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June 2017 Giveaway

Apogee Big Ben Review

Apogee’s Big Ben is an incredible addition to any professional digital recording studio. Anyone who is doing professional digital audio ranging from music, to foley and film should consider adding the Big Ben to their setup.

Apogee’s Big Ben is superior to other word clocks in many ways. While most clocks use a combination of analog and digital elements, Apogee uses Direct Digital Synthesis (DDS) with their C777 clock technology to maximize performance results. In order to minimize the amount of jitter, and optimize external clock performance, Big Ben uses a method called Adaptive Loop Filtering, or ALF. ALF is essentially a low pass filter that can take a jittery external clock, and improve upon it! In the event you should decide to sync the Big Ben up to another clock source, Apogee has installed it’s new Sure Lock system. The Sure Lock system will cause the Big Ben to continue to generate word clock at the last detected frequency rate to other devices in the event that the master clock should fail.

I recently used the Big Ben on a session in my project studio, which has a Digi 002 rack at it’s heart. To sync the 002 up to the Big Ben, I attached Big Ben to a Digimax LT lightpipe preamp, slaved the Digimax LT to the Big Ben, and then Pro Tools to the lightpipe input for clocking. As soon as I hit play, I immediately noticed a remarkable difference. Even on program material that was recorded without the Big Ben! The reason for this is that a word clock not only effects the A/D process, but the D/A process as well. Both conversion points are victims of jitter, and you would not believe how much this clock can improve your D/A performance. The largest, most obvious improvements were in the Low end. Suddenly, the bass guitar in the mix had increased, sharp, and accurate detail. The low notes no longer seemed to flub around. No more mud! It was as though I added a new pair of studio monitors to my set up. The next improvement I noticed was in the stereo imaging. Panned instruments seemed to be more realistically placed in the stereo field. There was an increased amount of both depth and space.

The results on the A/D process were just as impressive. I had a bass player, and electric guitar player come in from a country style group for the session. The bass guitar had even greater results when recorded with the Big Ben engaged. The electric guitar had an increased amount of detail, compared to the results that I usually get from my setup, especially with the room mics. The room sounded larger than ever, and it wasn’t due to artificial mik’ing techniques.

I never thought adding something like a word clock to a system would show such positive results, but I must say I have a new outlook on digital recording. I felt like I had a newly upgraded Pro Tools rig in just minutes. I would advise anyone looking for an increased amount of detail from their already existing equipment to go meet Big Ben today!

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