Digital clock - any recommendations?

Recently heard an Esoteric setup with and without a digital external clock and the difference was not subtle.  I have a marantz sa11 s2.  Any recommendations?
For that unit you'll need a clock that outputs 44.1, 88.2, and 176.4. Try an Antelope LiveClock and upgrade its wall wart to a good LPS.  If you want to go further, the LiveClock may in turn be synchronized to a 10mhz atomic clock like Mutec, Cybershaft, or Stanford Research System.   
The most affordable
you must buy an highend  BNC cable
 How cost the Esoteric  compare to your Marantz ?
May be with Marantz , the difference will be subtile

This difference may:
1- not be better2- is very DAC dependent.
From an electrical engineering point of view, you want the clock as physically close to the DAC for the best signal and lowest jitter.

I prefer to get a DAC with a great internal clock, Mytek. Anything outside the case is going to be worse just due to the distance involved.

I suggest you audition your DAC and keep an open mind as to which version sounds better.


How much are you willing to spend?

Any excellent DAC will not benefit from an external clock. The good ones, like the Benchmark DAC3 reclock S/PDIF themselves, so the only jitter is internal.

Why buy a $700 reclocker when you can get $700 or cheaper DAC with external jitter reduction?

For instance, the Schiit Modi 2 showed improvement when the Empirical Audio $700 reclocker was added, but pretty much no difference when used with the Topping DX7s ($500 DAC+headphone amp).

Going digital out of your Marantz to say the SMSL SU-8 would give you similar results to using an external reclocker, in that the jitter from both would be well below audible levels.
Any excellent DAC will not benefit from an external clock.

Did you not read the OP? Presumably Esoteric make good DACs with good clocks? dCS also have an adequate reputation yet my Vivaldi stack improved significantly with the addition of the Mutec 10MHz clock.

Besides the performance of the clock having a separate and dedicated power supply and greater isolation from vibration can all help - in my experience in addition to care in choice of the BNC one also should pay attention to footers, power cord and grounding
+2, @folkfreak


Here is another recommendation for external clock,

I think the guys suggesting to go with external DAC missed your point of exploring the external clock. I own the same player, If your goal is to improve SACD playback then external DAC will be of no use cause you cannot transmit SACD layer through a SPDIF output.

I would only explore external DAC if your goal is to improve CD playback which kinda defeats the purpose of owning a fabulous sounding SACD player from Marantz 😉

+3  @folkfreak 

With an Esoteric DAC it's easy to perceive the improvement of an external 10mhz atomic clock powered by a good LPS.  Why would Esoteric market the interface were this untrue?

Also, if your networked computer audio components have master clock inputs(e.g. SOtM renderer and ethernet hub), or if you have a PCM/DSD digital recorder with clock inputs(e.g. Tascam), it is beneficial to sync everything to one master clock, just like in studio environments.

That said, I have no experience with Marantz.  To Erik's point, at an early stage in digital evolution I had good results with Audiocom Superclocks inside a Sony SCD-1.  The idea there was to position the clock within a few centimeters of the PCB input.   

It depends on how good the reclocker is in your Marantz.  It's really DAC dependent.  The Empirical Audio Offramp is a well-respected design. 

I agree with you, the only way to find out is to try one of the aforementioned recommendations on external clock’s. The OP may hear improvements or may not, in any case he will squish that upgrade ‘bug’ for good.

May be someday, I will give it a go as well 😊

If it is a good DAC, then what OP heard is not real. People wanting to believe expensive “tweaks” actually matter. However, going off the Stereophile measurements of the Esoteric D-07, even $100 DACs have better jitter than that, so...

If the Topping DAC did not benefit from a reclocker (meaning the issue is internal jitter and not external jitter), then why would the Esoteric be worse.


Same thing, no. The better your DAC, the less improvement an external clock/reclocker makes.

To restate, if your >$500 DAC benefits from an external clock, it’s a piece of junk. There is no reason why it should not internally reclock it’s inputs, that’s just a company selling a lamborghini body with a corolla engine.

For any good DAC, the only jitter is internal, meaning external clocks, which affect external jitter, will have no effect.

@mzkmxcv  OK, you rooted me out:  Esoteric and DCS are expensive junk, and so are laboratory instruments like my Stanford Perfection 10 Rubidium clock specified +/- .05 ppb and < -150dBc/[email protected] 10kHz phase noise.  None of this matters with any DAC >$500.

I'm done.   

Dear @mzkmxcv riddle me this then. Why are the suppliers of external clocks primarily suppliers to recording studios? Presumably the studios can afford the clock impervious DACs of which you speak so highly yet they somehow seem to think it worth investing in master clocks?

My favorite clock and the one I’m looking forward to adding to my system is of course the Abendrot

riddle me this then. Why are the suppliers of external clocks primarily suppliers to recording studios? Presumably the studios can afford the clock impervious DACs of which you speak so highly yet they somehow seem to think it worth investing in master clocks?

