My digital clocking conundrum

newlash09

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Hi all :)

Long rant warning :D

I was running a multibox roon setup till 2 years back, but discarded it to reduce my box count. Iam presently feeding my esoteric dac via optical from a auris blueme HD Bluetooth receiver. I have tidal, amazon music and YouTube on my tab. And I just play it from my tab and send it via Bluetooth. It all sounds surprisingly good, for what might be considered a poor quality Bluetooth connection.

Lately I've been suffering from FOMO ( fear of missing out ). So was looking to add a digital streamer with inbuilt storage, to stream digital feed to my dac. To see if it adds any further improvements over my supposedly inferior quality Bluetooth streaming.

( I've had my fair share of faffing with Intel NUC's, mac minis, linear power supplies ...you know the usual tweaks in a modern digital streaming setup. And really don't want to revisit that era again :D )

I was considering between aurender and innous, as inbuilt storage is a must for me, and want to retire my NAS setup. Things looked simple till my friend mentioned that he is considering parting with his esoteric G-02X master clock. So out of curiosity I just checked up the topic of clocking and digital to digital conversion (DDC). I really wish I didn't, as iam more confused now, than when I started :D

Now coming to my main areas of confusion :

1. Asynchronous usb feed is supposedly dictated by the inbuilt clock of my dac. I think I have a good quality clock in my dac. So this might be the best connection to my dac. However, since things like optical diodes and galvanic isolation on usb inputs on dacs were unheard of in 2013 when my dac was built. I've never tried it's usb inputs, and have only used optical and coaxial connections.
2. I've also read that usb is noisy, that was also one reason why I always avoided usb. Besides I've never been stuck up on sample rates, so don't necessarily need DSD playback.
3. DDC's apparently isolate this usb noise better. And also help with reclocking. But I've never tried one before. But iam aware that quite few of our FM's are very happy with their DDC's.
4. So if I want to avoid the addition of a DDC, then I will have to choose a streamer with a coaxial output. But in this case, the clock in my streamer will dictate the clock timing. And it might not necessarily be better than the 0.5 ppm OCXO clock precision inside the esoteric.
5. So if wanted to use coaxial, I ideally would need a streamer with clock input ( like the new aurender N20 ). Then use a external master clock like the esoteric G-02X, to feed the clock inputs of both the streamer and the dac. I've read that this is most ideal, as both transport and dac clocks are synchronised then.
6. But the cost of the above combination of aurender N20 + esoteric G-02X, is more than the dac :D
7. Considering the above, does clock synchronisation really make that kind of difference.
8. I surely can't afford the aurender N20. So if I get the esoteric G-02x at a reasonable price used, then I could buy a entry level aurender like the N100. Then feed its usb out to a denafrips gaia DDC. The denafrips gaia has a clock input, so I could then use the esoteric G-02X to sync the gaia to my dac again. This is a cheaper approach to achieve clock sync, but is still expensive :(

So should I give up this obsession with clocking and save a lot of money, by just streaming coaxial from my streamer to my dac. I hope I haven't lost anyone along the way, due to the length of my post. And my confused stream of thoughts.

To be honest, I love esoteric kit. And I really want to buy the G-02x master clock. However, how best to use it, to improve my streaming setup, without spending another ton on the streamer, is where iam really lost.

All suggestions are most welcome :)
 
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MotherSky

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As I understand it, you are considering offboard conversion to SPDIF in order to allow reclocking - have you considered using the USB input on your Esoteric, fed by a USB device that provides reclocking and galvanic isolation? There are alternatives available, but I use the Uptone IsoRegen (with Uptone LPS 1.2 power supply) to excellent effect between my Auralic G1 and Aqua DAC - I don't want to add offboard USB/SPDIF conversion to an already fairly convoluted digital chain - there may be good arguments for doing things differently, but it sounds excellent to my ears - MH
 
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Thetiminator

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Been there, done that and have many t-shirts. My advice is don’t try and understand how music play via USB works…it’s a black art.
IME re clocking and very good power supplies are key to a good digital sound.
Before spending big money why don’t you try a Mutec USB3+ (£850) for a demo. They are very good at both reclocking and a very good USB/SPDIF converter.
I use one plus a Regen with the big Uptone Audio power supply and each stage brought significant improvements.
Good luck.
 

