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Is it a bad idea to plug my expensive monitors directly into my audio interface? Monitor Controllers
Old 19th August 2007
  #1
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Is it a bad idea to plug my expensive monitors directly into my audio interface?

actually, i'm just about to get my first set of mid range nearfield monitors. Adam A7. So obviously I am trying to prepare my home studio so that they will be safe.

should i get something like a Mackie Big Knob to put before my monitors? Although I hear from numerous people the big knob colours the sound ("get passive monitor controller" etc). I've looked at the Control Station and it's outside my budget.

Even if it is really fine just to plug monitors straight into a audio interface, I have other nearfields and my hifi speakers which I'd like to easily switch between.

What would be some good options? Should I just buy a small Tapco mixer like this:
Old 19th August 2007
  #2
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5down1up's Avatar
 

There are workarounds using busses etc. to build an volume controller with your daw. ( well, i dont know what your using so i might be wrong ). hooking monitors up to a audio interface isnt a problem, the only problem really is, volume depends on your masterfader which, if you wanna f.ex bounce your final mix, sucks.

so if your not really sure what your doing DONT connect those speakers to your audiointerface. ( or does it have an own monitoring section ? ). otherwise chances are high that your speakers get hit by the daw at maximum volume. tutt

i use the benchmark dac-1 which sadly is over your budget but is worth every cent. good monitor controller is very important and helpful imo. lots of people save on those. sadly the avocet wasnt out when i bought mine. speaker switching, alt sources, mono buttons, good knobs etc. <-- lusting

i tried some " cheaper " controllers and they all felt and sounded cheap. to controll simply the volume of one pair of speakers, people tend to use the ATTY attentuators. i have 2 of them and they are really nice and ~cheap.

good luck
Old 19th August 2007
  #3
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miqer's Avatar
 

sm-pro works fine

This one if you want to get a second set of monitors, or a second input:

Musikhaus Thomann Cyberstore -

or this one if you stick with only your A7's, nice and cheap:

Musikhaus Thomann Cyberstore -

works for me!
Old 19th August 2007
  #4
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FossilTooth's Avatar
 

You definitely want some type of physical variable attenuater in front of your monitors to protect then from software glitches or a slip of the mouse. It can be as simple as a potentiometer with with balanced ins and outs.
Old 19th August 2007
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by miqer View Post
This one if you want to get a second set of monitors, or a second input:

Musikhaus Thomann Cyberstore -

or this one if you stick with only your A7's, nice and cheap:

Musikhaus Thomann Cyberstore -

works for me!
I've got the latter of your suggestions (The Nano Patch) and its the best £35 I ever spent. I love it.
Old 20th August 2007
  #6
Use an external volume control, and always boot your computer with it turned down. tutt It only takes an audio driver crash to instantly convert an ADAM folded ribbon tweeter into a fireworks display. (Ask me how I know this...).

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
Old 20th August 2007
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miqer View Post
This one if you want to get a second set of monitors, or a second input:

Musikhaus Thomann Cyberstore -
thanks for all your replies.

this particular unit looks great for the price, but I'd like to be able to switch between 3 sets of monitors.

Would a mixing console like the tapco i posted above be just as capable and reliable?
Old 20th August 2007
  #8
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Ugh!! You don't want any Mackie or inferior **** in your monitoring path - they do far too much damage.

I got a Benchmark DAC-1 - it's a breath of fresh air.

But in the meantime, an ATTY from A-designs should give you some safe passive attenuation.
Old 20th August 2007
  #9
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hogo's Avatar
 

The m-patch 2 works great for me, at least until I can afford something in the avocet or dangerous pricerange. It would be funny though to spend more on this than your monitors! (to me anyway)
Old 20th August 2007
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger View Post

I got a Benchmark DAC-1 - it's a breath of fresh air.

.
Thats an d/a with a volume knob built in...

yes, you DO need something as said above, even booting up your software might send a deafening / speaker breaking signal through your self powered speakers.
Old 20th August 2007
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post

yes, you DO need something as said above, even booting up your software might send a deafening / speaker breaking signal through your self powered speakers.
okay, so how would the m-patch 2 mentioned above protect my monitors from this particular situation?
Old 20th August 2007
  #12
The SPL Volume2 is a great and inexpensive solution for this. It gives you a volume knob and a mute button.
Old 20th August 2007
  #13
I'd like to monitor my program buss through the digital inputs on my Tannoy Reveal's but I don't have a digital mixer. I wish there were some monitoring interfaces with simple volume control that had a digital input/output as well as analog.
Old 20th August 2007
  #14
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miqer's Avatar
 

active volume

Quote:
Originally Posted by beefybassandsub View Post
thanks for all your replies.

this particular unit looks great for the price, but I'd like to be able to switch between 3 sets of monitors.

