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Will a Apogee Big Ben Improve the Sound of an Apogee Ensemble?
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GrindJazz
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12th December 2008
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Will a Apogee Big Ben Improve the Sound of an Apogee Ensemble?

is there Big difference in sound quality?
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12th December 2008
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I'd be concerned if you can't get a good sound out of the ensemble by itself

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12th December 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by narco View Post
I'd be concerned if you can't get a good sound out of the ensemble by itself
thumbsup

Perfect.

Thread over.

ns
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I get a great sound, but I do hear pop and clicks sometimes I understand the big ben will help with that. I was wondering has anybody tried the combination? Does the Big ben clock much better then the Ensemble's and Rosetta's Intelliclock? or is it just slight difference when paired up?
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I once met a buffer named low-ie .... ?
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Your money is better spent on mics or pres at the level of the ensemble
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13th December 2008
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Latency

Your latency is set too low for your system. It could be a plug in issue.
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13th December 2008
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If you dont like the sound of your converters buy new converters. If you want a great clock, buy a big ben.
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13th December 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrindJazz View Post
I get a great sound, but I do hear pop and clicks sometimes I understand the big ben will help with that. I was wondering has anybody tried the combination? Does the Big ben clock much better then the Ensemble's and Rosetta's Intelliclock? or is it just slight difference when paired up?
You've got a setup issue - if you can't get a working signal with just the ensemble, you're likely to give yourself further headaches by adding an external clock to the system.

Throwing money at something rarely solves the problem. Work on getting your current setup going first.

The big ben is designed for multi-converter systems (usually in larger studios). It's not really needed if all you're using is an Ensemble.

Whoever told you to get a big ben is either trying to take your money, or doesn't have the first clue about digital audio themselves.
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13th December 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir.Audio View Post
I once met a buffer named low-ie .... ?
Exactly that. There will never be a clocking issue like that when there is only one converter in use. These issues are almost always because the transfer format [FW] and Computer/DAW Software [or hard drive] marriage is not optimized for the intended applications. There are far more reasons why that error occurs with a single box on the system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrindJazz
Will a Apogee Big Ben Improve the Sound of an Apogee Ensemble?
is there Big difference in sound quality?
Here's the deal;

The C777 is a better clock to my ear. The Dual Stage Clock in these boxes, is very, very good. Don't get me wrong!! Apogee makes a very high quality product and the Inteli-Clock is a wonderful design. I think its fair to say; the C777 is a BETTER clock, and, to my ear, it does change the sound of the Ensemble and Rosetta Series converters. When clocking the Ensemble with the BB or AD/DA16x; the bottom is brought up, and there is more detail in the harmonic content. There is a certain amount of HF rounding or simply, the top seems smoother; high hats/upper register vocals/loud guitars IE upper midrange instrumentation, doesn't seem to need any EQ notching surgery to "de-shrill" the transients, from the "spit" they might produce. Things are tightened up. The stereo image may also be perceived as "bigger" or broader, which might again have a lot to do with distortion. Its NOT life changing, nor is it NECESSARY with a single converter to getting results in your room, but to my ear it DOES change the composition and harmonic content [also known as TONE] of the audio being encoded, and then decoded back analog signal, by a percentage.

Good or bad is all up to you. I've heard it "making a difference" with many sets of converter rigs. I think; if its worth it or not, is always going to be completely end user definable. You've really got to try this device with your equipment, and work with it under real world applications, and see if it matters to you. I agree that it might be better [as technically defined] to simply spend your money on a better converter, that has a better internal clock, as well as a better analog circuit, [like the AD16x], but we are all different, [subjectively] and what we all consider "better" is individualized by your ear [I think], so the only way to truly figure this out is to plug in, X Clock to Y Converter/Effects Box/Multi-track/Digital Console/2-track CD/DAT Recorder, listen and move on. There are countless threads about the argument and/or discussion about the Gearslutz induced proliferation of thinking about external clock as a "sound processor", rather than a "timing accuracy tool for digital audio"......... It does seem, we all keep saying the same thing in different ways.
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13th December 2008
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are you recording to an external hard drive? and if so, is that hard drive plugged into a port on your computer? when i first got my ensemble i had issues with clicks and after toiling with it i finally called apogee and they recommended i plug my external straight into the ensemble's remaining firewire port instead of the computer. haven't had a click or pop since!
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My setup is Apogee Ensemble running into Imac G5 Core Duo 2.0GHZ/2GB ram with of coarse Logic Pro 8 as my main DAW. All the ports (Firewire & USB) on the back of my computer are being used for external hard drives (not for recording though), and midi controllers (Akai MPK49). My buffer within logic is set to 256. But I notice that some of my sessions will get either some clicks and pops occasionally, or the commonly "system overload warning" It just plays at snail pace, I understand that it has to do plugins and buffer setting, and my CPU not being able to handle it all. What would be the best buffer setting with my system that will still give me the lowest latency possible? Doesn't the Big ben help those who have alot of devices attached to there computer and keep things running smooth?
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14th December 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrindJazz View Post
Doesn't the Big ben help those who have alot of devices attached to there computer and keep things running smooth?
No, it is simply a Master Clock. It does not have anything to do with your computer in this regard. It lines up the clocking in all of your digital devices, and even though your computer is also a digital device, it has nothing to do with what your asking.

