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Author Topic: Proper word clock implementation  (Read 132729 times)

bobkatz

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Re: Proper word clock implementation
« Reply #45 on: October 26, 2004, 09:59:23 am »

Joe Bryan wrote on Mon, 25 October 2004 01:54


Dan is 100% correct. It's extremely unlikely an external clock can outperform an internal clock unless there are serious problems with the design.





Obviously, Joe, you're also one of the good guys! In my measurement and listening tests I've encountered quite a few defective converters! In the "not-defective" department, it took TC Electronic ONE MAN YEAR to design the PLL circuit currently in use in the System 6000. It measures one tiny tiny bit "less good" than its internal crystal! As to whether the amount of jitter that remains in the TC on external clock is audible, I doubt it.

BK
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Roland Storch

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Re: Proper word clock implementation
« Reply #46 on: October 27, 2004, 04:55:42 am »

Reading all this for me it seems the best way of clocking for a hybrid studio (mixing digital with digital and analog outboard) is to use an integrated AD/DA converter where both the ADC and DAC are clocked internally by a very stabil clock. And this clock at the same time is the master clock for all digital devices.

Also for monitoring with a better outboard DAC than the internal DAC of a digital mixing desk it would be better if the DAC for monitoring is the master. I just compared the sound of the DAC-1 and another DAC (Digital Audio Denmark) against a very good CD player by hearing CDs through the analog output of the player or the digital output converted by DAC-1 or DAD.

The CD player analog out to me sounded always better than either the DAC-1 or the DAD (regardless if connected optical or with BNC). This confirms the statements by Dan, Bob and all the other appreciated technical explanations, that the internal clock outperforms an external clock.

BTW: I prefer either the DAC-1 or the DAD to the analog out of my digital mixer. But the DAC of my 1500,-
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jcoyle

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Re: Proper word clock implementation
« Reply #47 on: October 27, 2004, 10:03:53 am »

I may be wrong here, but with multiple DACs, they don't need to be word clocked together...    Because they clock to the incoming digital audio, buffer this, and then tightly clock this internally and convert it to Analog.

I think the need for external clocking of multiple hardware, is when you have multiple devices with digital outputs that send their digital outputs to another common digital device.

please correct if this is wrong.

joey
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danlavry

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Re: Proper word clock implementation
« Reply #48 on: October 27, 2004, 11:19:23 am »

The issue is different for AD and DA:

Clock jitter on the AD will ALTER THE DATA FOREVER.  

Clock Jitter on DA will only impact the specific playback. You can play it again "later" through another DA and if the device is better (or worse), it would sound better (or worse).

Also, it is not always possible to have an AD and DA of the same clock, from jitter standpoint. Just a few gate and flip flop circuit delays, and you are not as clean as the crystal oscillator. Of course it still beats the external clock with cable, receiver, PLL, voltage controlled crystal (VCXO)...  


BR
Dan Lavry
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Kendrix

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Re: Proper word clock implementation
« Reply #49 on: October 27, 2004, 12:51:24 pm »

Roland Storch wrote on Wed, 27 October 2004 09:55

Reading all this for me it seems the best way of clocking for a hybrid studio (mixing digital with digital and analog outboard) is to use an integrated AD/DA converter where both the ADC and DAC are clocked internally by a very stabil clock. And this clock at the same time is the master clock for all digital devices.

Also for monitoring with a better outboard DAC than the internal DAC of a digital mixing desk it would be better if the DAC for monitoring is the master. I just compared the sound of the DAC-1 and another DAC (Digital Audio Denmark) against a very good CD player by hearing CDs through the analog output of the player or the digital output converted by DAC-1 or DAD.

The CD player analog out to me sounded always better than either the DAC-1 or the DAD (regardless if connected optical or with BNC). This confirms the statements by Dan, Bob and all the other appreciated technical explanations, that the internal clock outperforms an external clock.

