New York, October 19, 2011 — Four years ago, Michael Brauer was coaxed to stop by Antelope Audio’s booth at the Audio Engineering Society convention, where he was asked to A/B the company’s brand new product: the Isochrone 10M Atomic master clock generator. Brauer, who had recently finished mixing My Morning Jacket’s Evil Urges album, was skeptical that another clock besides the Antelope OCX he was already using could make a significant and discernable difference in the audio quality. But after listening to ‘blind’ A/B comparisons of his mixes played after adding the 10M to the atomic input of the OCX and those without the 10M, he was sold.
Since then, the Antelope Isochrone line of clocks has continued to evolve. When the Trinity was introduced in 2008, it provided groundbreaking features such as sophisticated varispeed, the ability to generate up to three separate word clock signals of rates up to 384Khz, as well as three discrete HD video signals and standard definition video all simultaneously. The Trinity also boasted a new level of clocking technology called 64bit Acoustically Focused Clocking, allowing for even greater detail and frequency response by systems synced to it. As with the OCX, the 10M provided an even more accurate clocking reference, ‘supercharging’ the already outstanding qualities of the Trinity. Since then, Antelope Audio has earned a permanent spot in Brauer’s toolkit, along with hundreds of other top mixing and mastering engineers around the world.
Can you recall when you first heard an Antelope Audio clock?
MB: It was interesting. I never really fully understood the importance of a clock until the Antelope came along, and prior to that, I never really gave it much thought. At the AES, Igor [Levin, president] and Marcel [James, U.S. sales director] asked me to do the blind A/B tests, and played me three different playbacks to a mix I had recently done by My Morning Jacket — a record called Evil Urges. After I listened, I knew something really interesting was going on here. Clearly, one of the playbacks I heard was simply outstanding, and the difference was quite obvious to me. The sound had a bigger image, and was all coming to me at the same time — it sounded just great.
Could you then hear a difference after adding the 10M accessory?
MB: Yes. They played the same mix again and the music sounded even more solid; it was like the bottom end of the record and the midrange was coming to me at the exact same time. Also, I heard more width. The Antelope sounded much better against the unclocked converters, but was even more incredible when used with the 10M. It reminded me of the solidity that I used to feel with 2″ tape. That’s the point of the 10M: it locks, and it doesn’t vary at all. It’s like a supercharger to the Antelope, but has to be attached to the main clock.
So the Antelope gear ultimately found a home among your studio tools?
MB: Yes, and the 10M made it an even better set up. I called a couple friends, such as David Kahne, and said, ‘You’ve got to check this out.’ It took David all of about ten minutes to say, ‘Wow, I want to keep this.’ Then I proceeded to tell everyone who was mastering my records know about the Antelope, because I realized how important it was to use the same machine during the mastering phase.
Why is it important for you to have the Antelope in the mastering phase?
MB: Back in the days of mixing to ½-inch tape, it was important to have that same machine available when you were mastering as well. For example, if you had a Studer and an ATR but mixed to the Studer, you would then want to have the album also mastered on a Studer. I realized the importance of keeping the same clock throughout the process — I learned this after hearing one of my mixes that wasn’t using the Antelope with the 10M. The master came back, and it just didn’t sound good — it didn’t have the same depth or width of my mixes. I told the mastering engineer to rent the Antelope, saying he wouldn’t have to apply as much EQ, and that he’d get a lot more depth. He ended up using it and wrote me back the next day with a big ‘Wow.’ He just couldn’t believe the difference. A year later, every room in that facility — Metropolis Mastering in London — had the Antelope.
Michael, do you have any final thoughts on Antelope?
MB: Yes. In the studio, you need one guy who is the traffic cop, who says ‘everybody goes in this direction, I am controlling everything.’ You want the DAW, the console, the DVD player, the converters and everything else to be reading the same exact number — every millisecond of time that moves by is being determined by this clock. The Antelope is a great clock and is now the standard for me, and a lot of my friends. Overall, I really like the sound.