactly? I can only conclude that dCS finds its customers to be saps who are easily parted from their money.

I wouldn't give them another nickel.

I have to agree with you. I have wrongly thought, that the new "upsampling from digital inputs feature" requires additional hardware updates.

Since it is only a case of software update, I think this is unfair.
Well I only know about from this thread. My reading of it above was that it is enabled through firmware. "License" means software, in my mind. Unit specific license means software.

When I first heard about Puccinni/Paganini, the very first thing that came to mind was "but does it upsample external sources?" I actually commented in another thread, quite a while ago, that the whole Paganini/Puccinni line was decidedly music server unfriendly because of the way the upsampler is built into the transport. This was, in my mind, an obvious and (probably an intentional) omission on the part of dCS. Are you telling me that the hardware exists for upsampling of external sources but they have only recently developed the firmware for that? I think not. Most likely they saw/see servers as a threat to their high-end cd transport business and intentionally omitted this functionality. It gives their transports a built in performance advantage. It also allows them to sell a redundant (but possibly improved) upsampler in their Scarlatti line.
I do not agree with your theory.

If dCS was "affraid" of their CD bussines, why would they offer the optional upsampling from external digital inputs feature at the first place ?

The Scarlatti upsampler on the other hand, looks to me to be an afterthought. Remember, that the Scarlatti range was first introduced back in 2005, long before PC-Audio took off, so introducing the external upsampler was the only way to offer the benefits of upsampling to the PC-Audio users.
This is the first I have heard about this. I am not sure, but I believe the DSD license may have a part to play in the price.

There have been many people trying to block the ability to send hi rez digital outputs to external boxes in domestic equipment due to pirating. I am not saying that DCS are correct to charge for the upgrade, but may have a part to play and could be down to Sony and copyright law.

DCS are a great little company and I have both old and new DCS stacks. The Scarlatti is one of the finest digital playback systems I have ever heard. The Elgar plus/verona/ la scarla is no slouch either.

It is expensive, and there is no getting away from that, but I think it is more to do with the way the Hi fi distribution works with huge mark ups and not so much down to the cost of their manufacturing overheads.

It maybe worth a call to them. I have only ever had 1st class service from them.