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REF 10

The Audiophile 10 MHz Reference Master Clock

"I didn't believe it was possible, but everything sounds better yet with the REF 10. The sound is not as hard and digital, but significantly smoother and (yes, indeed) more audiophile." – Harald Wittig

The MUTEC REF 10 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 REF 10 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 REF 10 is the must-have expansion to conduct your digital playback chain.

Features:

  • 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)
  • 3-year extended manufacturer-guaranteed warranty


Description

The Story of the REF 10

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 REF 10: 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 REF 10 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.


Exceptional Design

A well laid-out main power supply constitutes the basis for exceptional high-end products. To meet this requirement, we specifically designed for the REF 10 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 REF 10, 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 REF 10’s eight outputs with virtually no losses.

Phase noise, measured at REF 10’s outputs
Phase noise of the REF 10 as a function of frequency

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 REF 10. 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.

The exceptionally high slew-rate, lowest ripple square wave signal of the REF 10
The exceptionally high slew-rate, lowest ripple square wave signal of the REF 10

An often discussed topic among audiophiles are the negative influences of RF (radio-frequency) interference in digital audio. In order to shield the REF 10 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 REF 10, 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 REF 10 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 REF 10 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 REF 10 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 REF 10 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, as well as the iClock and iClock dp.

Eight simultaneous clock outputs at both 50 and 75 Ohms impedance allow you to use the REF 10 in combination with not just MUTEC products, but also 10 MHz compatible products by all other third-party manufacturers.


10 MHz Compatible Products Currently in Production:

Brand Product Impedance Type
MUTEC MC‑3+ 75 Audio Clock/Re-Clocker
  MC‑3+USB 75 Audio Clock/Re-Clocker/DDC
  iClock, iClock dp 75 Audio/VideoClock
Abendrot Audio Hengst 50 DAC
Antelope Audio Zodiac Platinum 384 kHz 75 DAC
  Rubicon 75 DAC
  LiveClock 75 Audio Clock
  Isochrone OCX, OCX HD, OCX‑V, Trinity 75 Audio/VideoClock
Audio Design SyncroGenius HD‑Pro 75 Audio Clock
Aurender W20 N/A Music Server
Brainstorm DCD‑12 N/A Audio/VideoClock
CH Precision C1 50 DAC
Esoteric Grandioso G1 50 Audio Clock
  Grandioso K1 50 SACD Player
  Grandioso P1/D1 50 SACD Transport & DAC
  K‑01X, K‑03X, K‑05X, K‑07X75 SACD Player
  P‑02X, P‑05X 50 SACD Transport
  D‑02X, D‑05X 50 DAC
  N‑05 75 Network Player
  G‑01X, G‑02X 50 Audio Clock
Evertz 5601MSC N/A Audio/VideoClock
dCS Vivaldi Master Clock 75 Audio Clock
  Paganini Master Clock, Scarlatti Master Clock (discontinued) 75 Audio Clock
M2TECH EVO DAC TWO PLUS 75 DAC
  HIFACE EVO TWO N/A DAC
Phasetech/PhasemationHD‑7A 50 DAC
RATOC RAL‑DSDHA2 50 DAC
Rostec ASD16HD 75 Audio/VideoClock
Sforzato DSP‑00EX 50 Network Player
  DSP‑010EX, DSP‑030EX 50 Network Player/ DAC
  DSP‑04EX 50 DAC
SOtM sMS‑1000SQ (with optional sCLK‑EX board) 50/75Music Server
  sMS‑200ultra (with optional sCLK‑EX board) 50/75Network Player
  tX‑USBultra (with optional sCLK‑EX board) 50/75USB Regenerator
SPEC RMP‑X1 50 Network Player
Sound Warrior SWD‑CL10 50/75Audio Clock
Tascam CG‑1000, CG‑1800, CG‑2000 50/75Audio/VideoClock
TEAC UD‑503 50 DAC
  NT‑503 50 Network Player/ DAC
TechDAS D‑7, D7i 50 DAC

Disclaimer: Compatibility of the REF 10 with the above listed products is assumed based on the specifications published by the respective manufacturers and subject to change. MUTEC is not liable for compatibility issues with third-party products operating outside of industry standards.


