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Apogee Big Ben -Anyone have one?
Old 4th November 2003
  #1
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Apogee Big Ben -Anyone have one?

I am interested in buying a Apogee Big Ben. Does anyone have one or compared it to the Nano sync or Ardvark. I here it is the best clock on the market. I am doing digital transfers so I need the lowest jitter. I want my final mix from my mixing board to my computer to be exactly the same and not loose anything. thanks
Old 4th November 2003
  #2
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I've said it before - LOVE the Big Ben - improved the sound of my rig, vari-speed, silent (no fans), supports multiples of the master sample rate (multitrack at 48k and 2 track mix at 96k, both clocked by Big Ben at the same time).

Did I mention it sounds great?

(I think it is cheaper than the Ardsync - dk about the Nano.)

Sigh....H
Old 4th November 2003
  #3
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The MPCist's Avatar
 

Got one here too. Really good. Improved my PT HD sound a bit and looks cool as well.
Old 4th November 2003
  #4
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MPCist,

Did you do a double-blind before-after test?
With some kind of repeatable source audio?
Did others concurr with your findings?

What, specifically, was improved? Resolutiom, smoothness, bass???

I ask because I have done these tests with the Aardsync and found the sound got slightly WORSE.

The Big Ben is an amazing clock, so maybe, but please provide some details. I gotsta' know!
Old 4th November 2003
  #5
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The MPCist's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by speerchucker
MPCist,

Did you do a double-blind before-after test?
With some kind of repeatable source audio?
Did others concurr with your findings?

What, specifically, was improved? Resolutiom, smoothness, bass???

I ask because I have done these tests with the Aardsync and found the sound got slightly WORSE.

The Big Ben is an amazing clock, so maybe, but please provide some details. I gotsta' know!
Didn't do an A/B test. But the sessions I had previously worked on sounded alot better with it. I've noticed that music does sound a bit 'narrow' (for lack of a better word) when I switch to Internal Clock (PT HD) so I guess the Big Ben is doig some good...

I bought it mainly because I had too much digital equipment to hook up and needed something to provide clock.
Old 5th November 2003
  #6
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chap's Avatar
 

have it, love it!
A short time ago, I had a power surge during some odd weather.
Despite my expensive equitek, some synths and the odd piece of gear shut down. Big Ben continued to clock and allowed PT to remain in record without a blip.
Sounds great, varispeed is like the good ole' days.
chap
Old 5th November 2003
  #7
Gear Addict
 

I am a new member and this is my 1st post. I have just bought the Big Ben and Apogee's claimes are true. I hear a better top end and a softer, less "digital harshness" in my music. More 3 dimensional, more spacious sound. It kind of sounds like super duper analog! It was subtle but it was there. I think when you get to the upper crust gear it is subtle differences that you hear and you need to have abit more sophisticated ears to get off on the changes in the sound. I'm really glad I bought it because I know that all these steps that I'm doing will add up to stellar, world class sound in the end. It is a must purchase on the road to musical nirvana! I was looking at the Aardvark and heard from a respected friend that it was real good but the features of the Big Ben looked great and I went with that in the end.
Now I have to figure out how to hook up my CDRW. Has anyone hooked up a CD-RW700 or something similar, to the Big Ben? It has spdf in and out and so does the Big Ben. What gets hooked up to what. Will the Big Ben clock the CD-RW700 when I'm just listening to CD's or will it clock the CD-RW700 only when I'm recording audio to it? So far, listening to a CD thru my MOTU 308, I'm still hearing those annoying, faint little clicks every few seconds. Thanks in advance for your info

Sincerely,
Robert Sands
Old 15th November 2003
  #8
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Zep Dude's Avatar
 

I've been evaluating the Big Ben compared to my Aardsync II. Functionally, the Big Ben is awsome -all those lights and things! I'd love to have one here and replace my aging Aardsync II (owning digital gear to me is like playing hot potato -I get nervous if I hold on to something too long). Sonically, I keep leaning back towards the Aardsync, however. This darn box is becoming like the Neve of digital -no matter what else comes out with supposedly better specs and how old it gets I still find myself loving its musicality. It makes digital the most listenable for me.

