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monitor controller suggestion?

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monitor controller suggestion?

Postby pete smith » Mon Sep 18, 2006 3:09 pm

Hi,

I have decided on upgrading my audio interface to either an Echo Audiofire 8 or an RME fireface 400 and am looking for a monitor controller to control the output between my interface and active monitor speakers.

At the minute i am using a Mackie VLZ 1402 pro mixing console inbetween my interface and monitor speakers to control the volume coming from my interface. I believe this is colouring and somewhat degrading the sound quality from my interface.

What i need is a monitor controller that has two inputs and outputs and prreferably a mute and mono button. I have looked into the mackie big knob and was dissapointed by the comments about the colouration and degrading of the sound when passed through this unit.

I have about £250 to spend and am looking for a controller that will give me the least colouration (passive maybe?) and a good equal stereo image with detailed sound.

A product i am interested in is the M-Patch 2 from SM Pro Audio (http://www.smproaudio.com/MPATCH2.htm)

I can't find any reviews of this product but their description says it will not colour the sound, is passive and basically just attenuates the signal.

Most importantly of all, will the M-patch 2 provide a cleaner, clearer and more detailed signal path than my current signal path that is passing through my Mackie VLZ 1402 mixing desk?

Many thanks
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Re: monitor controller suggestion?

Postby James Lehmann » Mon Sep 18, 2006 3:59 pm

The LA Audio SPX-20 might be just up your street.
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Re: monitor controller suggestion?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Sep 18, 2006 4:05 pm

Passive controllers are not always the best solution, but do avoid the problems associated with some budget electronic designs.

I don't know the device you have linked to, but it seems capable enough. Slightly worying that neither the website nor the manual provides the input and output impedances though, since these are critical in matching the passive controller to the sources and amplifiers.

Other options to consider are the pasive controller rfom NHT Pro and the Coleman passive monitor controllers. The latter have excellent quality stepped attentuators and are very impressive sounding boxes.

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Re: monitor controller suggestion?

Postby Lusitano » Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:54 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Passive controllers are not always the best solution, but do avoid the problems associated with some budget electronic designs.

I don't know the device you have linked to, but it seems capable enough. Slightly worying that neither the website nor the manual provides the input and output impedances though, since these are critical in matching the passive controller to the sources and amplifiers.

Other options to consider are the pasive controller rfom NHT Pro and the Coleman passive monitor controllers. The latter have excellent quality stepped attentuators and are very impressive sounding boxes.

hugh

Found this info in the SXP20Datasheet.pdf :

ELECTRICAL
Frequency response: ±1dB, 20Hz to 20kHz
Noise: < -90dB (at unity gain)
* Input impedance: 20k
* Output impedance: <100R

Input trim range: ±10dB
Output level 1 & 2: Off to +10dB
DIM: -20dB
Power Consumption: 7VA, 115/230VAC, 50/60Hz

I hope it helps :roll:
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I was impressed by SM Pro's M-Patch 2!

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Sep 18, 2006 6:07 pm

In answer to the original question, th answer is yes - SM Pro Audio's M-Patch 2 should result in a significantly cleaner, clearer, and more detailed signal path than passing it through a Mackie VLZ 1402 mixer. I've just bought an M-Patch 2 for my own studio, and my review of it should hopefully appear in SOS shortly.

Hugh's quite correct in saying that passive monitor controllers are not always the best solution, and you have to keep the output cable fairly short and use low capacitance cable to avoid potential HF loss. However, I didn't run into any such problems.

Although I agree that quoting input and output impedances for the unit would be useful, I suspect in fact that the output impedance will vary considerably over the travel of the pot. However, given that the quad-gang pot used has a value of 5Kohm, this is (in my opinion) a very appropriate value to avoid loading most line-level outputs, while maintaining a low enough output impedance to avoid most HF loss.

Ultimately though it's an absolute bargain at £84 (better value than the NHT Pro's Passive Volume Control with fewer features, and considerably cheaper than the Coleman range)

Can you tell I was impressed yet? I also had a Private Message from someone else this morning who'd just bought one remove a Behringer DDX desk from his signal path, and was similarly impressed with the improvement


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Re: monitor controller suggestion?

