In high fidelity, ‘jitter’ is public enemy No. 1 and master clocks are our best weapon to put an end to it

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Some of the ins and outs of high fidelity are inscrutable. The ultimate goal of this hobby is to help us recreate, in the intimacy of our home, emotions as similar as possible to those that they offer us. live music events. But achieving it is not easy. Not easy.

We enthusiasts are usually aware of how important it is to take care of the acoustic conditioning of our listening room, choose our speakers well and ensure that the equipment in which we are going to play our favorite music is well balanced. However, there is something that we often overlook: the jitter.

It only affects devices that work in the digital domain, and, fortunately, components with a certain quality for home use usually minimize its impact successfully. However, there are two scenarios where this parameter is worth not overlooking: professional recording studios and true reference hi-fi equipment.

What is ‘jitter’ and why does it matter?

Let’s go there. The jitter is a change in the amplitude, frequency, and phase of a signal caused by a deviation of the clock signal. It is only present in digital devices, which are the ones that require a clock signal, so it does not affect playback systems that work in the analog domain, such as turntables.

The subwoofer, the ugly duckling of high fidelity, is actually the holy grail of acoustic conditioning.

Jitter is a change in the amplitude, frequency and phase of a signal caused by a deviation in the clock signal.

Its effect causes digital equipment to sound distinctly worse than it might if it were not present, but fortunately it can be combated. In professional equipment used in recording studios, and also in reference hi-fi equipment, the jitter It is usually combated using very accurate master clocksalmost always rubidium.

In this way it is possible to obtain a much smoother clock signal than is usually provided by conventional quartz oscillators. The problem of the master clocks is the same as always once we have immersed ourselves to the bottom in this hobby: they cost a real fortune.


This is what the back of Esoteric’s Grandioso G1X master watch looks like. Each of the BNC connectors allows us to deliver an ultra-precise clock signal to a different digital device.

Antelope Audio, Esoteric and dCS are some of the brands that design and manufacture very good quality master clocks prepared to deliver an extraordinarily accurate clock signal to our digital devices. Even so, in a home hi-fi system we are hardly going to appreciate in a tangible way the beneficial impact of a master clock. if we already have good quality digital components.

Jitter exists, and it is a major problem, especially in the professional field, but it is not worth obsessing over it

At least, honestly, I have not been able to find a clearly audible effect despite having tried to identify it on many occasions. However, this does not mean at all that these watches do not fulfill their function. The jitter exists, and it’s a big problemespecially in the professional field, but, in my opinion, it is not worth obsessing over it.

In professional recording studios it makes all the sense in the world take it into account and fight it. And audiophiles who have expensive hi-fi equipment and aspire to achieve the best sound quality that technology puts in their hands may also be interested in getting a master clock like the ones offered by the three brands that I mentioned a few lines above. , or others.

However, I think that for the other fans, and we are the majority, it is good for us know what he is jitter from a technical point of view, but without worrying about it. For enthusiasts who want to dig a little deeper into this parameter and are not intimidated by English, I suggest you take a look at the video in which Ted Smith, one of the most respected gurus in the world of high fidelity, explains in detail what they are. its audible effects. Here it is.

Some of the ins and outs of high fidelity are inscrutable. The ultimate goal of this hobby is to help…

Some of the ins and outs of high fidelity are inscrutable. The ultimate goal of this hobby is to help…

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