Jump to content
austinpop

A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

1 minute ago, ElviaCaprice said:

My biggest concern is the power supply ability of the master clock?  Hopefully the SOtM solution is adjustable to external power.

Good point!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, ElviaCaprice said:

My biggest concern is the power supply ability of the master clock?  Hopefully the SOtM solution is adjustable to external power.

 

I hear you. In an ideal world, I'd like to see more manufacturers enable an external PSU, so the consumer can decide.

 

FWIW, Cybershaft does seem to have paid some attention to their internal LPS - quoting from their translated site:

  • For the power supply section, use a special order large R core transformer with a minimum leakage flux. In addition, SiC Schottky barrier diode, large capacity low ESR capacitor, OSCON is adopted and ultra low noise linear power supply is realized. The occurrence of spurious caused by power supply noise is reduced as much as possible by phase noise verification.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, austinpop said:
Listening Impression with the Cybershaft OP-14 Reference Clock - Part 2
 
Since my clock chain is hard to visualize from what's in my signature, I've updated my system topology picture to give you a clearer idea of how things wire together. Hopefully, it helps understand the flow better. See the diagram below.
 
59c1eb19b4590_UltraTopology.thumb.png.46e5108e136c57968d181cb0ce6554ee.png
 
And here is a photo of the latest "spaghetti chain." I would characterize this more as a pasta medley - a hearty mix of linguine, pappardelle, and penne. :D
 
IMG_0107.thumb.JPG.30fa544851805484e29c1d65f7297eed.JPG
 
I've been doing a lot of listening since my Cybershaft arrived. However, I waited (im)patiently until about 50 hours of burn-in, and then again at 100 hours, to do any comparisons, or draw any conclusions.
 
Roy tells me that on his Ref 10, it is easy to turn each clock output on/off, which makes A/B comparisons of with/without reference clock really easy. On the OP-14, there is no switch. Also, it's important not to power cycle the unit, as it can take at least an hour for the OCXO to stabilize. The tX-USBultra continues to function if the reference clock is hot plugged in or out. My technique was to disconnect and reconnect on the OP-14 output, as it was easy to reach from my listening chair.
 
The first time I did this, I went from ref clock connected to disconnected. It took my brain a few seconds to register, but then it hit me. WOW - what a difference! It was like deflating a balloon. Some of the magic died. And yet - this was what, just a few days ago, I thought was the best my system had ever sounded. Connect the OP-14 back, and the goosebumps were back!
 
How to describe the improvement with the OP-14? I'll talk about it in the context of these pieces of music I happened to use while comparing:
  • IMG_0006.thumb.JPG.b17065e624d66326c4513a7cd6ec7cb6.JPGMahler Symphony 3: Sehr langsam "O Mensch"
     
  • folder.thumb.jpg.fe938f2a3688238e3aebccc9b95f2d7c.jpg Sibelius Symphony 6: 1st movement
     
  • 51aFVLvGPRL.jpgBuena Vista Social Club: Pueblo Nuevo
     
  • 51wR81RBGKL.jpgMahler Symphony 5: Scherzo
     
  • IMG_0597.JPG.8bd80b22ceb4f014c89ef2c250c97eba.JPG Gorecki Symphony 3: 1st movement
     
