• Empirical Audio Pace-Car

    Computer Audiophile just received some information from Empirical Audio on their Pace-Car Reclocker. Not many people know digital audio like Empirical and that is pretty clear after researching this product a little bit more. Their website has more information and great photos including photos of a Squeezebox and DAC1 connected to the Pace-Car. To be honest I didn't realize this product (or anything like it) existed and I am guessing many readers didn't either. I thought I was "good" with a Benchmark DAC1 USB and lossless 24/96 music. Hopefully a reader can give us a detailed opinion of this product (build quality, ease of use, documentation quality, tech support, and the always subjective sound quality) Check it out for yourselves. It might make you feel like you have a rudimentary system without this.
     
    [Computer Audiophile does not receive any compensation for posting product information.]

    The Pace-Car from Empirical Audio changes user-friendly mid-fi sources such as Squeezebox, Sonos and AirPort Express
    into world-class digital sources. It allows the audiophile to use the playback software and user interface they like
    without sacrificing any sound quality. The Pace-Car can be configured to work with practically ANY digital source.

    The Pace-Car does not modify the digital data in any way. What it does is reduce the jitter in the timing to inaudible
    levels. Jitter is a phenomenon that has plagued digital audio and CD playback from its inception. It is similar to
    "wow and flutter" that occurs with LP turntables. Jitter is a frequency modulation of the music waveform caused by
    inaccuracies in the timing, or "clocks". Jitter is typically caused by inaccuracies in the master system clock, but
    more jitter can be added as the signal passes through buffers, dividers and even cables. Jitter is even introduced when
    the signal is converted to S/PDIF to be transmitted on a coax. The optical conversion of Toslink introduces even more
    jitter.

    What the Pace-Car does to minimize this jitter (you can never completely eliminate it), is buffer the data in a FIFO
    (First-in, First-out) buffer memory and then clock it out using an ultra-stable clock with a minimum number of low
    jitter dividers and buffers. The incoming data jitter does not matter with the Pace-Car. It only needs to store the
    data in the FIFO memory. The timing information is discarded. Then new timing is created at the FIFO output. The
    output is totally electrically and timing-domain isolated from the input stream. The result is inaudible levels of
    jitter on the output.

    What you will hear is unprecedented clarity, dynamics and 3-D imaging. This is what is sounds like when the
    high-frequency jitter modulation is gone. Even the most expensive CD players have significant audible jitter on the
    digital outputs. The Pace-Car can even be configured to work with these.

    Empirical Audio
    http://www.empiricalaudio.com



     


