External reference for Vivaldi Clock

As the provision exists to use an external reference with the Vivaldi clock, is there any current clock which would actually enhance the SQ of a system that used it? And would deploying such a clock for both the dCS stack in addition to an Ethernet switch, for instance the new Uptone EtherREGEN, which also supports an external reference alter your answer?

Interesting question. Looking forward to the answer(s).

Attempting to use a reference clock for Ethernet and audio is fundamentally silly. It completely ignores the actual data flow within the chain as well as the real engineering On which Ethernet is based.

It’s a solution looking for a problem.

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Got it. However, assuming I simply am interested in the potential for using an external reference clock just for the Vivaldi Clock, it there anything being sold that would offer any improvement in SQ for a Vivaldi based system? Seems there are a number of folks who are claiming to use a couple of manufactured clocks to enhance their Vivaldi stacks. Companies referenced include Cybershaft and Mutec.

Yes indeed. My dealer demonstrated the Abendrot clock as a reference for a Vivaldi system clock to me.

It most definitely produced an improvement, say of a good digital interconnect compared to a slightly better one. 40,000 gbp.

https://abendrot-audio.com/everest701/

Obviously the best performance would be realized by syncing each Vivaldi device to its own Vivaldi master clock and then syncing each of those clocks to each other with a properly calibrated and exceedingly precise 10MHz global master clock (something lab-grade rather than those toys that get a lot of chatter on the audiophile forums).

I’m sure that any dCS dealer would be more than happy to make this configuration a reality for you :wink:

…and yes, I’m joking… or am I?

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Got it! Not joking. Guys at Music Lovers, as well as other dealers I’ve spoken with in the States, say don’t bother trying to find a clock. Typically hard to get one with consistent, quality specs that would be of any benefit to the dCS stack. Jesse Luna feels the same way. The only ones mentioned for customer use are from from Cybershaft (Japan) or Mutec (Germany). These are seemingly “made to order”. So there’s no way to try on these sort of “bespoke” clocks. I’m guessing what you refer to as “lab grade” are hard to come by and likely quite expensive.

I’ll keep seeking out other means for making any further SQ enhancements to the system, like items from Shunyata and Uptone, as they come to market. Both the former’s Ethernet cables, and letters EtherREGEN switch have done so, quite dramatically.

I have a Mutec clock, which I bought used. It makes no difference with my Vivaldi stack. I have also played with different BNC cables. Again, I have not heard any difference as long as the clock cables are high quality true 75 ohm cables.

One change I’ve made that has made a difference is with the Ethernet connection to the Upsampler. I have used a fiber converter between my rack switch and the Upsampler. I have used both a dual TrippLite fiber converter (transmitter and receiver back to back) and a Gigafoil. Both did offer some small improvements. I am currently running a fiber connection straight from a SFP port on my switch to a single TrippLite fiber receiver/converter and then a 0.5M Ethernet cable from there to the Upsampler. That has had the best results for me.

I have an Etherregen awaiting install but haven’t had time to try it yet.

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Like you, my Vivaldi Upsampler is connected to a GigaFOIL on a Fiber Media converter thats connected directly to my Juniper Ethernet switch SFP port (over single-mode fibre), which completely isolates any Compute/networking noise from my dCS system. I do also have a very low-noise 5V linear PSU powering the Fibre Media Converter, while the GigaFOIL takes care of any remaining parasitic noise from the PSU.

I hope no one takes offence, but IMHO, the EtherREGEN is a complete waste of money, designed for people who don’t really know any better about how IP/Ethernet works; for example, expecting sonic improvement by having a 10MHz clock input on the EtherREGEN demonstrates absolute ignorance about how packet networking works. :slight_smile:

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I have tried quite afew BNC/BNC cables and found that many of them degraded the sound noticeably. However I do take your point about true 75 ohm cables. Many of the poor results came from digital cables specified as 75 ohm by the manufacturer but primarily intended for music data. That makes me wonder how much one can trust manufacturer specifications outside of those cables intended for the professional market?

