Monitor Controller Question

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Monitor Controller Question

Post by Briz »

In my basic setup, I have the Clarett+ 8pre as my audio interface. I use Pro Tools Studio as my DAW. With the recent incorporation of 3 outboard gear units, I'm running out of of inputs and outputs.

In the past, I've mixed with one set of monitors and ITB. So here's my situation: I want to add Avantone Pro Active MixCubes to my setup. Eventually, I'll add more ins and outs via ADAT, but until then I need to keep 4 inputs open.

I've never used a monitor controller before, outside of a Mackie Big Knob years ago. I'd like to A/B between the Focals and MixCubes.
I've been researching active controllers and two keep popping up: Audient Nero and Drawmer MC2.1. My budget is around $700 USD or less. What do you recommend in this price range? Thanks in advance for your advice and recommendations.
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by Aaron Straley »

Here is what I use to switch between monitors. Works perfectly for that

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... e-selector
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by sonics »

I've used the PreSonus Central Station Plus in a couple of studios. It seemed to work well enough. I've heard rumours of quality or longevity issues, though I've not seen that personally.
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by Luke W »

I don't think you can go far wrong with any of the Drawmer units. No experience of using them myself, but if I remember correctly there are certainly a few people on here that are very happy with them. I understand that they perform very well given their price point as well.

In case you'd not spotted it, here's a review of the MC2.1
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Briz wrote: Sun Nov 27, 2022 9:38 pmMy budget is around $700 USD or less. What do you recommend in this price range?

Other than switching between two sets of stereo monitors (which could be achieved with a much less expensive switch box), what monitor controller facilities do you require?

There are a couple of Drawmer and SPL options within budget, as well as the Presonus and some Coleman switchers.

But they have quite significantly different feature sets, so you need to think about what you need/want to avoid paying for things you'll never use.
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by Briz »

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Sun Nov 27, 2022 10:23 pm
Briz wrote: Sun Nov 27, 2022 9:38 pmMy budget is around $700 USD or less. What do you recommend in this price range?

Other than switching between two sets of stereo monitors (which could be achieved with a much less expensive switch box), what monitor controller facilities do you require?

There are a couple of Drawmer and SPL options within budget, as well as the Presonus and some Coleman switchers.

But they have quite significantly different feature sets, so you need to think about what you need/want to avoid paying for things you'll never use.

Mainly, I'd like to A/B, listen in mono, and preserve the sound of the monitors without altering or coloring the output. Nice-to-haves would be talk back and dimming. If there's a controller out there for less, believe me, I'd gladly prefer to spend less. I will not be using a sub, and I won't need immersive audio capabilities. Thanks.
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by Bob Bickerton »

As has been said, it’s really down to the facilities you require. Having said that, I’ve been well pleased with the Drawmer CMC2 which is around 50% of your budget. https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... controller

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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by Briz »

Bob Bickerton wrote: Mon Nov 28, 2022 2:03 am As has been said, it’s really down to the facilities you require. Having said that, I’ve been well pleased with the Drawmer CMC2 which is around 50% of your budget. https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... controller

Bob

Thank you. I appreciate the recommendation. I'll definitely check it out. Alternatively, have you (or anyone else here) used outputs 3 & 4 (or any combination) on your audio interface and simply changed the output routing on the master in your DAW? I'm just thinking here, but maybe it might be easier to add 8 more inputs via ADAT and use the 8 ins and outs on my audio interface for outboard gear and monitors and the 8 additional inputs for tracking. I don't know if that might be an option, or how I'd sum to mono.
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by sonics »

Briz wrote: Mon Nov 28, 2022 3:27 am Alternatively, have you (or anyone else here) used outputs 3 & 4 (or any combination) on your audio interface and simply changed the output routing on the master in your DAW?

I use an RME interface, which has very configurable software, so yes. I don't have any need for talkback ATM, but could incorporate it if I did, I'm sure. It works very well, is easy to control and means no additional audio processing, which I'm very happy about. The software takes care of the Chinese food (dim, sum etc. - sorry!) :lol:
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by Moroccomoose »

This is exactly what I do. I have mains on 1&2, a quirk in my interface makes having headphones on 3&4 convenient (it has 2 headphone outs, but the first headphone is on channels 1&2 so the volume is tied to monitor volume, putting them on 3&4 means I have independent physical volume controls) and I have an out to my hifi on 5&6. I use Cubase control room to switch between the three. In reaper, I set up a similar function using sends that can be turned on and off. And I have ADAT expansion but for other stuff, not my monitoring.
I also use the interface control panel to select the outputs if not using a DAW.

