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Monitor Controllers?!?!? (Crane Song, Grace Designs, etc..) Monitor Controllers
Old 28th January 2017
  #1
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Monitor Controllers?!?!? (Crane Song, Grace Designs, etc..)

What's up ya'll? I'm trying to figure out if another monitor controller is right for me. My setup is a Avid Mbox Pro 3, running SPDIF in from a Mytek 192, running out of the Mbox, into a Mackie Big Knob into a pair of Roland DS90s as my nearfields, Mackie HR824s as my secondaries and a Behringer Sub just for some extra bass. I use these speakers because I "KNOW" how things supposed to sound on them. But I'm wondering if getting an high end monitor control system is even worth is for my setup (I'm looking at the Crane Song Avocet IIa). I've seeked advice from local engineers who say "it will improve my sound". And I've gotten advice from multi-platinum mix engineers who say,"If it's not broke don't fix it", "not going to make a difference in your delivered product to your clients" and "It's not like you're running 12K barefoots". So the question is, would I benefit getting a Crane Song Avocet? And if so, how much of an improvement will it be? I really need you guys help because I'm trying to get the best out of my system. Thanks
Old 28th January 2017
  #2
You will have a seriously improved DAC and monitor controller. So two major improvements (verus mbox dac and big knob). So yes it will make a difference to the clarity and translation of what you hear in the room. If you are inching your way to a higher end studio, then moving in small increments is a good idea. Then you learn what each piece is capable of and its benefits. No you aren't running $10k speakers, but does that mean you have to upgrade speakers, Dac and monitor controller simultaneously? The most important thing is getting the room itself as good as possible, but in terms of gear related purchases helping your monitoring (which an Avocet is part of) is a good choice.
Old 28th January 2017
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred View Post
You will have a seriously improved DAC and monitor controller. So two major improvements (verus mbox dac and big knob). So yes it will make a difference to the clarity and translation of what you hear in the room. If you are inching your way to a higher end studio, then moving in small increments is a good idea. Then you learn what each piece is capable of and its benefits. No you aren't running $10k speakers, but does that mean you have to upgrade speakers, Dac and monitor controller simultaneously? The most important thing is getting the room itself as good as possible, but in terms of gear related purchases helping your monitoring (which an Avocet is part of) is a good choice.

