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Monitor controllers knowledge + is it really needed...? Audio Interfaces
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Monitor controllers knowledge + is it really needed...?

I have some doubts about my next interface/monitor controller setup and I started asking myself some question specifically about monitor controllers

HERE'S MY QUESTIONS:
1) is a monitor controller really needed...? I mean, if I get and high quality interface and get a controller to change my out pairs or get a mono sum or sides only etc, why on Earth would I still need one?
2) as I understood, if I connect an interface to a monitor controller with SPDIF, the dac working is ONLY the one in the monitor controller. So if the interface is a bit in the mid/low mid quality range, I would still get high quality of the eventual controller. Is this right?
3) if number 2 is right, why would monitor controllers have analog ins? It would be better for them to have just super high quality dacs and digital ins because if you go dac from your interface-> adc of your monitor controller-> dac of your monitor controller, you're eventually using the dac quality of your interface too so if that's not the best...you're ruining the monitor controller's dac quality
4) if an interface like the Audient ID44 has outputs with a dynamic range of 126 db A weighted, is there any motivation on why it better to get a monitor controller maybe even with lower dynamic range like the Drawmer CMC3 (117 db A weighted)?


Here's an explenation on why I started to look at monitor controllers. It's not needed to answer my questions but it's here anyway
I'm a piano and music production teacher and newbie (started 2 years with great results (evaluated by my teacher)) mixing engineer.
I track for some clients too but many of them just wanna record vocals or an acoustic guitar so nothing fancy. My control room is well treated
For now I've just worked with my steinberg ur22mk2 which has worked well but now I really, really need a new interface and better adc/dac+ a monitor controller with the following possibilities/characteristics:
- record 4 voices/parts (so at least 4 pres) simultaneously
- low latency for recordings
- high quality dac for mixing.
- some monitor control. I would like to have the possibility to switch monitor pairs, sum to mono and would be amazing to have the posibility to listen to mono on left or right only (for true mono monitoring) and if possibile sides too. So I decided to look for a interface for recording + a monitor controller solution but those questions popped up

Thank you for reading all this!!
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Helge's Avatar
 

Ok I give it a shot and start with 3) cause I think there might be the point that´s causing confusion for you. The analog Ins of a monitor controler stay in the analog domain and are not doing any conversion (adc) and back again (dac) like you are describing.
So if you have an interface and a monitor controler with digital input you can actually choose which conversion is better for you - either the controlers dac (using the digital line) or your interfaces dac (using the analog line) without "ruining" anything.

Some interfaces these days are already layed out to be used as monitor controlers (like Audient ID44, Apogee Quartett, SPL Crimson ...) so in this case an extra monitor controler might be really unnecessary. For you this could really be the ticket.

Some points for the need of a controler:
Lots of interfaces are not layed out that way and sometimes one has to deal with the interfaces controling software for monitoring and this can be less ideal (or even dangerous for your active monitors).
Haptic is also a critical point.
What´s also widely (and controversly) discussed is that a dac can have a sweet spot or sounds best operating at full level. So folks like to dim and control levels after the interfaces dac in the analog domain of the controler.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

Following on what Helge said, monitor controllers with multiple analogue ins and/or an analogue in and a s/pdif in give you the flexibility to monitor from multiple sources. You might want to monitor via the main outputs from your DAW for tracking sessions, but plan to mix through and monitor from your console during the mix session.

Not every console has a great control room section.

For that matter, neither does every interface.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Helge View Post
Ok I give it a shot and start with 3) cause I think there might be the point that´s causing confusion for you. The analog Ins of a monitor controler stay in the analog domain and are not doing any conversion (adc) and back again (dac) like you are describing.
So if you have an interface and a monitor controler with digital input you can actually choose which conversion is better for you - either the controlers dac (using the digital line) or your interfaces dac (using the analog line) without "ruining" anything.

Some interfaces these days are already layed out to be used as monitor controlers (like Audient ID44, Apogee Quartett, SPL Crimson ...) so in this case an extra monitor controler might be really unnecessary. For you this could really be the ticket.

