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Grace Design unveils the m908 monitor controller Monitor Controllers
Old 12th October 2018
  #1
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Grace Design unveils the m908 monitor controller

m908

surround / multi-channel monitor controller (2.1 through 22.2)



Preliminary information / expected availabity - Q3 2018



For audio professionals working in stereo, surround and immersive formats up to 22.2, we present the m908. All new, from the ground up system architecture represents a plethora of new technical achievements for us. With powerful DSP functionality, our latest generation AD/DA converters, and a highly intuitive control platform, the m908 provides a comprehensive, all in one monitoring solution for a vast array of formats and workflows.
  • Our latest generation of AD and DA converters, 4th generation s-Lock pll for vanishingly low jitter
  • Powerful DSP processor for high resolution volume control, bass management, channel delay and dowmixing
  • Up to 24 channels* for immersive surround formats such as ATMOS™, DTS:X™ and Auro 3D™
  • Manage playback systems from mono through 22.2
  • Full bass management capability
  • Channel level and delay calibration
  • Comprehensive downmix control
  • Analog 16 channel Out / AES3 24 channel I/O
  • ADAT 16 channel In / USB 24 channel In
  • AES3, S/PDIF, and TOSLINK Stereo In
  • Optional Dante™ or DigiLink™ module for 24 channel I/O
  • Optional ADC module for 8 or 16 channel analog Inputs**
  • Powerful and ergonomic remote control unit for access to all system controls
  • Built in SPL meter and pink noise source
  • Dual redundant external power supply
  • Reference quality headphone amplifier with cross-feed
  • Flexible talkback system with built-in mic on remote control and mic input for external talkback mics
  • Up to 3 stereo CUE outputs in addition to stereo headphone monitoring***
* 16 channels of analog out max - up to 24 channels out with external 8 channel DAC
** Stereo balanced and unbalanced analog inputs are standard with ADC option
*** when not using more than 7.1 speaker system

Old 13th October 2018
  #2
I've been holding off on replacing my old SPL 2380 surround controller for several years because I knew there had to be a m905 refresh coming. Here it is, just as I'm about to start mixing something that I recorded in surround with 4 extra height channels. Was that my wallet twitching?
Old 14th October 2018
  #3
Very Nice!
Old 14th October 2018
  #4
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Will there be a full rack version?
Old 15th October 2018
  #5
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And the price?
Old 15th October 2018
  #6
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Looks, functions, and I’m sure sounds amazing.
Is there audio going through the remote? Wonder why they didn’t opt for something wireless in this day and age if it’s only there to control the rack?
Old 15th October 2018
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVage View Post
And the price?
round about 3600,-€
Old 17th October 2018
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc No View Post
Will there be a full rack version?
??

The main unit is a 2U full rack. It's pictured.
Old 17th October 2018
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc No View Post
round about 3600,-€
??
The Grace m906 (which this replaces) is ~ US$6300
Old 17th October 2018
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbjp View Post
Looks, functions, and I’m sure sounds amazing.
Is there audio going through the remote? Wonder why they didn’t opt for something wireless in this day and age if it’s only there to control the rack?
There is an analogue headphone amp (at the quality of Grace's reference headphone amps) and a talkback mic in the remote.
And the screen and lights get their power through that cable also.
Old 17th October 2018
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Rick View Post
I've been holding off on replacing my old SPL 2380 surround controller for several years because I knew there had to be a m905 refresh coming.
I think you meant the m906 (which is their surround controller) and not m905 (which is stereo and was refreshed)
Old 17th October 2018
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
??

The main unit is a 2U full rack. It's pictured.
You don't understand the word "full"? It has a remote control. It's pictured. ;-)
Old 17th October 2018
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc No View Post
You don't understand the word "full"? It has a remote control. It's pictured. ;-)
No I understand "full" and full rack means full-length rack hardware (17-3/4" wide.) We also have 1/2 rack hardware. These are accepted terms for professionals.

