Santa Monica, CA, February 21, 2014 – Eric Sarafin, aka Mixerman, has an accomplished CV, having published three audio related music titles and having mixed recordings by top artists, including Ben Harper, Barenaked Ladies, Amy Grant and most recently, Foreigner — =which enlisted Mixerman’s signature talents on its newest Foreigner Live album. With all his diverse projects and interests, Sarafin is something of a renaissance man in the recording arts. Indeed, he is constantly pursuing the best possible audio quality in his own mixes, and has recently discovered the ultimate pairing of digital audio technology with Antelope Audio’s Orion32 multi-channel converter and its Isochrone 10M clock. Antelope caught up with Mixerman at the recent 2014 NAMM Show, where he discussed how this conversion and clocking combination has moved the dial ahead on digital audio.
This is the best sounding tour I’ve ever been a part of and we’ve been running really hard,” says Demetrius Henry, playback engineer for the Diamonds World Tour. “We didn’t think we could get our playback rig to sound any better, but the Orion³² interface has taken things to another level —the difference was like night and day.” Currently, the tour is running two Antelope Audio Orion³²s and a 10M atomic clock on playback, in addition to a Trinity | 10M combination at front of house (FOH). The Trinity | 10M combination, which is a favored selection among the world’s top mastering engineers, serves as the primary clocking duo for the entire production.
What devices need clocking?
In a simple system featuring one audio interface with built-in mic preamps connected to a computer-based DAW, the interface clocks the DAW since the most clock-critical element of the audio chain is the A/D converter, as that’s built in to the interface. If you were to add an external digital device to the equation (reverb, multi-effects processor etc), it should be configured to work as a clock slave to the interface.
Following that logic, even in bigger and more complex studios, it’s generally best to use an A/D as the master clock. If there’s more than one of these you’ll need to decide which one to use as the master, and everything else will have to be slaved to that. It’s quite possible that there will be audible differences between various configurations, because most A/Ds will perform slightly differently when configured as clock master and slave.
Why do we need clocks?
In order for an analog signal to be digitized, it must be sampled precisely and accurately in repeating intervals. The master clock provides that timing information and allows the waveform to be reconstructed as an analog signal correctly (assuming the sample rate is more than twice the highest frequency component of the audio signal being sampled). The clock identifies when each individual sample should be recorded or re-played (word clock).
If the clock timing varies, the audio samples will possibly be replayed or recorded at the wrong time resulting in sound distortion, jitter and aliasing. Jitter is the erroneous capture of a wave form over time. Although the apparent error to the clarity of the audio this creates there are other artifacts that maybe introduced with bad clocking.
Another type of clock is the ‘bit clock’. This is used in serial data interfaces like AES, S/PDIF and ADAT, where there is basically only one ‘conduit’ over which to pass the audio data. The bit clock ensures that the receiving device does not lose track of when each data bit stops and the next begins, eliminating the potential result in corrupted data values being received.
The team at Digital Encoding System near Paris, France, is working on a major and long-term job: transferring to high resolution digital, stereo masters and multi-track analog tapes of the greatest French artists since the 50’s such as Georges Brassens, Serge Gainsbourg, Barbara, Jacques Brel, Johnny Hallyday…
Santa Monica, CA, April 3, 2013 – Antelope Audio’s Orion32 interface, the world’s first 32-channel AD/DA converter and audio master clock in a 1U rack, will be the company’s flagship at the upcoming Musikmesse in Frankfurt, April 10 – 13, 2013. Antelope team will demonstrate exclusively the new and upgraded features of the audio interface which had become a best-seller in only 3 months after its launch, at Hall 5.1, Stand C74.
The mixer, elegantly integrated within the control panel, provides extremely low latency mix and monitoring that can be distributed using the control panel, allowing it to be routed from any output of the Orion32. For example one can drag all 32 USB play channels to the “mix channels” and then the MIX L/R inputs to DAC 1 and 2, providing a stereo bus mix to DAC channels 1 and 2. The Zero Latency Mixer provides the basic functions of a real mixer such as: Solo, Mute, Pan, Volume Level controlled by faders and a Master Fader, so one can easily make a stereo mix.
Here is an interview with Igor Levin published by Audio Times in 2012. Igor answers questions about some critical aspects of A/D and D/A converters and master clocks design.
Irrespective of the sampling rate, what are the really important elements within successful A/D and D/A converters designs?
About 20 years ago when I built my first D/A converter I had also to build a clock for it. At that time, clocks were not something that you just go out and buy. So I built my first clock for my first D/A converter. People liked the converter, but what they really appreciated was the clock. This was when I realized the importance of the stable clocking reference for digital audio.
I still believe the accurate clock is the basis for successful conversion. In fact as the chips get better and the circuit artifacts we struggled to overcome fall away, the significance of good clocking has come to the fore as never before. Today I would say it amounts to at least 75% of the overall sound. Of course there is a list of other important factors such as proper layout, stable power supply, the analog-based volume control etc.
Los Angeles, CA, August 21, 2012 — Korn shook up the nu metal world at the end of 2011 when the L.A.-based band released its tenth studio album, “Path of Totality,” featuring collaborations with a host of dubstep producers including multiple Grammy Award-winner Skrillex. Now, Korn frontman Jonathan Davis is doubling down on his recent statement that “North American dubstep is the new electronic heavy metal” through a side project, Killbot, and a solo project under his DJ name, J Devil, recording into a laptop on the road and in the studio using Antelope Audio’s new Eclipse 384 converter, master clock and monitor controller.
Davis recently added the Eclipse 384 mastering converter in order to streamline his mobile production rig after spotting it on the Antelope Audio web site. The 384 kHz A-to-D & D-to-A converter is clocked, using the same Oven Controlled Clock and 64-bit Acoustically Focused Clocking technology that is implemented in Antelope Audio’s renowned Trinity Master Clock. The Eclipse 384 offers additional features conducive to mobile production applications, including two dedicated headphone amplifiers and a custom USB interface as well as two large peak meters on the front panel. In order to simplify operation, users can create up to five custom presets of favorite setups via the system’s OS X- and Windows-compatible software control panel that may then be recalled from the Eclipse 384’s front panel.
by Robert Dugan, Sound Engineer
I‘ve personally used Antelope Audio in the Live Sound domain. At first, I was skeptical of how much clocking could really change the sound, especially since I was using a digital console. But after the unpacking and setting up, it was all ready to go within five minutes and, if I would have known how I was going to react, I would have prepared a little better.
Upon hearing Deftones “Digital Bath,” it seemed like the PA had come alive after sleeping for years. The drums were lifelike and it sounded like I was listening to the Deftones right in the rehearsal room. Immediately, I thought that the clock couldn’t be doing all of this, so I unplugged the BNC from console to Trinity. The sound seemed to escape and it reminded me of listening to the song through iPod headphones – thin and one road.
by Robert Dugan, Sound Engineer
The Importance of Clocking
Like it or not, the digital age is coming in full force, making every audiophile worried about quality being lost. This is why it’s best to educate audiophiles and consumers about the importance of clocking. I’ll try and make this easy to understand and straight to the point. When an analog signal is about to be converted to a digital signal, it is represented by bits that are representations of the analog waveform. When two points that are represented are slightly off, they create jitter – which is digital distortion.
Clocking can play a very important role during this process. With all these signals digitized, it’s important that the timing and space between every ‘bit’ are exactly the same (in sync), so the audio source has no jitter. This is where Clocking comes into play by synching all the audio signals.