Mutec Jitter Reduction and Digital Switching

Thought I would start a thread on Mutec

I purchased a Mutec MC-1.2 and am extremely satisfied.. for those looking for jitter reduction, hooking anything up to anything and allow for digital switching between devices and or a computer, this is a fabulous unit. BTW, the Mutec is NOT a DAC.

What I like:

1) Reduces jitter between my computer and CD / processor digital inputs, nice smooth sound now
2) Many different in and outs including USB
3) The digital signal is always present at all OUTs ... this allows for instant switching at my integrated amp to A/B/C DACs and players
4) Claims it "passes all" sampling/bit rates
5) Mutec driver is stable and can be selected by your player, Foobar in my case, and passes bit-for-bit.

I play most of my music through my desk computer in my home office and always had a control and component selection issue. My system:

- Huge Netgear Ready NAS network attached storage (4 RAIDed drives) ether attached to my router where I keep my large library of bit-for-bit CDs
- Windows 10 PC using Foobar 2000 player - Mutec driver selected in Foobar kernel streams bit for bit and bypasses Windows sound processing kernal out the USB bus
- Computer to Mutec MC-1.2 via USB
- Mutec to Accuphase CD/Processor via coax (Accuphase does not re-clock the digital in signal and has no USB hence the need for the Mutec)
- Mutec to Benchmark DAC1 via XLR cable
- Mutec to Audio Alchemy DDE V3 DAC via Toslink optical
- Accuphase/Benchmark/Audio Alchemy to PrimaLuna HP Integrated Amp
- PrimaLuna HP Integraged to FOCAL 1028 Be speakers

If you want to know hows and whys I did what I did, just ask a question. My primary digital converter is the Accuphase as I feel it sounds the most musical and spacious. The reason I have the other DACs has to do with history and I don’t plan on keeping them..... but it is fun to A/B/C them simply by selecting the input on my PrimaLuna integrated amp. The Mutec presents a live digital signal to all of its outputs all the time so all DACs are decoding all the time. Since the Accuphase has only Toslink optical and 75 Ohm RCA in, I chose the 75 Ohm input. The others were connected with whatever worked as I had many options but I really didn’t care... I just used what worked.

I love this system now. My source is either my digital library, the CD tray in the Accuphase, or whatever source I choose in my web browser. I am considering Tidal high rez streaming but haven’t pulled the trigger yet.

When you use the Mutec or Benchmark drivers from Foobar, it does not pass the computer beeps and farts.... it can’t if you want bit-for-bit passthrough. For the beeps and farts, I have cheapo powered speakers on my desk connected to the stereo audio jack on my computer’s soundcard.... this allows me to listen to high quality source on the big rig but still hear the beeps and farts. If I don’t fire up Foobar, all music sources are automatically routed out to the cheapo desk speakers.

In short, if you want to "split" digital signals to other devices, drive out jitter between devices such as a computer or CD transport and other DACs, you can’t beet this Mutec. By the way, I paid $190 for this Mutec (a current model) on eBay, new it is about $479.

Hope this helps some folks trying to improve sound or thinking about re-architecting their digital rigs.

Bruce in Philly
If you change sources or cables, does the output sound different?
"When you use the Mutec or Benchmark drivers from Foobar, it does not pass the computer beeps and farts.... it can’t if you want bit-for-bit passthrough. For the beeps and farts, I have cheapo powered speakers on my desk connected to the stereo audio jack on my computer’s soundcard.... this allows me to listen to high quality source on the big rig but still hear the beeps and farts. If I don’t fire up Foobar, all music sources are automatically routed out to the cheapo desk speakers."

Bruce, I'm not sure what you mean here. Could you elaborate? I'm also interested in your answer to Steve's question?
Sorry all, been away.....
Update: I purchased a PS Audio Direct Stream Junior DAC... sold the Audio Alchemy. The Junior is fabulous... just wonderful... they really knocked it out of the park. I am done with DACs... for a long time suspect. It really is a special unit. What amazes me is how it makes plain CDs sound so detailed... separation of instruments...without making it harsh or bright. Wow... and it play any source format without clunky, destructive digital conversions. It plays everything natively. A real achievement in engineering. Another wacky thing... it does not have a DAC chip. yep... really a unique engineering triumph.

