Dangerous Music Monitor ST by K. Osborne
The Dangerous Monitor ST is a full featured "mission control" for your monitoring setup. Allows for lots of inputs and outputs, and there are additional pieces of hardware that allow you to add more ins and outs, surround capabilities, etc. Has headphone outs, talkback, dim and solo functions, aux input, programmable levels for each speaker output, programmable +4/-10 levels for inputs, sub integration, and so many more features...oh yeah, and incredible sound quality!
I was looking for something that would be a do-it-all central station and yet be high quality. It is said that a stepped attenuator is a much higher quality (and much more accurate) way of attenuating your signal from DAW to Monitors than a potentiometer. Pots can have shifts in the image and tone all over the place, meaning it will sound slightly darker or have less low end at lower levels, or the left side of the image might be -1.5dB from the right side, etc. This is just an annoyance. I've tried so many of the other "budget" products out there like the TC Level Pilot, Mackie Big Knob, Presonus Central Station, and I've come to one conclusion - DO NOT skimp on monitor controllers! Wow! What a difference this thing has made to my workflow.
When I first hooked this guy up I was a very careful not to succumb to the whole "I paid $X for it, so it obviously makes a big difference" syndrome. I was wanting so badly to hook it up and say "yeah sure, I guess it sounds better." But WOW! I'm hearing detail at low levels like never before. I mix somewhat quietly, and attenuating a potentiometer that low is bound to have issues. With the Monitor ST, all of those issues are gone. It's crystal clear every step of the way, and the sound quality is just amazing. It sounds as though it's easier to hear transient detail and depth in a mix. Contrary to some reviews that I've read, no, this box doesn't "make the mix wider and bigger" or anything silly like that. No no, it just allows you to hear the mix as it should be heard - clear, defined, and great at all listening levels. I mean, I feel like I'm enjoying mixing more. I know it sounds like hype, but trust me, it's not! I am a believer now. It's not subtle.
Why I Love It
This thing allows me to hook up all of my monitors, my two computers, my interfaces, and my iPhone all to one place, and immediately be able to access any input to any output. It allows me to work quickly, effectively, and I cannot live without it. I don't know what I'd do without a hardware monitor controller of some kind. It's just absolutely essential. This one is the best I've used in this price range, and I continue to find out great things about it the more I use it. Little tweaks, features, things you can do with the aux and cue functions.
When I first got this, I, like a fool, didn't realize that all the I/O are DSUB connectors (db25). I didn't have any extras! So I had to wait two weeks to get some parts in to make them. Very frustrating. MAKE SURE you have Dsub connectors all sorted out before buying it - in my setup, this is a con, because I use hard wired patchbays, not dsubs, so it just made it annoying to have to switch out to a totally different connector type. But, many people use dsub so it may not be a problem!
The price might be a little high for some. It is a VERY high quality unit, and I think it's worth every penny, but I can see how some people would think it's not worth $1900 for what you're getting. If it were $1200 or even $1500 they might sell a lot more of these things. It's a mental game - saying "I spent almost $2000 on this monitor controller" is hard for the guys that say things like "I could have gotten a preamp for that much..."
Point is - this will make more of a difference than any preamp. It will allow you to hear things accurately. Which is priceless in tracking, mixing, and mastering. I mean, if you can't trust what you are hearing, who gives a crap what mic pre you're using? You might think it sounds good, but maybe it doesn't, or vice versa. Monitoring chain is critical to everything we do. Everything! Every decision is based on what we hear out of the speakers.
The clicking sound of the relay - it's not that loud, but it can be a little annoying and distracting when working on really mellow music at low levels. If it bothers you, you have to put it away from you, which makes the talkback feature a little difficult to deal with.
So I know this might have seemed a little vague. The point is, this thing is SOLID. If you've been on the fence, it's just made so well and will not disappoint you. The sound quality is pristine, the craftsmanship is Grade A, and it can be the centerpiece to your monitor rig. Truly pro quality. Two thumbs up!