BTW: I prefer either the DAC-1 or the DAD to the analog out of my digital mixer. But the DAC of my 1500,-
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Max

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Re: Proper word clock implementation
« Reply #50 on: October 27, 2004, 04:34:11 pm »

Lucas Van Der Mee, Apogee's Senior Design Engineer, has been following this thread and felt compelled to respond to some of the things being said. Since Lucas is already at the AES show, I have taken the liberty to post some comments on his behalf:

jcoyle wrote on Sun, 24 October 2004 16:00




But you are saying the internal clock of the PSX-100 will be better than externally clocking.   As I have no multiple convertors issue, requiring an external clock.

Am I a sucker for believing others up to this point???  Is everyone just clueless, has marketing hype led everyone astray?

thanks,
joey





bobkatz wrote


Dan is saying that, "all other things being equal, in a well-designed converter, internal clock will always perform better than, or equal to an external clock."


True, but all things are never equal when it comes to clocking. Anyone who is using a D/A converter of any kind is re-clocking, for example.

bobkatz wrote


You have to prove whether the Apogee is a well-designed converter! If it's a poor converter, it may very well perform better on external clock. A left-handed "compliment" if I ever saw one!


The only external clock that will improve the clock performance of the PSX-100 is the C777 used in Big Ben. Incidentally, this clock also improves performance of every converter that we have tested, with the exception of SRC based D/A converters.  Based on this criteria, every high-end converter with a PLL design is a "poor converter" other than the AD-16X and DA-16X, which include the C777 clock.

bobkatz wrote


And yes, everyone is clueless... very very few people have grasped the implications of what Dan has to say. John Watkinson, among many other competent writers, myself included, have been haranguing this topic for a long time. Manufacturers, it seems are the most clueless.


Not everyone is clueless, it is just that some people are still living in the 20th century technology-wise and clinging to theories that don't hold up in objective listening tests. There is plenty of empirical evidence that the C777 clock disproves this theory and has the impact on sound performance that is being refuted on this forum.

The problem with discussing the how and why of Apogee's advanced science in this field is that there are things we are doing that we do not want to advertise to our competitors, frankly, yet without mentioning those things, it becomes hard to mount a credible argument against the theorists. Based on this, my suggestion is for all those interested in reality to perform an objective listening test and make the determination with your ears, and not a text book.
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Max Gutnik
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Roland Storch

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Re: Proper word clock implementation
« Reply #51 on: October 27, 2004, 06:09:56 pm »

Kendrix wrote on Wed, 27 October 2004 17:51



I think you need to be carefulo abou attributing any perceived sonic differences to the clock.  ther are analog circuits at the output stage of the DA converters that must be accounted for.  FYI- the DAC1 claims to eliminate jitter on incomming digital signals via a propietary approach (I understand it does not use a PLL based on the clock embedded in the input signal).

So, I dont think you can conclude that jitter was the cause of any sonic differences you heard in this case.



I admit you are probably right.
On the other side I hope the reason for sonic differences was the clock because the afformentioned 1500
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Terry Demol

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Re: Proper word clock implementation
« Reply #52 on: October 28, 2004, 10:20:10 am »

Max wrote on Wed, 27 October 2004 21:34

Lucas Van Der Mee, Apogee's Senior Design Engineer, has been following this thread and felt compelled to respond to some of the things being said. Since Lucas is already at the AES show, I have taken the liberty to post some comments on his behalf:

jcoyle wrote on Sun, 24 October 2004 16:00




But you are saying the internal clock of the PSX-100 will be better than externally clocking.   As I have no multiple convertors issue, requiring an external clock.

Am I a sucker for believing others up to this point???  Is everyone just clueless, has marketing hype led everyone astray?

thanks,
joey





bobkatz wrote


Dan is saying that, "all other things being equal, in a well-designed converter, internal clock will always perform better than, or equal to an external clock."


True, but all things are never equal when it comes to clocking. Anyone who is using a D/A converter of any kind is re-clocking, for example.

bobkatz wrote


You have to prove whether the Apogee is a well-designed converter! If it's a poor converter, it may very well perform better on external clock. A left-handed "compliment" if I ever saw one!


