Sm Pro Audio M-Patch 2.1 by Jorock
Simple, strong, reliable. These three words are the terms that come to mind when I think of how to classify the SM Pro Audio M-Patch 2.1 Monitor Control. This unit has proven itself over the past one and a half years that I have put it to use. Here’s why…
The SM Pro Audio M-Patch 2.1 monitor system is built for controlling playback volume, level matching, mixing and monitoring in a variety of ways for the recording studio engineer. Whether the output sent to the M-Patch is from a digital or analog system, it handles the task very well. The newest feature added to the unit over previous models allows for the use of a subwoofer with a crossover output (hence the 2.1). Inputs to the device include dual balanced XRS/TRS combo jacks, unbalanced RCA inputs, dual balanced 3.5mm TRS jacks, two pairs of balanced XLR outputs, a balanced XLR subwoofer output, and balanced subwoofer crossover returns, and lastly a ¼” amplified headphone jack – whew!!!
SIMPLE: The interface of the device is well thought out and allows for easily muting the playback on both balanced and auxiliary outputs. The switches feel solid, LED indicators help simplify the output selection from far away, and independent volume knobs placed across the front of the unit make for very straight-forward operation! Everything is nicely spaced; the unit’s front panel is angled so when rack mounted it is easily accessible and viewable when looking from above. Another handy feature is the mono/stereo switch; with the push of a button the listener can flip their mix to mono to check for phase issues and mono compatibility.
STRONG: The M-Patch 2.1 strength comes from both the solid and rugged feel of the unit; as well as its performance and flexibility. It is well designed from the ground up when you compare to other units that are 3-4 times the price, and it has options that could last well beyond many other pieces of gear that often come in and out of a studio (whether at home or in a professional setting). The unit’s flexibility is due to the simple fact that you can monitor multiple input sources and send it to multiple output sources. So you can A/B your recordings to other tracks and reference check it across different speaker sets.
RELIABLE: The reliability of the unit speaks to two facts – I have used my M-Patch 2.1 for a year and a half. I use it in a home studio setting and have not encountered a single issue or hiccup in its function. Headphone amplifier, LEDs, and knobs are all intact and operate the same as the day I bought it. Secondly, it’s all about what the listener hears. I have carefully checked the performance based on criticisms I have read about it dropping out on the low and high frequencies at quieter volumes. I have found the only drop out I have noticed is more likely attributable to the Fletcher-Munson curve that occurs naturally with the human ear, rather than the unit itself. I feel I can depend on the M-Patch 2.1 for accurate, clear reproduction of the audio going into it.
CRITICISM: Ok ok, I don’t trust reviews that are ALL positive either; nothing is perfect right?! Criticisms I feel worth noting are:
- the unit would benefit from a second headphone output
- I find the signal level of the headphone amp to be tied to the master output so you have to have your master volume knob turned up a fair amount to give the headphone amp a strong enough signal to work with. Not a major problem, but could pose a risk when trying to monitor from a control room that is not totally isolated from the mics that are live, as the signal needs to be slightly hotter