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Firstly as always only you can tell if the sound quality you can achieve with an outboard clock is good enough to justify the cost and additional units you would need to get .
Secondly I fully understand and sympathise the desire to own well made and highly engineered kit many of of us feel that desire .
From a practical and first hand experience I have never used an off board clock so useless to you there . However I have and do use a Musical Fidelity V/Link 192 being fed from a Raspberry Pi 4 using Moode Audio and can say this sounds as good as using a full Allo Digione Signature Hat with dual LPSU power supplies .
Now I know this is a long way away from the kit you are using but the quality difference using the MF VLink is really impressive so much so that I use that in my main system and the Allo Digione Signature in my second system . What I am trying to say in a very long way is that using a high quality USB reclocker works really well and reduces digital noise in the chain very effectively . Given your current set up I would suggest that looking at a good quality but much cheaper USB device would give you the same sound quality and less boxes than Reclocking which is best used with items that are designed to be reclocked rather than trying to shoe horn it in to a system that it was not really designed for .
 
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I recommend trying an Innuos Zen Mini with its upgraded power supply and Phoenix USB reclocker. The Phoenix isn't a Masterclock, it's not timing the audio part of the signal, so your DAC is still the master audio clock. While the Zen Mini is good the Phoenix makes it a game-changer
 
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Raspberry Pi with Volumio gives you Spotify and Tidal Connect for very little outlay and hardly any faff.

It’s also ‘lossless’ vs your current Bluetooth connection which is ‘lossy’.
 

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Let me help you out here; I think you're conflating various things.

The Esoteric G02x is an external master clock. What it does not do is reclock anything. It is not a USB reclocker, SPDIF reclocker or anything like that. It provides a more accurate clock for your DAC. You may, or may not, be able to hear the difference.

These external clocks are most useful in systems with different components (eg transport and DAC) and then using a central, external, high quality clock, to slave them all together, as it were.

You don't say what your DAC is (the kit list feature seems to have disappeared?). For reference, I also use an Esoteric DAC.

If you want to add a very good quality streaming source, with internal storage, then look at an Auralic Aries G2.1. That can then feed out to your DAC; I find AES to be optimum.

This will be way better than your existing (lossy) Bluetooth arrangement.

Forget about reclocking for the time being. The Auralic already has a high quality internal clock (and most likely your Esoteric DAC will have as well)

You can then go on to consider using an external master clock with your DAC (just to remind you; this only provides a high quality master clock to your DAC, nothing else). This addition would most likely be the smallest gain in SQ. A high quality, high resolution system is really required in order to benefit from the use of external master clocks of this nature.
 

newlash09

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As I understand it, you are considering offboard conversion to SPDIF in order to allow reclocking - have you considered using the USB input on your Esoteric, fed by a USB device that provides reclocking and galvanic isolation? There are alternatives available, but I use the Uptone IsoRegen (with Uptone LPS 1.2 power supply) to excellent effect between my Auralic G1 and Aqua DAC - I don't want to add offboard USB/SPDIF conversion to an already fairly convoluted digital chain - there may be good arguments for doing things differently, but it sounds excellent to my ears - MH
Thanks for sharing the above sir :)

As I understand, the isoregen will be cleaning up the usb output from my streamer, and then reclocking as well. But the esoteric dacs clock will still be used, as the isoregen is feeding the esoteric via asynchronous usb. This seems to be a good idea, as I get clean usb, as well as the esoteric dacs clock is being used.

I will note it down as suggestion No.1 , if I don't get the external G-02x master clock :)
 
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newlash09

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Been there, done that and have many t-shirts. My advice is don’t try and understand how music play via USB works…it’s a black art.
IME re clocking and very good power supplies are key to a good digital sound.
Before spending big money why don’t you try a Mutec USB3+ (£850) for a demo. They are very good at both reclocking and a very good USB/SPDIF converter.
I use one plus a Regen with the big Uptone Audio power supply and each stage brought significant improvements.
Good luck.
Thanks for the above sir :)

My friend who is considering selling his esoteric G-02X, is trying the mutec shortly.

He presently is feeding his metrum adagio dac, via a Dcs network bridge. Since, the metrum dac does not have a clock input. He is feeding the G-02X master clock to the Dcs network bridge. But hasn't found any noticeable improvement with the clock utilised this way.

