Saturday, 9 February 2019

MUSINGS: Computer audio mythos? A comment on The Linear Solution's DS-1 Network Streamer.

Interesting... But in physical reality impossible of course! Perhaps like many audiophile opinions? [Info on art here...]
"Your desires and true beliefs have a way of playing blind man's bluff. You must corner the inner facts." 
--- David Seabury (1885-1960)
A few weeks ago, I read this "Quick Take" review of The Linear Solution DS-1 Network Streamer device published on Computer Audiophile (now Audiophile Style) by austinpop. Wow... I was impressed by how many computer audiophile "beliefs" were strung together all in one article! A good place to start and think about the "evolution" of computer audiophilia in 2019 perhaps.

So let's enumerate some of the claims mentioned as supposedly important elements in a good sounding streamer / computer in that article.
1. A low power device with low electrical noise production results in better sound.

2. "Everything matters", especially PSU quality and clock quality.

3. Running the OS (Audiolinux for this device) completely in RAM "enhances sound quality".

4. Intel's 7th Gen NUC (like the NUC7PJYH at the heart of this system) + fanless case + OS + good PSU sounds "shockingly good" as a network streamer.

5. RAM latency (DDR4 in this case) is "customized" in the device and that presumably makes a difference to the sound.

6. OCXO (Oven-Controlled Crystal Oscillator), in this case of military spec, applied to USB, ethernet, and system clocks makes a difference. The claim is that this feature "is the reason for the bulk of" the sound improvement.

7. Network streaming computers like this still need to "burn-in". In this case, sound improved "dramatically" over 24 hours.

8. The CPU used makes a difference. An Intel i7-based NUC7i7DNBE apparently sounds "better" than the Celeron-based NUC7CJYH.

9. Sonic improvements include airiness, big/deep soundstage, micro-details"refined" treble, and of course "better" bass definition/clarity.

10. Sonic improvements from better power supplies are similar to #9. Linear power supplies are better than switching power supplies.

11. BIOS tweaks make a difference to sound quality - turn off functions like SpeedStep, wireless (Bluetooth & WiFi), interfaces like SATA if not needed, and onboard audio.

12. Crippling the ethernet down to 100Mbps presumably improves sound quality? At least Linear Solutions seem to think so for their product since they apparently purposely did that.
What a list! Yet which of the items above can be proven to be true? Are most of those beliefs of things that can be done for the sake of making a system "sound better" more likely to be "inner facts" or are they likely one's "desires and true beliefs" as per David Seabury? Remember, there is a big difference and it's not an issue of sincerity or absolute faith! A farmer can be totally convinced in his "true belief" that praying to Zeus Jupiter will bring him a great harvest during the days of the Roman Empire and he could well be "blessed" with a bumper crop after dutifully performing his prayers and sacrifices. However, I trust that we can say in the 21st Century that the existence of Zeus Jupiter is far from a "fact" and what was done to appease the deity likely amounted to wasted efforts.

In this article, the Intel NUC7CJYH being referenced is part of the 7th generation of Intel NUC devices. Through all these generations, I'm pretty sure Intel has learned a thing or two about creating low power devices that simply, reliably, work. Do we honestly think there's a significant difference between a NUC7 and a NUC6, or maybe a current NUC8?

While I'm sure the DS-1 streamer looks great in person, the fanless customized enclosure costs some money to produce, plus the manpower to create the customized Linux OS might be lightweight and responsive, let's not forget what this device is. Anyone of us can get most of the way there by buying a <US$200 Intel NUC7PJYH which has a Pentium J5005-based quad-core 10W processor with approximately the same computing power as an old Core 2 Q6600 processor from 2008 (in the last 10 years, power demands and architectural efficiencies have really improved!). Grab some high quality 8GB SODIMM RAM (perhaps a good Crucial DDR4 2400 for ~US$60? Tweak the timings a little in the BIOS if we want.). Replace the case with the fanless Akasa Newton JC for ~US$100. Grab a 64GB Samsung USB 3.0 stick (~US$25) as shown in the picture in the article. And buy a license for Audiolinux (US$50).

Adding up the price list above, we're conservatively looking at ~US$435; let's call it US$500 with whatever tax and shipping.

The only difference comparing the parts above to the device under review is the OCXO clock, customized case, and whatever other "optimizations" in software was done to the base Audiolinux. All this with a price differential of +US$1100 with claims of better sound and no factual evidence provided by the company.

