Word clocks are common in high-end and professional and some high-end digital systems. They are used to synchronize devices that connect via digital audio signals.
Would audiophiles be interested in Esoteric’s G1X Grandioso clock ($27,000 USD)? Given the technology behind it, I think yes. And if nothing else, the G1X sports museum-quality aesthetics that make for some cool photos.
Esoteric had previously been using a rubidium atomic clock-based design for its flagship clocks. These clocks utilize a hyperfine transition of electrons in rubidium-87, which is used to control the output frequency. Simplified a bit, we can say these clocks use the natural resonance of rubidium-87 to measure time.
Quartz oscillators are much more commonly used than rubidium ones. Clocks with these types of oscillators utilize electricity that is passed through a small piece of quartz, thus causing it to vibrate at a precise frequency. Quartz oscillators can be found in mobile phones, computers, and wristwatches. In recent times, Quartz oscillators have also been used in lower-priced models of Esoteric clocks.
With the introduction of the flagship G1X, Esoteric shocked many in the digital high-end world. Unlike the company’s prior top-of-the-line models, the G1X eschews the use of a rubidium oscillator for a quartz-based one. According to Esoteric, it has improved the performance of the crystal oscillator performance by, among other things, improving the way in which the crystal is cut, and keeping it precisely temperature-controlled. As in life in general, in digital audio, timing is everything.
Howard Kneller’s audiophile adventures are documented on his YouTube channel (The Listening Chair with Howard Kneller) and on Instagram (@howardkneller). His art and photography can also be found on Instagram (@howardkneller.photog). Finally, he posts a bit of everything on Facebook (@howardkneller).