The Big Ben tends to let the converters sound the way they want to sound whereas the Aardsync lends it's own sound to whatever it touches -and yet I always prefer that sound (kind of like a.....Neve).

Apogee's phrase for the Big Ben, "unmeasurable jitter" turns me on almost as much as the words, "Paris Hilton Sex Video," but ultimately, neither seem to be as exciting as the hype.
Old 15th November 2003
  #9
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Zep Dude's Avatar
 

Quote:
I ask because I have done these tests with the Aardsync and found the sound got slightly WORSE.
Speerchucker, perhaps there was something flawed in your testing conditions? You're the first person I've ever heard say that the Aardsync degraded the sound. If you get the chance, give it another shot and live with it a little. Maybe you just got so used to the sound of your converters that you reacted negatively to the change. Well, I don't want to get into evangelizing, you're certainly entitled to your opinion
Old 15th November 2003
  #10
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cashewcupcake's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by chap
have it, love it!
A short time ago, I had a power surge during some odd weather.
Despite my expensive equitek, some synths and the odd piece of gear shut down. Big Ben continued to clock and allowed PT to remain in record without a blip.
Sounds great, varispeed is like the good ole' days.
chap
Wow that power surge musta been real huge. When I get any surges or dropouts, everything in the studio is fine- that's on my equitech.
Old 17th November 2003
  #11
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chap's Avatar
 

sure was

Actually, it was pretty strange. With 60+mph winds
just outside, I would generally keep an eye out but I had a PBS due date that was far more threatening.

The lights dimmed, 2 synths went off. I've never seen the Equitek challenged but there were outages around us. Go figure. Made the deadline.
chap
Old 17th November 2003
  #12
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tommyd's Avatar
 

On the question of clocking..............
This thread interests me as I have 2 192 I/O's and a Sync I/O clocked via Digi's "loop sync" scheme. I was wondering if anyone has done tests using an external "master clock" device (Big Ben, etc.) to distribute clock to this sort of setup, bypassing loop sync. Any improvement to be had? I'd love to test this out but can't get my hands on a high end clock localy.grudge
Tommy
Old 17th November 2003
  #13
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I'm interested in the big ben too. Thinking of trying one on my 192's.

J
Old 17th November 2003
  #14
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Zep Dude
Speerchucker, perhaps there was something flawed in your testing conditions? You're the first person I've ever heard say that the Aardsync degraded the sound.
I agree with SC's assessment. I've used several different units, several times, in several different listening environments, including a great mastering suite, and have been disappointed everytime. The Aardsync is emperor's clothes to me. Just another case of my results differing from the 'norm'.
Old 17th November 2003
  #15
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Glad to see someone agree! I get a lot of resistance about this, but you'd be surprised how many people adamantly defend some external clock, without ever having done an actually blind A-B test.

The Aardsync made a noticeable difference in the older digi converters, because their clocks sucked. however, the Digi 192's clock is really pretty good.

Here's the basic deal: Any good converter will sound better running off of it's own internal crystal, rather than running off of an external clock, becuase the pll causes as many problems as it solves. This is universally agreed upon by every ADC designer I've talked with. I've even seen graphs of the 192 clocked internally and to both the aardsyn and the Rosendahl. Internal clock had the lowest jitter. (note: that test was with JUST a 192. I'm not sure what happens when you put a 192-Digital in the loop with it.)

If you purchased a fancy external clock, and are now "convinced" that your converter sounds better, but you haven't actually done a double-blind test with a bunch of other engineers, then you're waisting my time! (no offense)

It would take a REALLY good clock to make the 192 sound better. The Big Ben might actually do it. we shall see. I plan on getting one w/ a money-back guarantee. The problem is that I've sold my analog multitrack, so setting up a good test will now be very difficult.