For sure, I believe it is good to build an audio streaming device meant for the sound room that is reliable and looks good! But let's not over-reach with dramatic claims of sonic improvements when neither logically nor empirically does there appear to be reason or evidence of benefits from a device like this.

Beyond these basic principles:
- A fanless case is a good thing because fans make noise and we don't want that in our listening rooms.

- A quality power supply is good to have - more reliable, hopefully no audible transformer hum.

- No spinning hard drives or other active mechanical components that could be audible.
- The computer is fast enough and capable enough for the features it needs to provide. Running the appropriate OS/software.
- Able to achieve bit-perfect output to the DAC as a basic requirement for transparency. This is both a function of the hardware and software.
What else can we really "hang our hat on" for sound quality?

If we're looking at keeping power consumption low because we're worried about RFI/EMF and maybe just operational cost savings, a Raspberry Pi 3 B+ streamer has that easily beat for US$100 plus you can add S/PDIF outputs if you want, and add a touch screen as well for a few more bucks.

As for the one "special" hardware feature this device has (the OCXO clock), remember folks, ultimately the DS-1 Network Streamer is just a device for audio data to be transported through USB to a DAC! There is no digital-to-analogue conversion designed into it nor is there even an S/PDIF TosLink/coaxial digital output where potentially clock accuracy can affect jitter. Therefore, honestly, why do we need to focus so much on the clock accuracy of the computer itself?! How is it even conceivable that this will affect the temporal performance of a modern asynchronous USB DAC? No matter how accurate the clocks are on the motherboard and whether it's temperature controlled to maintain stability, doing all this work will not affect the clock inside your asynchronous USB DAC a few feet away! If this is an untrue statement, then it would be really nice if the company or anyone who holds to an alternate "belief" come up with some plausible evidence. Why suggest that consumers should waste money on buying things (like an OCXO clock) based on a fanciful item of faith equivalent to appeasing Zeus Jupiter?

The role of the streamer from the perspective of sound quality is to make sure the data being delivered to the DAC is available when the DAC needs it... And this can be satisfied quite easily and we have data buffers in place which will take care of tiny latencies. Even on the DAC, as I've expressed before, precise femtoclocks are not particularly beneficial if jitter is already minimal and of questionable audibility as shown a few months back.

As per John Swenson's post from June 2017, remember that OCXO clocks (which is what is being attributed as the major source of sonic improvements here) is simply about keeping the temperature of the "oven" optimal for the rated crystal frequency. Suppose the clock speed of a computer is super duper accurate and doesn't change with temperature, so what? Again, remember that the computer clock has essentially no effect by definition on the asynchronous USB DAC. It's not like a computer running at 3.0000GHz "sounds different" from 3.0154GHz, right? Clock anomalies of the DAC itself is where jitter and other temporal anomalies would originate and potentially change the sound. If say the computer is not fast enough and at times keeping the buffer populated is marginal and we run into underrun conditions, will a super duper stable clock speed improve things? Of course not, what is needed would actually be a faster clockspeed to process quicker, perhaps by overclocking the computer or replacing the CPU with something that's faster. No amount of tweaking a modern multi-core CPU machine, changing what already are reasonable OS parameters, fooling with the nanoseconds of RAM timings would make an iota of difference to how this works.

It's actually rather interesting what items are being "picked on" for these optimizations. For example, why was the ethernet speed downgraded to a mere 100Mbps by The Linear Solution? Assuming high-resolution PCM/DSD streaming is desired, wouldn't keeping gigabit ethernet (1000Mbps) be a good thing from the perspective of lowering data transfer latencies and if you want even lower ethernet transfer jitter, go with 10GbE as I showed last year! (I hope we don't see "audiophile" 10GbE in a few years. :-) If "everything matters", shouldn't these timing differences measured in milli- and microseconds be more significant than nanoseconds for RAM timing? Funny that the author makes a point to state that the ethernet clock is derived from the OCXO as if that would have any significance in the data transfer! [I see that the company sells TCXO and OCXO "audiophile routers", taking a page from the just-as-questionable JCAT people selling expensive computer hardware in Europe. Absurd.]

Looking at the Audiophile Style forum, we see that a discussion thread about the topic of optimizing an audio computer needs to have "guiding principles" to maintain "reasonably high S/N ratio". As plainly said, the guiding principles demand that the participants in the thread foregoes proof, requires no specific methodology, and measurements are unnecessary to this kind of "experimentation". In other words, reasonable, intellectual discussions that seek answers based on principles that we would apply to essentially any other endeavor where we seek knowledge and facts need not apply here! This is amazing considering that computers are the fruits of science and engineering.

