Benefits of adding a 10MHz Master Clock to a digital system

As a long time DCS stack owner (first Paganini, currently Vivaldi V2) I’ve been a convert to the value of dedicated clocking systems. In the context of a DCS setup this means including a dedicated clock unit that provides a combination of 44.1KHz and 48KHz signals to each of the other units in the system (the transport, DAC and up-sampler in the case of a full four box stack).

The DCS clocks are pretty darn expensive boxes and while they (like all DCS gear) benefit greatly from upgrading power cords, 75 ohm interconnects and feet I had never really thought that adding a further reference clock would bring any benefit. However piqued by the following recent review of the Vivaldi One in which the addition of both the Vivaldi clock and a Cybershaft 10MHz reference brought great benefit I wondered if I’d been mistaken and if an external 10MHz reference could add even more to my system.

Some on line research quickly made it clear that the Cybershaft OCXO clock used in the review is unobtanium so the question is who else makes a good clock? Online commentators seemed to think quite highly of the Ref10 from Mutec so that’s what I opted for from an Amazon seller. The Ref10 is a solidly made but very utilitarian box. It provides up to 8 outputs all on BNC, a mix of 6 at 75Ohm and 2 at 50Ohm so will match with whatever you have.

The DCS is 75Ohm so as soon as I had the Ref10 I installed it using a generic 75OHM BNC and the stock power cord. Notwithstanding recommendations to leave it on for 48 hours to stabilize the first impressions were very favorable. With the addition of the reference clock I was hearing further into the recording and also appreciating a surprisingly large increase in rhythmic consistency and bass realism (i.e. bass seemed crisper and less boomy with the elimination of a sense of overhang in the 80-120Hz range that had plagued my system before)

What then amazed me was how much further improvement upgrading the power cord (to Marigo Iridium V2) and BNC (to Marigo Apparition Extreme 75Ohm) brought - even more air and clarity. The final icing was optimizing the support under the Ref 10 with Marigo RHZ feet on a Marigo platform. I've now had the Ref10 in my system for several weeks and frankly it's probably the first time I'm really beginning to believe that digital can give my analog setup a real challenge -- with how I have it now I feel as if I'm hearing two increasingly similar takes on the same absolute -- digital converging on all the best in terms of space and realism I've found in analog, while the latter (with the recent addition of Ron Heydrich's latest power cord on my turntable PSU) getting the speed stability and rhythmic integrity that digital can do so well.

Overall in the context of a megabuck DCS setup it was surprising how much benefit a relatively modestly priced ($3595) professional grade add on brought. That I then added nearly $9K of tweaks to it probably speaks more to my obsessive nature (and budget I guess) but overall consider me a full convert to the benefits of 10MHz master clocking in any attempt to scale the heights of digital reproduction.
I'm into it as well, and also determined to escaping the financial hypertrophy of vetted high-end marques. After all it's a lab instrument.  I have a Stanford Research Systems Perfection 10mHz Rubidium clock powered at 12Vdc by a Hynes SR-7.  This is synchronized to an Esoteric K-01X, two SOtM USB-to-Ethernet endpoints, and an Antelope LiveClock at 44.1 into a modified Tascam DA-3000 for DSD128 recording of vinyl.  The only thing I'm restless about is that I haven't tried boutique 75 ohm BNC cables above the level of Canare.    
Dear Dgarreston 

hope all is well,, on your finding of the use of the 10MHZ clock , did you find that using which clock gave you the best result ? the RUBIDIUM clock or the MUTEC 10MHZ clock ? 

I am think to use the bad boy , but just want to see which one offered the better sounding ? 
Thanks for the post @jacksonkuo unfortunately I don’t think either of us have made this comparison. 

