Audient ASP510 by HDJK
The Audient ASP510 is a monitor controller among many. What sets it apart from others, like the Dangerous Music Monitor ST/SR? Actually, purely for the looks I was considering the ST/SR for a while, but after a long research phase I decided to get the ASP510, mainly for 2 reasons: simplicity, and I couldn't afford a 5.1 Crane Song Avocet.
Even though it ships with a nice and comprehensible manual, it is almost entirely self-explanatory. You get direct access to all the sources (3 surround and 3 stereo) and each speaker in your 5.1 setup can be individually cut or soloed. A Dolby Digital Encoder/Decoder can be inserted as well as a Guide track. There's also a 1 button reference volume, DIM/CUT and switchable monitor formats (5.1, LCRS, Stereo, Mono). Depending on which version you get, there's either a ALT stereo speaker available, or a 80Hz SUB switch (I assume this is a global bass management function, but mine has the ALT switch, so I can't be sure).
The best sound quality of a monitor controllers is always the lack of any sound of its own, and the ASP510 is very transparent. The only thing that could be a problem is the small fan on the base unit that could be audible, if you sit right in front of it. When racked, this is not an issue.
As a side not, the fan on my unit was noisy because of its age. I emailed Audient support and they mailed me a new fan, free of charge within 1 week. That's what I call great support
Everything is hooked up with D-Sub connectors. For some reasons beyond my comprehension, Audient chose to make the outputs male connectors. That means getting out the solder (which I have and will never do again when it comes to D-Sub...) or using gender changers on commercially available snakes. No big deal, but still an inconvenience.
The only thing that could be missing for some is a talkback function. Its main purpose is mixing in various surround formats, though, and as such the Audient ASP510 was a great investment that I don't regret.
Highly recommended for analyzing and mixing surround music.
edit: I just learned, that Audient is offering free adapters for the D-Sub male connectors; just contact the help desk