AudioCircle

Industry Circles => Empirical Audio => Topic started by: audioengr on 4 May 2018, 11:10 pm

Title: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: audioengr on 4 May 2018, 11:10 pm
This mod to the SM involves replacing 3 chips.  Reduces jitter from ~22psec to ~7psec.

Comparing the original version to this new version is clearly audible.  Much more 3-D and lifelike.  It's clear that reducing jitter to extremely low levels is necessary.

Measurements were done with Sonos driving the SM using a Standard BNC cable and using a Standard BNC cable from SM to the Scope.  Powered by the supplied 9V Wall-Wart.

Listening tests were done using  Sonos to SM using a $20 BNC cable from Markertek and a Reference BNC cable from SM to the Overdrive SX DAC.  Since this sounds so good with the cheap input cable, this mod may have made it less sensitive to the input cable used.  More testing will tell.

Jitter distribution:

(https://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=179709)

Notice that the two peaks have changed to one peak.  This indicates that it is NOT the difference in rise and fall time or pull-up driver strength versus pull-down strength as I previously suspected.  I believe the ever so slight asymmetry is probably due to this.

Jitter spectrum:

(https://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=179710)

Not quite as good as using the Dynamo supply, but very good anyway.

The mod can be ordered for $100 plus shipping and PayPal.  Both mods are $200 plus shipping and PayPal.

Since these mods are starting to be extensive, I plan to raise the price of a new Synchro-Mesh a bit.

Steve N.
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: rechsm on 6 May 2018, 03:20 am
Hi Steve. Nice going with this news!

I have a question that I've been reluctant to ask. I hope you'll forgive me if it's rude.

Many DAC vendors talk about how their DACs do their own reclocking of the incoming digital audio signal to reduce jitter. I am thinking particularly of the PS Audio DirectStream and Schiit's Yggdrasil, which are the two that I happen to own.

I asked on the PS Audio forums about the relevance of reclockers to the DirectStream DAC, and the only replies I got were... unhelpful:
https://forum.psaudio.com/t/reclocking-sonos-for-directstream-dac/5843

So I thought I'd ask here: What kind of benefit could I expect to get from adding Synchro Mesh to the PS Audio DirectStream and/or the Schiit Yggy?

With your generous return policy I suppose I could just try it and see. But I thought I'd ask you first. Thanks in advance.

--Matthew
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: audioengr on 6 May 2018, 05:26 pm
Hi Steve. Nice going with this news!

I have a question that I've been reluctant to ask. I hope you'll forgive me if it's rude.

Many DAC vendors talk about how their DACs do their own reclocking of the incoming digital audio signal to reduce jitter. I am thinking particularly of the PS Audio DirectStream and Schiit's Yggdrasil, which are the two that I happen to own.

I asked on the PS Audio forums about the relevance of reclockers to the DirectStream DAC, and the only replies I got were... unhelpful:
https://forum.psaudio.com/t/reclocking-sonos-for-directstream-dac/5843

So I thought I'd ask here: What kind of benefit could I expect to get from adding Synchro Mesh to the PS Audio DirectStream and/or the Schiit Yggy?

With your generous return policy I suppose I could just try it and see. But I thought I'd ask you first. Thanks in advance.

--Matthew

In general, the Synchro-Mesh will improve the SQ of DACs that reclock again internally, but there are exceptions, notably the latest Benchmark DAC. The only way to tell is to try it.

Steve N.
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: rechsm on 6 May 2018, 07:01 pm
Quote
The only way to tell is to try it.

OK, then try it I shall.

Do I want the OTL coax output option for us with the PS Audio DSD & Schiit Yggy?

--Matthew
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: audioengr on 6 May 2018, 08:48 pm
OK, then try it I shall.

Do I want the OTL coax output option for us with the PS Audio DSD & Schiit Yggy?

--Matthew

I recommend the OTL option with all DACs now.  Lower jitter.

Steve N.
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: rechsm on 6 May 2018, 10:02 pm
Last question...probably. Are you including the mods in orders received as of today or...

I have my finger on the button here :)

--Matthew
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: audioengr on 7 May 2018, 12:18 am
Last question...probably. Are you including the mods in orders received as of today or...

