Puccini UClock in for upgrade to MK II, now delayed. What are my options?
I have a dCS Puccini UClock at the US Service Center for upgrade to MK II. This became necessary after I replaced a 2010 IMac with a 2016 Macmini as the server in my system. I was getting clicks and pops during playback and eventually discovered the earlier UClock won’t work with any OS past Sierra.
After some delay in troubleshooting the issue and getting the unit to dCS, I was just told the modification hardware for the upgrade is in the middle of it’s “burning in period” in the UK, but the factory was closed last Friday. No one can tell me if the burn in is continuing (original schedule was for it to be complete this Friday and shipped immediately), or if I am dead in the water until the factory reopens.
I’ve been without a functioning DAC for computer based files since mid-Feb. I have a Puccini SACD/CD player that coupled with the UClock gave me stellar performance up until I made the server change, and have been enjoying spinning discs again—my listening prior to this situation was almost exclusively thru the IMac. I miss sitting on the couch and listening to whatever song pops in my head via the Remote app and my IPad vs. getting up to change discs every time I want to hear a specific song.
The rest of my system is comprised of a Krell Evo 202, Krell Evo 600 monoblocks, Marchand crossover, Revel Salon I main speakers, and a pair of Revel Sub15s driven by Red Dragon Class D amps. Stealth and high-end Audioquest cabling throughout, along with a Shunyata Hydra 8 power conditioner for the front end, and Running Springs Duke for the amps—all running from a dedicated 20 amp power source.
Here are the options I am considering to temporarily bridge the gap until I get the upgraded UClock back. A huge caveat though is any reduction in SQ is gonna be pretty apparent to me, and not be pleasurable if this has to last an extended period.
1. Buy a USB to SPDIF converter. The SACD/CD player has an input for an external digital source as a SPDIF, but no USB connection. It relied on the UClock to make that conversion, along with assuming control of the wordclock from the IMac/Macmini. I suspect no matter how much I spend on a USB to SPDIF converter I am not going to get back to the SQ I had before. In addition, I hate the idea of spending $ for a less than satisfying temporary solution which could have a pretty long duration.
2. Buy an inexpensive DAC, with a USB connection, to bridge the gap. Still same problem with reduction in SQ if this has to last an extended period, and I’ll need another set of XLR interconnects, and a power cable. It is gonna be expensive to match the cabling I already have in my system, and not the smartest investment for a temporary measure.
I’m also considering solving the problem permanently by moving on from the Puccini SACD/CD player processor and UClock combination, and buying a SACD/CD player that can accept a USB input to handle the conversion. The McIntosh MCD 1100 is at the top of the list for this consideration, but I am not sure if this is actually taking a step backwards from the dCS equipment.
My final option (unless I get more here), is buying a used dCS DeBussy to handle the DAC duties directly, while the Puccini SACD/CD player continues to be used to spin discs. I’m certain I’ll be back at the SQ I had before if not better and if that’s the case, the investment to match the cabling already in my system makes more sense. Once I get the UClock back, I can use it to provide wordclock control for both the DeBussy DAC and the Puccini SACD/CD player, or I can sell it to recoup some of the investment in the DeBussy.
I was offered a sweet deal from a fellow A-goner for a DeBussy I passed on before I knew the timing of return of the UClock was uncertain...wish I had that decision to make over again. He’s also offered me an attractive deal on a MK II UClock but I hate the idea of buying the same component twice.
Mark Twain once said “If I’d had more time I’d have written a shorter book”—so apologies for the length of above. As a retired engineer it bothers the hell out of me to have more variables than equations with which to solve a problem, so any input/recommendations that y’all could offer would be appreciated.