If you mean "rack-only" or "without a remote", say that.

And no, Grace's m906 was never a rack-only unit because there is too much going on that won't fit on one rack (even 2U tall). No way with the m908 (which has even more) to make it rack only.

They even stopped making the rack-only m904 (which had an option) when they refreshed it to becoming the m905 and made the remote required. Most likely because everyone wanted the remote with the m904.
Old 17th October 2018
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grace Design View Post
m908

surround / multi-channel monitor controller (2.1 through 22.2)



Preliminary information / expected availabity - Q3 2018



For audio professionals working in stereo, surround and immersive formats up to 22.2, we present the m908. All new, from the ground up system architecture represents a plethora of new technical achievements for us. With powerful DSP functionality, our latest generation AD/DA converters, and a highly intuitive control platform, the m908 provides a comprehensive, all in one monitoring solution for a vast array of formats and workflows.
  • Our latest generation of AD and DA converters, 4th generation s-Lock pll for vanishingly low jitter
  • Powerful DSP processor for high resolution volume control, bass management, channel delay and dowmixing
  • Up to 24 channels* for immersive surround formats such as ATMOS™, DTS:X™ and Auro 3D™
  • Manage playback systems from mono through 22.2
  • Full bass management capability
  • Channel level and delay calibration
  • Comprehensive downmix control
  • Analog 16 channel Out / AES3 24 channel I/O
  • ADAT 16 channel In / USB 24 channel In
  • AES3, S/PDIF, and TOSLINK Stereo In
  • Optional Dante™ or DigiLink™ module for 24 channel I/O
  • Optional ADC module for 8 or 16 channel analog Inputs**
  • Powerful and ergonomic remote control unit for access to all system controls
  • Built in SPL meter and pink noise source
  • Dual redundant external power supply
  • Reference quality headphone amplifier with cross-feed
  • Flexible talkback system with built-in mic on remote control and mic input for external talkback mics
  • Up to 3 stereo CUE outputs in addition to stereo headphone monitoring***
* 16 channels of analog out max - up to 24 channels out with external 8 channel DAC
** Stereo balanced and unbalanced analog inputs are standard with ADC option
*** when not using more than 7.1 speaker system

Nice quality monitor controller. Reminds me of Crane Song and Dangereous Music Monitor Controllers.
Old 22nd October 2018
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
I think you meant the m906 (which is their surround controller) and not m905 (which is stereo and was refreshed)
Yes, I meant the m906. A friend of mine has one, and it's an excellent unit which is very intuitive to operate, but Grace Design has updated their DAC and clocking technologies since it was introduced and I knew it was due for a refresh.

Eben gave me a quick tour of the new m908 at AES last week, and it has clearly retained the operational ease of the earlier units while adding a lot of additional I/O capability. AES and fiber-optic inputs come standard, while option cards allow it to interface with a Dante network or an analog console or external DAC. It's well-suited for use in a modern Atmos or Auro production room, with presets already defined for formats like 7.1, 5.1 + 4 and so forth. There are 16 built-in outputs, expandable (externally) to 24. Left-over outputs can be re-purposed as cue channels. There's additional DSP capability available on all output channels including delay and level calibrations and flexible bass management. There's built-in talkback, if you're using it in a tracking room.

In summary, this box does everything I can imagine needing from a monitor controller, and I'm confident its sonics will match Grace's usual high standard. The question is not if I will buy one, but when.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
Old 22nd October 2018
  #16
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when was the m905 refreshed? was it just the DAC part? i'm still torn between the m905 and avocet IIa (which I know was definitely updated recently), but the m908 is a little out of my league. :(
Old 22nd October 2018
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cubivore View Post
when was the m905 refreshed? was it just the DAC part? i'm still torn between the m905 and avocet IIa (which I know was definitely updated recently), but the m908 is a little out of my league. :(
The m905 is the refresh of the m904 (much like this m908 is the newer version of the m906). And the m905 was more than a little change from the m904 (just like this one). The m905 came out the end of 2012/beginning of 2013 (and the m904 would have been discontinued just before that.)

