Review: Wyred4Sound Remedy Reclocker


Let's start with a disclaimer: I am not associated in any way with Wyred4Sound or any related commercial enterprise. I should also state that my knowledge of electronics and physics is pretty basic, probably just enough to be dangerous. My approach to audio is musical rather than technical. This review is an entirely personal statement.

A few weeks ago I began a thread in the Digital section of Audiogon's forums seeking opinions about CD transports. My current disc spinner, a Cambridge Audio 751BD universal player has worked well enough for DVDs and Blu-rays, especially since I added a Bryston BDA1 DAC to the system but I didn't think I was getting all I could from CDs, of which I have a pretty extensive collection. At first glance the Cyrus CDt seemed an attractive alternative, but a convincing majority of responses came down heavily in favor of PS Audio's PWT, though even in the used market this unit weighs in at well over 2 grand. Yes, I could afford this, but thought it worth experimenting with a less expensive solution first.

Enter Wyred4Sound's Remedy Reclocker, a $399 box just a bit larger than palm of your hand. It accepts coax and optical inputs—there's a manual switch to toggle between them—and has both optical and coax outputs, the latter accepting connections from either RCA and BNC cable ends. There's also a manual on/off switch. An LED logo illuminates the top of the box when it senses a signal. The unit comes with a plastic 9v “wall-wart” power supply (more on this later) and that's pretty much all there is to it.

The stated purpose of the Remedy Reclocker is to reduce jitter—the timing mistakes that happen when digital information is read and processed—to an infinitesimal level. (A really useful and thorough explanation of how CDs are read and how they produce jitter can be found in the 6 Moons Audio review of PS Audio's PWT: http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/psaudio7/perfectwave.html). For my 751BD, the owner's manual states a measurement of <50pS, that is, less than 50 trillionths of a second. This should be, by any reasonable standard, a pretty low rate of jitter, but Wyred4Sound claims their little box reduces this by an order of magnitude to a just few fS, or femtoseconds (quadrillionths of a second). The real test is: what effect did this have on the actual sound?

To help explain this, I'd first like to describe how I perceive music. Leaving aside the admittedly important issue of how music affects us on the emotional level, there are many different ways of experiencing music, some the result of your own range of hearing and some the result of how your brain is wired. For example, a musician friend of mine who has the most extreme case of “perfect pitch” I've ever encountered describes music as a visual experience—notes have color and intervals have shapes. Clinically, this is a form of synesthesia, a condition where one sense (in this case hearing) stimulates another (sight). He hears and sees music as an integrated event, from which he can identify each harmonic and melodic element without external reference. Even though we're both professional musicians, I have a completely different way of experiencing what I'm hearing, as I my brain is not wired that way. Using vision as a metaphor, I hear music in much the say way as I see the world around me: it is comprised of any number of discrete elements and if I focus on one of them (the melody, say, or an inner voice, or some part of the accompaniment), that comes to the foreground and everything else, though still part of the whole, recedes to the background, rather like seeing it in peripheral vision.

The point of all this is that it affects how I want my audio system to sound. Focusing on each of these musical elements requires that they be clearly defined in the image (using the vision metaphor again) and that the whole image is pleasing (we often describe this as “musical”) enough for me to enjoy it. Thus, a stereo image that is not as sharp as it might be, or an instrument or voice that has an unpleasant ringing quality (often described as “glare”) will significantly diminish my enjoyment of the music. These are the things Wyred4Sound's Remedy Reclocker have so effectively addressed in my system. By upsampling to 96Khz and reducing jitter to this extremely low level, the whole image has become tighter, the placement of instruments more exact, and the glare virtually eliminated. Recordings in my collection that had remained unplayed for years because I didn't like their sound are suddenly quite listenable. An example of this is violinist Janine Jansen's 2012 recording of Schubert's beautiful String Quintet in C Major (Decca), a disc which had always sounded strident to me and now sounds far more relaxed and controlled, each instrument distinct but integrated naturally into the ambiance. A much older recording, Mahler's Symphony No. 5 conducted by Sir John Barbirolli (EMI's “Great Recordings of the 20th Century” series) is brought vividly to life, especially the brass, which before the addition of the reclocker, sounded edgy and thin and now has real warmth and presence. The stereo image of this 1969 recording is widened and brought into sharp focus. My favorite CD for testing stereo image is the San Francisco Symphony's 1991 Grammy-winning recording of Carl Orff's “Carmina Burana.” The placement of baritone Kevin McMillan's voice in “Estuans intereus” (track 11) should be firmly fixed and slightly recessed just to the right of the conductor, but this can be more or less distinct depending on the system. Before the addition of the reclocker, this placement was reasonably good, but now it is pinpoint.

