|CD Player Upgrades
Arcam Alpha 5
Linn Mimik 2
Marantz CD63 KI + Sig
The benefits of fitting a NET Audio Clock to your CD PlayerThe sound quality of your CD player can be vastly improved to levels beyond what you would expect from spending similar amounts of money on other upgrades such as cables or even purchasing a new CD player. The performance gain is a large step forward compared the the performance differences that cables produce. As you CD player is a source component, any lack of quality here cannot be recovered later further down the chain no matter how esoteric the rest of your system may be. A low grade sound at the start of the Hi Fi chain can only be faithfully reproduced by the following cables, amplifier and speakers, it cannot be improved upon no matter how expensive they are. The source should be as good as possible to get the best from your system but unfortunately quality comes at a price.
A far more cost effective route up the Hi Fi ladder it to upgrade your existing CD player by fitting a new 'clock' and perhaps some new opamps. The NET Audio MiniClock or RockClock will produce performance gains far in excess of their purchase price compared to buying a new CD player. For prices starting at £70 you would not be able to gain such an increase in sound quality by selling your CD player, adding £70 and then purchasing a newer model. To achieve the same level of performance you would have to spend many hundreds of pounds to achieve the same performance. You may not have achieved the same build quality of a more expensive player, but you have now got the same sound or better for hundreds of pounds less.
How it Works
All CD players have a clock of some kind and some are better than others. The clock can be viewed as similar to an ignition system on a car engine, if it misfires you loose performance. The ignition pulses for the spark plugs should arrive with pinpoint precision for best engine performance and smoothness. If the plugs were firing just before or just after their optimum point in a random manner, then less than optimum ignition would occur producing a loss of performance and a harsh running of the engine.
A CD clock is very similar, except the precision required is far greater with accuracies measured in the less than 5 Pico second range (million millionths of a second) rather than around 20 micro seconds (millionths of seconds) as would be the case in a car engine. To attain this accuracy is quite a feat but it is a large step towards ideal CD player performance.
The difference between the MiniClock, the Mk2 and the RockClock is performance. The noise floor on all 3 is below what I can measure but other things affect a clocks performance in a dynamic way which cannot be measured by simply determining the noise floor using a spectrum analyzer. The analyzer averages many samples of the clock to produce the plot on the graph. Small dynamic changes do no show up using this technique as the averaging swamps them.
The clock design has got better with the introduction of later models as improvements are made to board layout and how the clock interacts with the CD player once connected, not just how it measures on the test bench. The RockClock also has an improved power supply over the MiniClock and MiniClock MK2 plus it uses more expensive better quality components such as Elna Audio Grade capacitors in the PSU and decoupling areas. This help in the rejection of noise being fed into the clock through the power supply lines from noisy sources.
Although the noise on all the clocks is exemplary there are also other factors which come into play when dealing with such small amounts of 'interference' or jitter on a clock signal. These have also been taken into account in the design of the clocks.
The tolerance on all the clocks is very similar, less than 5 ppm, but this does not effect the sound quality, just the pitch of the notes as they are replayed. A 1000 Hz tone played on a CD player with a 5 ppm error on the clock would be 1000.005 Hz - an imperceptible difference.
The main difference between the clocks for the user is an audible one - the NET Audio MiniClock is outstanding and the NET Audio RockClock is even better.
Please see here for customer comments.