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My expectations prior to receiving the EtherREGEN switch were not high as a replacement for a Cisco 2960. But after installing it and letting it settle in I found it really made a substantial and most positive sonic difference in my system. This even after having made big gains with a pair of Shunyata Ethernet cables. Couldn’t be happier.

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I have no reason to doubt what you’re hearing/saying, but look at it this way;

Before you added EtherREGEN in your system, did you have any problems playing back via Roon/RAAT or .flac streamed files? These are encoded/encapsulated streams (imagine copying zip files).

If your answer is No, you didn’t have any problems. Then, like all the other dCS customers without an EtherREGEN, you’ve had Zero data integrity problems streaming into your dCS over Ethernet to begin with.

Consequentially, any sonic benefit you do get from adding the EtherREGEN in your system must be associated with reduction in Noise across your system, not improved bit-stream transmission.

Ethernet, by design, is balanced and galvanically isolated - all Ethernet ports are in fact transformer coupled - and the only way to completely remove any remaining parasitic noise across transmission is to optically isolate via a fibre media converter.

The bottom line is, there are better/cheaper ways to improve your system than to use EtherREGEN, period. :wink:

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I find your views on the etherREGEN quite interesting, but you must have had the same conclusion prior to your own purchase of the GigaFOIL (by no means a cheap purchase). You have your ways of getting rid of the parasitic noise, but yet dismiss the purpose behind the features of the etherREGEN (which does include optical transmission via its own SFP).

The above comparison between some of the audiophile network switches with optical transmission should provide some interesting reading. UpTone must be doing something right to end up ranking second to the $$$$ Telegartners.

While I agree some aspects of the EtherREGEN does makes some practical sense for those who don’t already have a home network setup commensurate with their dCS system.

The difference though with something like the GigaFOIL, is that it does exactly what it’s designed to do with no claims of more, and there are many cheaper options that do exactly the same thing; just google “network isolator” or “medical ethernet isolator”.

The EtherREGEN on the other hand makes all sorts of claims; Take that 10MHz clock input for supposedly synchronising the switch to the audio systems’s master clock, or that “Ultra low-jitter differential re-clocking flip-flops” :roll_eyes:

The system’s sound quality cannot improve from EtherREGEN’s 10MHz clock input nor the re-clocking flip-flops; it’s technically impossible as TCP/Ethernet streams are asynchronous by nature and require packet re-assembly at the end-point (the dCS’ StreamUnlimited boards), and thus have absolutely nothing to do with jitter as we know it in audio systems nor the 10MHz synchronous clock required to keep the Vivaldi components in-sync for digital-to-analog conversion. Any cheap “drug store” bought Ethernet switch will reproduce bitstreams perfectly without error - they’re all usually based on the same 2 or 3 Ethernet chipset suppliers anyway!

As for the EtherREGEN’s optical port, true, it likely provides benefit from isolating the rest of your home network, but it’s facing the “wrong” direction for obvious reasons.

With respect to that Taiko post on WBF, there’s not a single objective point in that whole entire post, coming from a supposed manufacturer? Sorry, I can’t take that post seriously.

Anyway, I better get off my soapbox on this topic. At the end of the day, people will believe what they want to believe/hear, but I expect dCS owners are discerning individuals with resources to dig much deeper before they add components into their system. On that basis, while it doesn’t cause any harm, technically, the EtherREGEN is mostly fantasy.

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That Abendrot Stute appears to be some beautiful kit. Unlike some of the other reference clocks out there, it complements a Vivaldi stack. But that’s some serious coin.

@Andrew, when you say lab-grade clocks, do you have anything in mind? I will say that Mutec and Cybershaft get a fair bit of attention on the audiophile forums—SOtM and Stanford Research less so— and of course there are the traditional studio suppliers like Antelope [whose phase noise seems slightly higher than the audiophile “toys”]. I am not asking you to endorse anyone, just asking for a reference point for what you mean by “lab-grade.” Cheers!

