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Black Lion Sparrow MKII & Micro Clock MKIII Review (ADC & Clock)

amirm

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This is a review and measurements of the (now discontinued) Black Lion Sparrow MKII ADC and Micro Clock external master clock. It is on kind loan from a member.

Black Lion Audio Sparrow Mk2 AD Converter with micro clock mkiii review master clock.jpg

I kind of like the mechanical controls here although the writing is hard to read. The clock seems to be fixed at 96 kHz and rotate the dial did nothing.
Black Lion Audio Sparrow Mk2 AD Converter with micro clock mkiii review back panel master clock.jpg



Measurements
Let's start with our usual dashboard of 4 volts into XLR inputs:
Black Lion Audio Sparrow Mk2 AD Converter Measurements.png


Distortion is the limiting factor, placing it in the "fair" category:
Best ADC reviewe 2022.png


Using the Micro clock made no difference:
Black Lion Audio Sparrow Mk2 AD Converter with micro clock mkiii Measurements.png


Noise floor went up but that is because sample rate changed. I tested it with internal clock at that rate and it did the same thing.

Prior to distortion setting in, noise dominates and there, performance is excellent:
Black Lion Audio Sparrow Mk2 AD Converter IMD Measurements.png


So if you can live with lower input levels, it does a lot better.

Dynamic range is such:

Black Lion Audio Sparrow Mk2 AD Converter Dynamic Range Measurements.png


Frequency response is extended and flat enough:

Black Lion Audio Sparrow Mk2 AD Converter Frequency Response Measurements.png


Conclusions
As with their DAC, good work was done to keep noise down but distortion remains a major problem Avoid too hot of an input and you should be good.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

RayDunzl

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The addition of the wall wart in the second photo changed my mental guess as to the scale of the devices in the first photo.

They suddenly become smaller.
 

pavuol

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Seems like the original price was the same as the DAC in the previous review, US $1,999 (src 1/2), just to complete the affordability image of this birdie line..
 

solderdude

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Kind of an odd way to set the clock frequency:

It is a deliberate 'lock' method to prevent accidental changing of the master clock frequency. It works well as Amir could not set the clock frequency because he was unaware of the 'unlock method'.
In a studio one does not want to accidentally change the clock frequency when someone bumps the setting button or rotates the knob unintended as, most likely, all ADCs and DACs are running at that frequency.
So it is an elegant yet simple way without having to resort to extra buttons or menus to prevent accidental changing of the master clock.
 
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GWolfman

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Do they make racks this small? I don't understand why they have ears/tabs like that.
 

sarakyel

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Do they make racks this small? I don't understand why they have ears/tabs like that.
It looks like a quite typical "half-U" size: you can mount 2 of these side-by-side in a standard 1U space, screwed together in the center with an additional "double-ear" piece. Half-space hardware has been a standard in recording studios for a long time (the classic Urei LA-3A compressor, which is a "2 half-U" unit, comes to mind).
 

enricoclaudio

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The only products I can recommend from Black Lion Audio are their clocks. I personally use a Micro Clock MK2 with my Yamaha M7CL and CL5 sound boards and they work really well.
 

pseudoid

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Am I wrong in the expectations that any studio/professional audio hardware, should NOT perform so poorly?
This product is not even -92dB SINAD... wouldn't even matter if the dynamic range was below the resolution of the APx.
Good riddance, it is discontinued!
 

enricoclaudio

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Am I wrong in the expectations that any studio/professional audio hardware, should NOT perform so poorly?
This product is not even -92dB SINAD... wouldn't even matter if the dynamic range was below the resolution of the APx.
Good riddance, it is discontinued!
For studio use, yes. For professional use, meaning "live", not. Most pro audio equipment for live performance have high floor noise either way, including PAs and sound boards so a DAC with 90dB SINAD is more than OK.
 

Kevinfc

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I must say, reviews of older DAC pieces have little interest to me. It’s like reviewing a Pentium P60 computer in 2022. It’s very clear that the newer equipment is substantially cheaper and infinitely better.
 

Doodski

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I must say, reviews of older DAC pieces have little interest to me. It’s like reviewing a Pentium P60 computer in 2022. It’s very clear that the newer equipment is substantially cheaper and infinitely better.
The test reviews of vintage gear is good so a database of tests is made so we can see the improvements or not. Some of the vintage gear tests very well decades later. Some tests poorly even though a new model. :D
 

Kevinfc

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The test reviews of vintage gear is good so a database of tests is made so we can see the improvements or not. Some of the vintage gear tests very well decades later. Some tests poorly even though a new model. :D
Ok, makes sense.
 

mhardy6647

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1) Black Lion [Audio] Sparrow strikes me a truly odd mashup of names for a hifi component.
2) It strikes me as ironic that this particular Black Lion component, besides not being particularly leonine, is also not black.

:cool:
 

srkbear

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I must say, reviews of older DAC pieces have little interest to me. It’s like reviewing a Pentium P60 computer in 2022. It’s very clear that the newer equipment is substantially cheaper and infinitely better.
Tell that to Chord, the DAVE is almost eight years old, and they still act like it’s state of the art! ;)
 
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Ein

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Give us a lot of money and we give you tons of shit. With love. No, just no.
 
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