My room is great...2 car garage converted to be on par with all the studios I've worked in since I've been doing it. I went from a Protools HD system (96 i/o with PT HD Accel 2 cards), to a Protools Native type set up ( HD software with the Mbox being the interface and Mytek as the front end). I record mostly hip hop and R & B, so I'm using one channel at a time with a 32 buffer rate. And it made more sense to me mixing wise. Mic is Gefell UM92.1 with Telefunken Tubes going into a Modded Avalon 737sp with all Telefunken tubes in it. I haven't had any complaints & do major label work monthly...but, if I would have a weakest link, I think it would be my DAC and monitor controller.
Old 28th January 2017
  #4
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The Avocet 2a or the Grace m905 will probably be quite the step up from your current Mytek (not that there is anything wrong with the Mytek its great but the Avocet 2a especially will be a BIG step up imo). I would do it and when you're able to upgrade next, then maaaaaybe get "better" monitors (I say maybe and put quotes on better because its all about the end result and although you don't have 12k Bfs or Amphions etc you KNOW your monitors which is what counts).
Old 28th January 2017
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LuXx View Post
The Avocet 2a or the Grace m905 will probably be quite the step up from your current Mytek (not that there is anything wrong with the Mytek its great but the Avocet 2a especially will be a BIG step up imo). I would do it and when you're able to upgrade next, then maaaaaybe get "better" monitors (I say maybe and put quotes on better because its all about the end result and although you don't have 12k Bfs or Amphions etc you KNOW your monitors which is what counts).
Thanks! Ya the Roland DS90s are sorta like my NS10s since I've been using them for so long. I was thinking of maybe upgrading to the Adam A7x's. I was just wondering if, even with my current speakers, would the Avocet make a major difference.
Old 28th January 2017
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by LuXx View Post
The Avocet 2a or the Grace m905 will probably be quite the step up from your current Mytek (not that there is anything wrong with the Mytek its great but the Avocet 2a especially will be a BIG step up imo). I would do it and when you're able to upgrade next, then maaaaaybe get "better" monitors (I say maybe and put quotes on better because its all about the end result and although you don't have 12k Bfs or Amphions etc you KNOW your monitors which is what counts).
The Mytek in his system looks like it is the ADC, not the DAC?
Old 28th January 2017
  #7
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i have been really happy with the SPL Monitor Controller's .. analog only obviously .. before i bought i did some shootouts with a friend and we chose the SPL due to it NOT adding or taking anything away !!! my .02
Old 28th January 2017
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwh1192 View Post
i have been really happy with the SPL Monitor Controller's .. analog only obviously .. before i bought i did some shootouts with a friend and we chose the SPL due to it NOT adding or taking anything away !!! my .02
Which SPL controller? The SMC 2489 gave a lot of problems back in the day when the unbalanced LFE channel was connected. Faulty wiring design that we repaired on the ones that were in use and then never bought any more.
Old 28th January 2017
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
Which SPL controller? The SMC 2489 gave a lot of problems back in the day when the unbalanced LFE channel was connected. Faulty wiring design that we repaired on the ones that were in use and then never bought any more.
i have the 2489 and a friend has the Stereo Version .. never had any issues at all with the Sub (when i was working in surround) - both balanced and unbalanced inputs .. sorry to hear you had issues .. scratchy buttons is all i ever worry about ..
Old 28th January 2017
  #10
If you need a DAC and prefer it integrated into your monitor controller the Avocet is a great value that is high end. If you prefer a stand alone DAC and stand alone monitor controller as seperate components, check out the Eldred Grendel designed by Tim Farrant, extremely clean with flexible features.
Old 28th January 2017
  #11
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Don't get me wrong, a monitor controller makes a big difference, however, a new set of monitors in the 3k range will get you a helllll of a lot further. Keep the d90s if you are used to them but grab a set of speakers in the range of what you are considering dropping on a controller.

(Just my opinion - that being said moving from a passive controller to a dangerous st was a 'holy shot' moment but nothing near to moving from Mackie to focal)
Old 29th January 2017
  #12
The Big Knob is fine for casual listening but it takes away from the clarity of the sound. A Grace monitor controller would be a tremendous step up in clarity. I know nothing about the monitors you're running with. But if I was in your position I'd think of something with more fidelity.

I'm currently running a Grace through some mm35s. It's a very difficult monitoring system for me to find fault with. I hear everything and it has helped my recording and mixing tremendously. Not a small investment. But definitely not by any means a waste.

If, in your position, I got a Grace I'd go in digital. The DAC on the Grace is superior to the mbox.
Old 29th January 2017
  #13
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Thank you all for your input. So i would do better with monitors rather than monitor controller? I know my speakers so well
Old 29th January 2017
  #14
I'd start with the monitors. But that's just me.

If you know your speakers well then you're in a good position to audition other monitors to see whether they can make your job easier, which is essentially the point of upgrading at all.

I've learned that it usually takes a pretty significant investment in monitoring before things are dramatically better than average. I used to mix on a thousand dollar system but it was never truly comfortable. I found myself checking mixes in the car all of the time. I found myself not quite sure on some of the fine details. When I transitioned to better monitors I realized that there were actually details that I never could hear before. Overall it was faster and easier to hear the "right" choices. I don't want to go back.

It is not a subtle comparison if the monitors are authentically better than what you're currently using. And if you've had success with your current set up but are asking yourself if you need better then it could be your intuition that is pushing you towards better. I don't actually know.

