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Cybershaft Platinum Review (External Clock & PS)

Rate this product:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 151 85.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 17 9.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 5 2.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 3 1.7%

  • Total voters
    176

ousi

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Back in 2009 Stereophile published a comparison of a $6000 McIntosh media server and a $25 PS1.
Oops …
1208Jittfig04.jpg
I'm pretty much done with McIntosh anyway. I had a couple of their amps and integrated and CD/SACD player. Aside from the look, nothing really stands out, especially every piece has their "house sound" which emphasize midrange, bump the mid-base, roll-off the extreme (bass and treble) and folks said "it's so warm". The one good thing about McIntosh is that if you bought used, you probably won't lose money selling it.
 

pseudoid

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Thank you @amirm, for the heads-up.
The referenced Chinese topic's core is the "AP Jitter" overview tutorial, if that may help other ASR members who can't read 'Greek'!
 

rdenney

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Well, those with perfect pitch might be annoyed. But the you can just say it’s microtonal

i have looked at clocking devices, but for live streaming with digital video cameras, digital mixer, et al. no illusions of Hi-Fi — especially once it gets sucked through YouTube’s compression.
Maybe, but musicians don't really work that way. Tuning standards have change over the years and still vary around the world. German orchestras routinely tune to A=444 Hz, while the closest thing to a standard is A=440 Hz. But a hundred years ago, there were competing standards, and most pianos of that time and earlier were tuned to something more like A=425 Hz.

(That said, I bought an external power supply for my Thorens turntable so that I could adjust the pitch.)

Rick "'perfect pitch' isn't the same thing as 'absolute pitch'" Denney
 

mhardy6647

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heh -- I am sure I am very late to this party, but (in case I am not)... Cybershaft certainly is an ironically* funny moniker for such a company/product.
:cool:

EDIT:
PS I prefer my tranquility to be kinda edgy. :rolleyes:
__________________
* or not ironically as the case may be. ;)
 

testp

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if no test shows improvement in sound, clearly then something is missing... belief :)
 

mhardy6647

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per chance, did you forget to put a smilie at the end?
I took it to be :) but don't know if intended that way!
I was just playin' off of that old 'expression': Word. -- so, yes, an implicit :)
 

Xyrium

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I promised myself I'd stop reading these snake oil product reviews...but here I am....again, witnessing the same results. There has to be a abuse group I can attend for this. :facepalm:
 

Mosquito

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I have an external clock and I would not be without it. Sure the noise floor in my listening area is higher, but it adds so much depth to everything. In the evening, I can sit back in my favorite chair, close my eyes and savor that little bit extra relaxed tranquility that even the best DAC can't offer. It is electrically isolated from everything else too.

:D:D
 

Vict0r

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I promised myself I'd stop reading these snake oil product reviews...but here I am....again, witnessing the same results. There has to be a abuse group I can attend for this. :facepalm:
Don't fret. It wasn't YOUR money that was set fire to. :p
 

MikeFromNorway

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obody will complaint, just enjoy t
ep the time, which turns out to
Maybe I`m going to say something unpopular in terms of the discussion but this is actually good product. Way overprized of course but imo idea was to upgrade old DAC`s where it is to expected that internal clock is not state-of-art. As SMSL has modern clock, now precision like 10 ppm or 50 ppm is typical and cheap. So if this external clock does not change operations on modern DAC that means performance itself is like any modern oscillator.
For device with external wordclock input let`s say from 2000 this could be somehow of upgrade. Way overprized of course.
Who in the world would upgrade an old DAC if you can spend 1/10th the price on a brand new Topping D10 and get a better result:p
 

LEFASR160

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Cybershaft Platinum (Palladium) OP16 clock with its optional Ultra Pure Power Supply. It is on kind loan from a member. The clock costs US $1,457 and power supply, US $347.
View attachment 181901

While "DIY" in nature, I still like the look of these cases. Replacement spikes are provided for the feet as well as necessary cabling:
View attachment 181903

Normally audio DACs extract the DAC clock from incoming S/PDIF or Toslink inputs. But for asynchronous USB, use their own internal clock. In professional setups with many devices over large distance, a "master clock" is used to synchronize various ADC and DAC devices. At home we don't have such a use but somehow the application has morphed into "better clock" than what is inside your DAC. Some DAC companies provide their own external clocks. Here, we have an independent Japanese company providing it with various grades ("OP16" is one -- it ranges from OP11 to OP19).

I had a hard time finding reviews of this product but did run into this forum post:

View attachment 181906

I am amazed that his system was not relaxed before arrival of this unit. Wonder how he tolerated it that way....