So he wants to try feeding the network bridge to the mutec, for USB to spdif conversion. And feed the mutec with the G-02X master clock. As he is of the opinion that the G-02X clock might be superior to the inbuilt clock of the mutec. And then feed the mutec to metrum dac via spdif. If he does not find a improvement with G-02X clock utilised this way, then he is planning on selling it. And I expect that he might not actually notice a difference, as the Dcs network bridge by itself is no slouch.

But unlike my friend's metrum dac, my esoteric K-01 has a clock input. So I think the G-02X might make a difference in my chain, though it hasn't done anything in my friends chain so far.

Regarding your setup, I would have thought that the mutec itself would give superior results all by itself. So iam surprised to see the use of a Isoregen with LPSU, again feeding the mutec via USB for USB to spdif conversion. I hope I understood your chain correctly sir. If the above is correct, then I can recommend the same to my friend to try too, as he will be getting the mutec soon. Thanks to kindly clarify on the above :)
 

newlash09

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Firstly as always only you can tell if the sound quality you can achieve with an outboard clock is good enough to justify the cost and additional units you would need to get .
Secondly I fully understand and sympathise the desire to own well made and highly engineered kit many of of us feel that desire .
From a practical and first hand experience I have never used an off board clock so useless to you there . However I have and do use a Musical Fidelity V/Link 192 being fed from a Raspberry Pi 4 using Moode Audio and can say this sounds as good as using a full Allo Digione Signature Hat with dual LPSU power supplies .
Now I know this is a long way away from the kit you are using but the quality difference using the MF VLink is really impressive so much so that I use that in my main system and the Allo Digione Signature in my second system . What I am trying to say in a very long way is that using a high quality USB reclocker works really well and reduces digital noise in the chain very effectively . Given your current set up I would suggest that looking at a good quality but much cheaper USB device would give you the same sound quality and less boxes than Reclocking which is best used with items that are designed to be reclocked rather than trying to shoe horn it in to a system that it was not really designed for .
Yes sir. Iam convinced that DDC's make a noticable improvement if being used on the USB source chain. So if I end up with a entry level aurender, which only has USB outputs. Then I will definitely consider adding a DDC like the denafrips gaia. Then feed the gaia to my dac via USB.

However, if I do get the master clock, then I would like to connect the denafrips gaia via coaxial and see if superior clocking this way makes a difference.
 

newlash09

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I recommend trying an Innuos Zen Mini with its upgraded power supply and Phoenix USB reclocker. The Phoenix isn't a Masterclock, it's not timing the audio part of the signal, so your DAC is still the master audio clock. While the Zen Mini is good the Phoenix makes it a game-changer
Thanks for the above sir :)

I did read somewhere that a combination of the innous zenith MK3 + innous phoenix USB takes the quality seriously close to the innous statement. I will note this down as my option no.2 , if I don't get the G-02x master clock. Though this combination is still very expensive :D

But on the plus side, I can buy one and then wait to save up the funds for the innous phoenix USB.
 

newlash09

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Raspberry Pi with Volumio gives you Spotify and Tidal Connect for very little outlay and hardly any faff.

It’s also ‘lossless’ vs your current Bluetooth connection which is ‘lossy’.
I did try volumio a long time ago sir. It was one of the early versions. And I found it struggling to index my 800 GB collection from my NAS. As stated it was one of the early versions, installed on a Rpi3. However, I believe the newer builds are faster on a Rpi4. However, I really don't want to try that now, as I dont want to house a NAS anymore. And would prefer something with inbuilt storage. I would ideally like not to use any linear power supplies also, but that now looks unavoidable if using DDC's or USB cleaners.
 

newlash09

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Let me help you out here; I think you're conflating various things.

The Esoteric G02x is an external master clock. What it does not do is reclock anything. It is not a USB reclocker, SPDIF reclocker or anything like that. It provides a more accurate clock for your DAC. You may, or may not, be able to hear the difference.

These external clocks are most useful in systems with different components (eg transport and DAC) and then using a central, external, high quality clock, to slave them all together, as it were.

You don't say what your DAC is (the kit list feature seems to have disappeared?). For reference, I also use an Esoteric DAC.

If you want to add a very good quality streaming source, with internal storage, then look at an Auralic Aries G2.1. That can then feed out to your DAC; I find AES to be optimum.

This will be way better than your existing (lossy) Bluetooth arrangement.

