I guess I'm in need of a monitor controller - Help
NeoHippy
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#1
3rd December 2012
Old 3rd December 2012
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I guess I'm in need of a monitor controller - Help

Hey slutz,

I am having custom made monitor speakers built. They are pretty high-endish.
Also I ordered a custom made DAC from Ross Martin a couple of days ago. Which is supposed to be pretty high-endish too.
I dont know which Amp I am going to buy, but I guess it will be pretty high-endish too.

Now I nearly spent all my money on that monitoring system.(still have some left for the amp)
And I think I'll need a monitor controller as the DAC has no level/gain poti.

Actually I could just adjust the monitoring level via OSX/Logic or the amp its self. But as far as I know its not too good to adjust the level before the conversion because of the usage of the Bit-depth...is that right?

Or does it not matter and I can just use OSX WITHOUT any quality losses?

Also I think its not convenient to always change the level on the amp its self...

What do you guys think?

If you think neither Amp nor OSX/Logic level adjustment is a good solution,
could you please recommend me a Monitor controller which will NOT color, embellish or effect the signal in a negative way , which is still affordable? (hope it exists!?)

I cant really tell you a budged. Cause if the cheapest monitor controller , not effecting the quality is 500 I guess I'll just have to save up a little more and go for that one...But It should be as cheap as possible!

thanks in advance

cheers
#2
3rd December 2012
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SPL 2Control. If you buy one used you can get it for around $500 USD.

If you really only want volume control, then a TC Electronics Level Pilot will get the job done without coloring the sound too much.
#3
3rd December 2012
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Quick search will reveal ample discussion over multiple threads.

My top picks for <= $500 options are
Kush Main Gain
McOne
Radial MC3
NeoHippy
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3rd December 2012
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Originally Posted by doncaparker View Post
SPL 2Control. If you buy one used you can get it for around $500 USD.

If you really only want volume control, then a TC Electronics Level Pilot will get the job done without coloring the sound too much.
I only need to controll the level...

thanks...I'll have a look at it!

cheers
NeoHippy
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3rd December 2012
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I also had some other questions, thats why I opened a new thread...I searched already!

would you say that any of the listed items is better regarding audio quality?

the mc3 is pretty cheap and attractive...but could I be sure it wont effect the audio quality?

I cant seem to find a price of the Mcone...how much is it?

thx...

cheers





Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
Quick search will reveal ample discussion over multiple threads.

My top picks for <= $500 options are
Kush Main Gain
McOne
Radial MC3
#6
3rd December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NeoHippy View Post
I also had some other questions, thats why I opened a new thread...I searched already!

would you say that any of the listed items is better regarding audio quality?

the mc3 is pretty cheap and attractive...but could I be sure it wont effect the audio quality?

I cant seem to find a price of the Mcone...how much is it?

thx...

cheers
All the threads cover your questions, I think. I think using the DAW to control monitor level is never a great idea - ergonomically it's a bit inconvenient since I like to have a volume pot within easy and instant reach - some unexpected loud program material, someone comes in the room and wants a quick answer, DAW crashes....

I think ideally a good monitor controller at a minimum should have volume, dim, and mono.

McOne is about $250. I think prices are on the website somewhere. Products. There's some discussion here on it.

MC3 is a great little controller. More suited to remote setups or light use in the studio - not ideal for people who like to ride the level knob given its DI box format. Everything Radial makes is very acceptable quality.

Someone suggested the SPL unit. I like the design and features; however, every one I tried had crappy stereo image shift when you got down into low levels. I think If I found one cheap I'd spend $100 and put a stepped attenuator in it.

As for the audio quality, even the cheap monitor controllers seem acceptable. For every one person who claims the Mackie Big Knob or Presonus Central Station destroys their sound, there are five hundred other working studios getting along just fine with them. I tend to look at build quality and function, and with any piece of gear if I have to flip back and forth more than three or four times to maybe hear if something is different, it's good enough.
NeoHippy
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3rd December 2012
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Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
All the threads cover your questions, I think. I think using the DAW to control monitor level is never a great idea - ergonomically it's a bit inconvenient since I like to have a volume pot within easy and instant reach - some unexpected loud program material, someone comes in the room and wants a quick answer, DAW crashes....

I think ideally a good monitor controller at a minimum should have volume, dim, and mono.

McOne is about $250. I think prices are on the website somewhere. Products. There's some discussion here on it.

MC3 is a great little controller. More suited to remote setups or light use in the studio - not ideal for people who like to ride the level knob given its DI box format. Everything Radial makes is very acceptable quality.