All that being said, all of these are top performers and the feature set/usability/workflow (more than just that one big volume knob) is more important than the high-quality DACs or changing those. The Avocet IIa remote/setup is far different than the Grace philosophy (or others.)

[I say this as a daily/weekly/monthly user of 2 m906 rooms, 1 m905 room, 2 Dangerous ST/SR rooms, 1 Avocet IIa 5.1 room, and my own personal DAD/MTRX 5.1 room. There are pros/cons to all of them but it really depends on how you like to work. Sound quality isn't an issue.]

However, the one thing I'd like to see on the m908 is for it to support Eucon control (not it controlling other things by Eucon -- which isn't allowed -- but it being controllable by Eucon.) All the knobs on the m908 are "endless rotary" and the switches/buttons are LED indicated (verses physically depressed) so it shouldn't be hard to have it controlled and reflecting of what Eucon is sending it through the monitoring commands (plus the Dante option gives it an ethernet port though there are other ways to send the commands.)
That way it could be controlled via an S6 or Dock/iPad and the m908 remote can live further away or be a second monitor control away from the mix desk (like sitting with the room's assistant engineer off-sides, etc.)

Just not enough room for all these single-purpose remotes.
Old 22nd October 2018
  #18
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Also the cable (or as it is now known on the for the m905 -- the "premium" cable) is really awkward.

With the size of the remote (even when not angled), it blocks things. Add the angle and the non-flexing cable/connector, you lose a lot of visibility of things behind it (it sticks up inches more) and you have to keep it distant from other objects behind it. If the cable came off the right or left or was a right-angle cable, it'd help a lot. As it is, you can't put it in front of an LCD display because you'll lose the bottom third of the screen and it has to sit with a huge gap behind it to clear the cable. So all the m905 and m906 remotes tend to be sitting far away to the left or right or on top of the meter bridge (or even hidden away behind the desk.)

Just because of that cable.
Old 18th November 2018
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
??
The Grace m906 (which this replaces) is ~ US$6300
I think a lower price is reasonable given some of the high quality alternatives out there from JBL and Yamaha. It Grace can be competitive whilst offering great hands on control it should capture a decent chunk of the market.

I wonder if they will consider any built in DSP / Room Correction functions in a future update?
Old 18th November 2018
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matt82aust View Post
I think a lower price is reasonable given some of the high quality alternatives out there from JBL and Yamaha. It Grace can be competitive whilst offering great hands on control it should capture a decent chunk of the market.
The Grace is in a much higher league than the JBL Intonato or Yamaha MMP1. For instance, the Grace has dual external power supplies. And the conversion will be on a much higher spec where the Intonato and MMP1 are "functional."

And the previous m906 made a lot of in-roads to recording/mixing environments that did surround. Places where the likes of the Intonato or MMP1 would never even get in the door.

The Intonato and MMP1 are really meant as processing boxes or to sell a box solution for one of their speaker platforms.


Quote:
Originally Posted by matt82aust View Post
I wonder if they will consider any built in DSP / Room Correction functions in a future update?
A hardware update? Who knows.
A firmware update -- highly unlikely. You'd have to build in a lot of DSP to manage eq functions for 24 channels from the start. That's pretty much a whole different product.

Last edited by pentagon; 18th November 2018 at 10:43 PM.. Reason: missed word
Old 20th November 2018
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
The Grace is in a much higher league than the JBL Intonato or Yamaha MMP1. For instance, the Grace has dual external power supplies. And the conversion will be on a much higher spec where the Intonato and MMP1 are "functional."

And the previous m906 made a lot of in-roads to recording/mixing environments that did surround. Places where the likes of the Intonato or MMP1 would never even get in the door.

The Intonato and MMP1 are really meant as processing boxes or to sell a box solution for one of their speaker platforms.



