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Monitor controllers with DA?
Old 22nd May 2020
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Monitor controllers with DA?

Hello. I was planning on getting Lynx Hilo for D/A conversion, but I see many studios / home studios are using monitor controllers instead like M905, Avocet IIa or Monitor ST. How are these different than say, getting Lynx Hilo? I don't think I'm getting a good sense of what monitor controllers really do, but many musicians own these instead of the standalone converters.
Old 22nd May 2020
  #2
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Monitor ST has no built in converters unlike the others you've mentioned.
Old 22nd May 2020
  #3
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zergonion's Avatar
 

As I see Hilo has SPDIF out, you cant connect it to a moitor controller with a D/A, for example Audient Nero.

I went this route (Fireface 400 SPDIF out -> Nero SPDIF in) and I'm very happy with the result.
Old 22nd May 2020
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
Monitor ST has no built in converters unlike the others you've mentioned.
Thanks for your reply!

For the others that do have the built-in converters, how are they different with just a standalone converters?

I create tracks/mix, and have only 1 set of monitor speakers. Could monitor controllers benefit me in terms of anything? My primary concern is upgrading my DA conversion.
Old 22nd May 2020
  #5
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drockfresh's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by qkrzazzang View Post
Hello. I was planning on getting Lynx Hilo for D/A conversion, but I see many studios / home studios are using monitor controllers instead like M905, Avocet IIa or Monitor ST. How are these different than say, getting Lynx Hilo? I don't think I'm getting a good sense of what monitor controllers really do, but many musicians own these instead of the standalone converters.
Grace m905 (analog). No converters. Cheaper than standard version. You can even get an optional phono preamp card to have your turntable in th studio. Full analog.
Old 22nd May 2020
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by qkrzazzang View Post
Thanks for your reply!

For the others that do have the built-in converters, how are they different with just a standalone converters?

I create tracks/mix, and have only 1 set of monitor speakers. Could monitor controllers benefit me in terms of anything? My primary concern is upgrading my DA conversion.
Seems like you are asking two questions:
- why use a monitor controller?
- why use a monitor controller with DA inputs?

For the first question, some possible answers:
- switch between different input sources. Some let you sum all inputs, which is handy. EG, suppose you want to quickly listen to an iPhone and compare your mix.
- switch on or off various monitors, including possibly sub woofers.
- provide a separate input channel for cue to the talent, and a talkback mic, dimming while talking, mono out, etc etc.
- hefty headphone amp built in
- A big knob on your desk for ease of access.

For the second question
- you can bypass the converters in your audio interface and go straight into the controller as digital. The controller might have better converters, and also you bypass one stage of analog conversion by doing it that way.
Old 22nd May 2020
  #7
Gear Addict
not really high-end but has anyone heard the SPL Crimson 3?
setting up a second little workspace and was wondering about this one...
feature wise this one seems to get a lot of stuff done and sometimes SPL really pull off fantastic stuff.
Old 22nd May 2020
  #8
Gear Nut
 
Audeath's Avatar
 

I had dangerous d-box and now i just use the behringer ControlUSB2 as standalone monitor/source controller and im very happy with it! it got a phono preamp too!
Old 22nd May 2020
  #9
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For why use monitor controllers, what jweisbin said.
plus
Changing formats at a click (mid-side, mono, and for surround controllers -- multiple different types of fold down and speaker re-arrangement)
and...
For a lot of places, the means to have an analogue cut off to the speakers (mute) which can protect your monitors in case the digital world goes wrong. This would not be possible on digital attenuators, etc, unless the mute was in the analogue path but things like the Dangerous ST and the Avocet (which works in the analogue domain for output). The Grace m905 works in analogue but I believe (well definitely for the digital outs), the m908 works in digital due to channel count. Unsure on the Hilo since I can't find a signal path diagram but appears digital (though with 2 channels, even if volume is digital, the global mute may be analogue domain)
Old 23rd May 2020
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jweisbin View Post
Seems like you are asking two questions:
- why use a monitor controller?
- why use a monitor controller with DA inputs?