The only external clock that will improve the clock performance of the PSX-100 is the C777 used in Big Ben. Incidentally, this clock also improves performance of every converter that we have tested, with the exception of SRC based D/A converters.  Based on this criteria, every high-end converter with a PLL design is a "poor converter" other than the AD-16X and DA-16X, which include the C777 clock.

bobkatz wrote


And yes, everyone is clueless... very very few people have grasped the implications of what Dan has to say. John Watkinson, among many other competent writers, myself included, have been haranguing this topic for a long time. Manufacturers, it seems are the most clueless.


Not everyone is clueless, it is just that some people are still living in the 20th century technology-wise and clinging to theories that don't hold up in objective listening tests. There is plenty of empirical evidence that the C777 clock disproves this theory and has the impact on sound performance that is being refuted on this forum.

The problem with discussing the how and why of Apogee's advanced science in this field is that there are things we are doing that we do not want to advertise to our competitors, frankly, yet without mentioning those things, it becomes hard to mount a credible argument against the theorists. Based on this, my suggestion is for all those interested in reality to perform an objective listening test and make the determination with your ears, and not a text book.



Hi Max,

Do you have a phase noise graph for the C777 in dBc versus F(Hz)
away from carrier.

This is an effective way to compare it's measured performance to
a good VCXO or ULN XO.

The first people I know to use DDS for clocking in audio
converters was Mark Levinson. They used the AD9850 chip which
was pretty good WRT phase noise if not quite up to the spec
of a good XO. There are probably better ones available now.

Cheers,

Terry


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bblackwood

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Re: Proper word clock implementation
« Reply #53 on: October 29, 2004, 03:05:16 am »

Max wrote on Wed, 27 October 2004 15:34

Not everyone is clueless, it is just that some people are still living in the 20th century technology-wise and clinging to theories that don't hold up in objective listening tests. There is plenty of empirical evidence that the C777 clock disproves this theory and has the impact on sound performance that is being refuted on this forum.

So I assume you've tried used the 'big ben' to reclock the da924 for better results? I mean, it's using '20th century technology' so it must suck, right?
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Brad Blackwood
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bobkatz

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Re: Proper word clock implementation
« Reply #54 on: November 02, 2004, 12:06:19 am »

bblackwood wrote on Fri, 29 October 2004 03:05

Max wrote on Wed, 27 October 2004 15:34

Not everyone is clueless, it is just that some people are still living in the 20th century technology-wise and clinging to theories that don't hold up in objective listening tests. There is plenty of empirical evidence that the C777 clock disproves this theory and has the impact on sound performance that is being refuted on this forum.

So I assume you've tried used the 'big ben' to reclock the da924 for better results? I mean, it's using '20th century technology' so it must suck, right?


Sarcasm will get you everywhere, Brad!

But seriously: The bottom line is that if an EXTERNAL clock improves or even CHANGES the sound of a converter, then its internal crystal is not well designed and its phased locked loop is not effective enough. This is fact, not conjecture.

So, the conclusion is that if the Big Ben improves the sound of the Apogee, then its internal clock has to be improved.

The goal of the designers of the new Grimm AD-1 converter expresses quite clearly their clear understanding of the issue:

"Our goal was to produce a converter whose performance does not change nor degrade when on internal or external clock."

The bottom line IF the Big Ben improves the sound of the Apogee is that it is a band aid, not a cure.

BK
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Re: Proper word clock implementation
« Reply #55 on: November 02, 2004, 07:38:35 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Fri, 29 October 2004 08:05

Max wrote on Wed, 27 October 2004 15:34

Not everyone is clueless, it is just that some people are still living in the 20th century technology-wise and clinging to theories that don't hold up in objective listening tests. There is plenty of empirical evidence that the C777 clock disproves this theory and has the impact on sound performance that is being refuted on this forum.

So I assume you've tried used the 'big ben' to reclock the da924 for better results? I mean, it's using '20th century technology' so it must suck, right?


Yes, and that does not mean the box "sucks", as you put it. As a matter of fact, that is just the opposite of what I am saying. My point is that there is no perfect converter or perfect clock and to say that when an external clock helps a good converter means that the converter is flawed is to say that you probably have not tried Big Ben, which Bob Katz has not. As a matter of fact, Bob has not tried any Apogee products since the original AD-8000 (seven years old), so most of what he is saying in this thread is based on history, if not histrionics.

