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Dear all,

 

Some may have already recognized Mutec’s finally finished new masterclock quietly presented at Axpona. With the launch of the product on Munich’s High End I am able to share some of the technical details with you.

 

 

I have been in contact with the REF 10 10 MHz clock for the first time in December 2014 with the first prototype presented by Mutec. In short, the goal was to combine even lower phase noise with a precise clock, it looked very promising already at that time. But it took Mutec more time as planned to reach their goals. We have in between seen learning’s of the development in the excellent Mutec MC3+ USB. At the end of Decembers 2016 the prototype measurements confirmed a very high slew rate square and even better phase noise results for the REF 10 as 2014. Finally these are the measurements for the final product:

 

 

REF 10 phase noise:

1 Hz:                -116 dBc/Hz
10 Hz:              -142 dBc/Hz
100 Hz:            -155 dBc/Hz
1000 Hz:          -160 dBc/Hz
Noise floor:      -166 dBc/Hz

Part of the development is a sub-1 Hz optimized linear power supply for lowest noise. The heart is an ultra-low phase noise OCXO from Germany.

For the techies between us this should give a valid insight. More listening experience to come when I have the REF10 again on my desk.

 

Enjoy the music

Thomas

 

P.S. I have no commercial relationship to Mutec. I am testing and measuring hardware and software in my system as some of us do ;)

Edited by Octagon
format

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Hi Thomas,

 

I am testing and measuring hardware and software in my system as some of us

9_9

I've done some tests using various 10 MHz OCXOs attached to my MC-3+.

 

REF 10 phase noise:   1 Hz:                -116 dBc/Hz
None of the OCXOs tested so far has such a low phase noise @ 1Hz; this value is important for good sound quality according to my findings.

My best OCXO (KS-24361) has according to spec a 2-3 times higher temporal jitter - keen to have REF 10 in my gearB|

 

Ulli

 

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So how does it compare to this?

 

https://www.dcsltd.co.uk/products/vivaldi-clock/

 

I just have to ask because the dCS Clock is a cool £10K in the UK.  Plus, looking at the dCS spec sheets I cannot see any areas it appears superior to the Mutec MC3+USB, let alone the Ref 10.  Am I missing something or is the dCS perhaps just not the value for money option?

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I believe you're missing something. In the dCS ecosystem the new Mutec REF 10 will be increasing the accuracy of the Vivaldi clock with the 10Mhz connection. So not really an AB comparison i.e. a Vivaldi DAC won't connect directly to this new clock.

 

It also won't look nice next to the dCS 'curves' :P

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3 hours ago, k-man said:

I believe you're missing something. In the dCS ecosystem the new Mutec REF 10 will be increasing the accuracy of the Vivaldi clock with the 10Mhz connection. So not really an AB comparison i.e. a Vivaldi DAC won't connect directly to this new clock.

 

It also won't look nice next to the dCS 'curves' :P

Yes, I think I have a lot to learn regarding clocks, although I at least get the point about the curves.

 

So what you are saying is that the Ref 10 is a more accurate clock than the dCS Master clock, but that the Ref 10 is incompatible with dCS products and could not be used with, say, the dCS Vivaldi Upsampler or DAC?  So why the incompatibility?  This I what I don't fully understand.  As I said, much to learn!

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13 minutes ago, Confused said:

Yes, I think I have a lot to learn regarding clocks, although I at least get the point about the curves.

 

So what you are saying is that the Ref 10 is a more accurate clock than the dCS Master clock, but that the Ref 10 is incompatible with dCS products and could not be used with, say, the dCS Vivaldi Upsampler or DAC?  So why the incompatibility?  This I what I don't fully understand.  As I said, much to learn!

The REF 10 is arguable the most compatible 10 MHz clock out there and it will work in conjunction with various 10 MHz compatible DACs and clocks by manufacturers - not just MUTEC. It is however a strict 10 MHz clock, so you will need a 10 MHz reference input of some sort. The dCs Vivaldi Master Clock has a 10 MHz compatible reference input and the REF 10 will be an excellent choice to drive this input. But the other Vivaldi products (Upsampler, DAC) only have Word Clock inputs and (unfortunately) don't provide a 10 MHz input. So you would need some other master clock in between (like the dCs or the MUTEC MC-3+/MC-3+USB) to generate and distribute the Word Clock signal to the upsampled or DAC. 

 

Unfortunately dCs doesn't publish any phase noise figures for the Vivaldi Master Clock, which is the figure to pay attention to. But to my knowledge, the phase noise performance of the REF 10 is unmatched at the moment!

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The Vivaldi Upsampler and DAC will only accept Clock frequencies from the Master Clock at 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192kHz. The Master Clock itself can accept a Reference signal at 10Mhz (as well as 1Mhz and 5Mhz).

 

Since the Mutec MC3+ USB accepts the 10Mhz signal, Mutec's main goal is to 'improve' the performance of that unit with the REF10.

 

All in all, quite difficult to make the relevant comparisons between the 2. I am the least qualified to do so.

