A short time ago we looked at and listened to the Mutec REF10. That was a complete revelation. A kind of reprogramming of our audio brain. Helios was kind enough to also send us the Mutec REF10-SE120. The more luxurious brother of the REF10… same box, same outputs… different clock crystal. Can it really get any better?
Clocks… we can make a lot of jokes about them. And we can speculate endlessly about the usefulness, the nonsense and the reasons why it shouldn’t be able to work. Interface jitter, sample jitter, PLLs that would eliminate the effect…. et cetera. The fact is: it works. When we put the Mutec MC3+ on internal clock it sounds rock solid. With the REF10 attached, it simply sounds much better. And with the REF10-SE120 it goes subtly beyond that.
And now we can philosophize endlessly about the authenticity of these phenomena, but frankly we don’t think that makes much sense. Though of course we’re going to dive in and see how this is technically possible. But that’s another story.
Where the Mutec REF10 costs about 3800 euros, the SE120 version ups the money game: … it costs approximately 6000 euros. That’s quite a big jump we think. As with the REF10, you get eight outputs and a front panel with a power button and a push-button to switch outputs on and off. Now we can say that two outputs is enough for most consumers, but that’s not where the cost is, we estimate. The money is in the power supply and the ‘cherry picked’ crystal.
For our – and your – imaging, we also briefly hooked up the REF10-SE120 to the scope. There we see an ultra-stable 10 MHz signal coming in nicely. With a slightly different shape than the regular REF10. Below we have the REF10 with and without 75 Ohm termination. And the clock out of the Mutec MC3+ itself.
Now it’s only partly important about how tight the pulse is. What matters most is how stable and constant the signal is and remains. However, this requires very sophisticated measurement equipment that we do not possess. Unfortunately. However, therein lies the difference with the ordinary REF10. According to Mutec, the crystal in the SE120 version meets stricter requirements. And partly because of that, there are fewer of them…. which in turn results in a higher price.