  • 51AgMTl-xfL.jpgBeethoven Piano Concerto No.5 "Emperor": 1st movement
 
The improvement comes in these major areas:
  1. Rock solid image
    • The sonic image seemed bigger in all 3 dimensions, but also had a sense of solidity and stability to it.
    • This was especially noticeable in the big orchestral Mahler and SIbelius pieces
  2. Dynamic
    • It seemed like the music had a greater dynamic range.
    • There was a perceived reduction in the noise floor.
    • In the Mahler 3rd, the movement begins with an extremely low level harmony in the strings. I'd never heard this so clearly and so dramatically before.
  3. Dimensionality of individual instruments
    • In Pueblo Nuevo, the piano sounded more real than before
    • Ditto in the Beethoven piano concerto
  4. Incredible resolution and detail
    • What I love about the Mahler pieces in my list is how small groupings of instruments play with and against each other to really bring out the emotion. In sonic terms, it allows individual instruments to shine. With the OP-14, these instruments - like the french horn, the oboe, the strings had incredible texture and dimension.
  5. Improved bass
    • The Gorecki starts with a minimalist melody in the double basses and cellos. With the OP-14, I really felt the growl in the pit of your stomach.
  6. Smoother tonality
    • Overall, there was a further reduction in harshness, brightness, and fatigue. There was a richness, a smoothness, and an incredible sense of ease.
 
Just when I thought my trifecta couldn't sound any better, along comes another improvement that raises the bar further. I am just gobsmacked by the sheer magnitude of this improvement. And all this without any change to my DAC. Frankly, after the last round of improvements, I was pretty convinced that to achieve significant gains past this point, I'd have to upgrade my DAC first. But the Codex keeps scaling up to reach new heights. Pretty darn impressive.
 
And finally, a word about cost benefit. The OP-14 isn't cheap, so is the incremental benefit worth the cost? For me, the answer is yes, because of two reasons:
  1. I find it difficult to go back to the prior configuration without feeling a sense of profound loss.
  2. The SQ jump with the OP-14 is much greater than what I heard when I replaced the Codex with the DAVE in an earlier listening session. That price delta was HUGE, much higher than the price of the OP-14.
Clearly, in my system, the investments in the front end of the digital chain seem to pay bigger dividends in SQ than just in the DAC. Eventually, I'm sure everything matters, but at this point, I feel like the investment in the OP-14 is giving me excellent value.
 
As always - every system is different, so YMMV!

Great review and ever fascinating discoveries. Thanks  @austinpop

I must say this thread is riveting and competes with top TV dramas! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@austinpop and I just finished a short session with his SOtM + iSO Regen stack.  The Cybershaft has a pretty substantial effect.  He first put his SOtM trifecta + iSO Regen into my system, but I didn't know that the Cybershaft wasn't in the chain.  We both thought it sounded good.  Then he made a change but didn't tell me what he changed.  I immediately noticed the improvement and will almost certainly buy a reference clock.  We also volume-matched the system with and without the Cybershaft.  

 

The image seemed bigger, more 3D, more natural, lower noise-floor.  I'd say it was on the magnitude of improvement of the switch mod and/or the sMS-200 Ultra.  It probably is close to the improvement from upgrading my Audio Research Ref5SE to the Ref6.

 

I'm going to RMAF and am eager to see SOtM's reference clock.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, limniscate said:

@austinpop and I just finished a short session with his SOtM + iSO Regen stack.  The Cybershaft has a pretty substantial effect.  He first put his SOtM trifecta + iSO Regen into my system, but I didn't know that the Cybershaft wasn't in the chain.  We both thought it sounded good.  Then he made a change but didn't tell me what he changed.  I immediately noticed the improvement and will almost certainly buy a reference clock.  We also volume-matched the system with and without the Cybershaft.  

 

The image seemed bigger, more 3D, more natural, lower noise-floor.  I'd say it was on the magnitude of improvement of the switch mod and/or the sMS-200 Ultra.  It probably is close to the improvement from upgrading my Audio Research Ref5SE to the Ref6.

 

I'm going to RMAF and am eager to see SOtM's reference clock.

 

I just bought an LS28 and I've heard it's very similar to the Ref6. This was a huge improvement over using my DAC pre. How would you classify the step up from 5SE to 6? Have you ever gone back and put a different pre from an ARC in line to gauge the impact? 

 

Looking forward to the SOtM master clock. Let us know what you learn. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, auricgoldfinger said:

Keep an eye out for an official announcement from SOtM regarding their sCLK-OCX10 reference clock.  The specs should be released in the next several hours.

 

I've seen the specs. It looks very promising. I hope May releases the details soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey there first post .. always enjoyed reading this thread . 