Someone suggested the SPL unit. I like the design and features; however, every one I tried had crappy stereo image shift when you got down into low levels. I think If I found one cheap I'd spend $100 and put a stepped attenuator in it.

As for the audio quality, even the cheap monitor controllers seem acceptable. For every one person who claims the Mackie Big Knob or Presonus Central Station destroys their sound, there are five hundred other working studios getting along just fine with them. I tend to look at build quality and function, and with any piece of gear if I have to flip back and forth more than three or four times to maybe hear if something is different, it's good enough.
thx dude!

I just wrote an email to the McOne guy...its 200$ +50$ shipping to europe.

Also found the thread about it here on GS. The people with first hand experience on that item, seem very pleased.

I know what you mean with "claiming XY destroys sound"....
I spent so much money already, I just want to be sure to have
the best sound also with a monitor controller!

cheers
#8
4th December 2012
Old 4th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
I tend to look at build quality and function, and with any piece of gear if I have to flip back and forth more than three or four times to maybe hear if something is different, it's good enough.
*brain explodes*

What a shocking revalation.
#9
4th December 2012
Old 4th December 2012
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warhead's Avatar
 

I would seriously consider grabbing the Dangerous Source for your converter and analog monitor controller.

Like, seriously...the DA is awesome and so is the analog section.

Even the Cambridge DACMagic Plus is a nice solution and sounds great, to be a converter and analog volume control and not too much $$$.

War
#10
4th December 2012
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I really like the control of the source, but I'm eyeing a forssell mada-2. Should I get the source as an interim dac?

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I777
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4th December 2012
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The Radial is hugely colored. I returned it immediately. Their support was basically "what do you expect for the price"...so I bought a Benchmark DAC (used) for a few hundred more.

If cheap controllers are acceptable, there's ZERO reason to get a nice DA to start with. They will take away FAR more than a nice DA will reveal.

The Benchmark was cheaper than all the professional level monitor controllers. I was able to assign the other master functions to the "control room" in Cubase--mono, dim, mute, speaker select...volume, I use the Benchmark's nice stepped knob.
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NeoHippy
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4th December 2012
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Originally Posted by popmann View Post

If cheap controllers are acceptable, there's ZERO reason to get a nice DA to start with. They will take away FAR more than a nice DA will reveal.

THATS EXACTLY MY POINT!!!!! THANK YOU!!



and thanks to the others who chiped in!

Well, I dont want to get another DAC, so the Dangerous source and cabridge are out...(I just bought one 5 days ago--> ross martin , PCM1794A Dual “Bare Beast” With ADA4898 OP amps)


I read some good stuff about the McOne from NewOldSound...
has anyone got first hand experience with that item?

2,3 people here on GS own that MC, and they say it does not color(not noticable) the sound.

But the point is...maybe they just don't hear it.

So has anyone other suggestions?

If no one has any or I had to spent thousands of dollars for a monitor controller...I think Ill save up and till then I just use OSX/Logic or the Amp its self to control the level...what do the real pros say to that option??? from a technical point of view?

thanks
cheers
#13
5th December 2012
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Digital control is less than ideal...but, likely better than a crappy controller. You might just get an ATTY...screw it up under the desk or something. But, then I didn't go that route...

Call ADesigns...they'll likely be honest about using it for that. I was getting ready to make that call to ask when the Benchmark came up for sale and took care of two birds with one piece of kit. I had to do some reverse engineering of two digital mixers...long story--it let me switch between the two on the digital side while listening to them through the same DA. You'll pry this thing out of my cold dead hands.

...or you know-when we get some full DSD system. I can dream...
#14
5th December 2012
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Well, my point being that there is a point where close is close enough. Take the McOne and BigKnob: I'm less concerned with negligible sonic differences than I am about a well designed and well-built piece of gear.
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5th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post
The Radial is hugely colored. I returned it immediately. Their support was basically "what do you expect for the price"...so I bought a Benchmark DAC (used) for a few hundred more.
Not the one I tested. Was as close to straight wire as can be. I don't think there are even any components in chain in the thing.

As for "for the price," I think it's overpriced. It's a pot and a couple switches in a DI box.
#16
5th December 2012
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NeoHippy
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#17
5th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post
Digital control is less than ideal...but, likely better than a crappy controller. You might just get an ATTY...screw it up under the desk or something. But, then I didn't go that route...

Call ADesigns...they'll likely be honest about using it for that. I was getting ready to make that call to ask when the Benchmark came up for sale and took care of two birds with one piece of kit. I had to do some reverse engineering of two digital mixers...long story--it let me switch between the two on the digital side while listening to them through the same DA. You'll pry this thing out of my cold dead hands.

