USB reclockers

December 7, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

11 comments on “USB reclockers”

  1. I use 2 old Monarchy anti jitter boxes between a Cambridge CD drive and a GeorgeMark Audio line stage/DAC(MSB board inside. and I definitely hear improvement with the reclocking. The second box is noticeable but certainly less than a single Monarchy. I did try a 3rd Monarchy and wasn’t sure I heard any difference.

  2. Good aftternoon everyone!
    Ok, I get the question about USB reclockers.
    But I too have a question.
    I own two DAC’s.
    One of them, is built in to a Leak ST-130WL integrated amplifier.
    And I also own a EarMen Angel portable DAC that doubles as a headphone amp/preamp.
    I have ran both of these DAC’s on my Windows PC at one time.
    The noise that Paul was talking about, I didn’t hear that noise on either one of these DAC’s.
    But just to give you all a pretty good idea of what each one of these DAC’s costed me, I’ll tell you all up front.
    The Leak ST-130WL, costed me 1139USD.
    The EarMen Angel DAC, costed me 835USD.
    Now with that said, could it be that both of these DAC’s have reclockers built in to them?
    Thank you all in advance!
    John.

  3. Hi, Paul. You mentioned an USB reclocker named matrix or metrix which I did not find in the internet. Could you please specify which model and brand you use at Octave Records? And, is it also a galvanic isolator at hi-speed?

    Since I tried in the past some not too expensive USB isolators for decoupling my audio measurement ADC capture box. Problem was then that galvanic isolation happened but in the FFT display high frequencies came up which were not when direct connecting. I assume that this may come from the DC-DC convertor switching frequency within the USB isolator.

    1. Hi Sven,

      Let me jump in here before Paul. I, too, have a ‘Matrix’. Matrix actually refers to the company name of Matrix Audio. I’m guessing, like me, Paul is using the ‘X-SPDIF 2’ model. (Matrix Audio has recently released the ‘X-SPDIF 3’ but as I’ve not tried it, I can’t comment on its quality.)

      I have a PS Audio DirectStream DAC (DSDAC) and first started looking at USB reclockers a while ago after I heard Paul talking about how much better the I2S input sounds compared to the USB input. (The X-SPDIF 2 is also a ‘protocol converter’ as well as a reclocker.) When introduced into my system, the X-SPDIF 2 made a huge difference to the SQ. It made for a blacker (quieter) backgound which allowed more revealing detail in the music, particularly for individual instruments and voices. It also allowed more accurate location of individual voices in the soundstage.

      The trouble is, like most things in audio, it’s a bit of a ‘rabbit hole’. For example, I squeezed even better sound out of the setup by using a high-quality, external linear power supply (LPS) for the X-SPDIF 2 and better USB and HDMI (for the I2S connection) cables between the computer and X-SPDIF 2 and the X-SPDIF 2 and DSDAC.

      I’ve had this arrangement in place for a few years now and have enjoyed many blissful listening hours. 🙂 But, as it usually happens, technology moves on and, as Paul hinted, the DSDAC Mark II (currently being beta-tested) may not need an external reclocker for its USB input to match the quality of the I2S connection. The reports from the beta testers is that the USB on the Mark II is at least as good as its I2S. Time will tell. 🙂

      1. MIkeK and Paul, thank you for the information. Now I found the unit in the www. Oh, for my system it is overkill since my DAC has already USB and I wanted just only to disconnect the galvanic ground connection. Same for my ADC measurement. The matrix seems suitable for a DAC without USB and/or for higher resolution music data.

      1. Hi Paul,
        I’m a bit confused. If Mike is right as you commented, and the USB input on the DSD MkII is equivalent or superior to the I2S, then why did you choose to implement I2S and not USB output in your new AirLens ?
        I thought, based on your previous discussions on the subject, that I2S is superior ultimately.

        1. I am not sure how you got the impression USB on the MKII is superior to I2S. I2S is, in my view, always the superior format and what I always use when given the chance. Even with the Matrix Audio device, we’re eliminating the USB connection.

          I think perhaps where the confusion might lie is that in the MK2 the USB input is already galvanically isolated so it eliminates the need for something like the Matrix Audio USB reclocker is USB is what you’re stuck with.

  4. Adding a USB reclocker to my setup was an unmistakeable upgrade as Paul says. I use a Ciunas ISO-DAC to reclock the USB data being sent from my computer to my Directstream DAC. The sound from the reclocked USB data feed is clearly superior to that of the Bridge card. The most notable improvement was an extension of the bass, but it also cleaned up the sound. The Ciunas runs off an internal battery which is recharged by a connected power supply. So to further minimize noise, I use an iFi power supply plugged into my P600 power regenerator. (The run from the computer to the ISO-DAC is kind of long, so I also use a cheap USB hub midway to boost the signal. I’m not sure that adds meaningfully to the sins of the computer, all of which I’m trusting the ISO-DAC to rectify.)

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