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    Comments 16 Comments
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      After really looking into the Pace-Car I do think this would be a great addition to any system, however I have never heard it so I am only speculating based on the technology. <br />
      <br />
      "...I'll need some convincing that one needs both a good DAC and the Pace Car..."<br />
      <br />
      I am sure many audiophiles will also need some convincing. I will see if I can get Empirical Audio to "convince" readers that they do need the Pace-Car in addition to a great DAC.<br />
      <br />
      - Chris<br />
      Computer Audiophile | Turn Down The Silence
    1. audioengr's Avatar
      audioengr -
      I have been modding the DAC-1 for about 4 years now. I use a DAC-1 with an I2S interface exclusively with a Pace-Car reclocker for my own listening. I also put a Superclock4 inside the DAC-1 USB for a lot of customers. The Pace-Car is better. Nothing has lower jitter, no other reclockers, no other DAC's. I will be exhibiting the DAC-1 with mods driven by the Pace-Car from several sources at THE Show during CES. Sources include: Squeezebox, Sonos, AirPort Express and USB.<br />
      <br />
      I know it is difficult to believe the rantings of a manufacturer, so I will defer you to the feedbacks from happy customers on the Pace-Car as then come in. It is a new product, so I only have a few so far.<br />
      <br />
      Steve N.<br />
      Empirical Audio
    1. kana813's Avatar
      kana813 -
      "Nothing has lower jitter, no other reclockers, no other DAC's."<br />
      <br />
      Prove it.
    1. audioengr's Avatar
      audioengr -
      Okay, I'll give YOU a money back guarantee on a Pace-Car.<br />
      <br />
      On the other hand, I have equipment that I will get on-loan after the new year that I will make jitter measurements with. It gets expensive when you are measuring picoseconds.<br />
      <br />
      Steve N.<br />
      Empirical Audio
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hey kana813 - Welcome to Computer Audiophile. I am curious where you are coming from with that line of thought. Do you have some information you can point us to or share with us? Is this just a gut feeling or something else? No judgements here I am just curious because it seems like a lot of engineering has gone into reducing jitter by many companies who have been able to measure their results.<br />
      <br />
      Your opinion is valued here and if you can explain to us why we need not spend any more money on jitter reducing technology then you will have many fans around here. I'm very skeptical to say the least, but I await your reply with an open mind.<br />
      <br />
      - Chris<br />
      Computer Audiophile | Turn Down The Silence
    1. kana813's Avatar
      kana813 -
      Chris-<br />
      <br />
      It's just like the recent TAS article, where RH says two<br />
      music servers sound better than an Esoteric transport because they have lower jitter. <br />
      <br />
      Like RH, SteveN provides no jitter measurements to support his claims. <br />
      <br />
      SteveN says he needs to borrow equipment to take jitter measurements, so how does he know "Nothing has lower jitter, no other reclockers, no other DAC's," than his equipment?<br />
      <br />
      SteveN constantly uses forums like this one and audiogon to pump his products. <br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Thanks for your opinion and I do respect it. <br />
      <br />
      I actually invited Steve to participate in the forums and any discussions on the site. I consider it a great opportunity for readers to hear directly from the producers of products. This also provides a great opportunity for producers to "pump" their products, or as I see it, explain why their products are better than others and tell us what we are missing.<br />
      <br />
      Fortunately all our readers have the ability to take this information and use it however they want.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks again for coming back to answer my questions and post your opinion. Thanks also to Steve for his continued participation at my invitation.<br />
      <br />
      <br />
      - Chris<br />
      Computer Audiophile | Turn Down The Silence
    1. audioengr's Avatar
      audioengr -
      Because I hear all kinds of equipment at shows and while doing mods on them. That's how I know. Also, a lot of equipment that my customers own is compared to my gear, so I get that feedback as well.<br />
      <br />
      I save my customers a lot of money and give them more performance for their money by not spending a lot on advertising. Ever heard of Bose? My business model also guarantees that I'll be here 10 years from now. I dont borrow money to operate etc..<br />
      <br />
      Steve N.
    1. kana813's Avatar
      kana813 -
      "Because I hear all kinds of equipment at shows and while doing mods on them. That's how I know."<br />
      <br />
      You can quantified jitter levels by ear, without taking any measurements.<br />
      <br />
      Amazing. <br />
      <br />
      Can you also determine it's frequency spectrum?<br />
      <br />
      "I save my customers a lot of money and give them more performance for their money by not spending a lot on advertising."<br />
      <br />
      Or measurment equipment.<br />
      <br />
      Keeping on pumping.....<br />
      <br />
    1. arthur's Avatar
      arthur -
      Hi<br />
      <br />
      I am new to this forum... i mostly lurk at audiocircle.com under the same name.<br />
      <br />
      I purchased the Pace Car a few months ago right when it came out. I was skeptical at first, since i had never dealt with Empirical Audio before and i usually don't purchase things that have not been out and tested for a while. However, Steve at Empirical promised a 'money back guarantee' so i took the plunge. <br />
      <br />
      The unit is well built and the sound has exceeded my expectations. I wrote a review of it at <br />
      http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/index.php?topic=47245.0<br />
      <br />
      I had not mentioned built quality in my review, so i'll address it here. It's a sturdy little black box that is easy to tuck away and forget about. All of the connectors appear to be of good quality and the box sits on very soft feet. The only negative i can think of is the back plate seems to have been initially cut for different connectors, but it's not visible from the front and all of the connectors are bolted down in a secure fashion. I'm assuming that this flaw has already been fixed on the newer units.<br />
      <br />
      Steve tunes each unit to your Airport Express and luckily mine matches the optical output of my DVD player when i play CD's. I wish it could decode the DVD audio signal too. Other than that i'm quite happy with my purchase.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Thanks for the information and the link to your review.<br />
      <br />
      welcome to Computer Audiophile!<br />
      <br />
    1. Nels Ferre's Avatar
      Nels Ferre -
      I am not trying to jump in the middle of an argument here, I am just trying to understand how all the gear ties together. Since Steve is around, and I highly respect his opinion, here goes.<br />
      <br />
      Currently, my PC front end looks like this:<br />
      Dell inspiron 2200 feeding a Trends Audio 10.1 USB to SPDIF converter to the DAC (varies). I understand that USB only passes 24/48. I'd like to be able to get 24/96 capability but am unsure how to get there. The DACs I have here have 24/96 capability, but as I understand it, the USB connection is the bottleneck.<br />
      <br />
      I am an iTunes for Windows user and understand that the only way I can get bit perfect playback is with the Airport Express. How does that tie in- I already have a wireless router.<br />
      <br />
      I also realize the Dell is getting long in the tooth, and have my eye on a Macbook Pro. I don't get how Steve's gear and the AE all tie in to what I already have.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks in advance.<br />
      <br />
      Nels<br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
    1. jimiles's Avatar
      jimiles -
      I'd like to jump into the fray with my experience, having recently completed the ordering process for a PaceCar 2 to use with my AppleTV. <br />
      <br />
      The configuration and ordering process were amazingly easy! I sent Steve an email with three technical questions. He enthusiastically answered them that same afternoon, and made some recommendations for how I might like my PaceCar configured. Later that week, I posted additional questions to his AudioCircle forum, which he again answered at length that same day. Overall, I couldn't ask for a more positive experience thus far.<br />
      <br />
      I'll post a followup about the PaceCar 2 itself after it arrives.
    1. jensin's Avatar
      jensin -
      I didn't know about this car so far.By reading your article I came to know some details clearly.Thanks.<br />
      <br />
    1. jon123's Avatar
      jon123 -
      In motorsport, a safety car or pace car is a car which limits the speed of competing cars on a racetrack in the case of a caution period such as a major accident or obstruction on the track. During a caution period the safety car enters the track ahead of the leader. With few exceptions, competitors are not allowed to pass the safety car or other competitors during a caution period, and the safety car leads the field at a pre-determined safe speed, which may vary by series and circuit. At the end of the caution period, the safety car leaves the track and the competitors may resume racing.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks,<br />
      <a href="http://carfinance.netcars.co.uk/">Car Loans</a>
    1. jerina's Avatar
      jerina -
      The use of a safety car has the side effect of pushing all the competitors together, so any time advantage of one car over another that remains on the same lap is virtually eliminated. This "drawing together" effect can make racing more competitive; conversely, it can be viewed as preventing faster drivers and cars from receiving appropriate rewards for their efforts.<br />
      <br />
      ---------------------<br />
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