Our custom clocking architecture ensures that all dCS systems are synchronised to a precise and stable reference source - removing the risk of audio samples moving in the time domain and causing distortion of the signal we hear during playback. From the dual crystal oscillators that generate the clock signals at the heart of our products, to the low noise, low skew clock distribution systems that deliver signals exactly as they were generated, each aspect of our clocking technology has been carefully engineered for maximum accuracy, consistency and reliability.
In audio electronics, the term clocking refers to the systems used to keep various digital circuits, including power supplies, high-speed signal processing and modulation, in sync with the main audio clock and operating at exactly the same time.
All digital components must have a main clock source: an internal reference system that allows that component to understand when it's time to do something with the audio samples it receives at its input.
In the case of a DAC for example, one of its core tasks is to convert digital audio samples into analogue signals the voltages that drive our speakers or headphones. The timing of this process is crucial to ensuring the audio we hear provides an accurate representation of the musical event. If audio samples aren't converted by the DAC at exactly the right moment, then we hear an artificially distorted version of the musical note.
To convert samples at exactly the right moment, a DAC must be able to define and measure specific increments in time. This can only be achieved if its clock circuit is linked with a precise and stable reference source. Having an accurate and reliable reference source also helps to control jitter, an effect caused by irregularities or deviations in a system's timing.
At dCS, we go to extreme lengths to ensure that our clocking system delivers the utmost stability and reliability. All of our internal processing, from power supply synchronisation to the high-speed signal processing and modulation, is synchronous with the main audio clock for consistent behaviour and absolute precision, no matter how you choose to listen.
In audio systems with multiple units, an external clock can help to ensure that all of the components within a system, from DACs to Streamers and CD transports, are operating in sync. We pioneered the use of external master clocks in digital audio and our unique Phase Locked Loop (PLL) system delivers world-beating standards of accuracy and jitter control.
While the DAC in a dCS system can be configured to act as a master clock, listening tests have shown there is no substitute for having a dedicated clock. Having an external master clock allows us to isolate a clock's sensitive circuitry from the other circuits within a system and ensure that the clock signals aren't affected by crosstalk (electromagnetic leakage), physical movement (such as the act of a disc spinning), or power interference (which can occur when multiple circuits are fed with the same power supply). With a master clock in place, all aspects of the sound are enhanced, from detail and imaging to rhythmic movement and flow.
Our pioneering innovations in the field of clocking mean that with a dCS system, music feels both natural and three-dimensional, providing a visceral performance that maintains a sense of composure and purity regardless of the complexity of the music.
Jitter is an effect that occurs when the clock in an audio system fails to produce the correct timing reference signal, or the reference signal isn't able to reach a DAC correctly.
Jitter is defined as any irregularity in the timing of the samples received at a DAC's input. The timing of this process is controlled by clocking signals, so it is the clock in a system that is ultimately responsible for ensuring that samples are converted at the right time.
Jitter can be caused by a range of factors. It could be the result of inferior analogue design, electromagnetic interference, poor quality digital audio cables, or various other causes.
Jitter is extremely undesirable in audio. The actual audible effect of jitter depends upon its nature. If jitter is periodic, sidebands will appear either side of the signal frequency. This sounds like a harsh distortion, as artificial components are being added to the audio.
If the jitter is noisy in nature, this results in a 'smearing' of signal energy. This, in turn, increases the noise floor of a system, which has the effect of masking fine detail in the music.
The human ear and brain are extremely sensitive to irregularities in the timings of sound. If a DAC is experiencing jitter and fails to convert signals into analogue voltages at the correct time, the sense of space in a performance can be heavily skewed or even lost, as the subtle timings used for these spatial cues are changed.
However, if these conversions take place at exactly the right time, with the right recording quality, then listeners are able to enjoy a performance where an audio system effectively disappears, revealing a lifelike and three-dimensional performance that allows listeners to pinpoint the precise location of each instrument or player.
The importance of accurate clocking cannot be understated in digital audio, which is why we focus obsessively on refining the performance of our clock systems and minimising jitter in all aspects of our design. This attention to detail and uncompromising approach is one of the reasons our systems are able to deliver a performance that feels precise, natural and deeply musical.
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