Network Bridge - clocks

I am new to dCSand learning with the help of this community. Forgive the very obvious question but what is the benefit to adding separate clock[s] to the Bridge?

It depends on whether you are using the Network Bridge within a legacy dCS multi-box system ( where everything has a wordclock input) or whether a non-dCS DAC has a wordclock input.

An external clock has two basic functions. One is to provide a more accurate timing signal to the DAC which is the point at which the conversion from analogue to digital occurs. The other is to synchronise the processing in other linked digital components so that they align in time with that conversion.

If you are using a Network Bridge outside of a system having a DAC with a wordclock input then there is no benefit.

If your question is about the separate clocks per se, each clock handles a different group of sampling frequencies, one based on 44.1kHz the other on 48kHz. In a dCS system having two clocks allows for automatic switching between incoming data based on either frequency.

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Yes but this synchronisation can be done by the dCS DAC, being the master clock for both itself and the Network Bridge…In that case the question is: is it worth adding an external dCS clock to synchronise better than the dCS DAC would do ?
Can you hear/appreciate/value the difference ?

Yes. If you read many of the archive threads you will find numerous users extolling the benefits of adding a dCS system clock (given the criteria in my earlier post). dCS does not make anything that does not provide an audible improvement in its own right or over a lower model in the range.

However you will need those dual clock outputs which means that legacy dCS clocks are incompatible as they only have a single clock output. They can be used but with the inconvenience of having to manually change the clock frequency each time the incoming sample rate alters - which can be difficult with e.g. streaming from a service where the incoming rate is not known until it arrives.

The other question is of economic viability given a Network Bridge as the cheapest compatible dCS clock is Rossini . That will largely depend upon the system with which it is used.

I red all threads about the added value of a better clocking, but it is still conceptual until you really have the opportunity to hear it by yourself. It is not easy finding a dealer that can arrange such a listening session. I have a Vivaldi DAC, it means the dealer must have the same DAC + the Vivaldi clock…and upsampler, because there is still the never ending question: the clock or the upsampler ? You add to that the people telling that the Vivaldi replacement should occur soon…2021 or 2022 ?

Not easy actually…but that is part of the fun, in a way…

I have a Vivaldi DAC since 2014, then added a Network Bridge in 2018. For many years, I used the DAC without any external wordclock. When the Network Bridge was inserted in the system, I obviously connected the DAC’s wordclock output into the N.B. wordclock input. And one can already hear an improvement by doing so (as opposed to leaving the N.B. managing clocking on its own).

The next step in 2019 was to add a MUTEC MC3+ USB wordclock to the system. 44.1KHz or 48KHz wordclock sent to both the N.B. and the DAC. This provided some small improvements: on soundstage, speed, naturalness. However nothing really remarkable. Anyway, the Mutec costs only 1K€, so not a big deal…

The final step was the introduction of a Cybershaft OP13 (second-hand from a Belgium friend) 10 MHz reference clock to drive the Mutec MC3+ USB. At this stage, I was not expecting that much change. And I was wrong! The 10MHz clock brings more to the Musical party actually. This is when you start to comprehend the importance of good clocking.

So, my advice is simple. If you can afford a dCS clock, go for it. However, I would recommend mostly the models supporting a 10MHz ref. clock input which limits the choice to the Vivaldi Clock (or 2nd hand Scarlatti models). Otherwise, the cheapo MUTEC MC3+ USB complemented with a good 10MHz ref clock (either from Cybershaft or from Mutec themselves) is a wise choice. Except for the ergonomy/ease of usage …; one need to manually change between 44.1KHz and 48KHz depending on the file streamed or played. Or just buy a 2nd Mutec, then … (one unit outputs 44.1KHz wordclock while the other unit is set to 48KHz).

FYI, a “Mutec pack” with two MC3+ & one REF10 units and the necessary coaxial cables will cost 6K€.

I don’t own a dCS Upsampler. However, I can state that I don’t appreciate much software upsampling (either x2 or x4 on the sampling rate / or DSD) when done by Roon or Audirvana.

I’m certain that improving the clock offers a natural perspective to the Sound & Music that is really addictive. Even if my clocking units are modest and not from dCS, I won’t see myself going back… My only ‘exit path’ now is to buy a Vivaldi clock (one day, maybe …).

With proper clocks, the 3D soundstage is better, speed of attack more realistic i.e. closer to Live music, a kind of “fluidity” from note to note becomes prevalent, the bass is more textured, and the highs get silky smooth although with more weight (on the cymbals, for example).

In terms of wordclock/ref. Clock, testing is believing, I guess … :wink:

I have a Mutec MC3+USB and Ref 10 Se120, sounds def better with this combo, however, I use Mutec as a reclocker instead of word clock.

The reason is simple, I just do not know how to set up as a word clock on MC3+ with NB. Can you explain ?


What DAC are you using?

Chord Hugo TT2

Hi Mitchell,

Btw, congratulation on this set-up encompassing the MUTEC REF 10 SE120 (which is a top of the range 10MHz ref. clock). That should be quite something …!

Since you don’t use a dCS DAC, I can also understand why you opted for S/DIF or AES/EBU re-clocking processed by the MUTEC MC3+ USB.

If you want to send a Wordclock to the Network bridge, you simply need to run a BNC 75 Ohms coaxial cable between one of the MUTEC’s clock Outputs into one of the Network Bridge’s clock Inputs. And then set the MUTEC unit as a Wordclock reference manipulating the various front-panel buttons (please re-read the user manual, I can not check in front of my equipment right now for you).

What I’m not certain of is whether the Wordclock output And the S/PDIF or AES re-clocking can work together in parallel or are mutually exclusive.
If not compatible, you will have to listen to & test each mode then decide for yourself which configuration sounds best in your system with the CHORD TT2 DAC.

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Hey Mitchell

The Network Bridge (NB) will expect a clock input frequency which is an integer multiple of the sample rate of the music the NB is getting

For example, for 44.1kHz music the NB will expect a clock of 44.1kHz for 96kHz music the NB will expect a 48 kHz clock frequency.

If you connect the Mutec to the NB clock input, you have to manually switch the Mutec clock to match the music sample rate.

The Mutec offers a re-clocking function where it senses the digital input sample rate or clock frequency and automatically replaces it with the correct and presumably better, clock signal. The re-clocked signal can then be fed to the DAC.

With this setup, I don’t believe you need to connect the Mutec word clock to the NB

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thank you so much for the help.

Yes, with the MUTEC unit used as a Wordclock source one must (manually) adapt its output frequency to the sample rate of the music played.

=> Set the MUTEC’s output wordclock @44.1KHz for music sampled @: 44.1 / 88.2 / 176.4 / 352.8KHz.
=> Set the MUTEC’s output wordclock @48KHz for music sampled @: 48 / 96 / 192 / 384KHz.
(to alleviate this use-case issue, the solution is to purchase a 2nd MC3+ USB unit; each one outputs a different Wordclock signal).

Locking the Network Bridge to a Wordclock source has certainly a different action than using the MUTEC unit as an AES/EBU or S/PDIF re-clock (which then imposes 2 digital cables, and they shall be the same: could soon become expensive…).

I think both technical options could be worth trying. Then decide what is the most valuable to someone’s ears.