Postby Stickybud » Mon Sep 18, 2006 6:54 pm

I think the TC Konnekt 24D is built to control active monitors, and can even work as a monitor controller when the computer is off. I see the FX work when the PC is off too. Bloody revolutionary that. I got mine for £349 inc VAT, if only the turdkey guys would get some in stock!!

Basically an audio interface/monitor controller/pre amp & FX unit rolled into 1.


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Re: I was impressed by SM Pro's M-Patch 2!

Postby Koed » Mon Sep 18, 2006 6:56 pm

Thanks Martin, been waiting on a SOS review of the m-patch 2 before I go out and buy one.

The original M-patch got some bad reviews on build and signal quality and I was hoping they'd improved on it.
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Re: I was impressed by SM Pro's M-Patch 2!

Postby Frank Eleveld » Mon Sep 18, 2006 10:22 pm

Martin Walker wrote:In answer to the original question, th answer is yes - SM Pro Audio's M-Patch 2 should result in a significantly cleaner, clearer, and more detailed signal path than passing it through a Mackie VLZ 1402 mixer. I've just bought an M-Patch 2 for my own studio, and my review of it should hopefully appear in SOS shortly.


I'm a bit worried about the quality of the potmeter in cheaper (passive) monitor controllers. Pots that have offsets between the left and right channel or don't track accurately across their entire tracking range may cause the stereo image to shift - you don't want that in a controller. I don't know the M-Patch, did you find tracking mismatches Martin?

If you're not afraid of some DIY you can make yourselves a basic relay-controlled stepped attenuator controller that doesn't suffer from channel imbalances for around £ 100 - in the 'Monitor Controller' topic in the DIY section you can find sources to obtain kits with which you can make a monitor controller yourselves.

Cheers,
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Re: monitor controller suggestion?

Postby Neil C » Mon Sep 18, 2006 11:24 pm

Stickybud wrote:I think the TC Konnekt 24D is built to control active monitors, and can even work as a monitor controller when the computer is off.

:angel:

I'm having a problem with mine where outputs 3 & 4 output at maximum level all the time, even when the front panel overall level knob is at minimum. Nothing I do in the interface makes a difference and the interface meters do not show any signal going in or out in regards to outs 3 & 4. I'm waiting to hear back from TC support.
But it works as a monitor controller fine with outs 1 & 2.
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Re: monitor controller suggestion?

Postby Mike Martin » Tue Sep 19, 2006 3:57 am

Neil C wrote:
Stickybud wrote:I think the TC Konnekt 24D is built to control active monitors, and can even work as a monitor controller when the computer is off.

:angel:

I'm having a problem with mine where outputs 3 & 4 output at maximum level all the time, even when the front panel overall level knob is at minimum. Nothing I do in the interface makes a difference and the interface meters do not show any signal going in or out in regards to outs 3 & 4. I'm waiting to hear back from TC support.
But it works as a monitor controller fine with outs 1 & 2.

I'm pretty sure that outputs 3-4 can only be controlled from the Konnekt Control Panel Mixer. The main level knob only controls outs 1-2.
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Re: monitor controller suggestion?

Postby pete smith » Tue Sep 19, 2006 11:56 am

Thanks for everybodys input.

As mentioned in the first post, i am interesting in upgrading my soundcard to either an Echo Audiofire 8 or RME Fireface 400. The TC Konekt 24D looks very similar on paper to the RME FIreface 400. The Konnekt is also nearly half the price and includes a monitor control volume knob which is what i am looking for.

One question is though: How accurate is the Konnekt's volume control knob with regards to stereo image? are the left and right channels accurate throughout the pots full tracking range? How fine is the resolution of the monitor control knob?

If anybody has the Konnekt 24D, what are the A/D converters like and how would the latency and converters compare to something like the Fireface 400?

Many thanks
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Re: monitor controller suggestion?