To quote someone else:

This is so all digital processing, DAC’s, ADC’s all sample at exactly the same time and all data words...are generated/read at the exact same time.
When this was not done the drift in each clock of every ’device’ would make them all different in frequency (very slightly) and timing.

What a studio needs and what a residential setup needs are totally different. 24Bit provides 0 benefit for consumers, but is needed for studios so they can gain recordings without increasing the noise floor to audible levels.

We are not talking about audio production, we are talking about audio reproduction, specifically reducing jitter from the source to the DAC by using external clocks. Any good DAC will reclock internally, so unless you have so much jitter that your DAC is losing lock, there is no need for an external clock on a good DAC, because it would make no difference, the only jitter from a good DAC is internal.
@mzkmxcv you are also aware that the Esoteric and DCS systems we are discussing are all multi box systems with seperate transports, upsamplers, DACs and so on. Hence the focus on ensuring a consistent master clock between them?

I have no opinion on the effect this would have on a one box system but in the case of multi box systems the benefit of both consistent word clocking at sample rates (ie multiples of 44.1 or 48) and a superior master clock (ie 10 MHz) is obviously audible, st least in my system (DCS Vivaldi based)
Did not know the Esoteric was multi-box (I know the DCS is; I still see no reason to have an external upsampler).

Still, I believe OP is asking for a reclocker and not actually a master word clock.

I know that Marantz has a clock input, but unless the source also has one, then it cannot be used. Even if so, the internal jitter from the Marantz would still exist.

It would make much more sense to instead buy a $250-$2000 DAC that reclocks internally, and simply use the digital out from the Marantz and plug whatever other sources into the DAC as well, instead of into the Marantz.
Let’s stick with what the OP asks shall we

He wants to use his Marantz SACD player hence an external DAC is a non starter (as there’s no facility to export DSD).

Marantz provide for a 75ohm BNC master world clock input but provide no data on the stability of the internal clock.

It therefore follows that adding an external clock could improve the sound if any of the following apply
1. The external clock is itself more stable than the one in the Marantz
2. The electrical environment in a stand alone clock is more stable than that in the all in one Marantz (btw this is dCS’ argument for a stand alone clock rather than slaving to the one in the Transport)

As even modestly priced clocks as suggested to the OP probably satisfy both 1 and 2 I’d suggest they give it a try,

This review gives a good description of what to listen for when adding a master clock to a one box system

OP has now stated whether he uses SACD or not, but good point.

I would argue though that regular Audio CD through an SMSL SU-8 or similar would sound be better than even a $10,000 master clock hooked up to that Marantz. Granted, Stereophile measurements show it to be pretty good, except Filter 2.
I do use SACD on occasion.  I am not sure on how such I would spend.  I did see an esoteric external clock for around 4k.  That would probably be the most I would spend.
What are you gonna use the external clock with? Does your preamp/integrated also have a word clock jack? You don’t just plug it into your transport/player. 
Or are you talking about a re-clocker? 
As I’ve stated on this forum, there is no real technical benefit to DSD in regard to music listening, so I wouldn’t be worried about losing it. 
As also discussed, the Esoteric is a multi-box digital system, the clock is used to sync all the components, it is not needed if you are just going analog out from your Marantz to your preamp/integrated.  
Room treatment, room correction, and subwoofers would add magnitudes more benefit.
“As I’ve stated on this forum, there is no real technical benefit to DSD in regard to music listening, so I wouldn’t be worried about losing it”

Please spare us with your worthless knowledge on DSD, jitter and anything that has to do with digital. You keep peddling your generalizations and bookish knowledge off the internet. As I have asked you in the past, before you share anything here; please state if you have any direct experience with the components in discussion.

Which preamp / Integrated has a word clock jack…please do tell us.

[email protected] I’m sure you know this but be sure you get a clock that offers 44.1kHz multiple outputs not just 10MHz. The Mutec Ref10 I use or the Abendrot Stute I linked to are 10MHz only and to be used as a Master reference for a playback frequency clock such as the dCS models.

Any of the Esoteric models will work fine or the dCS Rossini or Puccini u clock or the Mutec MC-3, of course any of these can then also have a 10 MHz reference added ... it can get pretty spendy 😉

Name an audible benefit DSD provides over PCM; or explain an audible defect of PCM. To save time, “smearing” isn’t a valid response. PCM perfectly captures the waveforms below Nyquist and even undithered 16Bit has a larger dynamic range than our rooms allow. 16/44.1 is audibly perfect, assuming your DAC is good enough, it is easily verified by measurements/math as well as human trials; it’s all marketing.
Here’s a preamp with an internal word clock in/out

Direct experience makes no difference if it’s under sighted conditions. There is a company that sells anti-vibration stickers, and people believe they work.

