Reality is Cruel : Cybershaft new Ultimate OCXO 10M Clocks Shootout OP20 vs OP17

TLi

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May 27, 2016
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Hi, thanks for this interesting comparison. Do you still remember whether the two Cybershaft units had their 10 MHz output level set to "high" or "low"? Because I found that this setting changes the sound quite a bit, the "high" setting sounding even more "airy" and "detailed", three-dimensional, while the "low" setting sounding a little more "grounded". Just in case you had the OP21 and OP20 accidentally set to different settings without noticing or paying attention, this could potentially explain the sonic differences you described. Any idea?

Remark: My observation is based on a test I did with the Cybershaft OP21E clocking an Antelope Audio OCX-HD word clock. While the Antelope device seems to be able to handle the Cybershaft's "high" output level setting, I read that most other word clocks with a 10 MHz input would only be able to sync to the standard "low" 10 MHz level. My personal sonic preference, however, is that unique "high" level setting. Compared to the standard "low" setting (which most other 10 MHz atomic clocks produce without the option to change it), I would describe the "high" gain 10 MHz sound as more airy, precise, detailed, focused, three-dimensional, almost like being "detached" from the speakers.
The test was performed with OP20 and OP21 all set to high output and at 75 ohm. I agree it gives a more dynamic sound. This setting was my favorite one for some time, but recently I switched to 50 ohm and low. The sound is more refined and smoother. It is personal preference and system dependent.

The improvement from OP20 to OP21 is more than just high and low setting.
 

arnod

New Member
Feb 3, 2022
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The test was performed with OP20 and OP21 all set to high output and at 75 ohm. I agree it gives a more dynamic sound. This setting was my favorite one for some time, but recently I switched to 50 ohm and low. The sound is more refined and smoother. It is personal preference and system dependent.

The improvement from OP20 to OP21 is more than just high and low setting.
Interesting to see my impression confirmed. Do you think it's possible for me to test this 50 ohm and low setting even though the Antelope Audio OCX-HD is requiring a 75 ohm signal? I don't want to damage anything by running things out of spec.
 

TLi

Well-Known Member
May 27, 2016
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Interesting to see my impression confirmed. Do you think it's possible for me to test this 50 ohm and low setting even though the Antelope Audio OCX-HD is requiring a 75 ohm signal? I don't want to damage anything by running things out of spec.
It will not cause any damage by switching between 50 and 75 ohm. The worst that can happen is doesn’t lock to the external clock. No harm done trying different settings.
 

arnod

New Member
Feb 3, 2022
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It will not cause any damage by switching between 50 and 75 ohm. The worst that can happen is doesn’t lock to the external clock. No harm done trying different settings.
Thanks, I'll give it a try.
 

arnod

New Member
Feb 3, 2022
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Wow, that 50 ohm plus low setting was the best hint I received in a long time, thank you! The already impeccable sound is indeed improved once more, I clearly notice an even improved stereo image, better low mid range frequency separation, silky smooth highs, kind of a "larger than life" sound. I love it!
 
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arnod

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Feb 3, 2022
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The test was performed with OP20 and OP21 all set to high output and at 75 ohm. I agree it gives a more dynamic sound. This setting was my favorite one for some time, but recently I switched to 50 ohm and low. The sound is more refined and smoother. It is personal preference and system dependent.

The improvement from OP20 to OP21 is more than just high and low setting.
Two more questions:
- Have you also tried 50 ohm combined with the high level setting?
- With the 50 ohms output being fed into a 75 ohm audio clock input, is it better to use a 75 or 50 ohm BNC cable? Did you try both combinations?
 
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TLi

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May 27, 2016
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Two more questions:
- Have you also tried 50 ohm combined with the high level setting?
- With the 50 ohms output being fed into a 75 ohm audio clock input, is it better to use a 75 or 50 ohm BNC cable? Did you try both combinations?
No fixed answer. It is system dependent and our personal preferences are different.

You have to try different settings out.
 
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arnod

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Feb 3, 2022
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No fixed answer. It is system dependent and our personal preferences are different.

