You are here

CMC3 monitor controller. a few questions please

For everything after the recording stage: hardware/software and how you use it.

CMC3 monitor controller. a few questions please

Postby hooty2 » Fri Jan 10, 2020 9:15 am

Hello,
after following a number of threads on forum, i decided to upgrade my monitor controller from M-Patch2 to the Drawmer CMC3.
I'm up & running courtesy of some gender benders & adapters until new cables arrive in post.
Does anyone have an opinion or technical reason to favour either the analogue inputs or the S/PDIF input?
I'm now using the analogue inputs from the RME UFX.

As an observation: i was surprised by the comparative vagueness of the L/R speaker trims under the unit. considering the otherwise careful matching options available, the little plastic rotary turned by a screwdriver doesn't give confidence in level matching...does it?

I intend checking the levels with the Silverline calibration meter...is that the way to go?

More subjectively: have i fallen into a new toy syndrome? My sound sounds richer, more focused, and sleeker with the CMC3.....

Thoughts/advice on the speaker trims would be appreciated.
cheers
hooty2
Regular
Posts: 232
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:00 am

Re: CMC3 monitor controller. a few questions please

Postby Luke W » Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:03 am

hooty2 wrote:Does anyone have an opinion or technical reason to favour either the analogue inputs or the S/PDIF input?
I'm now using the analogue inputs from the RME UFX.

A technical reason to favour the digital input would be if the D/A converter in the CMC3 was superior to the one in your interface but the RME is a great bit of kit so that's unlikely to be an issue. Even with cheaper kit you have to try quite hard to find a truly bad converter these days, and they are rarely the weakest link in most home studios.

A practical reason could be that using S/PDIF from your interface to the controller would free up two analogue outputs that you could then use for something else if you needed, it all depends on what you need from your setup.

I can't really comment on the speaker trims as I've not seen/used the unit, but I know that all of these Drawmer units get a lot of praise for being well built and performing well, so I don't see any reason to doubt them.
User avatar
Luke W
Regular
Posts: 376
Joined: Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:00 am
Location: Northamptonshire, UK
Studio - Techical Audio Services - Bespoke Construction

Re: CMC3 monitor controller. a few questions please

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:06 am

hooty2 wrote:Does anyone have an opinion or technical reason to favour either the analogue inputs or the S/PDIF input? I'm now using the analogue inputs from the RME UFX.

It (probably) offers a slightly different flavour of converter if you like to experiment with these things... but no, there's no real preference for one option over another. It's just a convenience thing. Use whichever provides the best workflow and convenience.

As an observation: i was surprised by the comparative vagueness of the L/R speaker trims under the unit. considering the otherwise careful matching options available, the little plastic rotary turned by a screwdriver doesn't give confidence in level matching...does it?

I'm not sure what you mean by 'vagueness'. It's a set-once-and-forget facility, which is one reason why it's hidden away underneath. And screwdriver trims are the norm for that kind of installation functionality. It's not something that bothers me in the slightest, but I'm very pleased the facility is there. Few other monitor controllers have them, or they put them somewhere where they can get knocked or tweaked accidentally, which defeats the whole purpose!

I intend checking the levels with the Silverline calibration meter...is that the way to go?

It depends if you want to adopt a specific acoustic reference level or not. To be honest there's really very little point in a domestic studio unless you work in multiple rooms... but if you do, then being able to match reference listening levels across all of them is a good idea, and for that you'll need to choose a suitable reference level.

Unless your room is the size of a small cinema, DO NOT try and achieve the current standard 83dBC (or 85dBC as listed in the Dramwer manual). Something in the mid 70dBCs would be far more sensible! And use a band-limited (500Hz-2kHz) pink noise test signal, not full range noise... and set the meter to slow and C-weighting... and align only one speaker with the meter. Set the other by ear aiming for a central phantom image (I prefer to use spoken voice rather than noise for that)!