One apparently cannot question the accuracy of "direct listening experiences". Despite the thread OP's insistence, does it not imply that "this is not an opinion thread"? Is this any different than religious discussions where the participants must hold on to dogmatic principles (perhaps including items 1-12 above) that must not be questioned and threats to these beliefs from measurements or critical comments are to be "moderated" out of existence? Just because someone says they witnessed a miracle, does that make it so? And are miracles not to be investigated with scientific tools?

By the way, the Audiolinux site does show a few measurements like CPU latency, and even a 24-bit J-Test. Of course, for the J-Test, there's no "before and after" comparison to show jitter was in any way diminished when the computer used Audiolinux compared to say a generic Linux install. They would of course find no difference yet I'm sure some will claim that the system "sounds better"; typically attributed to improved jitter and noise.

Humans are remarkably creative creatures. We want to control things - or at least believe that we can control things especially when we're feeling passionate about whatever it may be. But in the attempt to tweak the parameters and try to make things better (in this case sound quality), how do we make sure that we're not going down the path of blind faith or delusion (this could be self delusion or some kind of delusional community)? How does a discussion thread stay "truthful" or "factual" if utilizing our intellectual abilities to do things like produce measurements to falsify a theory is dissuaded? Without a desire for evidence, are we not then potentially (even likely) perpetuating what could simply be wishful thinking?

For technological devices, I think as modern consumers we understand that there are bound to be some intangible values we can ascribe to our purchases. Whether it's a fancy brand name, appreciation of build quality, recognition of rare products created in small volumes, or even being okay with the "hype" at times which can improve desirability. My belief is that when there is a "headline" purported benefit to differentiate an engineered product from competitors, this should really be verifiable. The obvious feature for this The Linear Solution Streamer is the OCXO clock which the subjective reviewer also attributes as the main factor that "improved" sound quality. If I were a prospective buyer ready to shell out US$1600, I think I'd first make sure to contact the manufacturer to understand how they confirmed that this "headline" feature actually makes any difference to the sound of a USB DAC.

To end, I suppose when it comes to audiophilia, there's no great harm in just having "fun" (so long as it's legal of course). But "fun" can be very different from "right", and something "fun" certainly might not be "good". I'm personally of the belief that it's better to accept reality as it is rather than seek magical "cures" no matter how much "fun" it might be to imagine (eg. consider the "snake oil" of various sorts). In 2019, figuring out if a computer sends data to a USB DAC properly as in being bit-perfect and in a timely fashion has become far from "rocket science" and really does not need all kinds of fanciful myths.

In the grand picture, I think as audiophiles, it's important to consider the hobby itself and whether the things we say and how we portray ourselves result in engagement by the general public. IMO, writers, reporters, and reviewers should introspect and make sure what is expressed approaches the ideals of what is "true" and "good" in a way that promotes a healthy vision of the hobby. I believe it's hard to have a strong, vibrant hobby if it's not based on good foundations. Seek the "inner facts".

BTW, for more on the topic of differences that streamers and computers may/may not make, refer to this recent article from late 2018.

As usual, remember to stay rational.


The "Do digital audio players sound different?" Blind Test is still "live" as of today's post. Please listen and report back. Let's gather some actual data! How else does one dispel myths and the need to appease Zeus Jupiter? :-)

Remember to enjoy the music first and foremost of course!


  1. As usual, some great insights, we thank for them.

  2. Thank you for compiling all the music server snake oil requirements for true audiophile sound in one comprehensive list. :)

    1. A pleasure Glen and Carl.

      Yes, use that list gentlemen and impress your audiophile friends. Remember, the cool kids all have linear power supplies, at the very least TCXO clocks to time their computers, and run the lowest of CAS latencies on their RAM. Oh yes, and real men... er... audiophiles are truly only happy with "Fast" 100Mbps ethernet :-).

  3. "The improvements are exactly what I have heard with clock improvements before. Clearly the OCXO is the reason for the bulk of this improvement..."

    This is clearly bullshit. One can imagine that the process went something like this: Responding to the newly discovered audiophile insecurity about things that don't matter, manufacturers set out to convince listeners that they would see major improvements that "lift the veils" and "are not subtle", and all the other magic words marketing told the manufacturers would up the bottom line. (Clocks are vital for many things in the recording process. I have never met a recording professional who recommended new clocks for consumer playback, and many who warned it was a lousy idea.)