And again, OP has never stated what he owns except the Marantz, so maybe an external word clock can’t even be used. Multi-box systems for residential use are extremely rare. I stated pre-amp for if one had a digital input that OP would use for plain CD, meaning if it was better than the DAC in the Marantz, which would be used for SACD. As again, What would this external clock going to be syncing, the Marantz and what?

And I still don’t buy that an external upsampler vs an internal one makes an audible difference, 44.1kHz filter performance by the Benchmark DAC3B, which internally upsamples to >200khz, no audible aliasing or imaging, or are you saying the Vivaldi performs worse than a $2K DAC?

Stereophile measurements show the Marantz is of transparent performance, so there is no need to add any tweaks for analog output.

Spending $4K on an external word clock for residential use is just throwing money down the drain.
Hey, if there’s no advantage to DSD how come DSD CDs sound so good? I have a bunch. Am I the unwitting victim of psychological mischief? 😳 Do my ears need a good candling? 🕯

Do you have any clue what you peddling here....the link you attached is not a preamp. It’s a LessLoss modified Rega CD player with external DAC. I am including the link again for your reading pleasure and education,

I bet you’re still spinning CD’s in your boombox, that why you can’t comprehend the audible differences between DSD, PCM, Jitter. The component under discussion here with external clock and upsampler are well above your comprehension (sorry).

I do recall another member here thought Google Chrome SQ is more than adequate to stream music and anything beyond is waste of!!!

I’m done cause any further discussion (with you) would be a fool’s errand. 
@mzkmxcv. If you have read the manual for the SA11 S2 you’d know it has an external word clock input ...

As to the value of DSD I suggest you spend some time with sources like this, and really try to listen to a true high end digital rig one day without prejudice. In my system where I listen to all Red Book upsampled to DSDx2 I find that DSD gives a more continuous performance retaining more of the gestalt of performer in room. You’re welcome round my place if you’re ever in the PDX area and want to hear what I mean, changing the sample method and filters is easy and all the adjustments are clearly audible.

What may them blow your mind is to discover that the more esoteric, and costly, the setup the more it responds to detailed tweaks. Yes footers, power cords, damping stones and even anti vibration stickers all matter and are highly audible in a $200k digital setup ... kind of annoying, no 😉
actually, this is all new to me.  I was just very amazed at how much the clock made the transport player better.  If it is not worth doing, i want to know that also.  I was just curious as my player does have external clock connection.

It does have a clock input, but what are you syncing it too? A master clock is to make sure all the components are in-sync.

All you have is your Marantz going into whatever preamp/integrated you have. Does that have a clock input as well? If not, there is nothing to sync the Marantz too. As pointed out by the other user, the Esoteric was using the clock to sync all of its separate components together, not a common layout for the majority of setups. 
DSD can’t sound more accurate, because PCM is already 100% accurate (down till -95dBFs at a minimum). Now, your DAC’s filter for DSD may be more pleasant, but that’s a case-by-case basis, and has nothing to do with the actual format.
Once again our friend  @mzkmxcv gets it all wrong. While clocks can help synch multiple devices a stand alone clock can also benefit a single device - were you not paying attention when I said to look at the dCS Rossini or Puccini setups or the review of the Vivaldi one? All of these single box systems that benefit from add on clocks

And your opinions on the perfection that is Red Book PCM are at odds with the vast majority of musicians, producers and audiophiles - again please take one of us up on listening to a real high end digital setup one day.

Might I suggest you buzz off and leave the op alone if you have nothing new to add?
The fact that the clock is external and thus needs a relatively long cable to connect is defeats any benefit in the increased accuracy. Even if the clock is better, the internal clock of the Marantz using a very short cable will be much better.

Also, I would wager that <10% of producers and musicians don’t even know what DSD is; so it is very inaccurate to state the majority favors it.
Length of BNC connection vs accuracy of original clock and problems with electrical environment herein -- that's what we call a trade-off, and that's why selection of the BNC cable matters. Of course in your black and white 44.1/16 = perfect world you don't care

As to musicians and producers -- well I guess on an audiophile discussion board we perhaps care more about those who do know what DSD is -- did you look up the Cookie Marenco link I posted? Those are the sorts of people we should be taking advice from ...

If you think a multi-thousand dollar CD player has such issues, you’d be mistaken (or the product is garbage).

Repeating the test with the Marantz’s word-clock input locked to a high-quality external source (a dCS 972 digital/digital converter) at either 44.1kHz or 88.2kHz increased the measured jitter slightly, to 271ps p–p, but with an almost identical-looking spectrum, including the rise in the noise floor to either side of the central peak. I couldn’t find any other measured differences resulting from externally clocking the player, but it could be that the dCS clock offers pretty much the same degree of stability as the Marantz’s own.