Edited by k-man

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Let's do it step-by-step:

  • Vivaldi Master Clock:
    External Reference Input on 1x 75Ω BNC connector. Accepts either Word Clock or AC coupled signals at 1MHz, 5MHz & 10MHz. Lock range is +/-300ppm
     
  • Mutec REF 10:
    Provides simultaneous reference outputs with 50 and 75 Ω impedance
    galvanically isolated, individually switchable BNC clock outputs

=> REF 10 can be used @ Vivaldi Master Clock.

 

The rational for that would be to have a more stable reference to generate the digital audio clock frequencies  (44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192kHz) - depends on the quality of the Vivaldi internal clock, the capabilty of the Vivaldi clock to track the external reference etc.

 

Sound quality increases in case a dCS Scarlatti is give a quite good 10 MHz reference (KS-24361).

 

Might be the same with a better reference (REF 10) feed into a Vivaldi Master Clock...

Should be worth a trial, if you can

 

Ulli

 

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2 minutes ago, k-man said:

The Vivaldi Upsampler and DAC will only accept Clock frequencies from the Master Clock at 4.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192kHz. The Master Clock itself can accept a Reference signal at 10Mhz (as well as 1Mhz and 5Mhz).

 

Since the Mutec MC3+ USB accepts the 10Mhz signal, Mutec's main goal is to 'improve' the performance of that unit with the REF10.

Oh, I'm not so familiar with dCS...-_-

The RME AES card also only accepts audio clock signals as an external reference, too.

A MC-3+ controlled by a KS-24361 10MHz used as an external reference at this card did clearly improve SQ.

Only draw back: as the external rate must match the sample rate of the track being played, some adjustment at the MC-3+ is required in case the next track uses a different rate (having some remote feature to adjust MC-3+'s sample rate would be fine in this case).

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On 5/18/2017 at 1:26 PM, julian.david said:

The REF 10 is arguable the most compatible 10 MHz clock out there and it will work in conjunction with various 10 MHz compatible DACs and clocks by manufacturers - not just MUTEC. It is however a strict 10 MHz clock, so you will need a 10 MHz reference input of some sort. The dCs Vivaldi Master Clock has a 10 MHz compatible reference input and the REF 10 will be an excellent choice to drive this input. But the other Vivaldi products (Upsampler, DAC) only have Word Clock inputs and (unfortunately) don't provide a 10 MHz input. So you would need some other master clock in between (like the dCs or the MUTEC MC-3+/MC-3+USB) to generate and distribute the Word Clock signal to the upsampled or DAC. 

 

Unfortunately dCs doesn't publish any phase noise figures for the Vivaldi Master Clock, which is the figure to pay attention to. But to my knowledge, the phase noise performance of the REF 10 is unmatched at the moment!

 

Had a great time with the new REF 10 today.  Thank you, Julian (and Christian)!

 

Unbelievable noise floor measurements from 10Hz to 10kHz but ultimately, the proof is in the listening.  Even amidst the noise of the MOC in Munich and the fact that the REF 10 was connected to the MC-3+USB which was then connected to a modest headphone setup via a high jitter Toslink optical cable, the impact of this clock over the MC-3+USB's standard clock was amazingly obvious from the standpoint of increased air around voices and instruments and size of the sound stage but also a much smoother presentation.  In comparison, the MC-3+USB's stock clock was almost unlistenable.  Quite surprised by this delta and much much larger than the delta I heard with the Vivaldi and the Vivaldi Master clock.  Steep price and despite my initial skepticism based on experience with other master clocks, I found myself already reaching for my wallet for what I now consider a must have.  Perhaps, the surprise of the show for me and I will probably use this to synchronize 3 SOtM sCLK-EX clock boards.  Amazing performance as well as versatility!

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24 minutes ago, romaz said:

Steep price and despite my initial skepticism based on experience with other master clocks, I found myself already reaching for my wallet for what I now consider a must have.

What is the price?

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5 hours ago, rickca said:

What is the price?

Hi all,

 

I expect to have reliable U.S. pricing information for you within the next 24-48 hours. List price in Germany is 3598.00 € including 19% German VAT.

 

Thanks for your patience,

Julian

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Many thanks to k-man, modmix, and Julian to chipping in with responses to my earlier query.  The use of external clocks looks like one of those subjects where you think there are a couple of things you need to learn and understand, but once you start to understand a couple of things you discover that it is a far more complex topic and you really do have a lot to learn!  Also thanks to Romaz for chipping in with his listening impressions from Munich, which takes me back to the dCS and my thoughts now.  The point is that last year I listened to the dCS Vivaldi Upsampler as the front end for a Devialet D800, this was using the Upsampler with and without the optional dCS Master clock.  The Upsampler alone was excellent, but I felt that it was with the Master Clock that the real magic started to happen.  It is difficult to describe the difference with clocking added, but someone else listening to the Vivaldi made the comment that the music was 'more engaging' with the Clock in use, and at the time I knew exactly what he meant.  Certainly I can read Romaz's SQ observations of the Mutec Clock three posts back, and see some very clear parallels with observations I made when listening with the dCS clock added. 