Stu.
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by ef37a »

Hi Briz, I strongly suggest you avoid passive controllers. I cannot speak for any others but I have checked the circuits in the Mackie BK Passive and it is a strange design that could cause distortion and definitely unbalances sources.

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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by MarkOne »

sonics wrote: Sun Nov 27, 2022 10:02 pm I've used the PreSonus Central Station Plus in a couple of studios. It seemed to work well enough. I've heard rumours of quality or longevity issues, though I've not seen that personally.

I have had it's baby brother the Monitor Station V2 for several years now and it seems to work very well, no quality issues, very well built and loads of switching flexibility (2 stereo sources, an Aux switchable from Line to SPDIF, three speaker outputs, four headphone outs...) Sound quality is pretty good, it seems low noise and transparent.
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by Kwackman »

Briz wrote: Sun Nov 27, 2022 10:56 pm Mainly, I'd like to A/B, listen in mono, and preserve the sound of the monitors without altering or coloring the output. Nice-to-haves would be talk back and dimming

It's not a standalone monitor controller, but the Audient iD22 interface gives all the monitoring facilities you mentioned. It's cheaper than the Nero....
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Briz wrote: Mon Nov 28, 2022 3:27 amAlternatively, have you (or anyone else here) used outputs 3 & 4 (or any combination) on your audio interface and simply changed the output routing on the master in your DAW?

Yes. If you have sufficient available outputs it can work well. Instead of a conventional hardware monitor controller, you control the monitoring via software, either using the interface controller app, or the DAW itself.

Cubase/Nuendo have very good virtual monitor controller facilities, but many other DAWs can be set up to perform similar functions.

I don't know if that might be an option, or how I'd sum to mono.

Summing to mono is often easier in a DAW than in an external controller (especially passive controllers).

But if you want the versatility of a hardware controller, Bob's suggestion for the small Drawmer is good...
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by Luke W »

If you do decide to go for the software route, then Brainworx bx_solo is free, and can sit on your master output and offer some useful monitoring features that not all DAWs have built in. :thumbup:
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by Briz »

I know that the Heritage Audio Baby RAM is passive, but has anyone used this unit?
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by Peevy »

Briz wrote: Tue Nov 29, 2022 8:47 pm I know that the Heritage Audio Baby RAM is passive, but has anyone used this unit?


I swapped out my Drawmer cmc2 for the Heritage Audio Baby RAM. I had ground hum issues through my monitors with the Drawmer and instead of faffing about, decided to go passive (The Drawmer also had a scratchy left channel)

I’ve been exceedingly happy with the Baby Ram. It does everything I need it to do and I can use software for the monitoring bells and whistles if needed. It sounds good to my ears (mine are not expert ears) I also love the stepped gain as it’s easier to maintain consistent listening levels. It has a lovely big volume control. It does click through the gain steps and when I first tried it out, I wasn’t sure if I liked that. But I now find it oddly reassuring :shocked: It’s also built like a tank.
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by Martin Walker »

Luke W wrote: Mon Nov 28, 2022 1:35 pm If you do decide to go for the software route, then Brainworx bx_solo is free, and can sit on your master output and offer some useful monitoring features that not all DAWs have built in. :thumbup:

I echo this recommendation, and have used bx_solo a lot, both as a simple stereo widener, but more often so I can listen to the side signal on its own (great for examining commercial mixes for instance).
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by Briz »

Thank you all for your help. I have bx_solo - I'll give it a try. I'm going to roll the dice and try the Baby RAM for the short term. If it lives up to the hype, problem solved. If not, I'll step up to one of the active controllers mentioned (Nero, Drawmer, et. al). Thanks again!
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Re: Monitor Controller Question

Post by Martin Walker »

Peevy wrote: Tue Nov 29, 2022 9:27 pm I swapped out my Drawmer cmc2 for the Heritage Audio Baby RAM. I had ground hum issues through my monitors with the Drawmer and instead of faffing about, decided to go passive (The Drawmer also had a scratchy left channel)

I’ve been exceedingly happy with the Baby Ram. It does everything I need it to do and I can use software for the monitoring bells and whistles if needed. It sounds good to my ears (mine are not expert ears) I also love the stepped gain as it’s easier to maintain consistent listening levels. It has a lovely big volume control. It does click through the gain steps and when I first tried it out, I wasn’t sure if I liked that. But I now find it oddly reassuring :shocked: It’s also built like a tank.

Hadn't come across this one before, but it not only looks impressive with its Neve-like knob, is reasonably priced, but apparently features a 24-step rotary switch instead of a pot, to offer 0.1dB precision on each of its 24 positions 8-)

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