Synchro Mesh -- worth trying in my setup?

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newzooreview

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Synchro Mesh -- worth trying in my setup?
« on: 15 Jan 2021, 09:07 pm »
Hi,

I've been working on updating my local file streaming into my Benchmark DAC3 HGC --> Benchmark HPA 4 preamp --> Benchmark AHB2 amp --> Harbeth 30.1 Anniversary speakers.

Music originates from a Roon server running Roon ROCK on an Intel NUC10i7FNH pulling AIFF files from a Synology NAS.

The link that I'm working on is the streamer between the Roon server and the DAC (via a Ubiquiti 24-port switch and Blue Jeans Audio Cat 6a for everything). I have an Auralic Aries G2.1 that I'm evaluating, and I have just put together a Pi4 running RoPieee with an Allo DigiOne Signature HAT (Uptone Audio Ultracap LTS 2.1 on the "clean" input to the DigiOne Signature.).

The Aries G2.1 does not seem to achieve its best sound quality with Roon, and the DigiOne Signature seems to be excellent with Roon (running the currenet RoPieee OS). I have an Uptone EtherRegen on order to feed the data side of the DigiOne Signature, so I'm focused on possible improvement to the coaxial output to DAC.

My question: would it be worth trying the Synchro Mesh between the DigiOne Signature and the Benchmark DAC3? If so, what configuration might be worth trying? I ask because a) I noticed a comment here that the Benchmark DAC3 might be less in need of/benefitting less from reclocking and b) because there were several options for Synchro Mesh, "Dynomo only", and coax cables on the Empiracle Audio website.

I'm currently using the BNC-RCA coax cable from Blue Jeans Cable (Belden 1694A) between the Allo DigiOne Signature (BNC connector) and the Benchmark DAC3 (which only has an RCA connector for coaxial.)

That's a lot of in-the-weeds detail, but I hope there might be some useful insight. I'm not looking to solve a problem, just optimize while I am in system-update-mode and then move on to enjoy-the-music mode!  :thumb:

path73

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Re: Synchro Mesh -- worth trying in my setup?
« Reply #1 on: 1 Feb 2021, 09:57 pm »
Hi newzooreview,

The SynchroMesh is able to lift the playback of virtually any digital system to a level that competes with the absolute lowest jitter sources (not only the clock specs but the actual SPDIF signal). In my record, any DAC will benefit of it, even if there is ASRC or upsampling going on downstream, but better not of course. It is a real pitty that in 2021 sensitivity to incoming jitter in DACs is still an issue and that a good reclocker can significantly boost performance.
Unfortunately I have no first hand experience with the particular Benchmark model that you refer to.

It is most important to prevent any uncarefully implemented resampling or other digital manipulations to occur upstream of the Synchromesh, since reclocking will not cure these.

While the SynchroMesh is already brilliant with its wall wart power supply, the Dynamo pushes it in a different league closer to the best analog systems in terms of subtelty in the rendering of recorded venues. You just get drawn into the music, totally addictive and natural sounding (difficult to write such a statement as a science driven engineer, but I personnally came to the conclusion that precision of the playback alone is not all there is to it). A regular Paul Hynes power supply is already an enhancement but it will give you only part of the performance benefit of the Dynamo.

I guess the biggest bottleneck in your existing setup is the lesser Belden cable, which I know well. Steve's new reference coax cable is the real deal. However, it will accurately convey what comes out of your digital source and make different sources sound very... different! depending on your DAC and sometimes generate unpleasant results depending on the particular jitter distribution! But when you feed it some really low jitter signal like from the Synchromesh, you're in for a truely revelatory audio experience.

I use one of my Sychromesh units after a cheap Raspberry Pi based digital source and get incredible results! (currently fiddling with Moode Audio uPnP and an external USB to SPDIF converter, streaming Qobuz hires from my iPhone with Mconnect)
I also discovered very listenable stuff on YouTube or Netflix when reclocking from my TV or set top box (using Toslink connection switchable from the Synchromesh frontpannel). The main bottleneck with some of these optical outputs is the internal resampling to 48kHz.

Happy listening, /patrick

newzooreview

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Re: Synchro Mesh -- worth trying in my setup?
« Reply #2 on: 9 Feb 2021, 03:35 pm »
Thank you. I appreciate your detailed reply.

I am definitely upgrading the coax cables. The Blue Jeans cables are 75 +/- 3 ohms—a fairly loose tolerance. I use them as a starting point since they are unlikely to be badly out of spec or mechanically poor.

I swapped in a VooDoo coax cable and that made an obvious difference. I do not see any cables for sale on the Empirical Audio website, so I'm not sure how one obtains them.

Is Empirical Audio still in business? I opted for a Denafrips Gaia instead of the SynchroMesh. It's not comparable since it is nearly 3x the price. It has made a significant difference to have the signal from Raspberry Pi/Allo DigiOne Signature reclocked via the Gaia's oven-controlled clock. Of course the Gaia gives me a much wider rang of input and output options as well.

