Sized like the company's Terra so half width, Aether went into our Artesanía rack right above Soundaware's D300Ref. A sticker across its IEC asked to insure that the voltage selector accessible openly on its belly was set correctly. It was. Unlike other Denafrips models, Aether doesn't auto-switch between 115/230V. There's no on/off switch either. It's meant for always on so the temperature-controlled clocks don't need to warm up each time. [In my recent Pink Faun 2.16 ultra review, creator Jord Groen explained that his oscillators take 48 hours to thermally stabilize.] With the owner's manual on PDF, I had to refresh my memory on correct hookup. For my kit, the variable frequencies had to be MCLK/2—max divided by two—then the outputs connect as below. A quick press on the D300Ref's back button could now endlessly shuttle between internal/external clock. Upstairs a slider on the D100Pro would do the same. I was in business.

Here's the rig. Using its headfi option, signal path was iMac ⇒ Audirvana ⇒ USB ⇒ D300Ref ⇒ AES/EBU ⇒ Sonnet Pasithea ⇒ XLR ⇒ Kinki Studio THR-1 ⇒ XLR ⇒ HifiMan Susvara. Remote volume was via the DAC's variable reference voltage so the Kinki amp's own pot was fully open.

My ChiFi happiness is obvious in this rack: Soundaware, Denafrips, HifiMan and Kinki Studio are all from the People's Republic. Even the iMac is made there.

Here is Alvin's video on how to modify an original Terminator or other Denafrips DAC without clock inputs to interface with Aether.

It removes the original femto clocks and replaces two digital inputs with Neutrik BNC hardwired via 75Ω Mogami wire to the board. This mod thus relies on an external clock. The DAC no longer works otherwise. It also cancels opportunities for direct A/B. Unlike with Soundaware for example, there's no switch to toggle between external and internal clocks. Inquire with Vinshine about the mod cost for the Denafrips DAC you're interested in.

Here is the front panel with my clock-frequency settings…

… and the actual connections on the backside with Sommer's short green 75Ω clock cables. Hover mouse for enlargement function.

In this show-your-ticker game, could Aether's clock upgrade the D300Pro's in any audible fashion? In my earlier experiments, the Terminator+ had sync'd the preceding bridge to its own clock. Now two digital components shared the same clock. Yet today I'd merely replace the bridge's clock with Aether's. The actual DAC still ran off its own. Should that make any difference? If the main rationale for external clocks is to sync multiple components to the same clock, not. The perhaps unlikely exception would be if Aether's clocks outshone Soundaware's.super-cap powered versions. In this context, what would superior clocks even mean? Only greater constancy. A 100% steady clock with zero drift or arrhythmia would transmit each pulse by exactly the same distance in time from that before and after it like a metronome. No pulse would be slightly early or late, no music sample long or short. Just thinking about it recalled Cees' earlier point on audiophile exaggeration muddying these waters. Unfortunately my far more likely upstairs candidate of less ambitious D100Pro had dropped out of the race. Engaging the external clock caused immediate motorboating RF to whistle through the speakers. That was a truly bizarre novelty but there's a first for everything. A few days earlier, the Pro had already started exhibiting other misbehavior with clicks and noise between tracks. Overwriting its OS didn't rectify it. So I suspected early signs of hardware dementia. An smsl DP5 to replace it was already on order from their French distributor. But for taking the ethers, I was down to just one route though I could check over both headphones and speakers.