Sly, if you beat me to it, please let us know what you find.
Old 17th November 2003
  #16
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I certainly will but I think its unlikely.

I think you're absolutely right in suggesting that a properly set up blind test is the way to decide whether something is better or not without any other perceptual factors treading on the real issues. But this takes thought and time, and at the moment I have neither. This issue, for me, is starting to step firmly into the realms of distraction. I bought my 192's because I liked them, and the fact that something may or may not exist to make them sound a bit better can not change the fact that they basically sound good. They may not be the best out there, but I think someones not happy with their sound, the 192 is not going to be the problem. I need to stop getting distracted by this kind of stuff.

I'll probably buy one. That should focus things nicely.

J
Old 17th November 2003
  #17
Gear Head
 

e-cue, speerchucker,

thanks for your critical and realistical statements. Good to see that some guys are able to think individually and not reproducing what mostly is written.

Regards, Chris.
Old 17th November 2003
  #18
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Anyone care to comment in depth about the vari-speeding with the big ben unit? I have a very popular producer that drives me crazy with VSOing at the end of my mixes.

Also, would it be possible to varispeed with the unit on the fly? Like, if I wanted a song to gradually speed up or slow down.

This is the main reason I'm looking into getting a unit.
Old 17th November 2003
  #19
Quote:
Originally posted by speerchucker
Glad to see someone agree! I get a lot of resistance about this, but you'd be surprised how many people adamantly defend some external clock, without ever having done an actually blind A-B test.

The Aardsync made a noticeable difference in the older digi converters, because their clocks sucked. however, the Digi 192's clock is really pretty good.

Here's the basic deal: Any good converter will sound better running off of it's own internal crystal, rather than running off of an external clock, becuase the pll causes as many problems as it solves. This is universally agreed upon by every ADC designer I've talked with. I've even seen graphs of the 192 clocked internally and to both the aardsyn and the Rosendahl. Internal clock had the lowest jitter. (note: that test was with JUST a 192. I'm not sure what happens when you put a 192-Digital in the loop with it.)

If you purchased a fancy external clock, and are now "convinced" that your converter sounds better, but you haven't actually done a double-blind test with a bunch of other engineers, then you're waisting my time! (no offense)

It would take a REALLY good clock to make the 192 sound better. The Big Ben might actually do it. we shall see. I plan on getting one w/ a money-back guarantee. The problem is that I've sold my analog multitrack, so setting up a good test will now be very difficult.

Sly, if you beat me to it, please let us know what you find.
Different forms of jitter give off different colors to your digital tracks.

I've heard Digi's argument before about their's being the lowest jitter.

But the 192's sound better when clocked externally(I've clocked it them to a Hedd 192 and it was very noticeable).

I haven't tried the Big ben yet so i can't comment on it.
Old 18th November 2003
  #20
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
I've heard Digi's argument before about their's being the lowest jitter.
When I've heard this arguement from digi, they said "when clocked internally". When I brought up the USD, they quickly changed the subject.
Old 18th November 2003
  #21
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tommyd's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by e-cue
When I've heard this arguement from digi, they said "when clocked internally". When I brought up the USD, they quickly changed the subject.
Could you expand on this a bit? Is this to say that having a USD in the stew could / can / does contribute to jitter?
and can I expect the same with the configuration I mentioned above? (2 192 I/O's and SYNC I/O connected via loop sync)
I vaguely remember reading mumblings in the past that support your statement about the 192's sounding better with a good external clock source. Guess I'm going to have to dig one up to try it myself.
TOmmy

Anybody spare a Big Ben? Ardsync, etc?
Old 18th November 2003
  #22
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally posted by e-cue
Also, would it be possible to varispeed with the unit on the fly? Like, if I wanted a song to gradually speed up or slow down.
e-cue,

what do you need to do exactly? Do you want to change the speed gradually by enter different varispeed values by yourself or should the unit do this automatically? Or do you need this function, e.g. controlled by a sequencer? Should the unit be referenced external or internal when doing varispeed?