Forget about reclocking for the time being. The Auralic already has a high quality internal clock (and most likely your Esoteric DAC will have as well)

You can then go on to consider using an external master clock with your DAC (just to remind you; this only provides a high quality master clock to your DAC, nothing else). This addition would most likely be the smallest gain in SQ. A high quality, high resolution system is really required in order to benefit from the use of external master clocks of this nature.
Yes sir, iam aware that the G-02x is only a master clock, and not a DDC convertor or upsampler.

My present dac is a esoteric K-01, which is also a CD /SACD player with external clock input. It sounds stunning on CD's as well as a dac.

I was of the impression that since the dac is from 2013, and supposedly digital has advanced by leaps and bounds since then, atleast as per the reviewers. I wanted to see if there were benefits in adding an external dac. I've had a listen to the latest dac flavours of the season, a denafrips terminator fed by both P2aes, and a aurender streamer. And a lumin D2 dac cum streamer. But in both the cases, I found my present K01 to be superior by quite a margin. ( please note that I've tried the lumin in my own setup. But I've heard the denafrips terminator in 2 different setups ).

Having done the above, I was delighted that there is still life left in the esoteric K-01 :)

After much reading I felt convinced that the newer esoteric N-05XD, might be the upgrade I was looking for. But my local dealer qouted GBP 15k for N-05XD. I would have to sell my kidneys, and possibly my wife's too to afford it :D

Thus, started my search to improve the sound from the present K-01 dac. And since my friend suggested that he might be parting with his G-02x, that got me thinking, about syncing a digital only streamer with a clock input to the dac, via external master clock like the G-02x.

I've read that adding a master clock to a single box component like a CD player or a streamer with inbuilt dac is a waste of money. But a seperate digital transport , synced to the dac via master clock seems to have some audible improvements. However, as rightly pointed out, iam not sure if my system, room and my ears are resolving enough to notice the improvements if any.
 

newlash09

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Thanks all for your valuable suggestions so far :)

I think i will pen down my present available options into 2 categories :

1. If I do manage to buy the esoteric G-02X without having to mortgage the house : ( this will be using the coaxial input on the dac )
A) Buy a entry level aurender streamer with usb output. Feed it to a denafrips gaia DDC.
B) If I win the lottery, get a aurender N20, and skip getting the denafrips gaia DDC.

2. If the esoteric G-02X is not available : ( this will be using the usb input on the dac )
A) Cheaper option - Again get a basic aurender or innous zen mini, and add a Isoregen with external LPSU.
B) Expensive option - Get a innous zenith mk3 for now. And add a innous phoenix USB next year.
 

newlash09

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I think there was a thread titled " my experience with clocking" or something similar. At that time when I tried to understand it, I was way out of my water to follow what was being posted :D

I've subsequently tried finding that thread, but couldn't find it. I think it was started by possibly @simon g or by @Fourlegs If iam not mistaken. Can anyone please post a link to that post again please. Thanks :)
 

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Thanks all for your valuable suggestions so far :)

I think i will pen down my present available options into 2 categories :

1. If I do manage to buy the esoteric G-02X without having to mortgage the house : ( this will be using the coaxial input on the dac )
A) Buy a entry level aurender streamer with usb output. Feed it to a denafrips gaia DDC.
B) If I win the lottery, get a aurender N20, and skip getting the denafrips gaia DDC.

2. If the esoteric G-02X is not available : ( this will be using the usb input on the dac )
A) Cheaper option - Again get a basic aurender or innous zen mini, and add a Isoregen with external LPSU.
B) Expensive option - Get a innous zenith mk3 for now. And add a innous phoenix USB next year.
I think you may well still be misunderstanding what the G02x is; my concern comes from your comment highlighted in bold above.

The only connection between the G02x and your DAC will be a word clock cable, BNC terminated. If it's Esoteric then most likely 75ohm.

All this connection carries is a clock signal; there is no digital data involved at all. The G02X is NOT a reclocker! You cannot connect a G02X to a digital input on your DAC (unless your DAC allows an input to be set as word clock in, which I very much doubt). It is connected to Word Clock IN.

I suggest you read and absorb the user manual for the Esoteric G02x. If you have an Esoteric DAC or other digital device, there's quite a degree of flexibility of how the individual digital inputs are treated, viz the word clock. It takes a while to get your head around this stuff.

