Clocking Issues from Source to DAC and How You Resolve Them

Robert Katz

Jefferson wrote:

Hi Bob, thanks for the book and your signature. The book is invaluable to me and the section on dithering reminded me of stuff I had forgotten and got caught out with? All fixed now thanks. There is reference to a blog page but I can’t seem to find it so I have a question here.

The clocking issues from source to DAC and how you resolve them (and any other problems effecting audio quality) with streaming to you listening environment. For example, my home listening is CD player (slave clock) to Mytek mastering DAC to Pre-amp to Power amp to speakers.

Dear Jefferson:

So your CD player is slaved to the DAC? That’s actually an interesting and potentially better sounding way to go, depending on the DAC’s architecture. You’d have to ask Michal if that’s a more valid way to go, jitter-wise.

What would this look like when using some streaming device as the source?

Good question. Your best bet in that case is the new Mytek Brooklyn or the less expensive Liberty, or another DAC that’s got asynchronous USB. I’m sorry to be advocating getting another DAC, but that’s the way to deal with streaming, asynchronous USB. In that case the crystal clock inside the DAC continues to be the master clock and there is a buffer between the stream and the DAC. It’s kind of like the stream slaving to the device, not the other way around. You want to have the master clock in the DAC, not have the DAC slave to the jittery stream. There is no clock in the stream, actually, it’s just data that moves on command.

Hope this helps,

Bob–