These are just a few examples of the improvements I'm hearing. The Remedy Reclocker has made a very noticeable improvement to the sound of my CDs and it makes me want to listen more and more. Reading other reviews, it appears that this unit would probably not make as significant a difference to the very highest-end players, like the aforementioned PS Audio PWT, but for most of us, especially those of us with older players, it is an affordable and very worthwhile upgrade. I should also mention that I found its effect on DVDs and Blu-Ray discs not as profound, and I'm guessing this is because it outputs everything at 96 Khz, a significant upsampling for CDs and DVDs, but the effect on higher resolution formats is smaller. I assume that anything higher than 96Khz will actually be downsampled.

Another factor, of course, is the choice of digital cable. You'll need two, one for input and one for output. I use coax for both, one being the Nordost Blue Heaven LS digital cable I already had, the other being a new Audioquest Carbon. The latter seems to me to be the superior cable based on its pre-reclocker performance, so there soon will be another of these cables in my system.

And now a word about the power supply. It an axiom in the audio world that better power supplies enhance performance, but with regard to the Remedy, Wyred4Sound's website is very equivocal about this. They have no specific suggestions for power supply upgrade and won't even commit to the proposition that it would improve the Remedy's performance. The specs are: 1A/9V (12V will also work, they say), 2.1mm connector with (+) on the inside. They won't cover damage from any third-party PSUs, so you're on your own here. From my own bitter, embarrassing, and EXPENSIVE experience, be very, very careful with this. After asking the folks at Wyred4Sound whether my Pangea F-100 (12V/500mA) power supply would work (these were an upgrade for Musical Fidelity's V-DAC II and Cambridge Audio's DAC Magic), the folks at Wyred4Sound thought it probably would. As stated at the top of this review, I know just enough about electronics to be dangerous, so I thought I'd give it a try. What I got, upon connecting, was a loud POP and the distinct smell of burning circuitry. Of course the unit was thereafter stone cold dead and had things rattling around inside. My only alternative then was to buy another one. Well, at least I got a discount on the second one. Lesson learned.


The rest of my system: Hegel H200 integrated amp, Bryston BDA 1 DAC, Arcam FMJ Tuner, Proac Response d2 speakers, REL S-2 sub, Clarus Aqua speaker and RCA cables, Audioart XLRs.






cooper52
Cooper, W4S claim they have a femtoclock IN the Remedy, which seems true based on the specs of the crystal, BUT NEVER do they claim they reduce jitter to femtoseconds nor do they actually call the Remedy a femtoclock. The only measurement I could find showed reduction of jitter to 80-ish picoseconds (1 ps = 1,000 fs)

Your mistake is quite natural and a result of their marketing hype.

As for a replacement power supply, looking at the one W4S provides, it is a 9V/1A model. iFi makes a 9V/1 A wall wart for $50 or so that has great noise specs I’m interested in trying but no one seems to have it in stock.

http://www.musicdirect.com/p-322395-ifi-ipower-outboard-supply.aspxhttp://

Any replacement should be 9V but any current equal or above 1A should work.
I just want to add, that while I like what the remedy is doing to my worst sources, it wasn’t a perfect solution. It still isn’t letting me hear My ARC DAC8 as well as I heard it in the store, attached to an Ayre CD spinner.

Next, it is an Asynchronous Sample Rate Converter, which focuses on being time-perfect rather than bit perfect. If you absolutely must have all the original bits, this isn’t the device for you. Mind you, this is a good, and technically convenient solution to jitter. I’m a little surprised their measurements aren’t better at the end. This can be due to the supporting parts or due to not having a big enough sample buffer to allow the ASRC to stabilize more.

In addition, Remedy regeneraters absolultely EVERYTHING to 24/96 kHz. So if you have recordings at a higher resolution than this they will get down sampled. Annoyingly, even if your original source is 24/96kHz it will still regenerate the audio signal in the image of it’s own crystal. Anyone interested in this may want to look up the Schiit discussions online about open and closed-form digital filters. As far as I know, only Schiit offers ASRC with bit-perfect samples. Nice sounding DACs too.

Current Mytek DACs offer a built-in ASRC but have a plethora of options to help you maintain control over its behavior as well as support for signals at 192kHz (Stereo-192) or higher. They also offer a stand-alone ASRC at around $1,100 USD with similarly enhanced functionality.