Not that this is a commercial for Barefoot, but they did just release a new model that is like $3500 a pair. For Barefoot that's extremely affordable. Thomas Barefoot said that they aren't much different than their best stuff besides the ultra subtle details. It might be worth your time to look into those just to compare them with what you have.
Old 29th January 2017
  #15
I would try to pick up a second hand d/a converter...(in the $600 - $1000 range?) and run it straight to your monitors..

Hang that off the MBox's SPDIF out

That should reveal better detail in your monitoring
Old 29th January 2017
  #16
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Avocet is one of the most important pieces of kit in my workflow.

It's not sexy or a feel good purchase with an instant gratification like a pultec or LA2A, but with time you'll realise it equally as fulfilling.

Game changer with top notch support n build.

Wiggy
Old 29th January 2017
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
I would try to pick up a second hand d/a converter...(in the $600 - $1000 range?) and run it straight to your monitors..

Hang that off the MBox's SPDIF out

That should reveal better detail in your monitoring
right...now you see where I'm going with it...but by me having 2 pairs and a sub I would need something to distribute the sound.
Old 29th January 2017
  #18
Having your big knob is like having a blanket over your speakers... no point updating anything else with the Big knob as your controller.
Any of the top m controllers will do. I went with the avocet and it was a night and day change.
The spl is in between for me and don't think it's worth it, much behind the avocet,grace,dangerous....

Have you decided anything yet?
Old 30th January 2017
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggy Neve Slut View Post

Avocet is one of the most important pieces of kit in my workflow.

Game changer with top notch support n build.

Wiggy

+ 1

Have two Avocet. One in the Control Room and one in the Tracking Room.

R.
Old 30th January 2017
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vsthalion View Post
Having your big knob is like having a blanket over your speakers... no point updating anything else with the Big knob as your controller.
Any of the top m controllers will do. I went with the avocet and it was a night and day change.
The spl is in between for me and don't think it's worth it, much behind the avocet,grace,dangerous....

Have you decided anything yet?
Yes I did. I decided to go head and get the Advocet. That way I will eliminate the analog outs of the Mbox and the Big Knob...Going digital in with the Mytek and Digital out into the Advocet...with the Mbox just used to please Protools lol. I'll see how it goes and then start building from there. Thanks tho
Old 30th January 2017
  #21
You will not be disappointed!!!!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ace'Lo View Post
Yes I did. I decided to go head and get the Advocet. That way I will eliminate the analog outs of the Mbox and the Big Knob...Going digital in with the Mytek and Digital out into the Advocet...with the Mbox just used to please Protools lol. I'll see how it goes and then start building from there. Thanks tho
Old 31st January 2017
  #22
Always a fan of good monitor controls. The difference it made swapping for me from a budget unit to my M905 was quite remarkable. Not even just soundwise. A well designed control just flows, and when there's less thinking to work your gear, you can focus on the sound instead of the knobs and buttons as much. Avocet is a great unit that will serve you well.
Old 31st January 2017
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggy Neve Slut View Post
Avocet is one of the most important pieces of kit in my workflow.

It's not sexy or a feel good purchase with an instant gratification like a pultec or LA2A, but with time you'll realise it equally as fulfilling.

Game changer with top notch support n build.

Wiggy
I TOTALLY agree with Wiggy Neve. The Avocet II is a truly great piece that serves a critical role in your setup. The D/A conversion is top-notch; the unit has great digital and analog I/O (3x); wonderful flexibility. However, I also agree that you should upgrade your monitors and make sure your room is properly treated. You will be happy with the Avocet.
Old 1st February 2017
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggy Neve Slut View Post
Avocet is one of the most important pieces of kit in my workflow.

It's not sexy or a feel good purchase with an instant gratification like a pultec or LA2A, but with time you'll realise it equally as fulfilling.

Game changer with top notch support n build.

Wiggy
I kinda feel like buying a 3000+ USD monitor controller to control maybe 800 dollars worth of monitors (across two sets) is kinda out of order in terms of an audio hierarchy of needs.

