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Simple, high-quality monitor selector

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Simple, high-quality monitor selector

Postby a_handley » Fri Apr 30, 2021 4:49 am

I'm using a Mackie Big Knob (MBK) and experiencing stereo volume variation between monitors as documented in this video: https://youtu.be/V_6_ek8V1-A?t=227

After viewing the above video, I can begin to appreciate the complexity of producing accurate/even volume adjustments (in stereo) using devices like monitor controllers, and also how incredibly expensive high-end monitor controllers are--but I'm wondering if there is a reasonably priced, high fidelity/well-made device that simply functions without a volume knob?

In my setup, for example, I'm not using the MBK to switch between two monitor sets but, instead, to switch between two output signals (with dedicated volume controls) into a single pair of studio monitors. So, again, seems to me that a simple solution to the issue I'm having with the MBK--volume variation within the stereo signal--is to find a well-made input selector without a volume knob. After searching for a bit I only came across two viable examples, both of which seem cheaply made and receive pretty mixed reviews (documenting instances of unwanted noise, fidelity loss, or the units simply falling apart):

First:
shorturl.at/qJVZ2
(Hosa SLW-333 Passive Stereo Monitor Switcher)

Second:
shorturl.at/cuDK7
(Coleman Audio LS3 Line Level Selector)

Is anyone aware of a device similar to the two linked about (TRS input/channel switchers, essentially) that is well-made/tried and true?

I appreciate any insight/advice!
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Re: Simple, high-quality monitor selector

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Apr 30, 2021 9:26 am

a_handley wrote:I'm using a Mackie Big Knob (MBK) and experiencing stereo volume variation between monitors as documented in this video

While it is true that ganged pots always suffer some degree of mistracking between channels, it is only usually significant at very low volume settings where the track resistances get very large. And in fact that video makes that point very clear -- through the most used part of the range (the top third) tracking errors are less than 1dB and that kind of discrepancy is rarely noticed in a practical situation as it represents an angular error of under 1 degree which is right on the limit of human detection!

If you find you are having to use your volume control in the bottom 25% of its range regularly -- where mistracking can become significant -- your monitoring chain gain structure needs reworking!

Ideally, your normal working reference volume setting should be around 2 o'clock on the dial, and your normal working range should be from about 12 o'clock up to the max position. If you need occasionally to listen at lower levels then use the Dim button which should knock the volume back by 20dB while leaving your volume knob to work around its reference point (and thus maintain accurate channel tracking).

I'm wondering if there is a reasonably priced, high fidelity/well-made device that simply functions without a volume knob?

Do you mean a simple source selector switch? They certainly exist in myriad forms, and you've found two common ones already. I've not used the Hosa one, but I have the Coleman (as well as some of that company's rack mounting switchers which I've found to be extremely good) -- and Radial do a variety of well-made switchers too.

At the end of the day, you get what you pay for, though. A cheap switch in a box will always be just that, and thus potentially noisy, unreliable and not very robust. A high-quality switch is, inherently, expensive.

But to be frank, if you set up your monitoring gain structure sensibly you really shouldn't have any problematic stereo mis-tracking issues with a Mackie BK.
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Re: Simple, high-quality monitor selector

Postby forumuser931182 » Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:33 am

Leave the Big Knob knob at 100% and just use the A/B switch. This will be the same as a simple switch box and the Mackie is a good quality product. You can get professional balanced switch boxes but they generally have xlr connectors and are generally multiple inputs to a single output which means the xlr’s will be reversed gender for your use.
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Re: Simple, high-quality monitor selector

Postby a_handley » Sat May 01, 2021 6:10 pm

Thanks for the inisght! Great advice re: Mackie.
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