...or you know-when we get some full DSD system. I can dream...
Hey, thanks for your input.

So if Digitally controlling the level is not ideal...what would you say about using the power amp?

My english is not so good. I dont get it. Why should I call Adesigns?
I looked at the ATTY...it seems to be pretty much what I need...

But doesnt it color the sound? Adesign claims it doesnt....but which other brand doesnt say that to their passive controllers ?

cheers
NeoHippy
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#18
5th December 2012
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Originally Posted by latestflavor View Post
Goldpoint SA1X

Goldpoint SA1X Level Control / Passive Preamp

can't get any more basic and high end than that for $442. Their stepped attenuators are outstanding.
ok thanks for the input...Ill have a look at it!

cheers
#19
5th December 2012
Old 5th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post
The Radial is hugely colored. I returned it immediately. Their support was basically "what do you expect for the price"...
After attempting to use it for about 10 minutes we unplugged it, boxed up every one we had, and sent them back and removed it from our site so nobody would even attempt to buy it here. The problem isn't just price and what you get, the design also knocks the level down substantially so you can no longer get real volume to most powered speakers.

We did not like the design to say the least.

War
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#20
5th December 2012
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I am seriously considering to buy the McOne from NewOldSound.
Everyone I talked to, who has it, says its really good. And nobody
could hear any coloring or problems with the stereo image.

Its also pretty cheap, and looks good and sturdy.

http://new-old-sound.com/products/20-mcone

I can always return it if I'm not satisfied with it.
So what the heck.

cheers and thanks guys.
#21
5th December 2012
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Quote:
So if Digitally controlling the level is not ideal...what would you say about using the power amp?
If you have a power amp, that's fine, if it's convenient where the knob(s) is.
NeoHippy
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#22
5th December 2012
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Originally Posted by popmann View Post
If you have a power amp, that's fine, if it's convenient where the knob(s) is.
Ok, good to know. I dont mind moving a couple of centimeters to reach the knobs. The problem is, I don't like to volume-match the left and right channel all the time. Maybe Ill just get an Amp with one Poti...then I'd have absolutely no problem with it.

But first I'll check out the McOne I thinkt..

thanks for your input though.

cheers
#23
5th December 2012
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Originally Posted by warhead View Post
After attempting to use it for about 10 minutes we unplugged it, boxed up every one we had, and sent them back and removed it from our site so nobody would even attempt to buy it here. The problem isn't just price and what you get, the design also knocks the level down substantially so you can no longer get real volume to most powered speakers.

We did not like the design to say the least.

War
At wide open you weren't getting unity?
#24
5th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
At wide open you weren't getting unity?
No. It's the way they designed it.

War
#25
5th December 2012
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Speaking to the ATTY by A-Designs as mentioned here: the ATTY can be as good as any of the inexpensive, passive pots on the market (the Central Station uses inexpensive, passive pots for example). The issue is (1) it wasn't designed to be a critical use stereo pot but rather for attenuating hot output preamps etc, so (2) they don't QC it from a standpoint of critical stereo use either so many of them can have a fair amount of volume "drift" between the left and right channels at different points / positions of the pot.

I have personally sifted through ATTY's in the past for a customer who really wanted one for this purpose but wanted left / right tightness. I found many that were perfectly fine for this use, and in the end he ended up with one that was within about .1dB up and down the pot concerning left vs right levels.

My Presonus Central Station has quite a bit of drift at its lower settings, but costs 5 times as much while bringing full switching and analog and digital features, talkback etc. It's the pot itself though that's the issue, not some other part of the chain with the left / right relationship. Either way it's not life threatening but more like something that might annoy 10% of all people who notice it.

The active design of companies like Kush (Main Gain) and Dangerous (pick a model) are superior in sound and function, we've done the listening and testing. It doesn't mean you can't mix perfectly fine though using a passive pot, it's just not quiiiiiiiiiiiiite as clear or as high quality of a path.

War

(PS: and no do NOT contact me to sift through ATTY's...that was to get one guy out of a pinch!)
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#26
5th December 2012
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Originally Posted by warhead View Post
Speaking to the ATTY by A-Designs as mentioned here: the ATTY can be as good as any of the inexpensive, passive pots on the market (the Central Station uses inexpensive, passive pots for example). The issue is (1) it wasn't designed to be a critical use stereo pot but rather for attenuating hot output preamps etc, so (2) they don't QC it from a standpoint of critical stereo use either so many of them can have a fair amount of volume "drift" between the left and right channels at different points / positions of the pot.

I have personally sifted through ATTY's in the past for a customer who really wanted one for this purpose but wanted left / right tightness. I found many that were perfectly fine for this use, and in the end he ended up with one that was within about .1dB up and down the pot concerning left vs right levels.