 

OK, if you compare the cost of the Mutec Ref 10 to the dCS Vivaldi clock, the Mutec does look like an absolute bargain considering it's specs and potential performance. There is one thing that troubles me a little though, and that is the thought of having a €1K Mutec MC3+USB, which itself has an excellent clock, and then improving it with a €3.5K external clock.  I am quite sure this would work and I am quite sure that there would be sound quality benefits, but I can't help thinking that to maximise the performance  potential of the Ref 10 then maybe it needs to feed something that is a step up from the Mutec MC3+USB.  It is not that I think the Mutec MC3+USB is lacking in any way, in fact I think the opposite, the Mutec MC3+USB is for sure the very best €1K I have spent on audio kit in a very long time, it just that if you are trying to squeeze out that last 1 or 2% of performance, maybe the Ref 10 deserves to be feeding something better? 

Edited by Confused

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I'm kind of thinking aloud today, but to put my last post a different way, if I could get somewhere close to the performance of the dCS Vivaldi Upsampler + Clock (£24k in the UK), with something like a PC with HQPlayer, sMS-200Ultra, Mutec MC3+USB & Ref 10 Clock, then I would be very happy indeed, and I do actually suspect this is possible.  But is there a better way?

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2 minutes ago, Confused said:

I'm kind of thinking aloud today, but to put my last post a different way, if I could get somewhere close to the performance of the dCS Vivaldi Upsampler + Clock (£24k in the UK), with something like a PC with HQPlayer, sMS-200Ultra, Mutec MC3+USB & Ref 10 Clock, then I would be very happy indeed, and I do actually suspect this is possible.  But is there a better way?

 

I would suggest you get the sMS-200ultra with the master clock option so that you can extend the benefits of the REF 10 to that device as well.  To be able to synchronize that device with the Mutec should result in a very nice further improvement.

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3 minutes ago, romaz said:

 

I would suggest you get the sMS-200ultra with the master clock option so that you can extend the benefits of the REF 10 to that device as well.  To be able to synchronize that device with the Mutec should result in a very nice further improvement.

Thanks romaz, that does look like a very interesting option.  I have been following the 'A novel way....' thread with great interest, so I get the point, however I had not yet worked out the possibility of feeding the sMS-200Ultra with a Ref 10.  That's quite a compelling idea, I wonder! B|  And even if it did not work out for reasons as yet unknown, you would still have a Ref 10 fed Mutec to keep you happy.

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Just now, Confused said:

Thanks romaz, that does look like a very interesting option.  I have been following the 'A novel way....' thread with great interest, so I get the point, however I had not yet worked out the possibility of feeding the sMS-200Ultra with a Ref 10.  That's quite a compelling idea, I wonder! B|  And even if it did not work out for reasons as yet unknown, you would still have a Ref 10 fed Mutec to keep you happy.

 

It will absolutely work with the sMS-200ultra.  I have already verified this with SOtM.  To be able to synchronize the clocks on both the Ultra and the MC3+USB will be huge.

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this is an amazing discovery guys, thanks!

I was already planning to use the Mutec Ref 10 with my Mutec MC3+ USB but now that I now I can use the Ref 10 also with the sMS200 ultra, this will be an amazing outcome I'm sure!

My Yggdrasil will be happy.

 

@Confused

- I am sort of on the same path than you ;) 

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Tell me, what is an external clock supposed to do?

 

According to Sound on Sound:

 

"Overall, it should be clear from these tests that employing an external master clock cannot and will not improve the sound quality of a digital audio system. It might change it, and subjectively that change might be preferred, but it won't change things for the better in any technical sense."

Source: http://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/does-your-studio-need-digital-master-clock#top

 

It seems like talk of external clock is the normal audiophilia nonsense.

 

I would be happy to be proven wrong, but can someone refute the conclusion of Sound of Soun technical editor Hugh Robjohns?

Edited by svart-hvitt

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1 hour ago, svart-hvitt said:

 

cannot and will not

For being alive for several years now, it is proven that I "cannot and will not" die B|

Sorry - couldn't resist...

 

Hugh is right in one aspect: the circuit adjusting the internally used clock to an external reference may deteriorate the external signal.

 

A not so good external reference might easily prove lower quality sound quality compared to the internal clock.

 

The (discontinued) Antelope 10M rubidium atomic clock make use of a module rated in the respective manual as "designed for low cost mass production." It is a good exampel of what I mean with "so good external reference".

 

Attached to a MC-3+, Antelope 10M did change sound quality by far less than a better RB clock.

 

Rb clocks are made to get better long term stability. For audio short term stability is much more improtant. Many OCXO have much better short term stabilty compare with almost any Rb clock.

 

hth

Ulli

 

PS:
You may also read Paul McGowan's remark on Atomic clocks:

Edited by modmix
reference added - struggle with editor...

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5 hours ago, romaz said:

 

It will absolutely work with the sMS-200ultra.  I have already verified this with SOtM.  To be able to synchronize the clocks on both the Ultra and the MC3+USB will be huge.

Thinking about this, why do you need the sMS-200Ultra, which from what I understand is basically a sMS-200 with better clock?  If the original sMS-200 can be modified to accept an external clock, is this not the best 'bang for your buck' solution?

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