Thanks again for your helpful input!  :thumb:

Newk Yuler

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Re: Synchro Mesh -- worth trying in my setup?
« Reply #3 on: 20 Feb 2021, 01:14 am »
The Allo Digione Signature is a very fine SPDIF source and the newer Benchmark equipment is some of the better equipment of their types, too.  I'd be surprised to find the Synchro Mesh improves on the setup you have and may even degrade it.  Steve gave Amir at Audio Science Review a Synchro Mesh to measure on his APx555 and it tested good but not astonishingly good.  Modern hifi is getting much better at defeating the issues that plagued hardware from even a few years ago and greatly benefited from products like the Synchro Mesh and Off Ramp 5.  So if you are using hifi equipment from a few years ago then Steve's products may provide some benefit but today's cutting edge equipment, maybe not so much.  You should do some searches for your equipment at ASR.  The Allo Sig has a test there and some of the Benchmark stuff does.  Their current amplifier nearly set a reference for performance at ASR.  Look for the Synchro Mesh review there, too.

I have a Synchro Mesh, an updated Off Ramp 5, and a Dynamo supply to run them individually.  I use them on my older DACs, but the last DAC I acquired is a Topping D90 and I don't use the Empirical stuff with it.  The D90 is a cutting edge DAC with near reference performance measurements as tested and displayed at ASR.

I expect Steve will debate all of this because it's his bread and butter, but it seems he's AWOL these days.  I hope he's okay.  Hell, the OR 5 is nearly archaic by contemporary hifi standards.  It's been updated a number of times but it was introduced in 2012 (IIRC).  I expect he must be realizing that some SOTA hifi is finally getting good enough that it can't benefit from his refining products.

path73

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Re: Synchro Mesh -- worth trying in my setup?
« Reply #4 on: 21 Feb 2021, 10:34 pm »
Newk Yuler,

I read your excitement about the latest Topping and Allo products, both of which I did not get a chance to get my hands on yet.

The relation between AP jitter measurements and their audibility at the output of a DAC still puzzles me, as I have the impression that not all variables at work (jitter distribution) and distorsion mechanisms are fully understood as the DAC chip manufacturers like to pretend for quite a few years now. The associated filtering certainly impacts the perceived result. I simply do not find that Benchmark DACs sound as good as they should given the published measuments. I am not a fan of euphonic effects (like 2nd order harmonic distorsion in some amps) but a clean sounding DAC doesn't necessarily translate for me into musical enjoyment and connectedness with a recorded venue or a synthetized artwork.

With Steves latest enhancements (have you actually tried these with his reference coax cable?) the SychroMesh is quite good with wall wart, but I still find the result to sound somehow sterile and constrained in my setups, although the SM measures well. For me the magic really starts to operate when a Dynamo or a stock Paul Hynes power supply (latest "turbo" version) is connected. I am pretty sure the standard AP jitter measurements are not very different although I cannot prove this assertion, but there is definitely something going on with these power supplies that triggers my attention and drags me fully into the music. I use an older NOS DAC and tried a Sabre DAC (3 years old) in my secondary system, and both benefit of reclocking. Maybe the AK chip in the latest Topping finally implements a way to push incoming jitter related issues into the inaudible realm. I would be happy to hear that for myself!

For me, an SPDIF reclocker is especially useful when you cannot use a USB connection, as for example from a TV set top box, a smart TV, a CD, DVD or BD player, etc. In my main rig, I connect an SM reclocker to a DLCP DSP+6 channels DAC from Hypex (Ncore amped LXmini+2 active loudspeaker system) and the result is nothing short of exceptional. Last time I secretely removed the reclocker my wife asked me the next day if something had changed as she was not feeling the groove and ambiance that she appreciated so much anymore (note that she is basically streaming compressed music from Spotify and watching TV).

Happy listening,
/path

newzooreview

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Re: Synchro Mesh -- worth trying in my setup?
« Reply #5 on: 2 Mar 2021, 05:15 pm »
Thanks for the replies and insight.

I will only add two points, since the we've reached the boundary of the original question, I think.

1. I swapped in a new coaxial cable between the Denafrips GAIA and that Benchmark DAC3 HGC. It made a very audible difference. The new cable, a Stealth Audio Varadig, has a much tighter tolerance on the 75ohm resistance, and the resistence is precise as measured when terminated, i.e., with the connectors in place. A lot of cable is just measured for 75ohm +/- 5% without termination, and the measurement may vary across the audible frequency range (being a much as 10% different to stay within tolerance). In any event, having a much more precise and consistent 75ohms across the frequency range does result in significantly more detail in the music.

2. Audio Science Review needs to get serious about the "science" part of their name. They seem to be vehemently opposed to testing their hypotheses, and that is far from scientific. Their working hypothesis is that the numbers that they generate are actually relevant to the audible performance of the equipment. They also embrace the corollary that all devices that measure below certain threshold values on their test equipment cannot possibly sound different from one another. These are both testable hypotheses. Until ASR evolves from being a cult unwilling to challenge their assumptions, the site has limited relevance.

I am a scientist, by the way, so my concern is for the integrity of the scientific method.