A Perfect Clock. Empyreal Sound

MUTEC’s Empyreal Class is our commitment to HiFi in its most sophisticated form. This series combines uncompromising engineering with the beauty of simplicity and utmost precision. Apart from exceptional sound performance these products feature a streamlined interface with fewer parameters and user-friendly operation. Just like any Empyreal Class product, the REF 10 is an investment in highest audio quality "Made in Germany" - an aspiration reflected by our extended manufacturer-guaranteed warranty of three years.


Technical Data

Interfaces

  • 2 x 10 MHz reference clock BNC output, 50 Ω terminated, unbalanced
  • 6 x 10 MHz reference clock BNC output, 75 Ω terminated, unbalanced

Signal Format of all Clock Outputs

  • Square wave, 10.000 MHz, 2 Vpp, 50:50 duty cycle

Clock Generation

  • Type: 10.000 MHz ultra-low noise oven-controlled crystal oscillator
  • FQ stability when shipped: < +/-0.01 ppm
  • FQ stability vs. temperature range: < +/-0.01 ppm within -20 °C to +70 °C (-4 °F to +158 °F)
  • Short term stability (Allan deviation) at Tau = 1 s: 1 x 10-12 (typically)
  • Aging after 10 days operation:
    < +/-0.0005 ppm (per day),
    < +/-0.05 ppm (1st year),
    < +/-0.3 ppm (10 years)
  • Warm-up time at +25 °C (+77 °F) : <5 min

Phase Noise, Measured at REF 10’s Outputs

Phase noise, measured at REF 10’s outputs
Phase noise of the REF 10 as a function of frequency

Phase noise dBc/Hz
1 Hz: ≤ -116
10 Hz: ≤ -142
100 Hz: ≤ -155
1000 Hz: ≤ -160
Noise floor: ≤ -166

Jitter Performance, Measured at REF 10’s Outputs

Jitter performance, measured at REF 10’s outputs
Jitter performance of the REF 10

Disclaimer: All measurement figures represent average values. Minor production related deviations will be expected.


Power Supply

  • Type: internal dual linear power supply
  • Input Voltage: 90-125 V / 200-240 V, 50-60 Hz
  • Power consumption: 12 W during oscillator warm-up, 8 W nominal operation

Mechanical Details

  • Cover size/material/color: 196 x 84 x 300 mm (W x H x D, without connectors and case feet), 1,5 mm steel, black powder-coated
  • Front panel size/material/surface/color: 198 x 88 x 8 mm (W x H x D), aluminium, anodized incl. anodic printing or silk screening, aluminium- or black-colored
  • Weight: approx. 4350 g (9 lb, 9.5 oz)

REF 10 Order Information

  • Front aluminum-colored: Item No. 8015-105, EAN Code: 4260342461044
  • Front black-colored: Item No. 8015-106, EAN Code: 4260342461051

User Stories

Harald Wittig
  • Harald Wittig, Germany
    "I didn't believe it was possible, but everything sounds better yet with the REF 10. The music seems more open, the spatiality significantly gains in width and depth, and the localization of individual sound sources is now even more precise. The sound is not as hard and digital, but significantly smoother and (yes, indeed) more audiophile."
Fabrice Alonzeau
  • Fabrice Alonzeau, France
    "The MC3+USB is already a very good addition to my system but feeding it with a 10 MHz clock signal of the REF 10 causes an outstanding improvement in sound quality, like playing in another league! With the REF 10 in the chain, the sound quality is more open, more realistic. It is as if more acoustical elements are coming out of the speakers, I would say like a holographic sound-experience."
Matt Colton
  • Matt Colton, Alchemy Mastering London
    "The REF 10 makes everything sound both louder and more dynamic, which for a mastering engineer is the holy grail. It lends a noticeable tightness to the bass and an increase in presence, but all in a very musical way. Compared to other 10 MHz reference clocks we tried it was definitely smoother and more elegant sounding."

 

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REF 10 black front REF 10 black back REF 10 black left
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REF 10 black right REF 10 white front REF 10 white back
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REF 10 white left REF 10 white right REF 10 MC-3Plus context
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REF 10 MC-3Plus white
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Applications

  • As an audiophile performance enhancement for compatible DACs, master clocks, and re-clockers by any other brand
  • As an ultra-low noise, high stability clock reference for the entire digital audio chain at home or in the studio
  • As an ideal high-end upgrade for MUTEC’s own MC-3+, MC-3+USB, and iClock/iClock dp master clocks
  • To stabilize existing audio clock generators