There are many golden-eared end users with high end gear that have purchased Big Ben because they understand what I am talking about. Bob Ludwig, Doug Sax, Bernie Grundman, Steve Marcussen, Clark Germain, Jack Joseph Puig, Ronald Prent, and Steve Levine, to name a few off the top of my head. Not all of these guys use Apogee converters, and most who do use Apogee converters use others as well. Yet, what they all have in common is Big Ben.... Does their gear suddenly suck after all this time because Big Ben makes it sound good? No. Call Big Ben an exception to the rule, or not, since that would mean that you might actually have to listen to the product to make a determination, and who would want to do that, right?
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Max Gutnik
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chap

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Re: Proper word clock implementation
« Reply #56 on: November 02, 2004, 08:48:30 pm »

I don't mean to stir the pot but a couple of things come to mind.
First of all, most studios have at least 2 digital devices.
Most have more.  How would we run our studios ( I have 10 devices that need to speak to each other) unless they are properly clocked?
Regardless of whether a stand alone converter sounds better with it's internal clock, it's not practical to use a single digital device by itself.  I like using my tc6000 with my converters.
It simply won't work unless they are mutually clocked.
So is the argument academic with regards to practical application?

The second is more anecdotal but since I'm in the anecdote, it's true.
This summer, I was mastering a project at Sterling Sound with my favorite mastering engineer, Greg Calbi.  We have been working hard to try and popularize the notion of 'stem' mastering.  (Hopefully a new president will encourage this 'stem' research).
After working for awhile, I suggested that he might like Big Ben for stemming.  I arranged for him to try one.
A week later he called me and said it did exactly what I suggested it would.
Tighter low end, better depth of field and a wider image.
He wasn't proclaiming Ben as a miracle box.  He was saying that it did exactly what it was supposed to do.  He kept the box.
Greg has some of the most amazing ears in the business and I would not drop his name casually (this is the first post where I've mentioned him) but I think it lends credibility to the notion that a qualified listener can hear the improvements that Ben imparts on multiple digital device situations.
I should also say that Greg appears to remain happy with his dB
converters.
best,
chap
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bobkatz

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Re: Proper word clock implementation
« Reply #57 on: November 02, 2004, 11:39:18 pm »

Max wrote on Tue, 02 November 2004 19:38



tried Big Ben, which Bob Katz has not. As a matter of fact, Bob has not tried any Apogee products since the original AD-8000 (seven years old), so most of what he is saying in this thread is based on history, if not histrionics.

There are many golden-eared end users with high end gear that have purchased Big Ben because they understand what I am talking about. Bob Ludwig, Doug Sax, Bernie




I am pissed because this thread is being taken over by salesmanship and ignorance of the basic design constraints of converters. Bob Ludwig knows better, he's got the tech chops. So I suspect you're taking him out of context.

If I gave you an endorsement, like Ludwig, Calbi and Sax, of how "great" the Apogee sounds with the Big Ben it is really a political spin of the converse.  I really should be giving you a negative endorsement of how poorly it sounds WITHOUT THE BIG BEN.

By the way, I have nothing personally against you, Max, but my anger comes from that you approached this thread as a salesman and without concrete knowledge of how your own equipment works. Otherwise I would not be so confrontational. I hope you will learn something from this post; Apogee makes excellent converters, but there is great room for improvement once you learn the science and the facts and forget the hype....

Saying that a converter sounds better with a "great" external clock is attempting to justify poor engineering. You are rationalizing the purchase of a Big Ben when the whole purpose of a converter should be to AVOID the NEED for a Big Ben! It is a big Left-handed compliment to say that a converter sounds better with an external clock!

Let's remember how a PLL works and how an internal crystal works, as described clearly by Dan Lavry earlier in this thread.

I really don't care how much the Apogee is improved by the Big Ben. I can buy numerous well-designed converters which perform as well or better without it, and reject the jitter well-enough from external clocks so as not to need the Big Ben.

