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SM Pro Audio M-Patch 2.1
3.5 3.5 out of 5, based on 2 Reviews

Passive Monitor Controller with Subwoofer Output


19th January 2012

Sm Pro Audio M-Patch 2.1 by Jorock

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
SM Pro Audio M-Patch 2.1

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

23rd January 2012

Sm Pro Audio M-Patch 2.1 by disjunction

  • Sound Quality 2 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 2 out of 5
  • Overall: 2.75
SM Pro Audio M-Patch 2.1

SM Pro M-Patch 2.1

About a year ago my previous monitor controller gave up the ghost. It was an active controller that had great features but over the years made me realise that it significantly coloured the sound but not in a way that i preferred. So, with a looming deadline and no controller, i bought what seemed to be the best bang for bucks monitor controller for a small home studio at the time. The passive design appealed to me after having muddy colour imposed on my monitors for the last few years. But, with newer significantly better monitors in my studio i decided to snap up the SM Pro M-Patch 2.1 and replace it within the year if it was no good.

Features
The ability to switch between two sets of monitors and the option of monitor two balanced sources or two unbalanced (Aux Inputs) RCA sources is perfectly acceptable though only one source can be selected at a time. selecting multiple inputs at one time was a feature that i had been used to on my older Monitor controller. Mono and Mute switches were expected and the optional powered headphone amp a bonus. However I never the headphone amp. as i was happy with the headphone amp on my audio interface. Talk back was not something that i had used more than twice in the previous 5 years so i did not miss this and could quite happily rig this internally on my audio interface if needed. The stepped attenuator seemed like a potential improvement from my previous controller but may have been ultimately be let down by the low quality trims (volume) for both the balanced and unbalanced inputs.

The Sound
The SM Pro M-Patch 2.1 while passive has significant effect on the sound that reaches my monitors. At low levels the stereo field collapses. At higher levels of about 65db or higher the the stereo field reappears but is still quite hard to decipher. When my monitors were directly connected to my to my audio interface there are no such issues.

The Build Quality
The box it's self has a rather vintage design being constructed of folded mild steel and is quite large on the desktop. i like the desktop form factor but this is bigger than it needs to be. There is a lot of empty space in that box. I know this because at one pont i had to open the box to determine why the 'Aux Input' switch had stopped working. I found out that some switches differ in the box. The 'Aux Input' switches are made from different and probably (evidently) cheaper inferior switches. I found a way around this by not using the 'Aux Inputs' any more and proceeded to plan my next monitor controller.

The Price:
The SM Pro M-Patch 2.1 is cheap. You get what you pay for. but in some sense you get something taken away from you by using this and that is the stereo field.

Conclusion
Ultimately i cannot recommend anyone buy AN SM Pro M-Patch 2.1. The quality is low and the resulting audio is poor. the chain from your DAW to your speakers needs to be the best it can for your dollar and while i understand that some people don't have that many dollars. I would ask, this question. Why would you pay for an item that reduced your ability to hear the results of your hard work? Sure the feature set looks good on paper but the resulting devices suffers from cheap manufacturing. If cash was tight and i needed a monitor controller i would perhaps consider a simple controller with less features at around the same price.

So, now a year later The SM Pro M-Patch 2.1 has been replaced now by a Dangerous D-box. While not really comparable in price and certainly no Crane song Avocet it does return almost all the features from my previous monitor controller as well as adding some more potentially useful features such as 8 channels of summing, a nice D/A and ensures a clean signal path.

 

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