For the first question, some possible answers:
- switch between different input sources. Some let you sum all inputs, which is handy. EG, suppose you want to quickly listen to an iPhone and compare your mix.
- switch on or off various monitors, including possibly sub woofers.
- provide a separate input channel for cue to the talent, and a talkback mic, dimming while talking, mono out, etc etc.
- hefty headphone amp built in
- A big knob on your desk for ease of access.

For the second question
- you can bypass the converters in your audio interface and go straight into the controller as digital. The controller might have better converters, and also you bypass one stage of analog conversion by doing it that way.
Thanks! that helped a lot.
For controllers like Monitor ST, as mentioned above, why does it cost $2000 with just those controls? I mean, if there were built-in converters, I'd understand, but if it doesn't have converters, what makes it that price?
Old 23rd May 2020
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by qkrzazzang View Post
Thanks! that helped a lot.
For controllers like Monitor ST, as mentioned above, why does it cost $2000 with just those controls? I mean, if there were built-in converters, I'd understand, but if it doesn't have converters, what makes it that price?
The short answer is that they sound way more transparent than cheap controllers. The long answer is that cheap controllers are basically just attenuators - either literally or somewhat like a big potentiometer, and that muddies the sound. Controllers like those made by Dangerous, Avocet, and others, use a network of gain stages, each one perfectly designed to do what it's supposed to do. When you turn the big knob you can hear the little relays clicking inside the head unit - those are the relays selecting the different stages.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #12
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bgood's Avatar
There’s a bunch with spdif... the presonus monitor station V2 comes to mind... I’ve A/b’d it’s conversion against the RME and it was close enough where I sent the RME back and spent that bread on more outboard

But I’m not a mastering engineering, so...
Old 23rd May 2020
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qkrzazzang View Post
Thanks! that helped a lot.
For controllers like Monitor ST, as mentioned above, why does it cost $2000 with just those controls?
Once again jweisbin is on it. Relays! Pretty much the same reason a mastering version of hardware can be $2k more than the non-mastering version. Those detented controls should be relay based.

But on top of that, the Monitor ST has bass management (a sub control), and cue, talkback, slate feeds -- it's a central hub for working with talent. Not to mention a remote with calibration (analogue calibration) features connected via shielded ethernet. That's digitally-controlled analogue to set small calibration differences between sources, outputs, and channels. All necessary if you're working at the top level because it influences our decisions even if not clearly audible.

Say you want to set 3 different sources to be level matched to the decibel, accurately: you can do that from the listening position. And that's all happening with expensive accuracy matched relays -- not basic pots. Ever turn the volume knob on a monitor controller and hear left and right get imbalanced (especially at low levels) -- that doesn't happen with relays. The Avocet, Monitor ST/SR, Grace m905 and m906 all use relays.

This is where digital attenuation makes it easier/cheaper. You can always be accurate in the digital domain and have a fixed output/input. Saves a ton on relays/knobs in manufacturing.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #14
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Looking for a Monitor Controller / DAC. Using an Apollo X8 at the moment. Burl B2 ADC on the way in (BNC Wordclock and S/pdif RCA, Burl as Master clock). Looking to connect a pair of ATC SCM45s, Auratones, and 2 pairs of headphones. Both DAC and monitoring/headphones in one package would be great.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikoo69 View Post
Looking for a Monitor Controller / DAC. Using an Apollo X8 at the moment. Burl B2 ADC on the way in (BNC Wordclock and S/pdif RCA, Burl as Master clock). Looking to connect a pair of ATC SCM45s, Auratones, and 2 pairs of headphones. Both DAC and monitoring/headphones in one package would be great.
You won't find anything better than the Crane Song Avocet IIA or the Grace M905 (with DAC), but those are both over $3K.

If you are on a tight budget then you could consider adding an Apollo Twin or an Apollo X4 to your setup. That way you add another 4 Sharc chips for more DSP power, and the Twin or X4 becomes the monitor controller. You don't need to connect it digitally because the thunderbolt connection takes care of that. It's not as full featured as a dedicated monitor controller, but may do what you need at half the cost of a Crane Song.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jweisbin View Post
You won't find anything better than the Crane Song Avocet IIA or the Grace M905 (with DAC), but those are both over $3K.