    So Austinpop,being gullible, listens to a setup with a new clock and - surprise! - hears a "huge" improvement. Now he will always find such "huge improvement" in any setup he is told has a new clock. Whether that's true or not, btw. He is so far down the road to delusion there's no looking back, and the woo has spread so far in his mind that even major surgery won't help.

    And so it continues. And so people get ripped off. And so ignorance becomes "truth".

  4. You raise some excellent points. Very few people would probably object to Austinpop's review if we were talking about a product that costs $100 but somehow, at nearly $1,600, the DS-1 is snake oil. You are correct, it is very difficult to "prove" that what Austinpop suggests is happening is actually happening. His comments are purely conjectural as it's anyone's guess but that is the challenge with digital today, it's poorly understood. Even someone like John Swenson, to his credit, has never claimed to know it all. Those who believe they understand digital completely, i.e. the Jeff Ryans of the world, in my opinion, are even less credible because there are so many observations with digital that have no rational explanation based on measurements and yet some of these observations are consistently reproducible and identifiable even under double blind testing and I can assure you, golden ear not required.

    If you've heard this product and can't tell the difference against a stock NUC with a vanilla OS, then the most honest thing that you can really say is that your ears, with your audio setup, are unable to differentiate a difference and move on. But to make definitive claims like "this is clearly bullshit" having never heard the product is ignorance at its worst.

    I presently have the DS-1 in my possession. I have no ties with The Linear Solution and I have no plans to buy this unit (I don't think it's worth it and I think I can do better). Fortunately, the product comes with a money back guarantee and so there's really no risk to the purchaser. Having compared this device to the same NUC board in stock form and a few other PC-based systems, this device is clearly doing something good and a group of audiophiles and I were able to consistently pick it out in a single blind test during a recent gathering. Is it the OCXO or the power supply or the RAM-resident OS? For sure, they each have a contribution because as we accounted for each variable, it was clear we could each hear a consistent difference (generally, for the better).

    As a clinical scientist, I consider myself a skeptic by nature and I am indeed bothered by observations that have no clear explanation. When I hear something that is "unexpected," I do often question if what I am hearing is being influenced by my biases but when others can also hear these differences (regardless of whether they are positive or negative differences) while blinded, it's clear these observations are not some placebo effect. Value is in the eye of the beholder and so each person should judge for themselves whether this product is worth its asking price but only after hearing it. Claims that this product is snake oil or that Austinpop is gullible are just as conjectural if you haven't heard the product for yourself.

    1. First, I never, nor would I because it would be demonstrably untrue, claimed to understand digital audio "completely".

      Second, I do not take claims of audible differences, however phrased, lightly. And nothing you have said establishes a credible claim to audible differences. You are really just saying "of course, the difference is obvious!" with no data whatsoever to back it up.

      I do not claim to be a scientist. But I know enough to know that claims are easy to make, and much more difficult to back up. It doesn't matter what I can hear. What matters is what you can demonstrate a meaningful number of people hear, and I see nothing to back up your claim.

      It ain't rocket science. If you claim there are differences, prove anyone other than you can hear them.

    2. Interesting that you have one of the units romaz,
      I'm curious, is it true with the unit that you have that they kept the ethernet at 100Mbps instead of 1Gbps?

      How would you describe the sonic difference between the machine and say a NUC or Pi connected to the same DAC?

      The way I see it from a scientific perspective is to try to correlate the perceptual difference with objective, physical properties. In this situation, what is the perceptual change that this device provided?

      As usual, it would be great to actually measure the DAC you connected this machine to and see if meaningful changes can be found between different computers/streamers. If so, then great, perhaps there is evidence to suggest that computers/streamers makes a beneficial change to the playback, if not then I think it's important to consider potential confounding variables in the playback system and the emotions/psychological state of those listening.

      One thing I would disagree with is this: "the challenge with digital today, it's poorly understood". I don't think that's true. Even if we agree that there's still stuff to learn, would we say that we already know "25%" of all that's important in digital audio, or would we say a good audio engineer today already knows "95%" of what's important when building devices to convert the digital data to analogue electrical signals? I would argue it's closer to 95%...