My real advice would be to purchase something like a lavry black da (which has a very high quality attenuator built in and can be had at around 500USD used) and a decent pair of 3000 dollar odd speakers (Last time I was in the market for a pair it was all adam s3a's and focal twins in this category, i'm sure things have changed since)

Sell your other speakers for what you can get. I know it's scary changing speakers but with quality step up you are talking about from something like roland d90s to focal twins or the equivalent adams/genelecs/whateveriscurrentathislevel you really won't miss a pair of d90s.

Don't get me wrong, my dangerous monitor st is my most touched piece of kit in the room and I value it's transparency immensely, but I am monitoring through a 10000$ pair of adam S4x-V and a lavry blue converter.

Purchasing an avocet to control a pair of hr824s and some roland d90s is like putting putting a 10000 dollar F1 steering wheel into a toyota cressida. In an F1 car a 10000 dollar steering wheel is justified, the thought and workmanship that goes into getting it just right for the car it is being placed in is necessary because of the level of precision of control that is necessary to get the most out of the finely tuned machine that is an F1 car.

I have friends who have steered cressidas with a socket wrench and still gotten successfully from a to b.
Old 1st February 2017
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by africantigercow View Post
I kinda feel like buying a 3000+ USD monitor controller to control maybe 800 dollars worth of monitors (across two sets) is kinda out of order in terms of an audio hierarchy of needs.

My real advice would be to purchase something like a lavry black da (which has a very high quality attenuator built in and can be had at around 500USD used) and a decent pair of 3000 dollar odd speakers (Last time I was in the market for a pair it was all adam s3a's and focal twins in this category, i'm sure things have changed since)

Sell your other speakers for what you can get. I know it's scary changing speakers but with quality step up you are talking about from something like roland d90s to focal twins or the equivalent adams/genelecs/whateveriscurrentathislevel you really won't miss a pair of d90s.

Don't get me wrong, my dangerous monitor st is my most touched piece of kit in the room and I value it's transparency immensely, but I am monitoring through a 10000$ pair of adam S4x-V and a lavry blue converter.

Purchasing an avocet to control a pair of hr824s and some roland d90s is like putting putting a 10000 dollar F1 steering wheel into a toyota cressida. In an F1 car a 10000 dollar steering wheel is justified, the thought and workmanship that goes into getting it just right for the car it is being placed in is necessary because of the level of precision of control that is necessary to get the most out of the finely tuned machine that is an F1 car.

I have friends who have steered cressidas with a socket wrench and still gotten successfully from a to b.
Right I can see what you're saying...but I will still need a better monitor controller if I used the Lavry option...D/A, better monitors and being controlled by a Big Knob is sorta like the F1 scenario you gave.
Old 1st February 2017
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
I would try to pick up a second hand d/a converter...(in the $600 - $1000 range?) and run it straight to your monitors..

Hang that off the MBox's SPDIF out

That should reveal better detail in your monitoring
Nice option but the only one with spdif inputs are the DS90's. The rest are all analog.
Old 18th March 2017
  #27
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Ok. So I wanted to give you guys a quick update. I ordered the Advocet, it should be here Tuesday. I've also ordered a pair of JBL 705p to replace the Roland DS90s. So I should be all set!
Old 18th March 2017
  #28
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I would suggest a dangerous music source. Fantastic build quality with lovely converters for under a grand.
Old 18th March 2017
  #29
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The Dangerous ST has a cool remote. I would consider grace a step up, but not by much and it's considerably more cost.

If I were you, I would read the manuals for each and decide what features you like about all of them.
Old 19th March 2017
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vsthalion View Post
Having your big knob is like having a blanket over your speakers... no point updating anything else with the Big knob as your controller.
Any of the top m controllers will do. I went with the avocet and it was a night and day change.
The spl is in between for me and don't think it's worth it, much behind the avocet,grace,dangerous....

Have you decided anything yet?
Got the Advocet and replacing the DS90s with the JBL 705p's. Can't wait to hear
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