Best,

Erik
Erik,

Perhaps I got the last 9v iPower Music Direct had in stock.  Just came in Friday.  Sorry. :) 

Bought it to try with the Remedy as well (situated between a Cambridge CXC transport and Cary DAC-100t) but haven't had the opportunity to give it a listen due to too much family stuff this weekend.  I'll report back once I have a chance to give it a critical listen.

Bill
Oops. Thanks Erik, I stand corrected on this. I took a much more careful look at Wyred4Sound's stats and indeed, even though they call the clock "femto-grade," it actually measures out to about 87pS on their Apple TV source, so I suppose they really should call it "pico-grade." As I stated in my review, Cambridge Audio claims a rate of >50pS for the 751BD player. However, whatever the Remedy actually does to the signal, it's a distinct improvement over the native sound of my CA 751BD/Bryston BDA1 DAC combination for CDs, which was why I bought it in the first place. My BDA1 DAC has the option to upsample CDs to 176.4Khz, but it doesn't sound very good doing that, just thinner and brighter. In fact, I haven't yet found a source that sounds better upsampled this way on this DAC. Should also mention that the Remedy makes a noticeable improvement to the audio signal from my DishNet satellite box, too.
Bill, I look forward to hearing how this power supply affects the performance of the Remedy. As you can imagine, I'm a little snake-bitten about replacing the PSU at this point.
Mentioning Dish Network reminds me me of another point. Not only does the Remedy only do 1 thing, re-sample to 24/96, but it also doesn't support multiple live inputs. I have no way of selecting an input source, so I can't for instance switch between my Squeezebox Touch and Oppo 103 BD player like I can on my DAC.

I'm leaning more and more to trying a Mytek with the DAC + ASRC built in for the sake of simplicity, not to mention cost. :)

The Myteck 192 SRC does allow multiple connections, but no remote. You have to manually press the IN(put) select button.

Best,


Erik
Bill....

Damn  your forsesight!! :)  It's ok, I'm just going by the message on the web page that says it's 2-4 weeks.  It may not be true.

I'm seriously thinking of taking the plunge on a new DAC instead, and selling the combo I have.  I'm still thinking about the whole enchilada though. My Squeezebox will eventually die, and I'll need the next thing.  The Mytek Brooklyn and Manhattan now support DSD as well as 192kHz from Linux without drivers, so that makes the idea of making my own music server more possible.

Best,


Erik
Cooper,

I'll be sure and post what I hear.  You have me a little worried now after your experience.  Of course, that won't stop me from trying anyway.  :)  One question though:  the Remedy's stock wall wart is center positive, as is the iFi's default connector.  Any chance the Pangea is center negative and that's what caused your Remedy to fry?

I checked the Remedy's stock converter, and it outputs 9.3 volts unloaded.  The iFi puts out 9.4 volts (again, unloaded).  So voltage-wise they're compatible, and hopefully I won't be posting back that I fried my Remedy too.  :)

Bill
Bill,
Yes, very possibly that was the problem, but I didn't have a way to test it, something I really should have done before rashly proceeding. Some more thorough online research might have yielded an answer, of course.

Cooper,

You make nice tires....Hah. Sorry. :) Anyway, multimeters are cheap, like $10 cheap. :)  Worth getting one.

Best,

Erik
After speaking to a recording engineer whose ears I respect a great deal, I've decided to get a Mytek Brooklyn. I was told it was a "great DAC for the price" which is all I wanted. The DSD and MQA built in is bonus.

I'll let you know how it works with the Remedy. The Mytek has a built in ASRC and very very nice clock.

Best,

Erik
Count me in as one who is extremely pleased with the addition of the iFI 9v iPower AC/DC adapter (eBay) to my Reclocker.  My experience was that the sound quality improvement of adding the iFI iPower was greater than the initial addition of adding the Reclocker.
When I first hooked up the Reclocker I thought it was a "nice" little improvement to my overall sound.  Two weeks later, when the iFI iPower arrived I was able to simply replace the Reclocker wall wart, turn on some music, and try to stop saying OMG!  
To try to quantify my results, I would say if the improvement my system gained from the addition of the Reclocker AND the iFI 9v iPower AC/DC adapter equals 100% of the total improvement, then the Reclocker alone only gave me about 30-40% of the total improvement.  (Your mileage may differ).
I found out about the power supply upgrades by reading the reviews on Amazon.  I initially tried to by the more expensive Audiophile 9v power supply from Swagman Labs (EBay), but I had trouble getting a response so I went with the iFI unit.  I would be interested in hearing the results if someone is using the Swagman unit.
The bad news is the best source for the iFI adapters is in Great Britain, so it will take you a while to get your hands on one. 