Postby Neil C » Tue Sep 19, 2006 12:01 pm

Mike (thanks) , on page 12 of the manual it says that the output level knob on the front panel 'sets the output level of all analog outputs'.
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Re: I was impressed by SM Pro's M-Patch 2!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Sep 19, 2006 1:03 pm

Frank Eleveld wrote: I'm a bit worried about the quality of the potmeter in cheaper (passive) monitor controllers. Pots that have offsets between the left and right channel or don't track accurately across their entire tracking range may cause the stereo image to shift - you don't want that in a controller. I don't know the M-Patch, did you find tracking mismatches Martin?


Potentially, it is worse than that. Getting a twin-gang pot (used in unbalanced stereo applications) to track accurately is hard enough. Getting quad-ganged ones (for a balanced stereo feed) to track accurately is obviously twice as hard, and not only do you risk image shifts, but also impedance imbalance which may adversely affect the following equipment's ability to reject interference.

Obviously, achieving a decent tracking balance is possible, but accurate quad-gang pots are fairly expensive and hence i would be a little dubious when discussing a sub-£100 controller.

I await Martin's review with interest...

hugh

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Re: monitor controller suggestion?

Postby Mike Martin » Tue Sep 19, 2006 1:12 pm

Neil,
It looks like if your set Outputs 3-4 in the Setup page of the Control Panel to Konnekt Mixer, you can control the volume of these outs using the "light ring".
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Re: monitor controller suggestion?

Postby tomafd » Tue Sep 19, 2006 1:31 pm

Unless your studio is dead flash, fully acoustically controlled, and has the finest possible signal path throughout, I doubt the slight colouration you get off a Big Knob will affect the quality of your work that much- I've been using one for about 3 months and it's pretty good for the money (or for me- picked it up cheap off a certain well-known website).

My stuff ends up everywhere in the world in all kinds of uses, and I've had nothing but compliments on the sound, and all my mixes 'transfer' to other systems (in the car, crappy hi-fis. laptop speakers, whatever) without any trouble.

I reckon folk can worry about this kind of issue just a little too much sometimes; the same amount of attention paid to the MUSIC (not the sound) often pays far better, in terms of actual results, than endlessly worrying about levels of distortion you're far more likely to introduce by 'enthusiastic' eq use, or other processes.

... or maybe I'm just easy to please !


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Re: monitor controller suggestion?

Postby Neil C » Tue Sep 19, 2006 1:35 pm

Mike, I've tried using the light ring for 3/4 (with direct monitoring both on and off) - the interface mixer level goes up and down but it doesn't have any effect - there isn't any sound at all when source is set to Konnekt mixer (my track is routed to line 3/4 out in Cubase).

Sorry, seem to be running a sub-thread here (Mike can you reply in my Konnekt thread if you do reply, thanks).
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Re: monitor controller suggestion?

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Sep 21, 2006 11:21 am

Sorry - missed this thread for a couple of days.

Frank & Hugh - I found the stereo tracking in my review unit far better than that of most mixer pots, and only heard a mismatch when levels dropped by about 60dB (i.e. only a few degrees from the 'off' position). I didn't notice any image wandering over the vast majority of the pot's travel.

I agree that stepped attenuators can perform better in this respect, although given the number of soldered connections to be made, plus the checking of resistor tolerances, contact resistances, and so on, this approach can have its own problems ;)

S M Pro Audio told me they specially select the pots to their own (tighter) tolerances from each batch they order from the manufacturers, discarding any that don't meet them. This means they can keep the overall price down but the specification up. Judging by my findings on the review unit I'm inclined to believe this. Remember that the M-Patch 2 is a budget £84 - for the price I think it provides excellent performance.

tomafd - points taken, but if you have acoustically treated your room and have a good signal path, monitor controller colouration can indeed be quite audible and affect mixing decisions. Since reorganising my studio after abandoning my mixing desk and buying the M-Patch 2 the difference in audio clarity brought a big smile to my face, and it also resulted in me remixing several tracks that now sound significantly better - even when played back on other 'living room' hi-fi systems.


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