Regarding changing cables..... The PS Audio (and Benchmark) accommodate different cable hookups so I experimented on different setups. In short, I can not hear a difference in any hook up I tried - XLR, COAX, Optical, USB (direct from computer). Now this is the Mutec to the PS Audio Junior I am talking about. The PS Audio Junior is pretty amazing in that you can throw jitter at it and it will fix it. Now on the PS Audio forums, people swear they hear a difference, not just with hookup types but cable types. I don’t. I just don’t hear a difference... or at least one that I can say one is "better" than the other. I didn’t bother experimenting with the Benchmark... why? The PS Audio sounds so much better I didn’t bother with it.

Normally, I would just use the optical given the electrical isolation it offers, but optical cables have a bandwidth limitation (by design) and the Junior can interpret and play any digital format in existence. So I use the XLR... just because... I do have a few music files that are supper high bit rate just for experimenting (won't pass through optical) but this bit rate is uncommon.
Regarding the beeps and farts...... When you are using a computer to control and play your music, you have multiple sources of sounds in the computer. The first and most important are the tunes you want to play. For this, you want to pass them bit-for-bit (with no volume control) out the PC to your external DAC. But your computer will also generate its own sounds such as beeps when you click on something. Further, if you are surfing the ’net, your browser may emit a beep or something.... then the website you are on may play something... such as YouTube or CNN. If you are using a player such as Foobar and a driver that can bypass the PC’s sound kernel (as Benchmark and PS Audio’s drivers do), your PC goes silent.

If your PC is mixing all sound sources, then you are not getting bit-for-bit for your music files. That is really bad. (BTW, PS Audio has special files that you can play to ensure bit-for-bit... if you have it, the Junior lights up a marker so you know you got it).
But I surf while I am listening and if I see a news story I want to watch, then I have to shut down Foobar and then switch it all back to normal... and then back again... So, I hooked up a small set of powered speakers from Creative (Logitech makes them too, many out there) and I connect the speaker plug to the speaker out jacks on my PC sound card (or your headphone jack on your laptop). Windows 10 can now pass multiple sound signals through the PC. So you set your PC’s volume control to use "Speakers" (or sometimes it shows the name of the soundcard), and Foobar set for, in my case, the PS Audio DSD driver. Then all PC-sourced sounds like the beeps, and YouTube from my browser will always play through these little speakers, while Foobar controls the music files and sends them out the USB port to the DAC (or Mutec.. however you set your system up). Both play and work together and you still get bit-for-bit out to your DAC.
Now there is another alternative to all of this... the PS Audio Junior DAC has a built-in ethernet port and you can configure your NAS, Foobar, and Junior to bypass your PC as a transport for music and have Foobar direct the NAS to send music files directly to the Junior via your home network. Many do this ... I never bothered to try this.... some find it really kludgy, others have no issues. The USB interface through the computer just works and is easiest to set up.
PeaceBruce in Philly

It would be useful if manufacturers actually made jitter measurements, like these:

The function of these devices is to reduce jitter after all.  On the other hand, I believe most manufacturers don't want you to know this.

Steve N.

Emprirical Audio

Post removed 

Correct, jitter is a non-issue for digital transfer to a computer.  Jitter in an A/D converter is critical though.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

 "Jitter in an A/D converter is critical though.

Sorry but don't follow. I thought to reduce jitter the enhanced reclockers are placed between a digital source and a DAC, e.g., between a CD player and a DAC, etc. So where does this A to D conversion that you speak of occurs?

If you are talking about moving data into a computer, this is usually from a A/D converter or by copying from a website like HDtracks. This is inbound data. Online streaming data like Roon is only temporarily stored as it is streamed out.

If you are talking about streaming data out from a computer, jitter usually matters at the D/A converter.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Since potential jitter doesn’t have an immediate impact on audio in the digital domain, the re-clocking of inbound audio signals when transferring strictly to the computer is not a necessity. Nonetheless it does provide a useful solution for simultaneously monitoring the re-clocked signal on any of the other audio inputs to make sure that the computer is properly locking to the asynchronous USB signal.
see: Bluestacks TextNow Photomath
Steve, thanks for the explanation.