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Does a Master Clock Make Your Music Sound Better To The End-Users?
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6th December 2008
Old 6th December 2008
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Does a Master Clock Make Your Music Sound Better To The End-Users?

I know that a master clock in studio use can make a world of difference when playing back tracks, mixing, mastering etc., but what about the end-user who purchases the cd or downloads the mp3? Do THEY hear a difference?

Obviously they are listening to the mix without a high-end master clock. Probably through their mp3 player, I Phone, or cheap car stereo.

So my question is, will the sound you receiving using a Master clock be heard by the end-user?

Thanks,
Jamie
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6th December 2008
Old 6th December 2008
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Remember that the stability of the clock that you use affects both A/D and D/A.

If your A/D clock is unstable - then the recorded waveform is permanently distorted, and even if every other converter from that point on is 100% stable, the best they can do is recreate that distorted waveform.

Often a signal passes through several stages of A/D & D/A conversion before it reaches your consumer's D/A converters. Especially with people using DAWs with analog processing.

Master clocks are usually used to synchonise multiple digital devices out of necessity.

However - it's worth noting that when it's possible, the digital devices own internal clock might actually be more stable than forcing that device to sync to an external master clock.

But there might be cases where the digital device has a very poor internal clock, and an external clock might make it sound better. The typical cause of jitter is poor power supply issues. The thing about poor analog design is that everyone can hear the hiss & hum and RFI. But with digital devices, what would translate as hiss & hum & RFI translates to jitter - which is not so overtly obvious.
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6th December 2008
Old 6th December 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger View Post
Remember that the stability of the clock that you use affects both A/D and D/A.

If your A/D clock is unstable - then the recorded waveform is permanently distorted, and even if every other converter from that point on is 100% stable, the best they can do is recreate that distorted waveform.

Often a signal passes through several stages of A/D & D/A conversion before it reaches your consumer's D/A converters. Especially with people using DAWs with analog processing.

Master clocks are usually used to synchonise multiple digital devices out of necessity.

However - it's worth noting that when it's possible, the digital devices own internal clock might actually be more stable than forcing that device to sync to an external master clock.

But there might be cases where the digital device has a very poor internal clock, and an external clock might make it sound better. The typical cause of jitter is poor power supply issues. The thing about poor analog design is that everyone can hear the hiss & hum and RFI. But with digital devices, what would translate as hiss & hum & RFI translates to jitter - which is not so overtly obvious.

Well said. I enjoyed reading this. Thanks
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6th December 2008
Old 6th December 2008
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Thanks for the reply Kiwiburger & DONNX. I appreciate it!

The reason I asked is I'm looking into the MR816 X (as an interm piece) and my rep says he just sold a few of these along with an Antelop Audio Isochrone OCX to a client who does national audio video.

The client purchased the MR816 for the same reason I'm looking into it (Best Yamaha pres, REVX, etc.) but the clock was said to be "so so". So AFTER they hooked it up to the OCX, it made a BIG difference and took the MR816 to the next level.

I know a great clock can make a difference "IN" the studio, but I just wanted some real world input from those who have the best tools and if they notice a difference on the finished product.

Thanks again,

Jamie
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7th December 2008
Old 7th December 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEA View Post
...what about the end-user who purchases the cd or downloads the mp3?

Do THEY hear a difference?

no.

does that really matter? when you do all the things you do for sound, who are you doing it for?


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7th December 2008
Old 7th December 2008
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yes they do..every subtle thing makes a difference...I think It more or less ends up being attributed to a cool or not cool vibe...EVERYTHING MATTERS....mostly what you don't do I think...it's all about your choices...sometimes high end sometimes low end...combinations...all about choices.

Nick
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7th December 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
no.

does that really matter? when you do all the things you do for sound, who are you doing it for?


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To me it matters. It matters to both me (the artist/producer) and the listener.

As an artist, I want to be able to enjoy the music I create in my studio & home, but I also want the end-user who is purchasing my music to hear the same quality that I am getting (or pretty darn close.)

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7th December 2008
Old 7th December 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEA View Post
... but I also want the end-user who is purchasing my music to hear the same quality that I am getting (or pretty darn close.)

SEA
You have NO control over the way people hear your music. There are too many factors involved in how the end user receives your creation, from their own physical makeup, all the way to where and how they hear it.

All that you can hope for is that your creation resonates some way with the audience. To that end, what YOU hear is paramount. But whether a master clock will help or not in such an instance, is essentially a useless debate for anyone to participate in but you.
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8th December 2008
Old 8th December 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEA View Post
So my question is, will the sound you receiving using a Master clock be heard by the end-user?

Thanks,
Jamie
I would argue they do hear the difference. I don't mean that in the sense that the average listener will listen to a track and think, "man I'm glad they used that Antelope clock on this record. It sounds great!" But I do think that good clocking will allow your digital recording to sound closer to your source and will also allow you to make better decisions along the recording and mixing process. Those things combined will translate to a superior product. The difference, however, is marginal.

Ed
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8th December 2008
Old 8th December 2008
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Yeah I think they can hear a difference, but first they would have to have a reference point...or something to compare it to so they will know what the difference is they are actually hearing. I was listening to my Signature Series 002 and was like whoa,... I can actually hear the difference on so many different songs.... its the depth of a mix that I can hear now or even the slight difference in a drummers kick because he/she does not apply the same amount of pressure to the pedal each time. BUT, I would have never heard it or know to listen for it outside of the studio if it was not brought to my attention through a system that gives that type of depth and detail.
Its like how many times have we heard something for the first time on a good system and was like man, I never knew that harmony was in that song, but no matter where we hear the song again we can pick it up.
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30th January 2009
Old 30th January 2009
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Do they hear it?