However since creating this thread I have become aware of the Abendrot Stute clock which certainly provides an upgrade for those for whom cost is truly no limit 😁
I looked hard at both the Mutec Ref 10 [and inquired about the latest version] and the Stanford Research Perf10, and perhaps less so at the Antelope 10MX and others, but I had no difficulty arranging purchase of a CyberShaft OP21A, their latest model. Kenji Hasegawa was completely professional and a pleasure to work with. Knows his stuff. Has sold more than a few reference clocks for dCS boxes. Mine should get here just a few days after my Vivaldi Clock.
I recently acquired the Mutec Ref 10 and I am having great success with it hooked up and synchronizing my dCS Vivaldi One w/Vivaldi 2.0 Clock via its Master Reference input, two (2) SOtM sNH-10G Ethernet Switch Hub w/clk. (in parallel) into their 75OHM inputs and SOtM’s tX-USBultra special edition USB Regenerator via its 50 Ohm input.  I immediately heard a noticeable difference with receiving greater clarity and insight into the music and the music is more layered or dimensional.  I am also looking to update my 50 and 75 Ohm BNC Cables to SOtM digital BNCs.  Overall going to the Mutec Ref 10 or an external clock is Highly recommended
Post removed 
My clock journey continues. I ended up replacing my OP21A with a Stanford Research Systems PERF10 and custom power supply by PLIXIR. Conversations with dCS engineers helped me to understand better how the Vivaldi Master Clock behaves with the DAC, and any other clocked components, and how it interacts with an external reference. OCXO crystals, no matter how low noise, are unlikely to significantly improve the performance of Vivaldi Clock. dCS uses VCXO instead of OCXO for a reason. What can improve its performance is referencing to an atomic clock or GPS-disciplined clock that has lower noise/jitter than Vivaldi, *and* is more stable in the long term. dCS even note this in their collateral about the Clock: "Vivaldi Master Clock may be slaved to an external reference (such as an atomic clock or GPS reference) if increased accuracy is desired." In that category, you want something that can actually make the Vivaldi more accurate. Whether you can hear that accuracy is a different matter, of course. 

STUTE, as a rubidium clock, might offer this accuracy, but not necessarily. When Abendrot writes this stuff on its website—"Through the exclusive technology of Abendrot, STUTE produces the coveted 10MHz signal ideal for digital audio."—one's radar ought to start beeping. There is nothing "coveted" about a 10mHz signal, and it is certainly not the  ideal for digital audio. Any engineer could tell you that a signal that did not need two be recomputed for digital audio's multiples would have been preferable to 10mHz, which is just a legacy of the communication industry. So, that's just marketing blather. Further, Stute's claimed accuracy of ±5×10-11 is no better than quite a few out there [same as PERF10], while its phase noise is good, but not even as good as the PERF10. So, does that mean the STUTE doesn't sound better? Maybe, maybe not. It does suggest there might not be too much reason for its ridiculous price tag. BTW, the Merging +CLOCK-U has even better specs for an OCXO, doesn't require an external reference,  and costs a bit less than the STUTE. I have heard the difference it makes.

For us "poor" Vivaldi Clock owners, the SRS PERF10 is the bargain of the options out there. But for something that really nails it, consider a GPS-disciplined rubidium with extremely low phase noise. Almost as good as a cesium, but much cheaper. Here's an example:
I run an Antelope Audiophile 10m directly into a Zodiac Platinum Dac. Before buying the admittedly expensive clock I experimented with a cheap Chinese Ocxo clock bought on Alibaba, which very much validated the upgrade.

The step up to the Antelope clock was significant; most evident were improved spatial resolution of individual instruments in the soundstage, snappier leading edge and longer reverb.

After the initial trial I replaced the stock BNC cable with Shunyata sigma BNC as well as using a Nordost Brahma power cord. In addition I use Final Daruma footers with Black Ravioli pads on an isolation mat and have the clock covered in EMI/RFI rejecting fabric. (Be cautious, though about them running hot...) For such an expensive addition, the amount of fine tuning needed is astounding.

High end digital replay is very much about optimum clocking, particularly when upsampling. I second the view that it now gives my analogue setup a run for its money.
Well, several manufacturers I’ve read from, including Mytek, state categorically that due to the distance from an external clock to the DAC chip itself the external clock would always have higher jitter than the internal clock built into the Brooklyn and higher end DACs. Keep in mind that Mytek DOES provide for an external clock syn to their DAC’s but they state this is only for use when synchronizing multiple different devices such as in a recording/mastering studio. Barring that situation they recommend the internal clock as being categorically better.