Wondering if this new sclk-0cx10 will be an update for a existing sotm product or a stand alone unit ? If anyone knows ? 

I own a sms 200 and about to purchase their d-link switch mod without clk output. Thnx 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Johnseye said:

 

I just bought an LS28 and I've heard it's very similar to the Ref6. This was a huge improvement over using my DAC pre. How would you classify the step up from 5SE to 6? Have you ever gone back and put a different pre from an ARC in line to gauge the impact? 

 

Looking forward to the SOtM master clock. Let us know what you learn. 

 

Yes, I have.  In fact, I still have both the Ref5SE and the Ref6.  I've A/B'ed with several people and all think that the Ref6 is a big step up.  I was actually surprised at just how much better it is.  It's even more telling that I could only volume-match the Ref6 to .5db of the Ref5SE, and in every test I had the Ref6 quieter.  Yet everyone still picked the Ref6.

 

I have a friend in Houston who has the LS28 and have been wanting to bring my Ref5SE down to compare to the LS28.  I'll let you know if we ever A/B them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, limniscate said:

 

Yes, I have.  In fact, I still have both the Ref5SE and the Ref6.  I've A/B'ed with several people and all think that the Ref6 is a big step up.  I was actually surprised at just how much better it is.  It's even more telling that I could only volume-match the Ref6 to .5db of the Ref5SE, and in every test I had the Ref6 quieter.  Yet everyone still picked the Ref6.

 

I have a friend in Houston who has the LS28 and have been wanting to bring my Ref5SE down to compare to the LS28.  I'll let you know if we ever A/B them.

 

Thanks, let me know when you get a chance to compare the LS28.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Boomboy said:

Hey there first post .. always enjoyed reading this thread . 

Wondering if this new sclk-0cx10 will be an update for a existing sotm product or a stand alone unit ? If anyone knows ? 

I own a sms 200 and about to purchase their d-link switch mod without clk output. Thnx 

 

It's a stand alone unit meant to provide a reference clock for devices that have a master clock connector.  There are different possibilities for adding a master clock to your system.  You could have SOtM add a clock card with a master clock connector to either your sMS-200 or the switch.  I'd recommend discussing the options with May.  The best solution should also reflect any planned future acquisitions (such as the sMS-USBultra) that you may be considering.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, auricgoldfinger said:

 

Here they are:  http://www.sotm-audio.com/sotmwp/english/portfolio-item/sclk-ocx10/

 

Seems like there are 3 options.

 

And here is the press release:

http://www.sotm-audio.com/sotmwp/english/press-release-rmaf-2017/

 

It looks like you can configure your choice of quality/performance upon purchase to Standard, Advanced, or Reference. And - it will have 4 outputs!

 

On first glance, the Reference phase noise values match or exceed the Ref 10, but as always, how it sounds is what matters.

 

I asked May about pricing, but she asked us to wait a bit longer as they were not ready to reveal that yet.

 

I'm really looking to the demo in RMAF.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, austinpop said:

 

And here is the press release:

http://www.sotm-audio.com/sotmwp/english/press-release-rmaf-2017/

 

It looks like you can configure your choice of quality/performance upon purchase to Standard, Advanced, or Reference. And - it will have 4 outputs!

 

On first glance, the Reference phase noise values match or exceed the Ref 10, but as always, how it sounds is what matters.

 

I asked May about pricing, but she asked us to wait a bit longer as they were not ready to reveal that yet.

 

I'm really looking to the demo in RMAF.

 

I'll be very interested in your impressions!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thnx for the response auricgoldfinger . Have been in contact with may over the last few days .. very keen on this and full switch mod .

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Where would the new sclk-0cx10 clock fit in with a Mac system with Ethernet, router,  uRendu and ISO Regen using LSP-1 power and a DAC?

 

Thanks for the help. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, austinpop said:

It looks like you can configure your choice of quality/performance upon purchase to Standard, Advanced, or Reference.