That sure is a ringing endorsement of the iFi PSU. Just a quick question though, which sort of illustrates my relative illiteracy in matters electronic: the power spec is 9v/2A, and Wyred4Sound specifies 1A. Can this cause a problem? I'd hate to have a repeat my first PSU experience. In one of the previous posts, bcowen (Bill) assures us that iFi's default configuration is center (+), so that, at least, shouldn't be an issue.
Cooper,

The main thing with the amperage is to be sure the power supply can deliver at least as many amps as the component requires. The component will not draw more than needed, so as long as it can get all it needs, higher amperage is fine.  The voltage is the important thing to match up with a wall wart.

I finally had some time to listen to the iFi last night and today.  Happy to report no fried Remedy. :)  Sonically, I think the iFi is a worthwhile upgrade.  It builds on the sonic attributes the Remedy brings to the table to begin with -- more ease, less digital edge on marginal recordings, more space and air around the instruments, less fatigue especially at higher volumes.  But I'm on the flip side of Toolbox's ratio, finding the Remedy brought 80% of the goods to the party, and the iFi added about 20%.  I am not discounting Toolbox's findings, just reporting what I hear in my system (with different components, different room, and different ears).  More of an incremental improvement (for me) than a game changer, but I will say I've spent far more on other components and tweaks that didn't offer as much improvement.  For $50, I'm quite pleased with the outcome. 

Bill
Thanks for the information, Bill. I'll see if I can lay my hands on an iFi power supply, but their availability seems pretty sketchy at the moment. Once I do, however, I'll be sure to post my experience with it.
cooper very nicely written and informative review thanks for posting it. I had a good/bad experience with my own Wyred Remedy, I picked mine up used off Agon in like new condition and inserted it between my Sonos Connect and Yamamoto YDA-1. Nice improvement deeper bass more liveliness and color to instruments and an overall bigger sound. But after a few months it started outputting audible distortion, like hearing the music underwater! I talked to Wyred about this, their tech was a very nice guy, but since it was used no warranty and $125 to get it on their workbench to be checked out. Given the low cost of the unit and even lower cost I paid it didn't seem worth it to fix so in a closet it sits. In the meantime I upgraded the Sonos to an Auralic Aries Mini with linear power supply this to me sounds better than the Sonos/Remedy combo. Not meaning to cast any aspersions on Wyred my situation sounds anomalous plus it was a used unit and the call back from their tech was very prompt. Just wanted to post another data point. Glad its worked out for you it seems like a great device for the $$.
Erik, I'm curious about the Mytek Brooklyn you mentioned last month. Have you taken the plunge with this DAC yet? I'm especially interested to hear your impressions of it.
Hi @cooper52 !

I have, and it’s really quite marvelous! :) So far I’ve only fed it from my Logitech SB Touch. It took about 2-4 days to fully mellow out. The first couple of days the treble was too etched and was over-dynamic. Possibly sounding that way due to the treble. The dynamics and sound staging are really great. There’s a fabulous fullness in between the speakers that seems to follow you around the room. I have no idea why this would be just from swapping DAC’s but it’s true. I would have thought this was purely a matter of speaker placement and dispersion.

The treble feels slick, like soap on glass. I've only heard this once before but right now can't quite remember which DAC it was.

Compared to my memory, it is as detailed and open as the Berkeley Alpha, but not as cool sounding.

The one issue I have, and it may not be anything wrong, is it reports KDFC as being 44.1/23 bits. :) A very odd bit depth.

I have listened to MQA from http://www.2l.no/hires/ and could not really tell any difference at all from 96/24 PCM. I’ve not yet tried DSD.

I hope to try USB, DSD, and the sample rate converter over the next few weeks as well.

Best,

Erik
Update: I finally received my iFi power supply and have incorporated it into the system without incident (whew!). It doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference, though. Maybe the sound is just a tiny bit tighter, but a bigger difference was achieved by replacing the Nordost Blue Heaven LS digital cable with an Audioquest Carbon cable, so that I’m now using these for both input and output. Maybe I can spot some differences between the two power supplies with a little more A/B testing. We’ll see...