My advice is to evaluate your setup, and each component in the setup, to make sure your setup, is configured correctly, and optimized for what you are trying to do with it. I would suggest this evaluation should start with your Hard drive setup, as well doing any updates that need to be done, with either Logic, or any hardware on the system.
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14th December 2008
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thumbsup BIG BEN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrindJazz View Post
Doesn't the Big ben help those who have alot of devices attached to there computer and keep things running smooth?
No. A Master Clock helps those who have multiple digital audio devices in their studio that need to connect to one another via AES/EBU, SPDIF, TDIF, Lightpipe, etc etc.
Those devices might be multiple audio interfaces, digital effects boxes, digital routers, digital mixers, recorders, etc. This has nothing to do with computer periperals or the computers themselves.

Also, study up on phase-locked-loop (PLL) and jitter when externally clocking any digital device. It's quite enlightening.
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15th December 2008
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Thanks!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
You've got a setup issue - if you can't get a working signal with just the ensemble, you're likely to give yourself further headaches by adding an external clock to the system.

Throwing money at something rarely solves the problem. Work on getting your current setup going first.

The big ben is designed for multi-converter systems (usually in larger studios). It's not really needed if all you're using is an Ensemble.

Whoever told you to get a big ben is either trying to take your money, or doesn't have the first clue about digital audio themselves.
+∞ thumbsupthumbsupthumbsup
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8th May 2010
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Are there people who would actually recommend someone spending over a $1000 to "improve" the sound of an $1800 converter which is the only digital audio device in the setup?
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8th May 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johns View Post
Are there people who would actually recommend someone spending over a $1000 to "improve" the sound of an $1800 converter which is the only digital audio device in the setup?
It's pretty crazy isn't it?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ASG View Post
A BB would definitely way improve and Ensemble but personally I would save my money and get a Prism Orpheus sell the the Ensemble be way ahead aurally and not that much lighter in the pocket.

Orpheus Recording Interface Home Page
"way improve"? "way ahead"?! hmm, ever hear about a thing called "the law of diminishing returns"?

Here, I'll fix that for you:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ASG View Post
A BB might subjectively change the sound of Ensemble (possibly to your liking) but personally I would save my money, get a Prism Orpheus, and sell the the Ensemble. You'll have what some say to be a slightly truer sound and not that much lighter in the pocket.

Orpheus Recording Interface Home Page
Much less hyped, much more realistic.

Alternatively, making sure your acoustics are up to scratch is likely to have a much more significant affect than a BB or Orpheus upgrade to an already fine converter like the Ensemble. But that's not as exciting is it?
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8th May 2010
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I had a rosetta and the big ben did improve the sound.
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psycho_monkey, I agree with you every word!

Nigel, that is WAY too vague and misleading. What is your setup?

The only time BB will improve the sound on any given setup comprised on only 1 converter, is when layering multiple tracks. That is, the clock jitters less so the tracks go in tighter...


But c'mon! any pro card will handle this well enough, if not extremely well. Use different length cable on a drum setup and you're throwing BB money down the drain.

Prioritize!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big_Bang View Post
psycho_monkey, I agree with you every word!

Nigel, that is WAY too vague and misleading. What is your setup?

The only time BB will improve the sound on any given setup comprised on only 1 converter, is when layering multiple tracks. That is, the clock jitters less so the tracks go in tighter...


But c'mon! any pro card will handle this well enough, if not extremely well. Use different length cable on a drum setup and you're throwing BB money down the drain.

Prioritize!
I am only saying when I had a rosetta as my converters a big ben made it sound better ( a lot of others have had the same experience). I dont worry anymore as I am in metric halo heaven!
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I have an Ensemble and a Big Ben which is left over from when my Protools HD system was stolen out of my studio.

I bought the Ensemble as a temporary replacement for the Protools system to keep working on my original music (heavy rock).

I have experimented extensively with the Ensemble with and without the Big Ben and could tell no meaningful difference.