I’d really have to have a mind-blowing experience with a clock to go against that!

as I said: spend $100 on a cheap Chinese clock to try it out. Pls don‘t confuse a word clock with a 10m masterclock. 
I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. I added a 10mhz clock to my TEAC NT-505 and there was no detectable (to me) change in sound quality. I also tried a few different BNC cables, which also made zero difference. I thought I’d try it as others like the posters in this thread have said it made a difference in their systems, which I won’t debate. If it sounds better to them, well... it sounds better to them.

Personally, I think there are more impactful ways to invest in your system. The source definitely matters and if you hear that much difference improving what should be a perfectly good clock in your DAC and the magic digital cables make your digits better, then spend away!

I wish I would have read this article before buying my clock, rather than listening to people on a message board.

@big_greg Unfortunately the article you attached confounds word- and masterclocks. The only masterclock in the sample is the Antelope 10m. A master clock controls internal clocks as well as external word clocks. Other than Antelope examples would be SRI, Mutec10, Esoteric, Cybershaft op12-21, Sotm, etc. all operating at 10mHz. They are much higher precision than internal or word clocks and control both the D to A conversion and the USB clocking of the DAC. Reclocking with these, provided the DAC has an input for them provides substantially improved spatial, microdynamics and timbre resolution
Reclocking with these, provided the DAC has an input for them provides substantially improved spatial, microdynamics and timbre resolution

For you.

I have a 10mhz clock generator.

I couldn't detect any noticeable difference in sound quality, certainly nothing that justified the expense. Maybe there's that last little bit of "there" there if I listen real hard, but nothing substantial or really anything I could put my finger on and say "oh, there it is!"

You might note that in their marketing material the manufacturer of my clock doesn't even make any claims about sonic improvements, only that it "will bring out the best" in digital devices, which you're probably getting without it as most modern digital devices already have an excellent internal clock. 

All that matters is what you hear and how much value that has. 

You hear it. It's worth it to you. I don't. Complete waste of money to me. 
You get what you pay for. Buy mediocre gear (that nobody has ever heard of) and thats exactly what you should expect to receive.
I did in fact confuse a word clock with a 10 MHz master clock.
BTW, I tried looking for a review on Stereophile for the use of one but could not.  Has anyone seen any measurements there?
You get what you pay for. Buy mediocre gear (that nobody has ever heard of) and thats exactly what you should expect to receive.
But yet, there are people claiming their $100 master clocks showed them the light.  I'm sure nobody has heard of TEAC or Esoteric, and $2,000 probably isn't spending enough to get the magic.

Money would be better spent on a DAC with a better built in clock !!
Moving the clock off the main board adds all kinds of issues to the mix..
The onboard clock should be good enough in the first place, else it’s time to look elsewhere, not apply bandaids.. 


BTW there are numerous threads elsewhere that discuss the sonic influence of different 10mHz clocks on high resolution systems.
The suggestion that $7000+ clocks should be incorporated in standard issue DACs is laughable...
Hey, it's only money!  Heaven forbid that you just buy a good DAC to start with.  We must tweak and money is no object to get that last 1 or 2 percent of sound quality.  Or maybe it's more "substantial" than that?  Hopefully so, because $7K would buy a lot of things that would have more impact on your system.

your post vindicates mine, mate: few people would want to buy a DAC where the clock alone costs $7000. That‘s the cost for a top Cybershaft, Antelope or DCS clock. That doesn‘t mean that these clocks are superfluous in a high end system. 
So your post misses its target in tone and substance
Enjoy the music

Well, there you go.  I'm not about to spend that kind of money to get cyber-shafted. 

I would hope that anything that you add to your system that costs thousands of dollars results in a significant improvement in quality.  Thankfully I didn't pay the full $2K price for my clock, but I was hoping it would provide at least a noticeable difference in sound quality.
Just noticed the following add ons - frankly if you cannot hear the effect of a clock change in a Vivaldi level system you need a new (more resolving) system. I can hear the effect of changing the footers under my master clock, and the ground wire connecting the master clock to its Taiko ground block, and the footers under that .. I recently had the Mutec upgraded to SE status and also some other work done on it to improve the power supplies -- all very obvious changes

Nevertheless all of these changes pale next to optimising the room (but that's a whole different story!)
Thanks for chiming in OP.  I would challenge your precept that $4K is a "modest" investment for an "upgrade" to a source, let alone, another $9K in "tweaks" for most people on this forum.  If you've got the green and it's worth it to you, that's great.  At that level, I would hope that the improvements are noticeable.