      Remember that digital reproduction of audio has been in the hands of consumers since the early 80's. Digital audio devices in the studios since the 70's. Nyquist-Shannon theorem since the first half of the 20th Century. In fact, when we're looking at a computer device like this The Linear Solution Streamer, it's not even digital audio we're concerned about. It's basically a device sending data from computer to DAC! The question really is whether somehow this machine actually is better at sending bits down the USB communication channel in any way that benefits the DAC. Is there anything in computer science that suggests that it is? I doubt it.

  5. What impresses me the most is the calm, information-filled and objective way of writing that Archimago uses to address all the points that these devices purposely "improve".

    With my mediocre knowledge in electrotechnics I cannot delve deep into the inner workings of amps and dacs, however as an IT and CISCO networking specialist I have deep understanding of how network devices and protocols work. when I opened the "audiophile network switch review" I almost spilled my tea over the keyboard when I laughed.

    What utter garbage.
    But I guess that a demand for such devices has been created. It is supply's duty to fulfil it. Maybe we should look at such audio gear like we look at art? It is pleasing. It boosts status. It has a price. It has no real practical value. It's shiny :)

    Well... It is time to brand and sell that audiophile USB sticks at $500 a pop I joked about some time ago.

    1. Indeed Turrican,
      That's how I see many of these products these days. It is shiny, new, "impressive" in various ways... Of course not necessarily an improvement in terms of the "utilitarian" function in which it is sold as something that "makes your system sound better".

      Ultimately it's no different from many faiths, cults, religions where tithes are provided as part of the confidence in the deity and organized structure around it (don't get me wrong, I believe there are benefits in some prosocial constructs in faith). Likewise, there's a vibrant industry out there for pseudoscience and health practices providing billions of $$$ from consumers. Such is humanity and audiophilia has a rather sizable chunk of this hobby in that "gray area" between hype, faith, fantasy, and wish fulfillment.

      Yup, and someone's bound to cater to that market.

  6. Please exchange Zeus with Jupiter. Zeus belongs tor the Greek mythology and Jupiter is his equivalent in the Roman one.

    1. Excellent... Nice one Sylvester. I'll see what I can do :-).

  7. I quit being amazed at things on computer audiophile years ago. At first I’d go “what?!”, but now I just ignore it. I still read the forum, though, and I do get insight into things, like trying to decide whether to move my flac streaming dollars from Tidal to Qobuz.

    But occasionally objective facts drive me crazy, too. In your review of the oppo 105 a while back you found a problem with the hdmi input. The 105 is the heart of my audio system and while I use the toslink and the usb, I have to use the hdmi as well. Even though there is no way I can hear that little burp you found, it drives me crazy knowing its there. I think its like that for Austinpop, he sees an error source and he just knows it hurts the music.

    Even if it doesn’t.

    1. Hey Hollypoint, thanks for the input.

      Yeah, these things happen :-).

      Little anomalies and unexpected findings unfortunately can be seen here and there but as times goes on, we are seeing progress in the form of smoother operation, quicker response, less anomalies, better compatibility, and of course more features for less cost (as it should be). These are the characteristics of maturity... Small refinements rather than "groundbreaking" or "shocking" or "night and day" differences as the generations of products come.

      I can understand how this idea of gradual, iterative evolution of mature products doesn't necessarily play well with grabbing consumer interest for the advertising arm of companies or audiophile magazines (which let's face it act these days as the advertising arm of the Industry).

  8. "Those who believe they understand digital completely, i.e. the Jeff Ryans of the world, in my opinion, are even less credible because there are so many observations with digital that have no rational explanation based on measurements and yet some of these observations are consistently reproducible and identifiable even under double blind testing and I can assure you, golden ear not required."

    Why would you think there are no rational explanations for any observations? Digital audio was created by science. It would be odd if science then could not rationally explain anything about it.

  9. If you are not pinching pennies and don't want to DIY, I can see buying something like this for looks, quietness, and being pre-setup/no hassle.

    The avalidity of the SQ claims are debatable. I don't mind if anyone buys something like this or claims it sounds better, as long as it is stated as personal opinion, and not some kind of fact.

    1. Hi Unknown,

      Don't know if it's about pinching pennies... There are of course many options that can look good and function just as well. And $1000 saved can buy a good amount of music downloads or CD's, maybe a lifetime subscription to Roon, or many months of music streaming!

      The main issue remains that of the thrust of "benefits" being put on SQ improvement with essentially zero effort being put into actual demonstration of validity to the advertised claims from the company or writers who "review" such products.