Some points for the need of a controler:
Lots of interfaces are not layed out that way and sometimes one has to deal with the interfaces controling software for monitoring and this can be less ideal (or even dangerous for your active monitors).
Haptic is also a critical point.
What´s also widely (and controversly) discussed is that a dac can have a sweet spot or sounds best operating at full level. So folks like to dim and control levels after the interfaces dac in the analog domain of the controler.
Wow! This was a very good explenation and yes, I had a wrong view on the adc+dac in the monitor controller. Never had one and never thought about getting one so it's all new world for me!
So it stays in the analog domain, great to know but it is general knowledge that if u use a not so great monitor controller, especially if active u could have a sound which is not the original one. Right?
So that's why everyone should go with an "high end" active or passive with great cables and great setup. Is this correct?
And I knew about the sweet spot for dac but since I didn't know the analog thing I didn't implement the idea with monitor controllers!

Thank you a lot!!!!
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mag J View Post
Following on what Helge said, monitor controllers with multiple analogue ins and/or an analogue in and a s/pdif in give you the flexibility to monitor from multiple sources. You might want to monitor via the main outputs from your DAW for tracking sessions, but plan to mix through and monitor from your console during the mix session.

Not every console has a great control room section.

For that matter, neither does every interface.
Yep, now everything makes sense lol
Great, great. I'm understanding a bit more

To me could also give the possibility to have multiple outs from the same dac "series" and listen to the mixed/unmixed project
Thank you for answering!
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 
ruffrecords's Avatar
I have never quite understood why people take so much care over monitor controllers. Your speakers and room are the weak link in the monitoring chain.

Cheers

Ian
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by ruffrecords View Post
I have never quite understood why people take so much care over monitor controllers. Your speakers and room are the weak link in the monitoring chain.

Cheers

Ian
Ok MAYBE talking about monitor control shouldn't really be that important as we think it is. I'll give u that
But if u already have a well treated room great monitors, do u weally feel safe sending audio to those amazing monitor through a 20€ interface?
The problem is not really the monitor controller itself but the sound that u send through those monitors and eventually room to your ears

This is what eventually concerns me, as said in the original post
1) adc quality (for my recordings, but it's not what we are talking about)
2) latency (for my recordings, but again it's not what we are talking about)
3) possibility to check mix as said on the original post
4) dac, as explained in the original post
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Lives for gear
 
ruffrecords's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nyroh View Post
Ok MAYBE talking about monitor control shouldn't really be that important as we think it is. I'll give u that
But if u already have a well treated room great monitors, do u weally feel safe sending audio to those amazing monitor through a 20€ interface?
Not entirely sure what you mean by the term 'interface'. Presumably you are recording on a computer so you are playing back using the computer. Presumably your monitors have analogue inputs so the the first question is how does the sound get from your computer to your monitors. Do you use the computer's sound card or and external USB/firewire DAC?[/QUOTE]

Cheers

Ian
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by ruffrecords View Post
Do you use the computer's sound card or and external USB/firewire DAC?
Sorry I meant interface+dac. If u have a low quality dac, u hear a low quality dac even in a high quality room with high quality monitors
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Anyone else wants to chime in with some questions/other point of views on monitor controllers/my questions?
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

In my mind, whether you need a monitor controller is more about solving practical problems than sonic problems.

For example: if your interface is only designed to handle one set of monitors, but you want to run a second set of monitors, then a monitor controller is a viable solution to the problem.

Another example: the main outs on my interface output at full tilt. I either have to run a monitor controller, or I have adjust the playback output via software. A monitor controller is the better solution for me (with the added bonus that I can easily run a second set of monitors).

Another example: you need to monitor playback from different sources. Not every console is great for this, and neither are most interfaces.

Running a monitor controller as a secondary DAC (or as your primary DAC) factors very little into whether I recommend someone add monitor management to their setup. If you don't trust the DAC on your interface to handle playback, then you shouldn't trust the converters on the way in, either.
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