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role of the Master Clock Source (Big Ben) in a Digital setup

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  • role of the Master Clock Source (Big Ben) in a Digital setup

    So I got to thinking the other day. "How can I make our studio sound better with as little effort as possible"... BIG BEN! right?

    Our setup:
    1 Apogee rosetta 200 - Converter (Currently set to MASTER)
    1 Mackie 8-channel interface - Converter/preamps
    1 RME Fireface Interface - Converter/preamps

    All of these go into our PCI card: RME Hammerfall 96/52 via lightpipe

    My Question:
    I'm trying to get an idea of how necessary this is for my setup - preferably before i drop a grand on it. So, if I'm using all three of my converters at once - I imagine a master clock will make an audible difference in sound quality overall? However, If I am multi-tracking and only recording 1 channel at a time (going through our Apogee converter) - Then will the Big Ben make much of a difference at all?? Does it matter how many different converters I'm using at a time? How necessary is this in my setup?

    Thanks guys
    Good deals: Mesa4x12er2, JacksoncsPlayer

  • #2
    I'd spend the money on mics.

    Always the biggest bang for the buck.

    Is this a commercial studio?

    MG
    "Thank You, NASA!"

    Comment


    • #3
      thanks for the response!

      yes this is a small but quickly growing commercial/project studio. We DO already have some decent mics though..
      - 1 akg c414 xl-II
      - 2 nuemann km 184
      - 1 royer 121
      - 1 blue dragonfly
      - 2 md421
      - 1 akg c451
      - 2 sure sm81
      + several dynamic mics

      I definitely see your point. I like to think that, in general, the best thing you can do to get a great recording starts at the beginning of the signal chain (the song > the musicians > instruments) and the further it goes through the chain, the less it matters to the overall quality - so mics before converters.. (although maybe converters before preamps..) Anyway..

      However, considering our mics and other gear (nice preamps as well) I wonder if the big ben is the way to go. Especially since a mic may only be used on 1 instrument, while a Master Clock will clean up all recorded audio?
      Good deals: Mesa4x12er2, JacksoncsPlayer

      Comment


      • #4
        thanks for the response!

        yes this is a small but quickly growing commercial/project studio. We DO already have some decent mics though..
        - 1 akg c414 xl-II
        - 2 nuemann km 184
        - 1 royer 121
        - 1 blue dragonfly
        - 2 md421
        - 1 akg c451
        - 2 sure sm81
        + several dynamic mics

        I definitely see your point. I like to think that, in general, the best thing you can do to get a great recording starts at the beginning of the signal chain (the song > the musicians > instruments) and the further it goes through the chain, the less it matters to the overall quality - so mics before converters.. (although maybe converters before preamps..) Anyway..

        However, considering our mics and other gear (nice preamps as well) I wonder if the big ben is the way to go. Especially since a mic may only be used on 1 instrument, while a Master Clock will clean up all recorded audio?


        Why not order one from a dealer that allows returns?

        If it doesn't blow your skirt up, the first time you use it, I'd spend the money on something else.

        MG
        "Thank You, NASA!"

        Comment


        • #5
          yeah, i was looking to save a lot of $$ and buy it used - but I may try to find a way to try it out first. You're right, that's the only sure way for me to know
          Good deals: Mesa4x12er2, JacksoncsPlayer

          Comment


          • #6
            I was researching this myself recently, and found this interesting article on Sound on Sound. http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jun10/articles/masterclocks.htm#Top

            Comment


            • #7
              Wow, thank you, mike. That's a very interesting article - claiming to prove that externally clocking a digital device is actually worse, technically, for the quality of the signal than running it on it's internal clock - even with cheaper devices. Of course, what it DIDN'T test, is the difference between hooking a slave device up to a converter, for instance, as it's master - and hooking it up to something like the big ben as it's master. Since it is externally clocked either way, I'm assuming a clock like ben would show dramatic improvements. At this point I think I HAVE to order a clock to hear this for myself.
              Good deals: Mesa4x12er2, JacksoncsPlayer

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm with Mark, I wouldn't bother with the clock.

                Shoot this place doesn't even have a master clock:



                Mics and outboard processors seem to be the most fun when it comes to blowing cash.
                www.nerolstudio.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  That article covered about everything I was going to post, but keep this in mind.
                  An onboard clock has crystal mounted inches from the converters. Theres
                  very little circuitry between the clock and converters so little chance of having any
                  noise of capacitence issues.

                  An external clock has to pass through cables. Its susceptual to noise and the cables
                  capacitence reshaping the signal at those high frequencies.

                  If you have allot of gear that needs to be synced like they said in the article,
                  wehre you're recording audio and video at the same time, or if the facility is
                  really big, like a sattelite TV center, you may have all the gear synced together
                  by a master clock source (or at least they used to in the ones I've visited).
                  I suppose most of that stuff is obsolite now since video has gone completely digital and
                  its not like theyre syncing tape sources.

                  New gear has made most of that kind of stuff obsolite though.
                  The new units have great clocks and even if you upgrade and add more units
                  you simply use one audio interface as a master clock and sync the others as slaves through
                  the SPIDF connection with a 75 ohm cable.

                  I agree with the others. Unless you have to use a master clock to sync allot of different gear,
                  to make it convenient to use them together, its not goung to improve anything.
                  You're going to take a quality hit and if that loss isnt counterbalanced by something that
                  improves your production to make you more money, its senseless.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    That article covered about everything I was going to post, but keep this in mind.
                    An onboard clock has crystal mounted inches from the converters. Theres
                    very little circuitry between the clock and converters so little chance of having any
                    noise of capacitence issues.

                    An external clock has to pass through cables. Its susceptual to noise and the cables
                    capacitence reshaping the signal at those high frequencies.


                    Right, but having 3 different converters right now, I have to externally clock two of them to my apogee converter anyway (which I believe to have the best clock). I would imagine a master clock potentially cleaning up the two current slave converters' sound...buuut.. that being said, I think I'm going to say f*ck it and order an Avalon 747 instead! heyo!
                    Good deals: Mesa4x12er2, JacksoncsPlayer

                    Comment

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