I have my finger on the button here :)

--Matthew

Both mods are going into new orders.  Price will increase soon though.

Steve N.
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: rechsm on 7 May 2018, 01:59 am
Cool, thanks. Order placed. ✔︎
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: paul79 on 19 May 2018, 07:50 pm
Got this mod done, and it is no joke either. What Steve is extracting out of this affordable box is pretty amazing. Highly recommend this one for sure. Basically, image focus becomes even more spooky real and tight. A very nice upgrade for sure.
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: aniwolfe on 4 Jun 2018, 02:53 pm
 :thumb:



Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: rechsm on 13 Jun 2018, 03:49 am
I ordered this along with the rest of the Synchro-mesh and Dynamo kit to go with my Sonos and PS Audio Direct Stream DAC.

In brief, I highly recommend it. The difference, even with the reclocking that my DAC is already doing, is subtle but noticable. The nice thing about the Sonos is that the Toslink and Coax outputs are both always on, so I can run them both, one straight to the DAC and one through the SM, and flip instantly between them using the DAC remote control. This makes evaluating the SQ real easy.

I could pick out the difference on day 1 but it was probably after 30 or 40 hours of playback that I was really able to pick out the difference. Now I'm hearing a spooky level of detail in songs that I'm familiar with, particularly in echos, cymbals, sustains, decay, layered effects, things like this.

With the audition terms it's a no brainer, and you already know that Steve is a prince to deal with. So, I suggest you go for it.

--Matthew
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: Djwalter2000 on 13 Sep 2018, 04:24 am
Matthew, I have the same setup (Sonos feeding a Directstream DAC) except that I'm currently using a Wyred4Sound Remedy as the jitter reduction device. Have you ever tried a Remedy and could comment on the differences in SQ?

As the SM is still being updated and improved, I'm strongly considering moving to the SM. Given the most recent updates discussed in this thread, I'm also interested whatever info the group can provide on the technical differences between these two reclockers.

Thanks!
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: rechsm on 14 Sep 2018, 03:02 am
I didn't try the Remedy, I can't comment on that. My understanding is that the DSD is already pretty advanced on de-jittering your source, so I wasn't looking for a night-and-day difference. Steve told me he believes his product still adds something above and beyond what the DSD does, and I'm satisfied with his expertise on that. Since then I have moved onto a Bricasti M1 and I haven't had a chance to A/B the SM with it, but that's a fine idea, maybe this weekend.
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: andresz on 15 Oct 2018, 03:38 am
Just had my Empirical Audio Syncromesh modded by Steve Nugent to his new 7 psec configuration and the result is nothing short of stunning. I had his previous upgrade done a while ago and that was a step up from an already seriously high level of performance.

The lift in cohesion in resolution combined with organic 3D is outstanding as are decay trails and harmonics. No edge but an increase in detail - which is very hard to get. Best described as a high quality turntable.

In my rig, the Syncromesh is fed by Argento reference digital cabling and the output is a Shunyata SIGMA BNC. The cost of the cables are multiples of the Synchromesh price. The DAC is a Metrum Adagio NOS which is very detailed especially when run direct to power amps. So it is a real test for the quality of ancillaries.

The Syncromesh makes my system shine and I recommend very highly. Never underestimate the power of the clock in a system. At 7 psec - that’s extraordinary.
Also recommend a high quality linear power supply. I use an Sbooster with Shunyata Alpha PC but I suspect the Paul Hynes LPS Empirical Audio is a killer combination.
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: dbeau on 15 Oct 2018, 05:26 pm
Andrez: "Also recommend a high quality linear power supply."
I recently added the Empirical SM between a Sonos connect and Berkeley preamp and it surprised me in the amount of detail and SQ improvement gained that I thought  the separately sold power suppily was not needed, BUT Steve said it would improve SQ again and your experience leads me to
thinking that the $800 is probably worth it.  Hurts financially because his Final Drives are probably a next choice.  No regrets it's enjoyable when positive and continues thereafter.
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: path73 on 16 Oct 2018, 07:00 pm
The Dynamo power supply that Steve provides is a great improvement to my now older Synchro Mesh, highly recommended. I really want to get it upgraded, but parting with it will not be easy... Especially what it does to the digital out of my tv box is nothing short of spectacular. I use a digital source switcher and delay box upstream from SM which does its magic on all of my digital sources.
/patrick
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: path73 on 20 Nov 2018, 11:46 am
So I ended up sending back my Synchro Mesh box to Steve for it to get all the latest updates. I used it for many years with a NorthStar DAC (modded by Steve over a decade ago and doing marvels in my study room) and more recently with a 6 channel DSP/DAC from Hypex called DLCP and NCore amps (packed inside a PowerBox PB6) to drive LXmini+2 active speakers in my living room and also a Chord Mojo driving Sennheiser HD600 headphones (using the optical output of the SM). I didn't inform my wife of this upgrade process (the costs being well contained), but immediately got some comments from her about speech intelligibility of her favorite TV shows not being very good, which she is used to listen to at low volume levels (which in my experience is revelatory of jitter presence). For two weeks the volume levels of TV and music have been higher than usual, also for myself, as we were unsatisfyingly trying to compensate for the lack of fine detail and presence.

