Grimm Audio CC1 Word Clock Sync Generator and Distributor Review

May 1, 2012 9:00 AM, By Erik Zobler

HIGH-STABILITY WORD CLOCK AND DISTRIBUTOR

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With Pro Tools set back to its internal clock, I lined up all the tracks and with the help of my assistant, did some blind listening tests. I had her play a section of the song, each time playing back one of the differently clocked recordings. Then we selected a different section of the song and she randomized the order of playback. After each set of playbacks, we noted which one I preferred. Four out of six times I chose the Grimm. My criteria was to pick the playback that I liked best, that sounded the cleanest and the closest to how I remembered the original recording.

This type of listening is extremely difficult. The differences, especially after being played back through my DAW (passing through the Pro Tools audio engine once again), were very subtle. It was very easy to go into a type of information overload to the point where I had to take a break to give my ears a rest. Yet I was definitely hearing differences between the clocks. Of course a “slam dunk” would have been if I had picked the Grimm all six times, but I think it was statistically significant that while listening blind, I chose the CC1 four times and the BLA/RAE and Apogee clock once each. Once again, the word “solid” or “defined” seemed to be the best way to describe how I perceived the effect of the CC1.

As another test with these recordings, I listened for the effects these different clocks had on the playback. Using the stock Avid 192, I would play a selection, stop, change clock sources, wait a bit for the PLLs to settle, and then listen. I preferred the CC1 to the other three choices, although I must admit, I did not do blind tests. Finally, I repeated this test using the FM192. I didn’t know what to expect with this test because I love the sound of my FM192 set to its internal clock. This test was almost a toss-up. They both sounded good, but again I felt the CC1 gave a slight improvement.

In addition to the 16 BNC outputs, the CC1 has an AES input and output. It can be used to re-clock (and de-jitter) the source at the AES input. This is a very useful feature of the CC1, especially when used to drive a DAC that has no word clock input. I use a DEQX HDP-3 as my monitor controller. It is a digital EQ and Crossover with multiple DACs driving each component of my speaker system. Normally I just run an AES output from one of my 192s into the DEQX. When I inserted the CC1’s AES into that monitor chain, I noticed that the sound was smoother and more “silky.”

IS IT GRIMM TIME?
The CC1 is a brilliantly designed piece of equipment. Every piece of gear that I plugged into it sounded better and more natural. The word I keep coming back to describe its effect is “solid.” It is one of those pieces of gear that has a price tag that can scare you, but when you hear it, you have to have it.

Erik Zobler is an L.A.-based audio engineer.

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