No, they listen on their iPod's. I have a relatively simple but relatively high quality studio, Digi 003, Digimax, a couple of nice pre's, some nice stuff, some cheap stuff.

The thing is, when I added an OCX, everything got easier for ME. Highs and lows were better, everything was easier to listen to, less fatigue on long sessions. It was clearly better than internal clocking, and in the end, I consider it one of the best additions I've made to my studio.

So I make better recordings. Better recordings are more likely to get listened to by the end user.....
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30th January 2009
Old 30th January 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lownoterider View Post
No, they listen on their iPod's. I have a relatively simple but relatively high quality studio, Digi 003, Digimax, a couple of nice pre's, some nice stuff, some cheap stuff.

The thing is, when I added an OCX, everything got easier for ME. Highs and lows were better, everything was easier to listen to, less fatigue on long sessions. It was clearly better than internal clocking, and in the end, I consider it one of the best additions I've made to my studio.

So I make better recordings. Better recordings are more likely to get listened to by the end user.....
I as speaking to a studio drummer who had both the OCX and the Big Ben. When I asked if the OCX translated on a mix to a CD he said "I could definitely tell a difference on the CD on my car stereo and through cheap computer speakers vs. the Big Ben."

He went on to say the Big Ben sounded harsher... especially in the guitars where the OCX sounded smoother and more stereo width.
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30th January 2009
Old 30th January 2009
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The need for a Master clock has always got me curious.

I have a small set up at home....mainly electronic music production but some recording as well.

I have a Digi 002rack and Mackie 824's on sand filled stands. I am just treating the room as the moment. I am considering a DAC for my monitor chain and perhaps later for the input. But the 002 dosnt have word clock in and outs. Is this a problem for future upgrades?
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30th January 2009
Old 30th January 2009
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OK, so I guess I am taking this question to another level since there are mixed opinions, as always, on this specific subject. So if using PTs or any other DAW and you bounce to disk, will the bounce actually benefit from the clock or simply the playback? In other words, if I wanted to take advantage of the clarity and stereo width of a high end master clock, do I have to mix down outside the box onto another medium or somehow record back into my DAW?

-Tguy
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31st January 2009
Old 31st January 2009
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Disclosure: I want a master clock. Big Time. I admit it.

Wet Blanket: My otherwise sophisticated and worldly non-musician friends can't tell the difference between raw tracks and a finished mix, in MY studio (genelecs, etc), unless I point out what to listen for. They hear raw tracks and say it sounds finished, and why they have to wait months to own it? Add the fact that are they likely to be triple tasking while listening on crap, talking, etc.

To answer your question: Assuming you have a good converter with a pretty darn good clock (I have a Rosetta 800), then NO. Buy a clock for you. I probably will. Same goes for summing box and hardware IMO.
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#16
31st January 2009
Old 31st January 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickynicknick View Post
yes they do..every subtle thing makes a difference...I think It more or less ends up being attributed to a cool or not cool vibe...EVERYTHING MATTERS....mostly what you don't do I think...it's all about your choices...sometimes high end sometimes low end...combinations...all about choices.

Nick
Why do you write everything....with dots in between the words....what are we supposed to do during the dots....just wait for the next words to appear?.....thought about using commas or fullstops?.....

Sorry dude - I'm not mocking your voice or your opinions, I just find your posts really confusing to read.
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31st January 2009
Old 31st January 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEA View Post
Thanks for the reply Kiwiburger & DONNX. I appreciate it!

The reason I asked is I'm looking into the MR816 X (as an interm piece) and my rep says he just sold a few of these along with an Antelop Audio Isochrone OCX to a client who does national audio video.

The client purchased the MR816 for the same reason I'm looking into it (Best Yamaha pres, REVX, etc.) but the clock was said to be "so so". So AFTER they hooked it up to the OCX, it made a BIG difference and took the MR816 to the next level.

I know a great clock can make a difference "IN" the studio, but I just wanted some real world input from those who have the best tools and if they notice a difference on the finished product.

Thanks again,

Jamie
If your "rep"=the guy who sells you stuff I would take this with a grain of salt. It sounds to me like he's trying to sell you a $1000 clock to drive a $1000 interface (I think I have the prices right there). This makes less than no sense. Except for the guy selling it. I can only imagine the markup on clocks is HUGE.
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31st January 2009
Old 31st January 2009
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Why didn't digi put better clocks in the units to begin with, same thing with ADL, why do they put horrible tubes in the stock units ? just all to crazy. Someone always nickel and diming us.
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#19
31st January 2009
Old 31st January 2009
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Yes...

They can feel a difference.

We all can feel the difference between good sounding and bad sounding in my opinion.
Those of us who don't listen to audio for a living won't exactly know how to quantify it.... but the difference will be there in the end. period.
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#20
31st January 2009
Old 31st January 2009
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hi,

the clocking system in a digidesign 192 i/o is quite good. i don't know about their other devices.

i don't think you are really going to "improve" a 192 i/o by externally clocking it, unless you have figured out a way to bypass the phase locked loop.

simplistically put, the digidesign plll is going to take whatever clock you hand off to it, and treat it, and distribute it to the various channels in the interface.

when you "externally clock" a multichannel device, you are not plugging your external clock straight into the a to d chip[s], or anything like that. it goes through a whole bunch of routing and so forth. it has to be distributed.

you should generally use the internal clock on whatever device you are recording audio with, unless it is really a lousy piece of gear.



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