I really would suggest that you leave a word clock by the wayside for the time being. Get your system sorted first, then perhaps revisit. The difference it may (note: may) make is minor. It could well be worthwhile, but it should be the last thing you look at, IMO. Do some more reading and research around the whole concept of word clocks.
 
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newlash09

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@simon g Thanks sir :)

Got your point. I guess I've mistyped my reply, as I've been typing similar in most of my replies :D

I think I will make myself understood better with an example :)

Streamer - aurnder N20 - has word clock input ( 75 ohms BNC for using with Dcs clocks which are usually 75 ohms outputs )and has usb as well as coaxial out.

Dac - Esoteric K-01 - has word clock input via 50 ohms BNC cable, has usb, optical and coaxial inputs.

External clock - Esoteric G-02X- has 4 nos of clock outputs on BNC outs of 50 ohms each.

So I could use 2 BNC 50 ohm cables, to connect aurnder N20 and Esoteric K-01's World clock inputs, to the clock outputs of the esoteric G-02X. This will sync the clocks of the streamer and the dac. Now use a coaxial cable to feed the esoteric k-01 from the aurender N20.

Now the million dollar question is as below :

Difference between connecting the aurender N20 to esoteric K-01 ( without G-02X in the chain ) via usb ... VS .... connecting the auender N20 to esoteric K-01 via coaxial ( with the G-02X as external master clock as explained above )

Do you think it will be a noticable difference worth pursuing sir. To be honest, the G-02X is more of a urge to possess as a esoteric fan boy when available used :)
 

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Last year I to was intrigued by this reclocking lark as Discussed in the aforementioned thread but equally I didn't like the £800+ cost of entry. However in November whilst looking on ebay for a used reclocker I chanced upon an Audio-GD DI-2014 for £170 (circa £250 new) so bought it. I installed it between by pimped Node2 and pimped Black Ice DSD DAC using coax in and out and whilst the effect of this addition was subtle, is was subtle good. The easiest way for me to describe the change is that the output from streaming (Radio Paridise, Qobuz, NAS) went from sounding right to more right, I guess everything sounded more natural.
Besides the DI-2014 I believe Audio-GD also do a DI-2021 reclocker.
 
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Last year I to was intrigued by this reclocking lark as Discussed in the aforementioned thread but equally I didn't like the £800+ cost of entry. However in November whilst looking on ebay for a used reclocker I chanced upon an Audio-GD DI-2014 for £170 (circa £250 new) so bought it. I installed it between by pimped Node2 and pimped Black Ice DSD DAC using coax in and out and whilst the effect of this addition was subtle, is was subtle good. The easiest way for me to describe the change is that the output from streaming (Radio Paridise, Qobuz, NAS) went from sounding real to more real, I guess everything sounded more natural.
Besides the DI-2014 I believe Audio-GD also do a DI-2021 reclocker.
Thanks for sharing that sir :)

DDC's and reclockers, seem to be universally praised. So will definitely keep my options open on that front :)
 

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@simon g Thanks sir :)

Got your point. I guess I've mistyped my reply, as I've been typing similar in most of my replies :D

I think I will make myself understood better with an example :)

Streamer - aurnder N20 - has word clock input ( 75 ohms BNC for using with Dcs clocks which are usually 75 ohms outputs )and has usb as well as coaxial out.

Dac - Esoteric K-01 - has word clock input via 50 ohms BNC cable, has usb, optical and coaxial inputs.

External clock - Esoteric G-02X- has 4 nos of clock outputs on BNC outs of 50 ohms each.

So I could use 2 BNC 50 ohm cables, to connect aurnder N20 and Esoteric K-01's World clock inputs, to the clock outputs of the esoteric G-02X. This will sync the clocks of the streamer and the dac. Now use a coaxial cable to feed the esoteric k-01 from the aurender N20.

Now the million dollar question is as below :

Difference between connecting the aurender N20 to esoteric K-01 ( without G-02X in the chain ) via usb ... VS .... connecting the auender N20 to esoteric K-01 via coaxial ( with the G-02X as external master clock as explained above )

Do you think it will be a noticable difference worth pursuing sir. To be honest, the G-02X is more of a urge to possess as a esoteric fan boy when available used :)
Ahha..that's much clearer.

I wouldn't bother with the G02x, tbh. Your K01 already has a good clock. The N20 has an OXCO clock.

If you want to do tne Esoteric full on thing, then you're really looking at a G01x Rubidium, but that's very spendy.
 
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