Compromising is good, right?
The other night, my wife wanted me to wear my black shoes out to dinner. I was adamant about wearing my brown ones. We compromised, and I wore one of each.
Audio gear is no different. Each compromise weakens the overall result. Each penny pinched, each grain of noise allowed to survive, taints the finished product, and shows up in your music.
Take our latest clock board, for example. Some audio enthusiasts love the line of crystals from Crystek Corporation. They make a few amazing units, in the $30 range. For typical audio applications, where we need playback frequencies in the 44.1 and 48 kHz flavors, one needs 2 different crystals on the board (at a cost of, you guessed it, $60) plus all the supporting circuitry.
But, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and so the 49.152MHz XO (Standard) HCMOS unit from Crystek isn’t the only option. The new kids on the block are OCXO, Oven-Controlled Crystal Oscillators. They have jitter measurements reaching down into the femto-second range and are extremely stable, even across a wide range of temperatures.
Comprise, then Uncompromise
We could have just picked one. Circuits based on Crystek are rather simple. They offer name brand recognition, and audio specific frequencies. We could have talked about dual oscillator design… great marketing fluff. Or we could have used the OCXO, with it’s crazy tight accuracy (2 * 10e-7 versus XO at 10e-5) and then just bragged about femto-second jitter.
We picked both. We built a board with both options, the dual crystal Crystek approach and the ultra precise OCXO approach. Then we listened. Then we listened some more. Then we went with the one that sounded the best, across the widest range of source material.
Uncompromising Audio Fueled By Passion
But I love this stuff. I love taking the status quo and shaking it up. Discovering new approaches to solving old problems. Pushing the theory, and the practice, just slightly forward.
My hope is that you love the results.