Black Lion Audio has released the third incarnation of the Micro Clock master word clock. The MkIII is a major redesign of its predecessor, the Micro Clock MkII, and features many improvements including, lower-jitter crystal oscillators, higher-quality galvanic transformer isolation in the signal path, dedicated output drivers with better isolation, higher-precision signal division and much heavier noise filtration throughout the circuit.
Multi-Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Tony Maserati (Beyonce, Jason Mraz, Black Eyed Peas) Tony Maserati was a big fan of the Micro Clock MkII, but the new MkIII has really made an impression on him, “the MkIII brings my mixes closer to an improved master, faster. The mixes I’ve been doing with the Micro Clock MkIII have gotten better responses from my clients and make the decision-making process easier for me.” In addition, the feature set has expanded to include an LED frequency display, six BNC outputs capable of up to 384kHz, AES and RCA S/PDIF outputs capable of up to 192kHz, and an optical S/PDIF output capable of up to 96kHz.
» Low jitter, harmonically-enhanced word clock signal generation
» Dimmable frequency display
» 8 selectable sample rates (44.1kHz – 384kHz)
» 6 BNC outputs with dedicated output drivers for maximum isolation
» RCA S/PDIF output
» Optical S/PDIF output
» AES output
» 1U removable rack ears
» Jitter: 1.92pS RMS (BNC outputs)
— (6) BNC: 75, 5V unterminated
— (1) RCA S/PDIF: 75, unbalanced
— (1) Optical S/PDIF (recomended max. cable length = 1m)
— (1) AES XLR: 110, balanced
» Clock Frequencies:
— BNC (kHz): 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192, 352.8, 384
— RCA S/PDIF & AES (kHz): 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192
— Optical S/PDIF (kHz): 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96
» Power: 9VDC (6W power consumption)
» Power connector: 2.1mm barrel connector with 5.5mm outer diameter (center pin positive)
» Weight: 2.2lbs
» Dimensions: 6.5″L x 6″W x 1.75″H (without 1U rack ears installed)
According to Black Lion Audio’s Nate Bierdeman, some of the biggest impacts to the quality of the MkIII came from sourcing new crystals, which jump in grade every two years or so, as well as the signal transformer upgrade and the distributing signal output. “We have a process of critical listening at each stage,” Bierdeman explains, “where a number of components are evaluated to find the best possible sound before moving on.” Black Lion Audio also takes its time when developing new products. Instead of rushing out a product to meet the holiday buying season or to meet a specific price point, the company will shelve products in development, if they don’t feel they’re ready for primetime. “We’re always working forwards, instead of backwards.”
Fans of the first and second Micro Clock will find that the MkIII has a significant bump in price, a direct result of the component upgrades. The crystals alone were notably more expensive, which resulted in the increase. However, Tony Maserati believes it is worth every penny.
“When Black Lion Audio sent me the Micro Clock MkIII, I waited till I had a room full of engineers and producers before plugging it in,” Tony Maserati continues. “In blind testing, the team chose the Micro Clock MkIII over our previous clock. I sat skeptical in the rear of the room. When I finally ventured to the sweet spot and A/B’d it for myself, it was clear. Black Lion Audio had surprised me. The Micro Clock MkIII produced a better depth of field and increased clarity. All of this results in a more robust, lower-jitter clock signal than the Micro Clock MkII, with even more desirable harmonics in the clock’s spectral band that impart an undeniable musical quality to the conversion process.”
Black Lion Audio’s Micro Clock MkIII costs $999 and is available now.
Black Lion Audio