A few days back, the upgraded SM was delivered to us and put back in our main system. I have to say we weren’t prepared for the magnitude of perceptual enhancements induced by further reducing jitter by a few more ps (it was already so low to start with and as an engineer myself I am still puzzled by how sensitive DACs are to incoming jitter, even in the DSP unit), taking essentially Steve’s word for it to be an improvement. By the way, I never regretted a single penny of any of my investments in Steve’s audio goodies, be it cables (speaker, interconnect, digital coax, power), mods (NorthStar DAC), converter (Off-Ramp), reclocker (SM) or power supply (Dynamo), and Steve has always been supportive and answered my numerous questions swiftly.

First listening tests were done with SM using Empirical Audio’s standard digital coax cable and then including their new digital coax reference cable were everything gets a further notch better (how is that even possible). WOW!! I just can’t believe how much more I am hearing. Instruments are at the same location as before, but their contours are so clear now with such a huge space and breathing air around them. Bows have incredible bite when they engage on strings (I play the violin myself), cymbals shimmer like never before, wood and percussion instruments have great dry timbre, piano has harmonic subtlety and texture, voices seem to be in the room with you revealing even the tiniest modulations of a singer and rendering back vocalists with clarity. The sound has a very lifelike density to it and the lower octaves have greater authority and slam. Although there is much more detail, there is nothing distracting, shrill or in your face. In fact, the sound feels more organic, effortless and relaxed, but you find your toes tapping and your mind is drawn into the recorded venue. My wife now listens to her favorite music for hours and hours, apparently really enjoying it too (almost forgetting about the strange looks of the LXminis). All of my 3 DACs are benefitting from the SM, a pity I can’t use the digital reference cable with the small jack input of the Mojo.

I thought Steve reached the summit a few years ago and went into a more laidback mode, but man was I wrong: he’s visibly been quite busy lately and punched through his previously established performance level to reach a new milestone, for the greatest delight of our ears and musical enjoyment. I think that no one would ever want to return this unit, after a proper audition.

Back to listening now…   /patrick
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: ketcham on 20 Nov 2018, 06:02 pm
I recently placed a high current quality LPS for the SM.  It was not subtle improvement.  Thank you Paul Hovenga at Many Moons for the recommendations!!!!

Steve -- l adore your entire product line. 

I certainly look forward to future innovations!!!
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: richidoo on 20 Nov 2018, 10:18 pm
I recently placed a high current quality LPS for the SM.  It was not subtle improvement.  Thank you Paul Hovenga at Many Moons for the recommendations!!!!

In need of a good LPS for my NAA, I looked up Paul Hovenga online and saw he is a Sansui repairman. I emailed him for advice about cleaning my FM tuning cap. He answered within an hour with a link to a great article on how to clean it myself. He is indeed a valuable resource! Thanks for the pointer ketcham
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: path73 on 26 Nov 2018, 08:11 am
Just thinking out loud: since the SM actually achieves what most DAC manufacturers claim in terms of insensitivity to incoming jitter, I think it would make a lot of sense to offer a small add-on module that every higher-end DAC manufacturer could include in their device housing to get truly stellar results on their digital inputs.
/path
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: ketcham on 26 Nov 2018, 04:19 pm
Being actively involved in the DAC industry over the years, I know of very few who are as passionate and innovative as Professor Nugent.  There are some manufacturers who I am somewhat surprised they are as popular as they are or command the fees that they do.  My conclusion is that manufacturers are more into profit since the internals are only mass produced generic parts, not necessarily of the best quality and not necessarily the best implementation or quality workmanship.  Yet, the audio community speaks accolades for these units.