I also experimented with the Ensemble and an ADA8000 interface connected by light-pipe to the Ensemble, with and without the Big Ben as a clock source. I ran 24 bit at 44.1 in these tests using premium low impedance BNC interconnects.

IMHO I could detect no meaningful difference with the Big Ben in any of these setups. My monitors are Meyer HD-1 and my mixer is a Neve 8816.

These are just my opinions, not meant as science.

Best of luck and good music to all.
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8th May 2010
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Hi, I have recently tried this myself in real life, not just theoretically.

The ensemble clocked with big ben did sound slightly different. Perhaps slightly better, hard to tell.
The difference was very very VERY small and certainly not worth the price of a big ben!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrindJazz View Post
is there Big difference in sound quality?
There seems to be much confusion and misunderstanding about how clocking and particularly syncing to external clock sources works -- much of it driven by a marketing campaign from a certain clock and converter maker.

In a standalone converter, the clock is derived from a crystal 'tuned' to a certain mass (which will therefore vibrate at a certain frequency). Since such tuning (also called shaving sometimes) is a physical process and some imprecision, no matter how small, is inevitable, no two crystals will 'beat' at exactly the same frequency.

For that reason, if you're trying to use multiple converters simultaneously you must sync their clocks, with a single master and the rest slaved to it.

A converter that has a clock input will therefore have to have a phase locked loop circuit built in that can accept the incoming master clock and use the PLL to continually attempt to chase and lock to the external clock signal.

This sync process is actually much more dificult than simply deriving clock internally -- so the oft-promoted notion that you can "improve" a given converter by supplying supposedly superior clock signal from an outside source is extremely unlikely.

Here's converter design guru Dan Lavry explaining the issue quite pointedly:
Quote:
The only "possible argument" I ever heard in favor of external clocking is that the AD had a poor internal clock. I pointed out that this argument is unlikely, and here is why:

In order for the argument to stand, one will first have to find an AD with TWO clocks.
1. A poor fixed frequency internal clock oscillator circuit for internal clocking.
2. A better quality variable clock oscillator circuit for external clocking.

It is unlikely that the same designer would use a poor clock for a fixed frequency internal operation, and a better variable clock for external. A fixed crystal is inherently more stable then a pullable frequency oscillator.

But even if that extremely unlikely assumption were to take place, when using external clocking, other factors come into play, and I did mention them. There is the additional PLL circuitry, a cable with termination tolerance, separate grounding between clock and AD and more.

Take a good clock circuit and connect it with a reasonably short and direct path to an AD. This is the best you can ask for. The whole notion that the SAME clock circuit is a better4 clock just because it is in another chassis, further away is bogus! So even conceptually there is no reason to accept that external clocking is better. Add to it the real life factors (PLL, cable, termination, grounding…) and the argument really falls apart.

Given the above, and much more that I already stated in past posts here and elsewhere, it is sad to see so many people fall for BS that serves commercial interests at the expanse of audio quality. I am not against external clocking when it is needed. I too provide external clocking capabilities, and I do my best to make external clocking be as near as possible in quality to my internal clocking. But that is very different then claims that external clocking is better then internal.

Sadly, arguments such as “try it, you will like it” often trump principles of physics and iron clad logic. Converter technology is very complex and demanding. Clocks are a low tech technology relatively to converters. If your conversion is not good enough, get a better converter, not an external clock to drive a lesser converter.

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Dan Lavry
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Will clocking MOTU 828 mkI to Mytek Stereo192 improve DA of 828?
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No.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nogod View Post
is this item still for sale? thx.ross.
Apogee Big Ben 192k Master Digital Clock | Musician's Friend


Do yourself a favor. Don't read the marketing prose in the literature. Apogee ran a series of adverts with celebrity endorsers talking about how the Big Ben "improved" the sound of their converters, implying that slaving a given converter to a Big Ben would somehow "improve" its clocking. Sadly, as noted above in Dan Lavry's explanation, it is very unlikely indeed that slaving to an external clock (when it's not necessary, ie, when using only one converter at a time as opposed to multiple converters which must have a central master clock, whether its that of one of the converters or an external clock) will do anything but likely increase jitter in that converter's operation.

So many people (in places like this forum) have insisted that slaving to a Big Ben or other external clock "improved" their sound as they perceive it that several people, including Lavry, have suggested that the second most likely explanation (after cognitive distortion) is that these folks may actually prefer the degraded accuracy caused by increased jitter.

Here is an article that not just explains the issues but then supplies concrete real world measurements that underline the realities of using external clocking -- all but one of the converters they tested had increased jitter when slaved to an external master. And the remaining converter (a super high end one with excellent jitter correction) simply maintained the very low jitter of its standalone operation.

Does Your Studio Need A Digital Master Clock?
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