June
2019

Country of Origin

Germany

MC-3+USB & Ref10

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, COS Engineering D1, Denafrips Terminator, Soundaware D300Ref as USB bridge/SD transport, Jay's Audio CDT2 MkII 
Preamplifier: Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, COS Engineering D1, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1, SIT3, F5, F6, F7; Goldmund/Job 225; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos; Bakoon AMP-13R; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Grandinote Shinai [on review]; Gold Note PA-1175 MkII x 2 [on review]
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Kroma Audio Mimí; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V, VI & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL 3000 & 5000; Zu Event; KingRex uArt double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps/sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room, hence no wall behind the listening chairs
Review component retail: €999 & €3'599 respectively for MC3+USB and Ref10

Moo tech?

Do you still think that

• bits are bits…
• that jitter reduction and reclocking are imaginary problems which shameless firms foist on a gullible public to hawk expensive but faux meds…
• that pro-audio companies who serve high-end home consumers sling bullshit…

…then you flunked this spelling bee. It's Mutec GMbH from Berlin, not moo tech. Think of them as perhaps a German Benchmark Media, Mytek or Weiss Engineering. Or Antelope Audio before the Romanians vacated the home sector again. Mutec had blipped my radar years ago but somehow never loud enough to react. Then my Swiss friend Dan, whilst sending his equipment list for a first formal review, dropped a casual aside. Fitted with Mutec's Ref10 master clock and a linear external power supply, iFi's little Pro iDSD converter approached his far costlier APL Hifi custom unit from Alex Peychev.

That finally rang my bells. When I spotted Mutec's booth on the ground floor of this year's Munich show, I walked straight up to Dipl.-Ing. Christian Peters, Geschäftsführer and CEO of Mutec, to introduce myself with a shiny new name card. As his reply to my post-show email shows, the timing proved mutual. "Thank you for your follow-up and visit at our booth! It was very good meeting you personally because for a long time now I've wanted to make contact to have our products reviewed." We both agreed that his MC-3+USB / Ref10 combo would be a perfect segue for the 6moons audience. So here we are featuring their one-two assault on the jittery subject.

As they summarize for our purposes, the smaller box "optimizes jitter-affected digital sources like CD transports and streamers; is ideally suited as signal conditioner to audibly improve any D/A converter; enables computer audio via USB at the highest fidelity; serves as digital audio switching matrix, format converter and master clock; exports and converts native DSD signals from the computer; isolates USB audio streams to digital devices."

This is due to Mutec's galvanically isolated USB interface with ultra-low noise oscillators which themselves are autonomous and isolated from other processes via IT-based high-speed isolators; plus subsequent and proprietary reclocking. Data acceptance includes native DSD 256 which is converted to high-rate PCM and output as S/PDIF on BNC. Simultaneously "four word clock outputs provide phase-coherent clock signals derived from the internal reclocking process for the same ultra-low jitter qualities. These clock outputs may be independently switched in pairs to scale clock rates up to 22.5792/24.576MHz respectively, thus being ideally suited to a wide range of equipment and interfaces from the likes of Esoteric, TACT Audio or M2Tech."

By now you may be wondering how the bigger Ref10 goes above and beyond?

Ref10 phase noise:

1Hz:               ≤  -116 dBc/Hz
10Hz:             ≤  -142 dBc/Hz
100Hz:           ≤  -155 dBc/Hz
1'000Hz:        ≤  -160 dBc/Hz
Noise floor:    ≤  -166 dBc/Hz