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Will a Word Clock improve my audio?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by Mumbles, Nov 23, 2004.

  1. Mumbles

    Mumbles Active Member

    So, I have a lowly MOTU HD192 as my main conversion system. If I were to get something like a Lucid word clock generator, would I be drastically improving my audio? I mean, enough to really notice? Also considering the fact that I mix on an analog board, so I'm going in and out a couple of times throughout the entire process.
    Any input would be helpful.
  2. johnwy

    johnwy Well-Known Member

    I thought it was a major improvement after finally strapping on an aardsync 2 as my master wordclock to protools with 888/24's, so I would certainly say it would be worth it. :cool:
  3. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Not an a yes or no answer. A master clock may or may not make your set up sound better. It depends on many variables like which master clock you use, how good the clock is in the gear you have now and how your devices are able to sync to an external clock. it is also possible that the clock can be improved but you are unable to hear the difference due to your monitoring or that the difference is very small. Like many things, you would just need to try it and listen to the results.
  4. Mumbles

    Mumbles Active Member

    Thanks guys,
    A friend of mine has a Rosendahl clock in the studio he works in, so I think that I try my set up with that and see what happens.
    Sorry for the topic that's probably been smeared on the bathroom stall wall for a few years, but I've just been trying to figure out what to get next.

  5. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I've read several reports where the sound quality improved considerably when slaved via sp/dif to the Apogee Mini-Me. It supposedly improved the quality of the Motu converters in both directions. However, I'm almost certain it was one of the older Motu interfaces.

    BTW the HD-192 is hardly what could be described as lowly! If you don't notice the degradation when you send the signal round the block a few times you'll be quite lucky even with very good converters.

    Of course there's always I room for improvement, so I hope the Rosendahl gives you some thrills!

    John Stafford
  6. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I've just come across this. You might find it interesting.


    John Stafford
  7. Mumbles

    Mumbles Active Member

    Well that's encouraging. Thanks a lot, John. I wonder if that would be true for most any clock w/ the MOTU...

    I was also thinking of getting a dedicated a/d for final mixdowns back into the cpu. Would I be able to clock the MOTU to that (say a Lavry or Benchmark)? or doesn't it work that way?...
  8. Fede

    Fede Active Member

    There's a good chance that an external clock will be a turn for the worse, rather than the opposite....

    It all depends on the PLL in the slaving devices - ie. the circuit that locks on to the incoming clock. Often that PLL is not very good compared to the devices internal crystal clocksource and in that case the unit would perform better on it's own. This is VERY common! - in fact more so than the other way around!

    I suspect most of the hype about super-clocks to be subjective listening experiences, colored by the knowledge that recording A was done with a clock costing an arm and a leg, while recording B is not....

    This does not exclude the possibility that adding an external clock to your system will upgrade sonic performance - but it will more likely degrade it. External clocks are good at keeping a lot of stuff running together, though.

    Note that the only places where a clock signal makes any difference are at the converters.
  9. Randyman...

    Randyman... Well-Known Member

    Isn't there a thread somewhere where George Massenburg (or one of the big-named mastering engineers) also states that a tight PLL loop is VERY hard to acheive, and it is unlikely that an external word-clock could be an improvement over an internally generated clock source (unless the internal clock is really THAT bad).

    I can totally see the need for master wordclock distribution in a multi-unit environment, but I am skeptical about a word clock being able to improve 1 peice of gear by any noticeable amount (unless you already have a pre-conceived notion on the more "expensive" option automatically sounding "better").

    In TV, we HAVE to use cable compensation and such to account for the variables the cable itself adds to the equasion. I have NEVER seen a Word Clock unit that has ANY kind of cable compensation, and I suspect this could have some kind of effect on acheiving a "solid PLL loop" between many units and varying length (and resistance/capacitance) of cables. This is not even taking into account each individual unit's PLL circuitry and any associated delays as well...

    I'm certainly NO digital audio engineer. Just an audio guru who loves his "sport", and reads a lot! :) ... So, reply to this thread, and give me some more stuff to read ;)

  10. Mumbles

    Mumbles Active Member

    Yeah, I've seen the PLL side of this debate before, too. Again, having never done a comparison, that side makes the most logical sense to me. It's hard to say whether these products are pulling the wool OVER or OFF the eyes... or ears.
    Maybe I should just stop wondering if some magic box is going to mystically make everything "sound better," and just work on making what I do have sound better.
  11. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    This is the same sort of debate that was going on in the hi-fi industry about twenty-five years ago regarding speaker cables. Indeed, some apects of the cable voodoo is only now being explained. Initially I was quite cynical, especially when the most expensive metals just happened to sound better. However, nowadays nobody would deny that cables make a big difference.

    While the arguments about external clocks will probably go on for years, all I can say is that in my own experience, a great clock can make a very big difference to the sound (although my listening experience is mainly in hi-fi). If it was just the placebo effect, I don't think I would have hated some of the most expensive speakers I ever heard, or most hi-end hi-fi for that matter. Now, I have to admit that design philosophies in the context of the current discussion and in hi-fi can differ greatly, and not all of the arguments that are relevant in one area will apply to the other.

    Now I know about the whole PLL argument, and it makes perfect sense, but isn't any clock external with respect to the converter, even if it's a crystal in the same box? Isn't it also possible that an amazing clock improving a good box just the same thing as a decent clock improving a really bad one, but the superclock has to be astonishingly good?

    What Fede pointed out is probably the most interesting part of this whole argument i.e. that more often than not the slave device is not capable of making best use of an external clock source, presumably because it's a very difficult thing to do. Indeed one might imagine that it's easier to just design a good clock in the first place. Maybe that's why some lower budget Apogee gear can't accept an external clock source?

    Sorry for rambling on, but to get back to the original topic, it appears to me that there are so many reports of both MOTU and (to a lesser exptent) Lucid converters improving with a good external source, that it's difficult not to lend it a good deal of credibility.

    Anyway, I look forward to hearing what Seamus has to say!

    John Stafford
  12. Mumbles

    Mumbles Active Member

    Well, at this point, the only thing I can do now is use my friend's Rosendahl with my rig and see what happens. He's on the road for another couplw of weeks, though, so it's going to be a while.
    All this thread did was peak my curiosity even more!
    I wil be sure to post what ever we decide. My friend is a very precise and methodical person when it comes to comparing two situations, so it should be accurate to the particular system we are going to test.
    Thank you for everyone's input.


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