Regards, Chris.
Old 18th November 2003
  #23
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quote: "would it be possible to varispeed with the unit on the fly? Like, if I wanted a song to gradually speed up or slow down."

ex-cue:

You can only use a clock for vari-speed duringG MIXDOWN if you're mixing analog. No chance with BTD. Of course, as with analog tape, this will also change the pitch. It might be preferrable to use Serrato or the like, in conjunction with an automation window. (Easy in PT.)
Old 18th November 2003
  #24
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Thrillfactor wrote:

"Different forms of jitter give off different colors to your digital tracks."

-That's probably true, as jitter is rarely even across the audible spectrum. The Digi 192, for instance, has it's highest crest in the LF range (probably a good thing.) So, yes, I can see the logic in this. However, at the level we're discussing, it's only VERY low levels of sideband distortion. still interesting, and might explain the differences between Rosendahl and Aardvark.
-----------------------------------------------

"I've clocked (the digi 192) to a Hedd 192 and it was very noticeable."

I hate to beat the same old drum, but please let me know when you've done a careful double-blind test. I've actually tested a person's ability to judge differences, with and without blind testing. You'd be AMAZED what you will hear when you have a pre-disposed preference. This is well-documented scientific phenomenon.

I've emailed quite a few people over the last year who posted of hearing improvements with various clocks. Not one of them told me that they did any testing at all. NOT ONE. Responses like: "I can just tell..." "It was really obvious..."
Yeah, ok, later.....

It's practically urban myth at this point.

You should also be aware that there is a theoretical point, agreed upon by most ADC designers, below which the amount of jitter is not significant: At a certain point, the sideband distortion is no longer decernable to the human ear. Many current converters have already reached that point, and the digi 192 is VERY close, just on the side of audibility, if you can believe the graphs I've seen. (and they were done independantly, NOT by Digidesign.) Even though there are many other significant factors that affect the sound of a converter, this is the ONLY factor that an external clock can possibly affect. As the amount of distortion is almost inperceptable already, I can't see how differences with ANY clock would be "very noticeable." They would be hard enough to hear even when A-B'ing back and forth within a second of each other.

That's the way it is, don't blame me. Given today's technology, jitter is becoming a non-issue. other factors, such as filters and analog circuits, of much more important in differentiating converters.

If you need to sync to an external clock for house-sync, etc, then of course it's a completely different ballgame.

I'm definitely NOT defending the Digi box, in fact I'm not all that crazy about it, but I don't think the clock is the main problem, and I know absolutely that the Aardvark is not an answer, both from graphic read-outs and from double-blind testing.

-And, oh yeah, every ADC designer I talked to said the same thing about their own units: No external clock will sound as good as their converter running off it's internal crystal. That includes DCS, Lavry, Prism, etc. I guess they could all be wrong, but somehow I doubt it.

I'd LOVE to hear definite, concrete scientific results of A-B tests with the Hedd clock and the Big Ben. No-one would be mhappier than me if a reasonably-priced improvement can be had.
Old 18th November 2003
  #25
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Zep Dude's Avatar
 

I don't post an opinion unless I've done the test to back it up. I tested the Aardsync soon after purchasing my HD system, in hopes of being able to sell it. The test was double blind, with the switcher in another room unaware of what she was switching between.

Unlike with the Mix+ system the differences were not night and day, but were still enough that I picked the Aardsync every time.