This device was sent to me by the owner of SMSL VMV D3 so I chose to test it with that DAC.

Cybershaft Clock Measurements
Manufacturers of these clocks like to rave about the accuracy of the clocks in them. But we don't listen to clocks, we listen to analog output of the DAC and that is how I am going to test the effect of these units. Let's first test the VMV D3 with USB input and hence its own internal clock:

View attachment 181904

Now let's switch to using external Cybershaft OP16 clock:
View attachment 181905

I can't find any difference whatsoever other than minor run to run variations. Noise, distortion, etc. all seem the same. So we need a more precise test focusing on clock accuracy which is jitter. Let's again run the D3 with its internal clock:

View attachment 181907

Now let's change to Cybershaft:
View attachment 181908

As I suspected, performance gets worse, not better! We now have new jitter components we did not have before. Zooming into them we can see better:


View attachment 181909

How can this happen? Well, I don't care how good your clock is. When it has to travel over a cable and get extracted inside the DAC, it is liable to be worse than the one inside the DAC sitting close to where it is needed. Remember that I said the notion of a master clock was to get synchronization, not better fidelity and we see this here.

Discussion and Conclusions
It is amazing how our lay intuition leads of astray. We assume these clocks are like watches where more accuracy is better. Turns out we are not at all sensitive to absolute pitch as if we were, no one would be listening to analog sources! I can play my music 1% slower or faster (all the time) and you wouldn't know there is anything is wrong. What we care about is consistency of "speed" or clock. This type of variation causes jitter. So the fact that an external clock is "oven controlled," stable over time, etc. is of no value. What matters is that it doesn't vary over time. As I explained above though, best way to get consistency is with an internal clock right close to the DAC, not one across feet and meters of cabling. At best, such an external clock can match what is inside. At worst, it will make it perform worse as we see in the case of D3.

I run my jitter test in every DAC I review. Should that show clean spectrum, which it does in countless high performance DACs, then you don't need or want another clock. All you are doing is wasting money and possibly getting worse objective performance. Fortunately the levels of jitter created here is well below audibility so it doesn't do any harm other than to your pocketbook.

As to people thinking it sounds better, well, that is improper subjective testing for you. They connect the clock, focus into their music and all of a sudden hear detail they had not "heard" before. The combine it with wrong impression of what this device does to fidelity and they convince themselves of the improvement they provide. They need to do a simple AB test by switching the internal DAC and external DAC 10+ times blind and see if they get at least 8 right. Without it, they create folklore which causes people to waste money.

I should note that in the English translation of the Cybershaft webpage I did not find much of any reference to making things sound better so in that regard, I appreciated it but of course, the intent is obvious.

Needless to say, I don't recommend anyone use external clocks with their DACs unless they need synchronization with other devices.

I can't recommend the Cybershaft OP16 clock.

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@amirm
I really enjoyed your review. Thank you. I read it very carefully and understood what you were doing and saying. What does 256K point FFT, 16 averages mean ? Does that mean you're plotting 256,000 fourier coefficients/points in the spectrum and doing it 16 times and averaging the results? Please explain it to a non EE person. Also, although the issue is moot, I'm wondering if a different kind of cable would have produced less jitter, better approximating the internal clock of the DAC ? and could it have even been better than the internal clock ? But even if it were, the audio listener couldn't tell the difference anyway.

I wonder if the super expensive dCs D/A converters using external clocks that they sell and that cost as much as a Porsche are just as useless ? haha
 

TheBatsEar

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Cybershaft! A legendary name!
1641543257263.gif
 

BDWoody

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What does 256K point FFT, 16 averages mean ? Does that mean you're plotting 256,000 fourier coefficients/points in the spectrum and doing it 16 times and averaging the results? Please explain it to a non EE person.

Here is a video that does a nice job of explaining.

 

Blumlein 88

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@amirmsnip......

I wonder if the super expensive dCs D/A converters using external clocks that they sell and that cost as much as a Porsche are just as useless ? haha
Pretty much an external clock is never going to be as good as a free running clock inside the DAC. They may both be well beyond any audible concerns. So yes, I'd say the dcs external clocks are useless.
 

doitttt

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it is just as much with jitter just lying, below -140 db so it is not audible.
10mhz clock gives less fs, just it is below 30fs.
so it's just useful, do not measure jitter.
phase jitter is also with lower ps.
it measures that 10mhz clock at 1hz, let's say 110db and 10hz 130db.
let's just put the focus, at 1hz 110db it's sub.
and one listens to it.
and the sub, gives a lot of reverb, authentic saxophone and violin and other
bnc cable max 25cm so you get, lower jitter at 10mhz clock
so completely snakeoil, it is not
 
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