To be fair, I went back and did some listening with my clock on and off recently as a result of this thread and I was able to perceive some minor differences in sound quality, but nothing that I could specifically put my finger on or that made it worth the not so modest amount (to me) that I spent on the clock.

Now last night I added a new phono stage to my system that cost a little over $3K, and... yowza!  Money well spent!  There were significant improvements in separation and detail of instruments and voices, soundstage, pace and rythym, and the overall body of the music.  These were things that I could easily perceive and describe.
Context is everything, this is a discussion of changes on a $100k digital source, if you are playing at this level then $10k is pocket change and your system should resolve the improvements. I have no opinion whatsoever on whether the return on investment is worth it in more real world systems, frankly I’d agree with you that it’s not, but the odd thing in my experience is that the more expensive the system the more it benefits from tweaks, a sort of “increasing returns” so to speak. 
I am using a Mutec Ref10 to clock a SOtM switch and Uptone EtherRegen.  Unquestionable benefits.  Not sure if I have a real world system.  It did reveal to me a harshness I was able to track down to SFP modules between the switches, got that fixed and now I'm in heaven.

The upgrade bug has been in hibernation since....well there is the CAD grounding box I am thinking of demo'ing 
“Maybe you should tell Esoteric/DCS/MSB that they dont know what they are doing.“

I never said that. Of course they have the expertise and the resources to do it right. Possibly  to sell you more components. When you’re  dealing with timing, you want to keep things close to the board. Just think about all that’s involved in separate components having to communicate.. why not keep things more simple?  Having separate components is nice and allows for easier upgrades and it’s fine if you like spending big money, it’s just not necessary.

If you actually hear any of them with/without the clock's and you have the same opinion let us all know. Until then your just being ignorant and uninformed. Go play with your OPPO!!  LOL
This thread is perfect timing for me. I was looking at external clocks this afternoon. My amazing Gustard X26 Pro DAC ($1500 MSRP) has the ability to add an external clock. I have heard a lot of DACs and this one is really good, amazing for the price.

GUSTARD C18 10M clock audio constant temperature crystal oscillator OCXO,Categories (  ($1600)

I will try this out on a 30 day home trial with another online seller. Though I do not think they have it available yet.
If people want to use an external clock and live with the higher jitter and resultant loss of SNR, and THD, who are we to tell them otherwise?
@folkfreak  - could not agree more. Have not heard the DCS clock but finally bought a 10MX clock. The improvement was startling. Without the clock there is a fog over inner detail. With the clock everything comes into focus. The higher you go in sampling rate, the bigger the difference the master clock makes.
Listen to Dletch....230 posts in 10 days. One of his 1st posts from 10 days ago states he got rid of all his CD's in the 1990's. YET he knows everything about Master Clocks and Jitter without ever having a CD Player past the 1990's. Don't you have anything more productive to do with your time then to post about topics that you have no knowledge/experience with?? Best wishes breaking the Audiogon Posts number....should take you less than a year at the rate your going. Hopefully its not all pointless nonsense like this one.
Look at riaa ....

Never designed any electronics. Does not know how a master clock interacts with electronics. Is told by the experts in making DACs\Players that a master clock not only is not beneficial, but is detrimental, but .....

Thinks he knows better. 

Like I said, you are free to waste your money, but you may want to learn how things actually work. It is an excellent inoculation against confirmation bias. 
Please go tell the above mentioned companies (MSB/Esoteric/DCS/Mutec/etc) that they dont know what they are doing.

Your right...I never designed electronics. Been retired since I was 44/45 and have worked with Hundreds and Hundreds of people in the Music Industry since 1987...Record Execs/Recording Engineers/Producers/Band Members/Concert Promoters and the like.Thats how I date...more than 9000 Gold/Platinum Record awards featured on the Facebook page in my title. Yep....I have LOTS of money to blow. Whats your resume look like? Let me guess, based on your ridiculous number of posts you recently lost your job or recently retired and have nothing better to do with your time than make 30 posts a day. Look in the Yellow Pages for a Shrink and spare the rest of us from your endless tirades.
  10:30 A.M (EST) and you've already made close to 20 posts just today...Congrats!!
For the sake of y’all: commenting on things you have not heard on account of some spurious third party opinion is uncool and a waste of everybody’s time. Rspectful comments get you further than invective. And finally: enjoy the music, it’s the most beautiful hobby out there.

