I have been wanting to audition a master clock for sometime now and finally had both the opportunity and reason to do so. November was a busy month at my studio with mostly digital sessions, giving us ample opportunity to test this clock out. The big question on my mind, as I'd heard a lot of comments both pro and con regarding clocks, was would it make an audible difference; and if so, would it sound "better"? The half rack unit is simple: one clock input and six clock outputs, all on BNC connectors, and a switch to choose the sample rate (44.1, 48, 88.2, or 96k).
The best way to review this is to briefly review the situations we used it in. Its first go out was in Eric Broyhill's Monster Lab mastering room where we used it to clock a Waves L2 and then a Metric Halo Mobile I/O on a session that engineer Pat Olguin of Velvetone studios brought in. As Eric switched between internal and external clocks on the L2, the difference was not at all subtle. The top end and imaging was vastly improved when clocked from the Lucid. "Damn, I have to buy one of these," remarked Eric. "I'm not doing my best work if I don't." The next go out was at Pus Cavern studios where Eric and owner/engineer Joe Johnston used the Lucid to clock their MOTU 1296 converters. I wasn't around, but Eric reported a similar improvement in this case as well. "I can monitor louder without hurting my ears. The high end is extended and softer, and the mids are less harsh. It's just a warmer sound overall."
The acid test for me was the transfer from two-inch 16-track as mentioned in the 002 review. Every time I transfer from tape into the computer, I am usually disappointed. "What happened to the tape?" is my usual complaint. The top end and imaging are trashed. But all too often, for one reason or another, the transfer to digital is necessary. While I can't say the digital transfer sounded exactly like the tape, I can say that the imaging and top end were once again noticeably improved. Switching between the Lucid and 002 clock was again a noticeable difference. This review doesn't even address the obvious benefits of having one master clock in a more complex digital studio, which would be easily configured with the six outputs of the GENx6-96. Bottom line: I will be buying this unit, and Eric will be buying one too. I prefer the sound of analog, but this box makes digital much easier to swallow. ($699 MSRP, lucidaudio.com)