You have to try different settings out.
I will. It's great to have all these options with the Cybershaft devices.
 

audioguy1958

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Feb 8, 2015
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I wonder if the GPSDO would have sounded better with a better power supply?

I would very much like to know what the 'high' setting actually means in the circuit. Is there any way to find out?
 

arnod

New Member
Feb 3, 2022
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I wonder if the GPSDO would have sounded better with a better power supply?

I would very much like to know what the 'high' setting actually means in the circuit. Is there any way to find out?
From the OP21E manual I found these values for low and high output gain:

LOW setting:
- 50 ohm output impedance: 1.6 V pp / 565 mV rms / 8 dBm +- 5%
- 75 ohm output impedance: 1.9 V pp / 670 mV rms / 9.5 dBm +- 5%


HIGH setting:
- 50 ohm output impedance: 3 V pp / 1060 mV rms / 14 dBm +- 5%
- 75 ohm output impedance: 3.6 V pp / 1270 mV rms / 15 dBm +- 5%
 

audioguy1958

Well-Known Member
Feb 8, 2015
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Thanks for responding. You would think that 75 ohm would be the correct impedance for audio equipment. 50 ohm is the standard for cabling in electronic test equipment.

I just remembered that there is a minimum voltage for clocks. Below that voltage they don't function at all. Perhaps that is why there are several voltage settings.
 

arnod

New Member
Feb 3, 2022
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The test was performed with OP20 and OP21 all set to high output and at 75 ohm. I agree it gives a more dynamic sound. This setting was my favorite one for some time, but recently I switched to 50 ohm and low. The sound is more refined and smoother. It is personal preference and system dependent.

The improvement from OP20 to OP21 is more than just high and low setting.
After some more listening tests, now my favourite settings on the Cybershaft are 50 ohm impedance combined with high level output. This combination has the highest level of precision, focus, mid range clarity, cohesion and stereo image. In comparison, all other combinations tend to "smear" the highs and mid range, and don't sound as three dimensional as that killer combination.

I also noticed that a better cable makes a difference. I now use a Vovox 75 ohms BNC cable, which sounds even clearer compared to a cheap cable.

Another important thing I found out how much better it sounds when you sync the actual DA converter via BNC word clock instead of having it derive the clock signal from the digital input source signal – something many people might not even think about.
 
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cykin

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Mar 23, 2022
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Hi everyone, this is my first post in wbf.

I am thinking of getting Esoteric G02X or OP21E-D for my Esoteric N01XD. It will be a nice looking setup for my Esoteric N01XD and f03a with G02x. However, for the sound quality, dose OP21E-D provide a superior performance than G02x. My Esoteric dealer told me G01x was not available for a long time and G1x is out of my shooting range.

My Esoteric dealer somehow told me the cybershaft may not suit the new N01XD, maybe too clear for new generation. Also, I am a bit hesitant in buying G02x which is a 2016 product. I hope someone can help me with it. Please advice, thanks.
 

SCAudiophile

Super Moderator
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Sep 11, 2010
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Welcome!!!

Your dealer is incorrect as to the Cybershaft not being a match for the N-01XD. He may have an agenda here or
may be working with old and basis understandings as this is categorically wrong info that you've been given.

The N-01XD (as with other high-end Eso units) has a 10 Mhz master clock input (happens to be 50-ohm) that will match
perfectly with the Cybershaft (can do either 50-ohm or 75-ohm output 10 Mhz).

The G-02X is a good choice as well (a friend who owns the N-01XD uses a G-02X) and of course the G1X is sonically
a great move and comparable in its effect to the Cybershaft as Esoteric has finally upgrade from Rubidium to OCXO
in their already amazing implementation of their master clock.

I would rank the Esoteric G1X and OP21E-D Cybershaft as comparable.

There are other good choices out there as well; I believe AfterDark makes one well suited, the new SOULNOTE X-3 may
be a match (based upon the Sforzato BVA 10 Mhz master clock) and of course the Sforzato.

There may be others as well but I have no direct knowledge of them.
 

cykin

New Member
Mar 23, 2022
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Welcome!!!