And for the avoidance of doubt: ‘mine is bigger’ even when demonstrably true isn’t going to make you a lot of friends or admirers.

If you are so wealthy why are you not on a beach somewhere instead of instilling your wisdom?  Your call to authority is laughable as is your personal attack to deflect from the fact you have no idea how this stuff works.

Because you have no idea how this stuff works,  you never consider confirmation bias.  Perhaps you picked up some words in recording work about master clocks, but the reason for those in studio work is much different, it is for synchronization, not quality. I don't think there is a studio ADC that has better performance with an external clock than with it.  This may be a surprise to you, but having money does not confer any expertise except at making money.

I have retired a few times. It does not suit me. I like work, but work on what I want.  Like many I am bored now due to Covid, and since I work how and when I want, I can post as I see wish. Also the benefit of not needed to sleep as much as most.  Most of those 20 posts were made between midnight and 3am when I was somewhat winding down ... then again, you have no idea what time zone I am in. The world does not revolve around you.
Could care less how anything works. My EARS tell me the difference when something is added/subtracted to the equation. The fact is you have ZERO Experience with any of the brands/components mentioned above so your completely clueless as to the benefits provided. All you have is your theories.   You get the Audiogon award for doing the best Charles Emerson Winchester impersonation strewn across a countless number of topics. Telling everybody that you are the absolute truth and they are nothing more than knuckleheads (including Industry Vets who write reviews for the trades)

I am not on a beach because I run a private homeless animal shelter and that requires me to be available 24/7/365.  Boredom and vacations are not possible. There's a thought for you.....instead of trashing everybody with your free time why dont you actually do something positive for somebody else? It does wonders for the soul. Your boredom and self hatred is obviously causing you to unleash all this pent up venom inside of you. Go help an old lady cross the street or something.

No your ears don't tell you anything. Your brain does, and your brain is susceptible to mood and bias. I don't have theories, I have knowledge coupled with experience. I understand that offends some people. It negates their feelings of being special.

In addition to running my company, I sit on the boards of 2 charities and I am active in a local food bank including leading our donations teams. Unlike you, I don't do it just so I can make myself look good on an audio website or to drop that in social conversations. I mean really dude. Call to authority. Special pleading. Call to sympathy.  You really are pulling out all the stops except dealing with the topic. 
You are in SERIOUS need of professional help. Nobody is pleading for anything. I dont take donations and sympathy for what?? Could care less what ANYBODY thinks...most of all a pompous a** like yourself.

You have ZERO experience as previously stated WITH the subject matter and brands discussed. Appears to me that somebody that makes 240+ posts in 10 days is trying REALLY hard to impress others with his "knowledge". If anybody appears to be seeking recognition and/or notoriety its most certainly you. 22 Posts today with 9 hours to go....your gonna break your own record. We are all SOOOO fortunate to be basking in all this wealth of knowledge and experience you provide.  LOL

@dies_irae What was your final decision? It seems that you got the Cybershaft OP21 and immediately moved on to the PERF10. Is that your final destination or have you moved on? Where did you find the Kronos1? It is an amazing piece of machinery. I am intrigued. I added it to my research list. Does it have any competitors?

I recently purchased a Vivaldi Dac and an Aurender w20SE, both of which are wonderful.  I still own a soTm Master Clock 10mhz that I used in a soTm system (renderer, reclocker, and network switch).  Is it possible to use the soTm instead of a DCS Vivaldi Clock to tie everything together?  The w20SE sees and syncs up to the soTm, but the Vivaldi will not sync.  

I'm assuming the soTm will not work in this application.  I've read that the Master Clock may be added to a dcs clock to refine it.  It looks like I need to buy a dcs clock to tie it all together.  Any helpful comment would be appreciated. 




Jeff @jjhaz 

Given the above two components, I recommend you audition both Vivaldi Master Clock or Aurender MC20 in your system.