Can’t say I find anything that you claim Uptone is saying has actually been made by them. Suggest you read John’s paper https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0660/6121/files/UpTone-J.Swenson_EtherREGEN_white_paper.pdf?v=1583429386 on what the issues are that the EtherREGEN is seeking to ameliorate. And the clear focus of the EtherREGEN is on preventing upstream noise of known types from traversing the switch and getting dumped into the Ethernet downstream.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating: get an EtherREGEN into your system and you’ll sing a different tune.

Steve, I believe that @Anupc has identified one thing specifically:

The EtherREGEN on the other hand makes all sorts of claims; Take that 10MHz clock input for supposedly synchronising the switch to the audio systems’s master clock, or that “Ultra low-jitter differential re-clocking flip-flops”

They do claim that clocking the switch can make a difference in the sound. And they make a lot of mumbo jumbo assertions about clocking in that so-called “white paper.” I am a big believer in network noise reduction, and I am also a fan of properly implemented clock technology [who isn’t?], but I am with anupc regarding the clock input for the EtherRegen [and I assume the clock input on the the SOtM switch as well]: that’s just snake oil. The switches may, like the GigaFoil, help reduce the noise floor of that input, and that is always beneficial. But the Clocking? That’s not science.

Alex from UpTone Audio here. Sorry, but neither you or Anupc seem to understand the design of the EtherREGEN, the concepts we put forth in our paper, or even the optional-use clock input which at no place do we promote the use of nor say anything about “synchronizing the switch to the audio system’s master clock.”

Please look closely at both the User Guide and our ‘white paper.’

While this forum is not one I frequent, a couple of our clients pointed out the mis-information being dispensed in this thread. I am happy to answer questions about our product’s design, but not interested in engaging in arguments about the premise that is or is not already “perfect” for audio.
:expressionless: Too much work to do, too little time…

By the way, by my current count there are at least 30 dCS users happily using and reporting about the EtherREGEN feeding their Rossini or Network Bridge, and I think there is even a Vivaldi user.

Hope you all are staying safe and healthy out there during these unsettling times.
–Alex Crespi
UpTone Audio LLC

Well, there’s nothing quite like having one’s intelligence and wallet insulted. :wink: My viewpoint on the ER has nothing to do with whether it is worth buying (which is all that your purported data about other dCS owners proves). I am an actual purchaser/owner of the EtherRegen. So, I can speak as both an observer and listener. The EtherRegen I tested in my system appeared to lower the noise floor similarly to the GigaFoil I also own (though I find the GF’s approach preferable). This alone may make it a worthwhile investment for someone whose system has the resolution to reveal the advantage. I am keeping the ER until I get a second GF. But clocking the switch? Sorry, that’s not science IMHO (an opinion I am not alone in holding), and we’ll just have to (hopefully) agree to respectfully disagree. But I am happy to be educated.

I believe that for marketing purposes the option for an external clock emerged in the EtherREGEN design. Alex made that clear, early on, to those on the forum who wanted to understand why it was even there. Guess there already were some users of such external clocks who were interested in using one of their ports for this purpose.

And I agree with you that it seems questionable to add an external clock specifically for enhancing the performance of the EtherREGEN. Would be quite cost prohibitive with unknown benefit. And even cost no object clocks likely benefit from cherry picking when attempting to use one as a master for both downstream DAC and switch. Good luck getting any manufacturer of such clocks to provide trial/money back guarantee for their products.

Anecdotally, I cannot recall any dealer I’ve ever visited that used an external clock in any of their rooms, despite the presence of products that afforded this option. That could be due to marketing/sales issues (though that’s never a bar at the very high end when dealer/customers can experience the value any product can bring).

All in all the design and implementation of the EtherREGEN and it’s power supply are excellent. Even adding an LPS replacement is of marginal benefit – and at a relatively high cost compared to what you already get.