PreSonus Monitor Station by aclarson
For quite a while I had been using software control for my monitoring and headphone outputs. But having to constantly mute/unmute, switching windows from Pro Tools to interface control panel, and dragging that level control up and down manually on screen had gotten very tedious. I would occasionally also restart my PC and forget about my monitors, and would get a loud pop in the speakers when restarting. No bueno. Not to mention that reducing level in software degrades the sound more than an analog control due to the loss of bits. I decided it was time to add a controller to streamline my workflow.
I looked at some of the pricier options, and they are nice, but they all cost more than I was looking to spend. The Monitor Station fit the bill nicely. I have a loft with my recording desk on it, so I had been wanting a second headphone amp for upstairs and down, so when I got the Monitor Station, I was able to use the built in headphone amp for monitoring, so I moved my other HP amp downstairs. Plus, I was able to hook the downstairs amp to my HP output on the Monitor Station, allowing me to use talkback on both amps. Pretty cool. The talkback has been a useful feature as sometimes it's difficult for me to get the guitarist or drummer's attention when they're rocking out and I'm ready to hit record.
Having the switchable and multiple outputs allows for a fairly complex network of monitoring equipment to be switched in and out rather effortlessly, and it's configurable in a number of different ways; beyond the obvious stuff visible from the front panel, there's also a number of hidden yet accesable features such as different switch latching states, meter calibration, etc. The mono button is nice for quickly checking your work, and dim is nice when you wanna hear someone in the room without totally killing the music.
I've heard there's other options that are better sonically. I don't notice much difference with or without it in the chain, perhaps a subtle one, but in general I would think this would be low on the list of worries -- once you have good room treatment, top notch monitoring, and high-end conversion, then it's probably worth fussing over the monitor controller. Until that time, this is an adequate sounding, highly-functional upgrade for your studio. This item falls in the category of things that make it easier to make music with less annoyance, and I generally always consider those items to be worth every dollar if they make it easier to make my art.