Would a mixing console like the tapco i posted above be just as capable and reliable?
Yeah, it would work... but us slutz here would vote against it. A cheap mixer will add some noise, and 'change' your sound. Even with the EQ not used, something is happening to it... Perhaps you will not hear the difference, but something's happening... so it's up to you...

-

You could also get the sm-pro, put the adams on the monitor out 1 and wire the second monitor output into whatever amp you are using now... perhaps that one has 2 monitor outputs...


m.
Old 20th August 2007
  #15
Gear Nut
all of my sources (2 daws, cd player, mp3 player, etc) go via a Soundcraft Spirit Folio SX mixing desk. this is handy in terms of source selection and being able to play more than one stereo source at one (e.g. i can play guitar via VG-8 or J-Station over CDs / DAWs without repatching). i can't image it does the sound any favours though, but i've (foolishly?) never tried going direct into the flying mole amps. i may do that for critical mixing perhaps.

another option (which i'm considering) would be to go for a hi-fi style preamp. some are simply a passive volume control. others have source selection, remote controls, etc. i'm looking for one or two myself (ideally with source selector and remote), but i'm struggling to find anything on a low budget.
Old 20th August 2007
  #16
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CoteRotie's Avatar
 

I dunno, I think Mackie did a reasonable job with the Big Knob, it's not all that bad. They use decent op-amps on line level signals, they don't really color the audio that much. (I know, that's an unpopular thing to say, but judge for yourself.) Get one on Ebay and if you don't like it sell it.

Regards,

John
Old 20th August 2007
  #17
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This is a tricky one. For awhile I had an Alesis RA100 that has volume knobs on the unit for left and right. That worked for a while.

Then, as the studio grew and changed I went through a few more permutations. I had a Mackie 1202 that did it for awhile. I wouldn't reccomend that. Especially in this day and age.

Then I got a used trident mixer. Finally I am done with having something to adjust the mains. Also, I found that it makes a good summing mixer.

Then with a little bit more experience I found that it makes an awesome control surface.

Then I discovered the eq. It has better eq than I had been using on the DAW. So screw it I started using the eq as well. Well, the next thing you know those aux busses became very handy.

Then one day as I was setting up plugin compression it dawned on me that the trident had good quality balanced inserts and returns. I climbed around the back of the thing and saw that it inserts and returns everywhere. It's got them on the channels, the groups and even the master buss.

One thing about the trident is that the latency is really really low. I don't know how they did it. I tell you I cant hear any latency in that entire box ....



Yes I am messing with you. No, I don't wish to start a war.

Good luck in your search.
Regards.
Old 20th August 2007
  #18
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Gregg Sartiano's Avatar
 

Do you need to drive headphones?

Other than that (and the fact that there will be a bit of difficulty coordinating the L/R balance), why COULDN'T you use the volume knobs on the fronts of the speakers?

(...while you save for a CS or an SPL...)
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Old 20th August 2007
  #19
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miqer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by firby View Post

One thing about the trident is that the latency is really really low. I don't know how they did it. I tell you I cant hear any latency in that entire box ....
Trident has great ASIO drivers for low latency! And Toft stole them!

m.
Old 20th August 2007
  #20
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Find yourself a used Coleman unit. You'll get a superb passive attentuator and a decent headphone amp too...not too pricey and worth every penny.

-Z-
Old 21st August 2007
  #21
Gear Nut
i'm kinda shocked by how expensive a lot of these monitor controllers are, for what they are. doesn't help that i'm looking to buy 2 (quality much less critical for the second).

there seems to be very little in the market between spending £10 on a source selector and another £10 on a potentiometer in Maplin / Tandy / Radioshack etc and spending £200-800 on an integrated solution. ditto if you're looking for a hi-fi style preamp. i have discovered the cambridge audio c500 (now discontinued) - which looks perfect for the job (hi fi preamp with source selector, volume control, and defeatable tone controls, with a remote). they used to be £119 new. any reason i shouldn't be looking at this instead of the other "studio" style offerings?
Old 21st August 2007
  #22
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AlexLakis's Avatar
 

At home I use an ATTY. Works great and is CHEAP!

Old 6th May 2009
  #23
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Hi!

