Country of Origin
Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" November 2020 iMac (i5, 256GB SSD, Ventura 13.3, 40GB RAM), 4TB external SSD with Thunderbolt 3, Audirvana Origin, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 switch, Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe, Sonnet Pasithea DAC; Active filter: icOn Gradient Box 2; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos, Goldmund/Job 225 on subwoofer; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Phones: HifiMan Susvara, Meze 109 Pro; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf + sound|kaos DSUB15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Qualio IQ [on loan] Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Shanling M3 Ultra into Soundaware D300Ref SD transport to COS Engineering D1, iFi iDSD Pro Signature or Denafrips Terminator Plus 12th Anniversary firmware; Preamp/filter: Vinnie Rossie L2 Signature or icOn 4Pro, icOn 4th-order/80Hz active filter; Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini or Acelec Model One + Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF, Akiko Audio Corelli; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; DAC: legacy Auralic Vega; Head/speaker amp: Enleum AMP-23R; Speakers: EnigmAcoustics Mythology M1; Headphones: Final D-8000
Upstairs headfi system: Source: Shanling M3 Ultra, Soundaware D300Ref; DAC/headamp: iFi iDSD Pro Signature; Headphones: Meze 109 Pro
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m
Review component retail: $749, add €49 for 1m clock cable
FussyFi. It's when things are so locked in that little stuff which otherwise may act like fanciful fluff suddenly makes a difference that's meaningful to us. Whether it would to someone else isn't our concern. When I wrapped my LAN à la LHY review, its big SW-10 network switch, fiber-optic cabling and Finisar SFP modules all packed up to hustle back to Singapore; or wherever else its senders might decide. Having cleared customs already, another EU reviewer could well volunteer. The SW-6 switch would stay on as explained here. So would the OCK-2 masterclock; on the desktop this time. Above is the basic digital diagram for that installation. It adds Enleum's AMP-23 and a pair of EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1 monitors past the DAC; and my HP Z230 Win 10/64 workstation ahead of iFi's Gemini 3 USB cable. Except for the speakers, it's all bonsai audio so half-sized. And as it happens, it's all from China except for the amp. That's from South Korea.
As my main LHY review covered, masterclocks in the home not studio are contentious even with digital designers. As the naysayers 'knew' all along, I heard no benefits syncing two cascaded network switches to the same external clock. That was identical to the OXCO inside each switch, just with a power supply wholly dedicated to it. However, not so fast was the rule in the above USB/AES not LAN context. Here the same external clock syncing USB bridge and DAC created enough sonic gains to not send it packing. Over both speakers and a pair of Final D8000 planarmagnetic headphones, I hear clock-sync benefits as still more specific recorded ambience particularly in the depth domain; and sweeter treble textures.
With other tweaks like iFi's iPurifier 3 and Audirvana Studio in extreme, hog and 4 x upsampling modes then Thorsten Loesch's GTO filter active, I can't give you a decisive sequence-of-magnitude chart without first disassembling the lot. I'd have to rebuild it step by step to judge how much each contributes. I built this system organically over time just to please myself. It's paid for, all shipping boxes destroyed. That bins all interest to break it down again just for a fiddly piecemeal analysis. For today's quick focus on the OCK-2 clock, I'll simply say that with resolution already polished to a very high degree, adding clock sync to the mix did enough to allocate a modest tax return to one more hifi expenditure. Fussy it may be but my ears made me do it. I wash my hands. It's not my fault that those pink bits are so damn demanding. I didn't pick 'em!
The clocked lot.
Don't dare fomo at the mouth! Fear of missing out and today's FussyFi don't ever meet up if your digital kit has no 50/75Ω clock BNC to begin with. Most doesn't. It's really more of a pro-audio feature where multiple digital work stations for multi-channel mixing and audio/video productions must sync to the same shared clock. For example, our sterling Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe DAC in the main system has no clock input. Neither does the stunning upstairs Sonnet Pasithea DAC. That doesn't make them lesser decks. In fact they're both significantly costlier ducks than the desktop's iFi. With them it's just one less thing to fret over. That's an important stipulation to insure that today's feature isn't misread. Don't worry about clocks or shop with them in mind. Should you end up with gear which pipes digital signal through multiple devices in series all with 10MHz BNC inputs – then investigating a potential quality lift via external clock that syncs them all up in lockstep becomes sensible. But it remains a try-before-buy scenario. Insure that the benefits justify the investment and exceed the majority of digital filter settings which barely register…
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