My Presonus Central Station has quite a bit of drift at its lower settings, but costs 5 times as much while bringing full switching and analog and digital features, talkback etc. It's the pot itself though that's the issue, not some other part of the chain with the left / right relationship. Either way it's not life threatening but more like something that might annoy 10% of all people who notice it.

The active design of companies like Kush (Main Gain) and Dangerous (pick a model) are superior in sound and function, we've done the listening and testing. It doesn't mean you can't mix perfectly fine though using a passive pot, it's just not quiiiiiiiiiiiiite as clear or as high quality of a path.

War

(PS: and no do NOT contact me to sift through ATTY's...that was to get one guy out of a pinch!)
Ok, thanks for the insight warhead.

Well, if I wouldn't care about 1db differences of left/right channel. I could use the power amp to control the volume too. Unfortunately I do care

The point is, I'd like to have one pot for left and right.
I also dont need talkback and all that stuff, cause its
not for a normal studio, its for my EDM "studio".
(no need to talk to someone, besides myself )

How would you "judge" the central station regarding
coloring, noise , etc.?
Its not really too expensive and I could get it from a
retailer in my country...which is good so I dont have to pay
taxes/custom, which I had to if I ordered a Kush main gain
or anything else which is not available in the EU.

thanks

cheers
#27
5th December 2012
Old 5th December 2012
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The Central Station will be a little bit veiled compared to the Kush Main Gain or a Dangerous product, and I would expect some left / right drift in the lower registers at least. I don't think the sonics matter to most or would dramatically change the way one would mix. To put it in perspective, the Central Station is probably a cleaner signal path than most consoles your favorite classic records were mixed on.

I still find the Central Station to be a WOW product of features vs price, we use one daily here. We're not making real records here, but tons of people are with these and are having no issues.

It kills on features, but having compared it I do have to announce it's simply not as clear or precise in the presence of other designs. Don't take it as a poo-poo party.

War
#28
5th December 2012
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Originally Posted by warhead View Post
No. It's the way they designed it.

War
Yup. Just wandered over to the music store and borrowed one and measured it. 6dB attenuation at wide open. Then I phoned Radial and confirmed this was correct.

But to say "it's the way they designed it" seems to be a bit misleading in that this is apparently typical of a passive design. It's less a matter of intentional design than it is a limitation of topology. If you look inside the thing, it's simply some pots and some switching. To make that loss up they'd have to introduce an active circuit or bypass the pots.

However, 6dB is hardly "down substantially so you can no longer get real volume to most powered speakers". Since no-one runs monitor attenuation wide open anyway, it's simply a matter of a slight knob twist to match the buffered throughput of an active design.

I think Greg Scott said that the MainGain operates at unity wide open, so the active buffer must be making up that difference.

So the question is, do you have the same complaint about other passive monitor controllers? Is it the MC3 or passive design in general.
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5th December 2012
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Originally Posted by warhead View Post
The Central Station will be a little bit veiled compared to the Kush Main Gain or a Dangerous product, and I would expect some left / right drift in the lower registers at least. I don't think the sonics matter to most or would dramatically change the way one would mix. To put it in perspective, the Central Station is probably a cleaner signal path than most consoles your favorite classic records were mixed on.

I still find the Central Station to be a WOW product of features vs price, we use one daily here. We're not making real records here, but tons of people are with these and are having no issues.

It kills on features, but having compared it I do have to announce it's simply not as clear or precise in the presence of other designs. Don't take it as a poo-poo party.

War
thanks a lot!!

well I am really looking for a crystal clear sound
(as far as possible with my limited budged)..

"the Central Station is probably a cleaner signal path than most consoles your favorite classic records were mixed on."

probably true...but I still want to know that I have the best as possible in my case ..

cheers
#30
5th December 2012
Old 5th December 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
Then I phoned Radial and confirmed this was correct.
OK.

Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
But to say "it's the way they designed it" seems to be a bit misleading in that this is apparently typical of a passive design.
No, it's not typical. I don't appreciate the implication that I'm misleading people either. People need to know what they are buying, I don't know why you're researching this with phone calls and follow ups and finger pointing, but it feels odd to me.

Even a $99 A-Designs ATTY uses a pot that is just unity when wide open. RADIAL reported a -9dB loss right off the bat with this unit, close to what we found in testing here. I have never experienced this with any other design.

RADIAL designed this unit, therefore I conclude it's the way they designed it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
So the question is, do you have the same complaint about other passive monitor controllers? Is it the MC3 or passive design in general.
No, not with any I've ever used or tested here.

War
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