REF10 Master Clock
The MUTEC REF10 is an audiophile reference master clock generating 10 MHz signals with industry-leading low phase noise (i.e. jitter) to significantly improve digital playback systems. As the conductor of your digital audio orchestra at home, the REF10 will inspire you with unheard-of clarity, graceful dynamics, and pure music. It is the most flexible, most compatible 10 MHz clock on the market allowing you to spend less time worrying about integration and leaving you with more hours to enjoy blissful playback.
Unlock a more dynamic, more transparent sound stage with exceptional spatiality and level of detail, free from any digital blur. For all music enthusiasts reaching for the pinnacle of signal purity, audio quality, and clock precision, the REF10 is the must-have expansion to conduct your digital playback chain.
The Story of the REF10
Currently available digital converters, master clocks, and audio re-clockers perform acceptably when reproducing or processing digital audio. Even so, we at MUTEC felt that existing solutions fall short of delivering the full potential of audio productions. In our commitment to advancing the state of the art and science we set out to investigate the possibilities to further enhance the performance of digital audio systems. To do so, we recruited one of Germany’s most renowned RF engineers to join our R&D team. Together we developed a master clock generator with a technical performance beyond what we thought could be possible. The effects of the technical performance were then verified by a group of experience audiophile beta testers to ensure that the high-end performance translates to best-in-class sound.
The final result of our extensive efforts is the REF10: a superior 10 MHz reference master clock and our first Empyreal Class product combining uncompromising engineering with the beauty of simplicity and the utmost clock precision.
Debunking the “Atomic” Myth
Our research has shown that the high clock stability of so-called “atomic clocks” based on a rubidium or cesium oscillator is limited to the long-term time domain. This long-term stability refers to the amount the absolute clock frequency (10 MHz, or 10 million cycles per second, in this case) drifts over time. While this long-term stability may be useful for some telecommunications applications, it is essentially irrelevant for digital audio purposes. Ultimately, it is the timing from one sample to another as a digital audio stream is transferred from one device to another that needs to be as precise as possible for best sound quality. Fluctuations in short-term stability are measured as jitter or phase-noise and are central to the audiophile performance of any digital audio device.
In contrast to these “atomic clocks” then, the REF10 is engineered around MUTEC’s handcrafted, oven-controlled oscillator (OCXO) made in Germany, featuring highest clock stability in the time domain relevant for audiophile digital audio performance.
A well laid-out main power supply constitutes the basis for exceptional high-end products. To meet this requirement, we specifically designed for the REF10 a dual linear power supply based on a German made toroidal transformer. It provides a dedicated transformer winding for the sensitive OCXO that is completely isolated form the surrounding circuit. Networks of lowest-ESR (equivalent series resistance) capacitors made by Panasonic ensure best interference suppression for the supply voltages. Hereafter, sub-Hz optimized, lowest-noise voltage sources arranged in multiple stages independently supply every part of the circuit to avoid mutual interference. However, for the heart of the REF10, MUTEC’s handcrafted OCXO, we had to go even further. We developed a dedicated power source of such incredibly low noise that even our engineers themselves were amazed by the noise figures and the resulting oscillator performance we ultimately achieved. Consequently, we then developed unique ultra-low noise clock distribution and amplification circuits, which successfully transfer the oscillator’s reference signal to the REF10’s eight outputs with virtually no losses.
Based on our knowledge of the importance of a clock signal’s rise time (steepness of the edge) for the audio performance, we chose a very high slew-rate, lowest ripple square wave signal for the REF10. In contrast to the low slew-rate sine wave signals used by competing brands, this leads to superior lock precision and therefor minimized jitter at the receiving end. As a result, connected devices like DACs (D/A converters) and audio clocks will sound even better.
An often discussed topic among audiophiles are the negative influences of RF (radio-frequency) interference in digital audio. In order to shield the REF10 from such RFI and other interference we are placing the circuit boards in a 1.5 mm thick steel enclosure, which isolates the sensitive electronics from outside electrical disturbances. We intentionally refrained from using an aluminum case popular with other manufacturers. An aluminum case would perhaps have lent a more esoteric look to the REF10, but it would have seriously degraded the shielding characteristics allowing RF interference to directly increase noise and jitter of the clock signal.
RF interference can also enter the circuitry via the mains power connection. To avoid an power line interference as best as possible, we have equipped the REF10 with one of the best premium, brand-name power entry modules currently available. This module offers enhanced low frequency filtering and superior EMI immunity. As part of its mechanical design there are no open, unfiltered power cables inside the unit unlike many other products on the market.
To especially minimize the susceptibility to hum caused by ground loops we have designed the REF10 with galvanically isolated output stages. Every BNC reference clock output can be switched off individually so that only the currently desired outputs for a given setup need to be active. This feature further adds to our measures to keep mutual interference and system load as low as possible.
One Clock to Rule Them All
The REF10 is the most flexible, most compatible 10 MHz clock on the market allowing you to spend less time worrying about integration and leaving you with more hours to enjoy blissful playback. Due to its ultra-low noise characteristics and its unrivaled flexibility the REF10 can enhance the audio quality of compatible D/A converters (DACs) and re-clockers, music servers, and audio clocks to the highest possible level. It is the perfect match and ideal upgrade for MUTEC’s 10 MHz ready products like the MC‑3+ and MC‑3+USB Smart Clocks.
Eight simultaneous clock outputs at both 50 and 75 Ohms impedance allow you to use the REF10 in combination with not just MUTEC products, but also 10 MHz compatible products by all other third-party manufacturers.
With MUTEC to “heavenly” sound!
Within the Empyreal Audio Class series, MUTEC offers special digital audio devices dedicated to the demanding users of top-quality hi-fi stereo systems. These unique products benefit from MUTEC’s decades of expertise in the field of professional studio technology. This knowledge flows into the development of audiophile tools that have outstanding sonic abilities.
A MUTEC Empyreal Audio Class component always focuses on features most relevant for authentic sound reproduction in a high-end audio system. Decorative accessories or cluttered front plates are alien to these devices. Therefore, the operation is designed to be user-friendly and convenient. On the outside, the series is characterized by functionalism combined with simple elegance. Internally, the highest level of technical precision can be found based on best available materials. Both aspects support the conceptual goal of the Empyreal Audio Class: pure concentration on what is technically essential.
All MUTEC devices of the Empyreal Audio Class series represent long-term investment because of their highest quality at all levels – of course “Made In Germany”.
- Audiophile 10 MHz reference generator with industry’s lowest phase noise
- Improves and enhances compatible DACs, audio re-clockers, music servers, and master clocks
- Engineered around a handcrafted, ultra-low phase noise OCXO made in Germany
- Generates a very high slew-rate square wave signal for superior lock precision compared to the sine wave signals used by competing brands
- Provides simultaneous reference outputs with 50 and 75 Ω impedance for maximum compatibility with clocks and DACs by other manufacturers
- Eight galvanically isolated, individually switchable BNC clock outputs
- Revolutionary, sub-Hz optimized, lowest noise power supply for every circuit section
- Integrated, highest-quality international linear power supply
- Highly efficient power line filtering
- Intuitive user interface with noble aesthetics
- Rack-mountable with optional mounting brackets for studio use (2 RU)