I'm just setting up my first bedroom studio and doing it on the cheap - all second hand gear. Currently I have my Tannoy Reveals connected straight to an EMU 1212m. I'm planning on making some dance music, so to supplement the non-existent low end of the Tannoys, I got a REL Strata sub in good condition for £50. The problem is, I can't connect it without something in between, and anyways it'd be good to have that something in between.

First I was thinking of SM Pro Audio M-Patch 2, but there aren't many second hand and I lost the bid on the one I've seen 2nd hand. Anyway, it'd probably be necessary to get a Rolls ProMatch or Art CleanBox between that and the sub (which takes RCA).

So, now I've been looking at Soundcraft mixers to work essentially as monitor controllers. My main question is this:

How transparent (non-coloured) is the sound out of the cheap Soundcraft mixers?

I am thinking of models like EPM, Spirit SX, Spirit Folio, Spirit Notepad. Are there others makers I should consider, or will all cheap mixers colour the sound much?

I only need:
1 stereo in from the soundcard
1 mono-mic channel (sound quality does not matter at all, the only use is for pitch-to-midi midi controlling)
1 send to soundcard for the mic alone (not the rest of the "mix")
1 balanced stereo out to monitors
1 unbalanced RCA (tape) stereo out to sub (affected by the same volume control as monitors, but having in addition another level control would be great)
1 headphone out, with possibility to mute speakers while listening to phones

And that's it. I wouldn't use the mixer at all for mixing. Just monitor controlling + cheap mic pre. But if the cheap mixers will be lying a lot about the sound (which is all in-the-box), I'd rather go for the passive SM Pro Audio products and separate pre amp. And I don't have much desk space at all.

Opinions? Are the Soundcraft mixers clear enough?
Old 6th May 2009
  #24
RTR
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RTR's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by beefybassandsub View Post
actually, i'm just about to get my first set of mid range nearfield monitors. Adam A7. So obviously I am trying to prepare my home studio so that they will be safe.

should i get something like a Mackie Big Knob to put before my monitors? Although I hear from numerous people the big knob colours the sound ("get passive monitor controller" etc). I've looked at the Control Station and it's outside my budget.

Even if it is really fine just to plug monitors straight into a audio interface, I have other nearfields and my hifi speakers which I'd like to easily switch between.

What would be some good options? Should I just buy a small Tapco mixer like this:
Don't your adda have a master volume knob..I have my mains hooked to out 1&2, going to my power amp then to my monitors and I just use the volume knob on the front of my adda!
Old 6th May 2009
  #25
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My only ADDA is my soundcard (EMU 1212m). I control volume from the windows volume controller, thus loosing bits and having only one set of balanced stereo outs, which I can't split into balanced and unbalanced with a simple splitter. And my monitors are active, so no poweramp either.
Old 6th May 2009
  #26
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chrisrnps's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
yes, you DO need something as said above, even booting up your software might send a deafening / speaker breaking signal through your self powered speakers.
So am I the only person that powers up the external drives, interface, and rack gear, then the computer, then goes for a cup of coffee and comes back to turn on the monitors last (i.e. the "last thing turned on, first thing turned off" rule from the Live Sound School of Hard Knocks)?

I'm currently doing the "outs from the interface straight to the monitors and just be damn careful about what's going on with the computer before you touch anything, son" thing.

If I had higher-dollar monitors (still using HR824s here, plus switching between some old APT-Holman amps driving KEF 105/4, KEF Uni-Q Q10s, and little Sony speakers that came with the big, stackable-video-wall-array broadcast video monitors as ersatz-horrortones to check translation) I'd probably be more paranoid, but part of me thinks that an outboard mixer or monitor controller is just as likely to fail as the output section of an interface, and there's always some amount of risk no matter what you do.
Old 6th May 2009
  #27
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chrisrnps's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nobo View Post
i'm kinda shocked by how expensive a lot of these monitor controllers are, for what they are. doesn't help that i'm looking to buy 2 (quality much less critical for the second).
The funny thing is, they're expensive because you're paying for what they're not.
Old 6th May 2009
  #28
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Batchainpuller78's Avatar
 

Monitors last thing to turn on, first thing to turn off.
Old 6th May 2009
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Talbot View Post
That is exactly how it's done.
The most important piece of equipment in any professional, project, or home studio being the coffee maker, of course. Gotta keep that thing calibrated and aligned at all times.

Old 6th May 2009
  #30
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LOL!

Well, I ain't obviously making music for a living, but down at the office I have a well calibrated espresso machine sitting right next to me.
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