So yeah, like I said, there is no benefit to externally clocking any decent player; it helps in studios because it’s a multi-component chain and they want to be in-sync, a totally different thing.
Hmmm, one test with a 20 year old upsampler (not a dedicated clock) proves what? Odd how dCS themselves still promote external clocking in all their ranges, I guess all of their DACs are “garbage”, mine certainly is 🤪

External clocking is tricky stuff. For instance clocking at multiples of the base rate (eg 88.2, 166.4) often sounds worse even when you’re sampling at these rates. Per John Quick the issue seems to be transmitting these higher rate signals via BNC. Best to stick with 44.1/48 even if your clock supports higher rates imho at least

Anyway, @tzh21y have you had a chance to try one of the suggestions yet? Would be great to hear back what you found when you have a chance

Agree with Folkfreak and I am afraid not with mzkmxcv.  Noting that like Folkfreak mine is based on actual experience of owning dCS and other equipment capable of external clock use such as Aurender W20 and Trinnov Altitude 32.

First point to OP   tzh21y - dCS individual one box units with internal master clocks that are already of a good standard - Puccini and Rossini benefit audibly from an external clock and whilst I would note that better level external clocks give still better level performance the Puccini word clock (no longer made but readily available) whilst the cheapest of the more recent dCS clocks managed to:
1. Improve the performance of the dCS Puccini which I then bought - noting now (I can expand on this) that clock cables make a difference but even the uner £20 type that dcs supplies free (and I will happily post you one for nothing if you get a clock without one) are good enough to show the difference.
2.[When I had a dCS Scarlatti before I had a Vivaldi system] I was attending a small show in the UK where the demonstrator (who was using these for a sorce for his equipment not 'selling' them) had not fully understood the importance of the clock sync between multiple dCS units - in this case a Vivaldi Transport and Vivaldi Dac (which could have been clocked with one as master using the same leads) the demonstrator did not have a Vivaldi clock, but did have a Puccini U-Clock.  I asked (and assisted) in this being installed to the two far more expensive units. The performance of the Vivaldi two units system was improved by the synchronisation of the external clock. Noting that as mzkmxcv I believe was prepared to acknowledged multiple unit synching does provide a benefit, it was not possible in that show to test whether synching from dac as master to the trasnport would have matched the U-Clock, but the performance improvement was such that two attendees who were Nagra owners that had come to hear dCS stated it made the difference between them forgetting the idea of dCS and getting a proper demonstration with an appropriate clock.  The comment re smearing is actually relevant because whilst I would hardly  have called the vivaldi performance without the clock "smeared", I would have called the performance with the clock 'less smeared' and it was the fact that I heard the system not sounding as good as I know it can that made me ask if he had clock sync. On the basis Marantz would not have put an external clock input on their system (I have not actually seen a Marantz produced clock so it is hardly a "marketing gimmick" [others words not mine] for them) then clearly they think it can make an improvement.  I have seen dCS U-Clocks sell for £1800, though the last one on ebay was asking about £2600.  Please note I am not suggesting that you cannot get a better wordclock than the dCS U-Clock, in fact I am not commenting on its comparative capability, expect that it made an £18k dac and a £20k transport sound even better as well as making a then £11k list standalone Puccini player sound better.  That I note was both in the case where the Puccini was operating though a (for the avoidance of doubt) not clocked pre-amp (that had a dac but analogue imput was used) when through a passive pre-amp (Music First Baby Reference) and when the Pucinni was directly driving a power amp directly [Amps tried - Rotel 'cheap' off ebay 981, Bryston 2.5 SST2, Vitus Audio SS103].  I dont know where you are located but a dealer in the UK has Puccini and U-Clocks for £6k I am not suggesting you sell your Marantz (though you might) but if you can find a dealer with second hand Puccini and clock why not take your marantz along try it with and without the U-Clock, and against the Puccini with an without the U-Clock - If it does something for the Marantz then dealer may be able to get you U-Clock individually, the one in the UK can certainly do that as I bought a factory refurbed one from them a few years ago (before I had Vivaldi). Incidentally the U-Clock was also good enough for use in a three box (I didn't have the clock) Scarlatti system where I did try it against the dac being the master clock - there wasn't a lot in it, but enough for me to keep it in the system.  The only reason I bought a Vivaldi clock over the U-Clock when I upgraded was I also then had an Aurender W20 streamer which has a dongle to switch the clock on a Scarlatti / Vivaldi clock depending on sampling rate.  I do note though that the U-Clock can be switched between 44.1k and 48k to provide a base multiple for the higher res requirements 96, 192m etc.,  It would be worth checking what the Marantz input requirements are.  I'd just note I have seen a Scarlatti Clock on eby for £2795 again you may be able to go to the person selling and try with your Marantz if you are in UK - if not try similar in a dealer where you are and let your ears judge.