It wasn’t very long ago that a femto clock occupied the feature set of only a very elite set of DACs on the outskirts of the high end of digital audio. But as with most things digital, the train of progress doesn’t stop for anyone. The market has the funny habit of following the trend of smaller and cheaper, even in the exclusive island that is audiophilia. Today, in the form of the Wyred 4 Sound Recovery USB reclocker you can have femto technology incorporated into the digital chain for less than $300.
The purpose of the relatively small USB B in, USB A out box is twofold. First, the aforementioned reclocking to “restore the original integrity of the USB signal” and reduce jitter. Second, it isolates and provides “cleaner power”. As a result, the device does require its own wall wart and is not powered solely by the USB air supply.
Its presence on a desktop is small and easy to handle. Just slightly bigger than a box of matches, the Recovery is physically competent and isn’t overtly flimsy as far as audio containers go. No drivers are needed during installation and even DSD files were passed along without issue during the evaluation process. The input side of the device features two LED lights that indicate UBS type (2.0 or 1.0) and signal lock. Its simple, clean and just as easy to implement as plugging in two UBS cables. The package even includes a short USB connector in case you don’t have a spare one lying around.
The review processes started with a switch in line between a Macbook Air and the Auralic Vega Digital Processor. Comparisons from Jason Mraz’s 93 Million Miles via Audirvana Plus yielded some interesting results. At first meeting, one might mistake the differences for a slight change in volume, but after further analysis it becomes clear that a wider improvement is taking place. The guitar tones from the track sing a bit more through the Remedy. Their pluckiness and impact feel just a bit more dynamic and lively with the introduction of the box into the chain. The sound isn’t necessarily more warmed up or thick, but rather more intimate without sounding too close. There isn’t more resolution per se, but reproduction gets turned over with slightly more energy and drive. This was even more apparent with the bass strings from the guitar, which also left a small impression of a heightened sense of bass and lower mids.
Looking for an impression on the impact on a lower price range (and older tech) I reached for my trusty portable International (1st gen) DAC/AMP from ALO Audio. The less costly system didn’t reach as far with dynamics, but still benefited from a greater sense of cohesion from the Recovery. Interestingly, the range of noticeable gains felt a little dimmer than the distance of improvement felt from the more expensive execution. That is to say, if you already have what you feel is a good DAC, you might get a larger takeaway with this reclocker than if you attempted to fix some ill with a budget option. In either pairing here improvements could be found. Even responses from untrained ears were able to detect the changes, with preferences that all leaned towards the reclocker. Also of note, the additional low-end weight felt in the mids and bass in the VEGA seemed slightly less apparent from the low cost International. Even from this relatively small data set, its seems possible that the results from any individual rig may vary. There wasn’t one cohesive “sound” that was added to each acoustic collection in an intentional manner. The specific implications were surprisingly unique to each with the exception of an overarching greater sense of cohesion that could be found in all scenarios. The microscopic detail observations that pop up when comparing DAC A to DAC B doesn’t sit as well here. The Recovery doesn’t slam the door shut with a jagged digital edge for the sake of extra detail. The little box feels more subtle and graceful in its influence over the source material.
On paper the value of a femto clocking feels like an easy pick. Those who already own a DAC with a femto clock may want to take heed of this Q and A from the company site:
“I already own a Wyred 4 Sound DAC with Femto clock. Will the Recovery still benefit me?
Absolutely! The two devices do separate things. The clocking in the DAC has no control over when or how it receives its signal from the sources. The Recovery works to greatly improve the incoming signal before the DAC receives it, so perfecting that allows the DAC to shine even more. The internal clock accuracy and jitter elimination of the DAC can mitigate some of the input jitter, but is no replacement for correcting it beforehand.”
This appears to be the case with the VEGA as well, which also harnesses femto capabilities internally. According to the company, said benefits can be harvested in all directions for a greater number of applications without leaving anyone out by the wayside.
The question of relative value is a reasonable one. Your mileage may vary, but from the DACs tested within the confines of this review all options showcased ample sonic improvement with the Recovery pushing bit duty in the chain. If we were to take a few liberties and assume that those in the market for $250 digital accessories are mostly likely consumers who are already proud owners of a reputable external DAC, then we have a large group of individuals where benefits are more likely to be even more amplified. When you consider the cost of this reclocker against the cost of upgrading to another pricing tier for DACs, the value proposition of starts to really show its colors. So don’t let the Recovery’s understated appearance fool you, big sound can be had from a little device.
More information: [https://www.wyred4sound.com/]