The very fact that it is IMPROVED is a demonstration that not enough attention was made to the internal design of the converter itself. That includes both the PLL and the internal crystal. Both of which should perform excellently without any external BANDAIDS, because that's what the Big Ben is, a BANDAID. The CURE, not the BANDAID, should have been within the converter's internal design not external to it. That includes the PLL and the crystal. The ABSOLUTE best performance of a well-designed converter MUST be that the internal crystal performance is indistinguishable from the external PLL performance. If the PLL performs one iota better than the crystal, then the designers have not done their homework.

For the record, I have auditioned two other Apogee converters post the AD-8000 and been underwhelmed by their sonics. I found the Rosetta and the PSX-100 to be colored and veiled, under blind tests, compared with a straight wire, analog sources, and against other models of converters. I am prepared to be impressed by the later designs; everyone makes a mistake sometime. But don't mess with me with this Big Ben Nonsense. The science and the basic principles of engineering design are against you. This is not-brand-specific. There is no mysterious "voodoo" about the Big Ben and what it is or is not doing for the Apogee or any other converter.

It costs about $35 in parts, coupled with good grounding, layout and power supply design, to build a crystal oscillator in your converter that will outperform any external Big Ben or whatever. So quit the hype, please.

Was it an economic decision to cripple the Apogee? I can understand if you want the consumers to save $600 (or whatever the Big Ben costs), buy the converter, get fair performance without it at a decent price (I assume).  If you are willing to admit that it was an economic decision to design the converter in this way, then I have no quarrel with you. Every designer has to face economic compromises, and maybe the Apogee's clock circuit was one of those compromises.

Just don't tout the Big Ben as a big achievement when it is really the equivalent of a better PCV valve on a poorly-designed internal combustion engine!

Do you have FFT measurements of your converter's jitter performance on internal and external clock comparable to that of, for example:

DCS, Lavry, Benchmark, or TC system 6000.

All of the above converters do not require a Big Ben to demonstrate textbook-perfect jitter performance.

Let's see your measurements, stick to the facts and skip the hype. In a converter that sounds poorly or worse with poor external clocks, or poorly with internal clock, it will demonstrate poor jitter rejection and poor internal crystal performance. So you only get an A+ with Superman on the external wordclock. You'll have to justify that decision with economics. If the cost of the Apogee WITH Big Ben justifies its sonics, then ok... but it's not a good sign.
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: Proper word clock implementation
« Reply #58 on: November 03, 2004, 12:18:48 pm »

FWIW Bob Ludwig made it very clear during his workshop the other day at AES that what sounds best to him in his room is using the internal clock of an A to D and, for playback only, clocking the entire system off the internal clock of the D to A converter. He spoke very highly of using the Big Ben for locking to video but never suggested he uses it in place of an internal clock when that's possible.

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Re: Proper word clock implementation
« Reply #59 on: November 03, 2004, 02:42:52 pm »

[quote title=bobkatz wrote on Wed, 03 November 2004 04:39]
Max wrote on Tue, 02 November 2004 19:38



tried Big Ben, which Bob Katz has not. As a matter of fact, Bob has not tried any Apogee products since the original AD-8000 (seven years old), so most of what he is saying in this thread is based on history, if not histrionics.

There are many golden-eared end users with high end gear that have purchased Big Ben because they understand what I am talking about. Bob Ludwig, Doug Sax, Bernie




Quote:

I am pissed because this thread is being taken over by salesmanship and ignorance of the basic design constraints of converters. Bob Ludwig knows better, he's got the tech chops. So I suspect you're taking him out of context.


The thread is not being taken over by salesmanship, it has been rife with salesmanship from the beginning.

Quote:

If I gave you an endorsement, like Ludwig, Calbi and Sax, of how "great" the Apogee sounds with the Big Ben it is really a political spin of the converse.  I really should be giving you a negative endorsement of how poorly it sounds WITHOUT THE BIG BEN.


Again, your own salesmanship shows itself. You of course keep pointing to the Apogee converters in the context of Big Ben, yet refuse to acknowledge the entire point of my post: that many other converters mentioned in this thread are also improved when Big Ben is used as the master clock. Does that mean that all of these other converters sound poorly as well? Are they all poorly designed? I don't think so.

