Mutec:Innuos. To test that option, I compared the Mutec twins to the Portuguese PhoenixUSB reclocker [€2'499]. Signal dispatcher was their Zen Mini Mk3 server with linear PSU. I started with the "Nazile" opener of Kaan Çelen's eponymous album. The Innuos reclocker impressed with plasticity and glowing colors. The fine bangs then feathery swishing of a cymbal brush showed refined textures, the interplay of piano, upright and brasses impressed with its dynamic nuance. Having the Zen Mini Mk3 play directly into the Mutec MC-3+USB slightly compromised that interplay. Individuation of discrete sounds no longer was as obvious as with the Innuos. The Mutec is plenty potent on its own. Only the drawing out of individual images from the context of surrounding space and microdynamic shifts weren't quite the equal of the Innuos' 3D grasp and intensity. But better remains the enemy of good. This held when the MC-3+USB clock-sync'd to the SE120. Now separation moved ahead of the Innuos. The music felt still freer as though it breathed easier for even more subjective realism. Even the escalating piano staccato in the backgrounded crested higher whilst floating more unmoored in space. This benefited liveliness and elan.

All too often the audiophile life is an exercise in uncomfortable compromise. Not with Mutec's REF10 SE120. Regardless of layer complexity or spatial expanse, its control over downstream digital clocks applies crisper separation without hyper-realist excess. Its gains in subjective realism apply no midrange makeup or treble emphasis despite extreme detail magnification. The low registers register more precisely without requiring any emphasis to do so. Soundstaging scales up in width and improves front-to-back focus. Granted, in home hifi circles an external masterclock is still a rarer guest. Regardless, this German precision instrument aims at those who over the years have amassed an assortment of top-quality digital—or still plan to—and mean to hear that at its absolute best.

Psych profile for the Mutec REF10 SE120…
♦ benefits treble lucidity with very high magnification. The same applies to the midband. Vocal nuance and timbre modulations gain in clarity. Tonal balance remains untouched. Even the bass gains in intelligibility.
♦ improves depth of field, front-to-back focus and clarifies the stage edges.
♦ exceptional separation and image localization. The music feels more 3D and grippy.
♦ very good dynamics macro and micro.
♦ elevates digital sources to a higher level and in conjuction with its MC-3+USB stable mate offers a plethora of i/o.

10MHz masterclock generator / clock distributor
Dimensions & weight: 196 x 84 x 300mm WxHxD without footers and plugs, 4.35kg
Trim: Black or silver fascia, black body
Socketry: 8 x BNC (2 x 50Ω, 6 x 75Ω)
Warranty: 2 years