If you are on a tight budget then you could consider adding an Apollo Twin or an Apollo X4 to your setup. That way you add another 4 Sharc chips for more DSP power, and the Twin or X4 becomes the monitor controller. You don't need to connect it digitally because the thunderbolt connection takes care of that. It's not as full featured as a dedicated monitor controller, but may do what you need at half the cost of a Crane Song.
Th Twin/X4 solution though would mean I'm still using the Apollo DAC though, right?
Old 23rd May 2020
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikoo69 View Post
Th Twin/X4 solution though would mean I'm still using the Apollo DAC though, right?
Yes. Like I said, depends on your budget.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #18
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Looking for an upgraded DAC. The X8 has all the connections I need for monitoring and control. Just interested in a higher end DAC like Crane Song, Dangerous, etc.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikoo69 View Post
Looking for an upgraded DAC. The X8 has all the connections I need for monitoring and control. Just interested in a higher end DAC like Crane Song, Dangerous, etc.
It has all the connections you need, but doesn't put the controller on your desk, which is a nice convenience, and important if you want to make adjustments from your listening position. Just my 2 cents.
Old 24th May 2020
  #20
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zergonion View Post
As I see Hilo has SPDIF out, you cant connect it to a moitor controller with a D/A, for example Audient Nero.

I went this route (Fireface 400 SPDIF out -> Nero SPDIF in) and I'm very happy with the result.
If I get hilo, will I not be able to connect it to controllers like Avocet IIa as well?
Old 24th May 2020
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by qkrzazzang View Post
If I get hilo, will I not be able to connect it to controllers like Avocet IIa as well?
Looks like it has all the digital connections you could want. If this is the one you are thinking of, then yes you would:

Old 24th May 2020
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikoo69 View Post
Looking for an upgraded DAC. The X8 has all the connections I need for monitoring and control. Just interested in a higher end DAC like Crane Song, Dangerous, etc.
You might consider a Dangerous Source in that case. Great converters, but not as full featured as some other monitor controllers (no talkback facility for example). And not as expensive as some.

I used to run an Apollo silver face S/PDIF out, into the Source, and it definitely sounded better than the Apollo's analog outs. But I downsized my studio and now I just use a Twin mkII, which has no digital outs. So I have no way to compare the sound of the Source's converters to those in the Twin.
Old 24th May 2020
  #23
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The more I research, it seems like the Avocett IIA makes the most sense for an all in one DAC and monitor controller without any compromises. If I went with the Convert-2 I’d have to add something like The Source it an ST for monitor control, which brings me up to the same price. I found a great price on a Burl B26 Orca, but then would have to invest in a Burl B2 DAC as well, and the Avocet still seems like the features are more useful than the Orca.
Old 28th May 2020
  #24
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Has anyone heard the Avocet IIA and the Grace m905 side by side, or can speak to the sonic differences? I've heard that the Avocet may add some coloration and the Grace is more transparent, but some prefer the sound of the Avocet?
Old 4 days ago
  #25
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jweisbin View Post
You won't find anything better than the Crane Song Avocet IIA or the Grace M905 (with DAC), but those are both over $3K.

If you are on a tight budget then you could consider adding an Apollo Twin or an Apollo X4 to your setup. That way you add another 4 Sharc chips for more DSP power, and the Twin or X4 becomes the monitor controller. You don't need to connect it digitally because the thunderbolt connection takes care of that. It's not as full featured as a dedicated monitor controller, but may do what you need at half the cost of a Crane Song.
Crane Song Avocet IIA sounds phenomenal. It's absolutely worth saving $ for this thing. I'm not even a pro, but I couldn't resist getting it. I was also interested in the m905, but eventually lost interest because I didn't like the remote.
Old 3 days ago
  #26
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikoo69 View Post
Has anyone heard the Avocet IIA and the Grace m905 side by side, or can speak to the sonic differences? I've heard that the Avocet may add some coloration and the Grace is more transparent, but some prefer the sound of the Avocet?
I’ve owned both and have had them side by side. Sonically speaking, they are both great, but slightly different. You can’t go wrong with either.

I much prefer the remote on the m905 though. It’s very intuitive and powerful.
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