Quote:

 By the way, I have nothing personally against you, Max, but my anger comes from that you approached this thread as a salesman and without concrete knowledge of how your own equipment works.


With all due respect, Bob,  I have a very solid foundation in how our equipment works. On top of that, I am sitting here every day surrounded by some of the best engineers in this business, whom I have consulted and completely agree with everything I have posted.

Quote:

 Otherwise I would not be so confrontational. I hope you will learn something from this post; Apogee makes excellent converters, but there is great room for improvement once you learn the science and the facts and forget the hype....


I agree with you that there is always room for improvement. There is also always room for new and better ideas, and theories are not facts until they are proven scientifically. Even then science has a way of breaking through and changing what we previously believed to be right and prove all of us wrong over and over. I would also add that the belief in what sounds good is not scientific or objective in any way. To say that the science disproves something that can be qualified audibly is to say that the science is incomplete at this time or to say that sound and music is subjective and still more art than science, even when it comes to engineering.


Quote:

 Saying that a converter sounds better with a "great" external clock is attempting to justify poor engineering. You are rationalizing the purchase of a Big Ben when the whole purpose of a converter should be to AVOID the NEED for a Big Ben! It is a big Left-handed compliment to say that a converter sounds better with an external clock!

Let's remember how a PLL works and how an internal crystal works, as described clearly by Dan Lavry earlier in this thread.

I really don't care how much the Apogee is improved by the Big Ben. I can buy numerous well-designed converters which perform as well or better without it, and reject the jitter well-enough from external clocks so as not to need the Big Ben.


Well, again there are other converters improved by Big Ben besides the Apogees, perhaps even in your own studio. When one of our engineers contacted you and offered you a chance to try Big Ben and find out for yourself, you turned us down.

Quote:

There is no mysterious "voodoo" about the Big Ben and what it is or is not doing for the Apogee or any other converter.


Actually, Bob, there is. I would be happy to arrange to get you a Big Ben to try for yourself. At this point, of course, I would insist that at least one of us were there to insure that the test was done as objectively as possible, since I believe you are a bit biased against Apogee for whatever reason and this bias may unfairly skew your results if left to your own devices.

Quote:

Was it an economic decision to cripple the Apogee? I can understand if you want the consumers to save $600 (or whatever the Big Ben costs), buy the converter, get fair performance without it at a decent price (I assume).  If you are willing to admit that it was an economic decision to design the converter in this way, then I have no quarrel with you. Every designer has to face economic compromises, and maybe the Apogee's clock circuit was one of those compromises.


No compromise in the Apogee clock circuit. As a matter of fact, it is one of the best performing analog PLLs on the market. It is just nothing compared to the C777, which by the way, is the standard clock in the AD-16X and DA-16X converters. These two converters of course are not improved with Big Ben, for obvious reasons.

Quote:

Just don't tout the Big Ben as a big achievement when it is really the equivalent of a better PCV valve on a poorly-designed internal combustion engine!


The C777 is a lot more than that, Bob.

Quote:

Do you have FFT measurements of your converter's jitter performance on internal and external clock comparable to that of, for example:

DCS, Lavry, Benchmark, or TC system 6000.

All of the above converters do not require a Big Ben to demonstrate textbook-perfect jitter performance.

Let's see your measurements, stick to the facts and skip the hype. In a converter that sounds poorly or worse with poor external clocks, or poorly with internal clock, it will demonstrate poor jitter rejection and poor internal crystal performance. So you only get an A+ with Superman on the external wordclock. You'll have to justify that decision with economics. If the cost of the Apogee WITH Big Ben justifies its sonics, then ok... but it's not a good sign.


You of all people should know that the measurements wont prove everything. Almost every converter on the market measures perfectly at this point, yet they all sound different. Why, because designing a converter is about making choices; choices on where to minimize the loss inherent in conversion and emphasize the sound quality.  

At the end of the day, this is all still about how it sounds. Again, there are too many people out there insisting that Big Ben improves the sound of what are to be considered great sounding converters with good internal clock circuitry. To discount what all of these folks are hearing and then not be willing to listen for yourself is disingenuous at best.
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Max Gutnik
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