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Is $2000 and $13000 Titans Audio Lab Helen jitter reducer and Cronus Clock Snake Oil?

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This Chinese company is under the corporation of Aune I believe... And this specific product "Helen" claims to reduce jitter and enhance signal (?) for $2,199. And it also makes a "must-have" external clock called Cronus for over $1,3999.
CRAZY AMOUNT OF MONEY..............
 

anmpr1

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A quick check shows that it is the product of an organization called Titan Audio Lab, evidently out of Beijing, with an importer in Houston.


Two products are listed on their Website: Helen ($1699.00) and Horae ($6980.00). The principal figure behind Titan Audio Lab is said to be a Houston based engineer working in the air monitoring industry, with ties to US military biological weapons disposal (Camsco). My guess is that the importer is a one-man operation, doing audio as a sideline, as a way to make a little xtra income, even with the lower-than-average cost of living in Houston.

I am always a little intrigued by this sort of thing: 1) How they set the prices? Why $1699.00 and not $1700.00? Or $1650.00? 2) How they decide upon a naming convention. Helen and Horae hearken back to Greek mythology. With an entire pantheon of Chinese deities, why Greek?

Products have nice cases, and certainly look expensive. If you are going to buy something that costs a lot, you want it to look the part. Even if it doesn't do anything for you.

However, according to Stereotimes, it does do stuff. Stuff that was once done two decades ago, but is not done, anymore. So, if you want to bring back that forgotten magic, then this device is what you could be looking for:

This small and unassuming device appears to heighten resolution, while creating a greater sense of depth and dimensionality through its correction of digital jitter. Very reminiscent of the Genesis Digital Lens of two decades ago..
 

Jimbob54

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I would guess that if you bought one, plugged it into your system and played music, you would likely immediately hear a difference.

Paying 4 figures for something will do that to you.
 

radix

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It seems to me that if one wants to reduce jitter, then buy pro gear with an external high quality word clock. Don't buy these gimmicks. The studio that made your digital media didn't use anything more than a word clock. And I don't know there's really value to a single-source digital audio using an external word clock.
 
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pretty sure they will improve the sound to some degree BUT you can get the same effect for probably 200-500$ if you know what you are doing, so in my opinion this stuff doesnt need to be "snake oil" but its pretty certainly overpriced
 

tonycollinet

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Jitter artefacts in well designed DACs (yes even DACs costing less than $200) are already below the level of audibility.

Even if these pieces of overpriced audio jewellery reduce those artefacts, they won't be any less audible.

So yes, they are snake oil.
 

radix

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RME SteadyClock does solve a real problem, but it's not a problem you'll have with home digital audio. RME products are doing both protocol conversion and mixing multiple digital sources. They cannot simply use the local device's clock. But in home audio, you only have one source playing into the DAC at a time and the DAC can either use a word clock or synchronize to its internal clock. MADI, which I think is what RME developed steadyclock for, does not synchronize the bit clock with the audio clock, but relies on inserted sync frames that can have a lot of jitter due to the inherent data clock rate.

Note that RME products like the ADI-2 and ADI-2-DAC are capable of doing protocol conversion (adat and aes), so again having their own fancy clock likely solves problems for them.

But the fact that studio devices have jitter reducing clock domains because they are doing multi-clock, multi-protocol synchronization does not mean that you need it at home for your consumer products.
 

ccc888

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I owned a Helen for more than 3 years. I'm 100% sure that it improve sound quality at audible level. After introducing Helen into my system, the image became more stable and refined. The bass which used to be loose now is tightened. The general impression of change is it makes sound clearer and more realistic.

That is my experience on a headphone system, some Helen user said the improvement is more obvious on a stereo system. It has really good reputation among the users, I heard people complain it's price is too expensive, but I never hear anybody say that it doesn't do as advertised.

Many modern DACs have built-in phase locked loops(PLL), Helen is just a external one. Well designed PLLs improve sound quality by attenuate jitters, it's a proven fact. There is nothing to doubt the theory that Helen based on.

My opinion on Helen is: It is a great idea, it works well but it's not for everybody.

A big CON of Helen, it takes 12 secs to lock to new sample rates. Within the first 12 secs after changing sample rate, you hear only silence. If you 1. use CD as digital source, 2. listen to music files that are mostly one sample rate or 3. upsample everything to one sample rate. In these situations, you can avoid this issue and only get the good side of Helen.

I listen to both Qobuz and CD music, I set up my system in a way that both paths can benefit from the Helen. I upsample everything from Qobuz to 768Khz via HQPlayer and everything played by the CD is always 44.1Khz, so Helen is perfect for me.

To give you an idea of how much Helen would improve the sound quality, I would say that, the improvement brought by HQPlayer upsampling is more obvious than Helen, despite that they improve sound quality in different ways. But Helen makes more obvious changes than swapping interconnect cables.

Does it worth 1600USD? It depends on how you set up your system. If you have a low budget system, I would say use that money to upgrade your DAC first. If you already have a mature Hi-end system, the price of Helen might not be a big deal for you, Helen might be worth trying.

If somebody insist that Helen is snake oil, I would say that at least with its price tag, it only targets at higher budget audiophiles.
 
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