Your dealer is incorrect as to the Cybershaft not being a match for the N-01XD. He may have an agenda here or
may be working with old and basis understandings as this is categorically wrong info that you've been given.

The N-01XD (as with other high-end Eso units) has a 10 Mhz master clock input (happens to be 50-ohm) that will match
perfectly with the Cybershaft (can do either 50-ohm or 75-ohm output 10 Mhz).

The G-02X is a good choice as well (a friend who owns the N-01XD uses a G-02X) and of course the G1X is sonically
a great move and comparable in its effect to the Cybershaft as Esoteric has finally upgrade from Rubidium to OCXO
in their already amazing implementation of their master clock.

I would rank the Esoteric G1X and OP21E-D Cybershaft as comparable.

There are other good choices out there as well; I believe AfterDark makes one well suited, the new SOULNOTE X-3 may
be a match (based upon the Sforzato BVA 10 Mhz master clock) and of course the Sforzato.

There may be others as well but I have no direct knowledge of them.
Thanks your prompt reply!

I would rank the Esoteric G1X and OP21E-D Cybershaft as comparable. <- It seems G01x and G02x not in the same level with OP21E-D if I understand correctly.

Just to clarify, my dealer was just saying G02X maybe a better match than cybershaft ( I am not sure whether he had experience with the new OP20/21 or not) but not saying cybershaft won't work for N01XD. He said cybershaft may provide a bit TOO clean and thin sound for my system. Thanks again.
 

oldmustang

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Dec 2, 2012
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Thanks your prompt reply!

I would rank the Esoteric G1X and OP21E-D Cybershaft as comparable. <- It seems G01x and G02x not in the same level with OP21E-D if I understand correctly.

Just to clarify, my dealer was just saying G02X maybe a better match than cybershaft ( I am not sure whether he had experience with the new OP20/21 or not) but not saying cybershaft won't work for N01XD. He said cybershaft may provide a bit TOO clean and thin sound for my system. Thanks again.
When I added my OP-21 to my Vivaldi Clock I noted more clarity and transparency immediately but I would in no way call the sound thin. Quite the contrary. I would be very surprised if a Cybershaft OP-21 grade master clock would thin out the sound of the excellent Esoteric equipment.

My admittedly limited experience, at least. After installing the Cybershaft I lost all interest in chasing other master clocks.

Good luck,

Steve Z
 
Last edited:

SCAudiophile

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Staff member
Sep 11, 2010
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Good point Steve,...absolutely agree that use of a Cybershaft clock (multiple models over the last 7 or 8 years) with Esoteric gear does not result in a thin sound,...quite the contrary as you point out.
 
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SCAudiophile

Super Moderator
Staff member
Sep 11, 2010
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Greer South Carolina (USA)
Thanks your prompt reply!

I would rank the Esoteric G1X and OP21E-D Cybershaft as comparable. <- It seems G01x and G02x not in the same level with OP21E-D if I understand correctly.

Just to clarify, my dealer was just saying G02X maybe a better match than cybershaft ( I am not sure whether he had experience with the new OP20/21 or not) but not saying cybershaft won't work for N01XD. He said cybershaft may provide a bit TOO clean and thin sound for my system. Thanks again.
Actually my point was not intended as "Cybershaft over everything else"; I was attempting to say the Cybershaft and the Esoteric G1X are at a given level given their OCXO's quality, overall implementation and more importantly direct listening observations I've had.

The G-01X, G1 and G-02X are in another tier, IMHO still very high quality and close to the top levels however I would say that the G1X, OP21E-D and Sforzato PMC using BVA and most probably Soulnote X-3 (built by Sforzato I do believe however this is a surmise on my part as to end result given lineage) are likely in that tier as well.

All of these products are in very rarefied air space as are the AfterDark, MUTEC REF10 and others. What will be best is dictated by your overall connection points, cables you use, power supply, power cables, vibration isolation, etc....
 

CKKeung

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Jun 18, 2011
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A good clock will make the dac more accurate and transparent but never make it thin sonically.
Cybershaft is my favorite as far as external audiophile 10M clocks are concerned.
 
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