There are respected people who will tell you never to leave digital once you're in it, that an internal clock is usually better than an external, and that an external clock will have no effect on their unit. I have had great success in breaking all of these rules, often.
Old 18th November 2003
  #26
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by tommyd
Could you expand on this a bit? Is this to say that having a USD in the stew could / can / does contribute to jitter?
and can I expect the same with the configuration I mentioned above? (2 192 I/O's and SYNC I/O connected via loop sync)
Yeah, what I got from my convo with digi was that the USD was not jitter immune, although they didn't come right out and say it. I don't have as much experience with the SYNC box as I'm sure most here, but my impressions are that the unit sounds damn good.

Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Peters
e-cue,

what do you need to do exactly? Do you want to change the speed gradually by enter different varispeed values by yourself or should the unit do this automatically? Or do you need this function, e.g. controlled by a sequencer? Should the unit be referenced external or internal when doing varispeed?

Regards, Chris.
Usually, I just need to change the tempo of the song (yeah, I know, what about the pitch...) It would be cool to control the VariSpeed rate via sequencer, but I wasn't really expecting it. I was just thinking about vso'ing like you would a tape machine via a jogwheel.

Quote:
Originally posted by speerchucker
quote: "would it be possible to varispeed with the unit on the fly? Like, if I wanted a song to gradually speed up or slow down."

ex-cue:

You can only use a clock for vari-speed duringG MIXDOWN if you're mixing analog. No chance with BTD. Of course, as with analog tape, this will also change the pitch. It might be preferrable to use Serrato or the like, in conjunction with an automation window. (Easy in PT.)
Sorry if this is a stupid question but, what's "BTD"?

The Serrato solution hasn't really satisfied me, mainly because the way it sound 'best' to me is to do it across the final mix, not individual channels. Even then, it still get's funky, and you can't help but hang your head when you hear the mix you worked on so hard derogate into a loose, mp3ish top ended in some spots, tempo jerky, lump of disappointment.

Not that the Big Ben will correct these issues, but it would allow me to quickly audition a tempo change. A label almost screwed me out payment for a mix I did recently because they wanted to change the tempo of the track we worked on- the 1st single as a matter a fact. They claimed my mix was incomplete because they wanted it speed up after the fact, but that's a story for the 'moan zone'.
Old 18th November 2003
  #27
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Ruphus's Avatar
 

BTD= bounce to disc

Ruphus
Old 18th November 2003
  #28
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Zep Dude, thanks. that's what I wanted to hear.

Even though your results differ from mine, at least they have some substance behind them. Good to know.

I still stand behind my opinion (and about six other AE's who participated) but perhaps differences can be found with different source material.
Old 18th November 2003
  #29
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wolfhound's Avatar
 

I apologize if this is a stupid question, but I thought the main point of having a master clock was to make sure that all your various digital devices in your studio (FX, DATs, Interfaces, Consoles) were referencing to the same clock, and that the audible improvements were made where digital signals were being exchanged? Kind of like blackburst in a video facility. I see why there'd be an affect on the sound of your ADs, but never thought that was the main reason for installing a master clock source.

Old 18th November 2003
  #30
Quote:
Originally posted by speerchucker
"I've clocked (the digi 192) to a Hedd 192 and it was very noticeable."

I hate to beat the same old drum, but please let me know when you've done a careful double-blind test. I've actually tested a person's ability to judge differences, with and without blind testing. You'd be AMAZED what you will hear when you have a pre-disposed preference. This is well-documented scientific phenomenon.

.
Hey Speer,

If you like we can set up a test here in NYC and you can test me to see if i hear the differences.

I've done test a bunch of times and there is a difference between the HD192 clocked internally,Sync I/O and externally.

I have no bias whatsoever(especially since I sold my Aardvarc before I bought the 192 interfaces hoping i didn't need them).

Hey the boxes sound good without external clocking. They just sound a "bit" better when clocked externally(Hedd 192).

Now does the "bit" justify the price of the Big Ben?

That's fo the user to decide.

My opinion is yeah it does if it gives you that extra "sound edge" you need on your tracks.

But that's my opinion.
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