A hardware update? Who knows.
A firmware update -- highly unlikely. You'd have to build in a lot of DSP to manage eq functions for 24 channels from the start. That's pretty much a whole different product.
I get you, but at the same time you can't say they aren't competing products. I have not heard the sound quality of Intonato or the MMP1, so I can't comment on how they sound, but I can't imagine they are night and day differences?

I do agree about the inroads comment. Whilst Yamaha and JBL would be targeting larger stages and post rooms, my take is that Grace historically seemed to target more of a music studio vibe. I imagine plenty of music mixers would have used the M906 to mix in surround, but I doubt those music mixers would be looking to take advantage of the immersive mixing formats this product delivers...

Regarding conversion, I love my Graces (We own 3x M905s), but we didn't buy them for the conversion, we bought them for the excellent intuitive user experience and flexibility. They also look amazing, and the digital routing feature was always super handy. In fact for me, one of the more appealing things about this new M908 is connecting digitally to speakers over Dante or AES. I love that flexibility.

Redundant power supplies is great (we are currently attending to a failing one in a 5 year old M905...) but when my X-Mon dies in this room and I budget up a replacement system, I hope the price is closer to MMP1 and Intonato than the older M906, because then it becomes a no brainer. (I also acknowledge either of these products have a control surface, let alone one of the best in the industry.

Finally, DSP may be wishful thinking. I noticed it has "powerful DSP" for delays and mix downs. So one can always hope they built it with enough DSP headroom to offer it as a licensable add-on.

Can't wait for this product to be released and all to be revealed!
Old 20th November 2018
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matt82aust View Post
Whilst Yamaha and JBL would be targeting larger stages and post rooms,
Actually the other way around.
They are targeting small rooms for immersive game creation by selling complete room packages. That's a large chunk of the new immersive market and large facilities are being set up with multiple rooms (here in Los Angeles, for one.) And the overall package needs to be low cost. Genelec is also heavily going after this. I know one company that bought for 20 rooms in one buy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by matt82aust View Post
I hope the price is closer to MMP1 and Intonato than the older M906, because then it becomes a no brainer.
There really is zero chance it will be less than the m906 since it has more features and more components than the m906.

In US$,
The Intonato sells for $3k
The MMP1 for $3.8k
The Dangerous ST/SR for $3.5k for 5.1
The Cranesong Avocet IIA 5.1 for $7k and 7.1 channel setup for $9.4k
The Grace m905 (full model) $3.5k

There is no way a 22.2 channel flagship controller is going to be anywhere near the Intonato or MMP1 pricing when Grace's "basic" stereo m905 is $3.5k already. If they can keep it at the m906 price of $6.3k and not go up, everyone will be lucky
Old 3rd December 2018
  #23
Hardware

Based on a conversation at AES, I expect the m908 to come in around $7k US. If you need networked audio, add about $1k additional. That would put it roughly at parity with Crane Song, becoming increasingly cost-competative at higher channel counts.

I should probably add that the current trade war adds uncertainty to the above price estimates. Although Grace Designs products are designed and built in the US, most of the chips inside come from Asia.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
Old 4th December 2018
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Rick View Post
Based on a conversation at AES, I expect the m908 to come in around $7k US.
Seventh String Recording
One of the recording magazines lists the following description in the latest issue:
... the m908 ($7399) is a surround monitor controller supporting up to 24 channels of audio output (16 analog, 8 digital), based on a rackmount I/O box and handheld remote with LCD like those of the m905 but with vastly expanded capabilities and support for many surround/ambisonic/VR formats with downmix control...
It does not say what the channel configuration is though for $7400 USD, e.g., a 5.1 setup.
Old 4th December 2018
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by postfader View Post
It does not say what the channel configuration is though for $7400 USD, e.g., a 5.1 setup.
The base unit has sixteen channels, which is enough is enough to support something wild like 9.2.4 if you happen to be mixing immersive stuff.

David
Old 22nd December 2018
  #26
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Supposed to by shipping now. Any word on this?
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