      By not linking "real world" evidence of benefits to SQ, the thoughtful observer these days must remain skeptical considering the plethora of "snake oil" out there.

      Absolutely, if a consumer wants to buy for looks, quietness, and hassle-free set-up, definitely go for it but please don't tell me that it "lowered the noise floor" or improved treble/bass qualities unless there's some kind of evidence to come with it!

  10. I laughed when I read a long while ago that: a true audiophile is someone that will die broke and unhappy...I guess these guys are having hard time leaving the analog vinyl culture where there was always something to tweak to improve this fragile mechanical audio process while in the digital domain, once the bit perfect audio data transmission is achieved to the DAC, there nothing else to improve at this stage: so deceiving for the guy who believes that a standard computer is not high-end enough for pure audio... Manufacturers have clearly understood that unhappy audiophile culture...

    1. Which is how we wound up for a while with belt-drive CD transports and a plethora of useless isolation devices.

    2. Hi boys,
      Very important observations. Beyond enjoying the music and hardware used in music reproduction, the psychology of it all is fascinating isn't it!?

      Audiophilia presents an interesting and most likely "harmless" subtype of neurosis expressed as obsessionality around the hardware of audio reproduction. I certainly hope most audiophiles aren't of the extreme "pathological" type who would chase after the wind and end up broke, unhappy, divorced :-).

      There is perhaps an unfortunate negative feedback loop. At times, neurotic (perhaps even delusional) audiophiles speak or write about the potential of something making an audible difference, then the Industry will "service" this subgroup. Other times, the Industry will make something up and market it to this group of people who then evangelize. Round and round it goes...

      All the while, I hope that the more rational members of the audiophile hobby can move on and provide some balance to the madness. I believe it is important to respectably speak up even if some people get upset. Too bad for them and such is life.

  11. Another great blog Arch, thanks for your contributions to our passion!

    1. Passion is what it's all about Sal!

      The key I think in life and audiophilia is to remain passionate without losing one's mind and going manic :-).

  12. Thank you for your insight and observations. A good read.

    Still, I can’t fully agree with you. Further, I find some of the comments above to be the mirror image of audiophilic/audiofoollic zeal, in the puritan, unforgiving sense (sticking to religious metaphor).

    From the crow’s view, there’s a lot to say for low jitter; it makes a difference to the sound. Many of your past measurements pick on it, but, in your view, they weren’t audible. For each their own; your subjective opinion.

    The way I understand it, electronic transmission contains more than bits and timing; it carries along “pollution.” (Indulged with this layman term). In turn, that electrical pollution induced jitter within the receiver, which is ultimately detrimental to the timing by most accounts. I this is so, then having a “clean” signal—whatever it means—is beneficial to the overall listening experience.

    I’m quite certain a lot of the means those Hi-Fi vendors employ are tantamount to soliciting the ancient Gods. And surely some of them evoke—unethically and unscrupulously—the obsessive/compulsive demon lurking inside most audiophiles.

    Are the OCOX clocks embedded all throughout a mere ploy? Possibly. However, I have a cascade of re-clockers tethered to a Mutech REF10, and cranking up the volume to 100db produces nary distortion. On the other hand, bypassing the cascade opens the door to artifacts that quickly compel one to ease the gain

    1. Hi Jitter Free,
      Thanks for the comment. Indeed jitter can be measured and I think we can "pick on it" from that objective perspective. Since I desire high fidelity, I of course would like jitter measurements to be minimal if not totally absent regardless of what threshold it becomes inaudible. As I posted awhile back:

      Anyone can have a listen to those tracks with varying levels of simulated jitter sidebands and decide on audibility. I certainly don't think this is puritanism or the obverse of "audiofoollic zeal". My interest is a desire to search for truth through empiricism, not faith. My hope is for an openness for folks to go beyond a subjective level of "truth".

      Sure, having a "clean" signal will help whether it be noise or perhaps jitter. That idea seems to resonate with stuff John Swenson has spoken of over the years but as far as I am aware, he has never provided evidence of what he is speaking of such that others can confirm/explore the implications. Open and transparent discussions require that evidence be provided first with clarity around how tests are done and what parameters are being investigated.

      I don't know about the Mutech REF10. That's great if it's working out well for you - it better be good considering the price! I would suggest seeing if you can detect a difference in simple jitter measurements with and without the device. Also, one should be able to measure the noise floor to demonstrate the effect it appears to be having.