Second, there are those who simply are unable to achieve what Steve has done.  So cost and implementation are why this is not often seen.  This trend is a major part of the reason DACs devalue to 1/5 their initial MSRP in 2-3 years.  Empirical gear used still hold better value than most gear out there.

Empirical is not the only digital manufacturing company that commands my respect, but Steve certainly has earned it.   Three reasons:  First he is passionately driven to innovate and brings items to market when they are proven reliable and beneficial.  He also is able to see weaknesses in delivery of optimal signals and creates items that are versatile, bringing benefit to any component we choose to use.  Having seen his internal work, most of which is done by hand, there are few today with this ability.
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: audioengr on 7 Feb 2019, 11:09 pm
Jitter plot of iFi SPDIF iPurifier, which I use 2 in my HT system (30psec/division scale):

(https://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=190103)

About 100psec of jitter, which is why it works pretty well.

Plot of Synchro-Mesh using same cables and Sonos as source (30psec/division scale):

(https://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=190104)

About 10-20psec of jitter.
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: path73 on 24 Nov 2019, 08:16 pm
Steve,
When reading what you posted on the SOTA PRAT DAC thread, I was wondering if the new regulators that you will be using for the new DAC could actually benefit the SM, possibly reducing the need for an external (Hynes based) power supply?
Enjoying my upgraded SM as I write these lines...
/path
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: audioengr on 26 Nov 2019, 06:23 pm
Steve,
When reading what you posted on the SOTA PRAT DAC thread, I was wondering if the new regulators that you will be using for the new DAC could actually benefit the SM, possibly reducing the need for an external (Hynes based) power supply?
Enjoying my upgraded SM as I write these lines...
/path

Possible, but the Hynes-based regs are really good.  I will not be redesigning the SM with these regulators unless I decide to do an I2S version.
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: Mike B. on 26 Nov 2019, 07:54 pm
I didn't know Haynes was still in business. I remember at one point he was heavily backlogged.
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: audioengr on 26 Nov 2019, 10:50 pm
I didn't know Haynes was still in business. I remember at one point he was heavily backlogged.

I use regulators that I designed after the Hynes designs.  I licensed the designs from him.
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: Mike B. on 27 Nov 2019, 06:12 pm
I use regulators that I designed after the Hynes designs.  I licensed the designs from him.

I have read they are excellent. I know there are a couple long threads at DIYaudio on better regulators. I think Silas is the author of one? I am interested in the $3500 giant killer DAC you are developing.
Title: Re: Another Synchro-Mesh jitter breakthrough
Post by: audioengr on 28 Nov 2019, 12:26 am
I have read they are excellent. I know there are a couple long threads at DIYaudio on better regulators. I think Silas is the author of one? I am interested in the $3500 giant killer DAC you are developing.

I took Hynes designs and sped them up and used better parts to get faster regulation.  This sets my regulators apart from Hynes.  Only the Hynes-type design uses a balanced, floating voltage reference.  Makes it very immune to input noise.  Perfect to put after a SMPS.  The new monolithic regulators for the SOTAPRAT DAC also reject input noise, but only about -70dB and at mostly higher frequencies.  They are very fast regulators though.  I'm still experimenting with different types and values of decoupling caps to get the best bass extension.  I had hoped that I would not need much decoupling cap with these regulators, but evidently I do.  This is the only thing that is lacking compared my Overdrive DAC, the really low bass extension.  It's already good but the Overdrive is still better.

BTW, today I had a breakthrough on a vexing problem I have been fighting for a month.  The source code for my state machine to program the D/A chip had a filename that was too long...  Simulating well now.  Should be able to test all sample-rates in about 2-3 weeks when I get the new programming socket and put the new chip on the board.  Then on to testing DSD functionality.  The plan is to support only 64X DSD mode. I would have to add a manual switch to select 128X mode and I don't want any more switches.

Steve N.