Any idea what these performance levels really mean? 

 

Great to see the phase noise graph.  Has anyone ever seen such a graph for the sCLK-EX?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Bruce Orr said:

Where would the new sclk-0cx10 clock fit in with a Mac system with Ethernet, router,  uRendu and ISO Regen using LSP-1 power and a DAC?

 

Thanks for the help. 

 

Based on your description, none of your devices are able to accept a master clock input.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, rickca said:

Any idea what these performance levels really mean? 

 

At a simplistic level: 

  • lower number, good
  • higher number, bad!  :P

But more seriously, let's overlay the numbers with the Cybershaft and the Ref 10.

 

 Typical Phase noise(dBC/Hz)

                                                                                           My

                                       sCLK-OCX10                       Cybershaft    Mutec
     Frequency  Standard  Advanced  Reference       OP-14         Ref 10 (published)
         10Hz  :       -125         -135        -140                   -132.4              ≤ -142
       100Hz  :       -150         -160        -160                   -141.9              ≤ --155
         1KHz  :       -160        -163        -165                                             ≤ --160
       10KHz  :       -165        -165        -165
      100KHz  :      -165        -165        -165
      Noise floor:                                                                                        ≤ -166

 

So, on paper these numbers looks very good. Let's hope the SQ of the unit matches up. Based on their track record with the sCLK-EX, I feel rather optimistic that it will.

 

Oh, and also - I'm very glad to see it has a 12V DC input, so you can use your favorite PSU with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Auricgoldfinger -  thank for the heads up. Glad I asked!  Is there another piece that would work as a facilitator to enable the click to work? Or would I have to swap out something?  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, austinpop said:

So, on paper these numbers looks very good.

Sorry, what I meant to ask was what are the dBc/Hz for standard/advanced/reference.  Please update your post to say dBc/Hz rather than dB/Hz.  So you provided what I wanted ... where did you get that information?

 

The other thing I asked is whether SOtM has ever provided a similar phase noise graph for the sCLK-EX.  I'd love to see that.

 

What exactly is different about a Reference vs Advanced vs Standard unit.  Different hardware?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, rickca said:

Sorry, what I meant to ask was what are the dBc/Hz for standard/advanced/reference.  Please update your post to say dBc/Hz rather than dB/Hz.  So you provided what I wanted ... where did you get that information?

 

Sorry about the dB instead of dBc. It was in the text from the SOtM product page, and I just cut and pasted. See: http://www.sotm-audio.com/sotmwp/english/portfolio-item/sclk-ocx10/ . Scroll down to Specifications.

 

The Cybershaft numbers are from the calibration sheet that came with my unit.

 

The Ref 10 numbers are from here: https://www.mutec-net.com/product_ref_10.php#data

 

5 minutes ago, rickca said:

The other thing I asked is whether SOtM has ever provided a similar phase noise graph for the sCLK-EX.  I'd love to see that.

 

They haven't, as far as I know. I would, too!

 

5 minutes ago, rickca said:

What exactly is different about a Reference vs Advanced vs Standard unit.  Different hardware?

 

I am guessing it's the same system hardware, but different OCXOs for each. But this is just a guess. Or - they may just curate, like Cybershaft.

 

Let's not speculate (he said, after doing just that). 9_9 We'll know soon enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, austinpop said:

Scroll down to Specifications.

Doh!!  It was right there staring me in the face.  Thanks.  You're right, it's the SOtM specs that incorrectly say dB/Hz.  Good point (even if speculation) it's likely a binned OCXO with the better performing ones going into Advanced and Reference units.  Leave it to SOtM to make us choose between 3 different price points.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, limniscate said:

They forgot one of the most important things:  price.

Yes, price is still TBA.  If we all pretend we're not interested, maybe it won't be too high.

 

Note the SOtM sCLK-OCX10 uses a sine wave.  The Mutec REF 10 uses a very high slew-rate square wave signal for superior lock precision.  It's hip to be square.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×