If you're not going for a specific reference level, then use those trim presets to optimise the operational convenience of your monitoring controls.
I would recommend aiming to use 7 on the volume knob scale as your reference point. I don't know what your monitors are, but I'd usually set their sensitivity controls to somewhere sensible and secure (fully up is generally a good bet...).

Play some typical reference music and advance the monitor controller's volume control to a sensible, practical, listening level. Ideally, you want that to end up at 7 on the scale, so adjust the trimmers below as necessary to achieve that. Once set, adjust the reference preset trimmer on the unit's front panel to get that mode to provide the same listening level (the pink noise and meter could be useful in achieving that).

With that done, you will have a known and repeatable reference level, with excellent channel matching over the normal working range of the volume control, and with extra gain available for checking out low-level noises or when you want to get the trouser legs flapping a bit...

More subjectively: have i fallen into a new toy syndrome? My sound sounds richer, more focused, and sleeker with the CMC3.....

No... it's not new toy syndrome... it really is a lot better than your previous unit. That's the benefit of active electronics and a very good designer! And that's why I recommend them so confidently.

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 28666
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: CMC3 monitor controller. a few questions please

Postby hooty2 » Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:15 am

Great stuff and thanks to all.
Monitor set up refresher very useful.
Cheers
hooty2
Regular
Posts: 232
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:00 am

Re: CMC3 monitor controller. a few questions please

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:21 pm

and align only one speaker with the meter. Set the other by ear aiming for a central phantom image

Why's that then, Hugh?
User avatar
Dr Huge Longjohns
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3763
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Gallifrey
"The performance is 99.9% of what people hear"- J. Leckie
"It's all complete nonsense, anyone who knows what they're doing can deliver great results with whatever comes to hand" - H. Robjohns

Re: CMC3 monitor controller. a few questions please

Postby Kwackman » Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:35 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:
and align only one speaker with the meter. Set the other by ear aiming for a central phantom image

Why's that then, Hugh?

I don't presume to speak for Hugh, but I suspect aligning it by ear means you rule out any level differences between the speaker's amps and any difference between your ears too.
User avatar
Kwackman
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1907
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Belfast
Cubase, guitars.

Re: CMC3 monitor controller. a few questions please

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:42 pm

Yeah, but using a meter rules out the amp element, surely? And you want a balanced stereo field regardless of how dodgy your ears are!
User avatar
Dr Huge Longjohns
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3763
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Gallifrey
"The performance is 99.9% of what people hear"- J. Leckie
"It's all complete nonsense, anyone who knows what they're doing can deliver great results with whatever comes to hand" - H. Robjohns

Re: CMC3 monitor controller. a few questions please

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:48 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:
and align only one speaker with the meter. Set the other by ear aiming for a central phantom image

Why's that then, Hugh?

It's because noise is a randomly changing sound, and while the level is consistent over time, it's very easy to get slightly erroneous short term readings when using cheap hand-held level meters...

And the problem is that small level errors between speakers will result in slightly offset stereo images.

So although it's only a personal preference, I find it far more accurate and reliable to set a nominal listening level for one speaker using a pink-noise source and level meter, but then match the second speaker to that by ear. This method also takes into account any personal left-right imbalance in the room acoustics than might confuse a meter and, indeed, and personal imbalance in one's own hearing.

I do the same for surround systems. Line up the centre, front left, and front right with a meter, but then adjust the front right and rear right by ear, and then check the front/back and phantom/centre balances by ear and tweak if necessary.

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 28666
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: CMC3 monitor controller. a few questions please

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:53 pm

and, indeed, and personal imbalance in one's own hearing.

I'm probably being thick here (no change there, then) but surely if one of your ears is more sensitive than the other, setting a stereo image by ear will result in all your recordings having a skewed soundscape? So if you're a bit deaf in your left ear, say, you'll raise the relative level of this monitor to get a personal central balance that is actually incorrect? Whereas a meter, notwithstanding its faults as outlined, will at least give you an objective reading?
User avatar
Dr Huge Longjohns
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3763
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Gallifrey
"The performance is 99.9% of what people hear"- J. Leckie
"It's all complete nonsense, anyone who knows what they're doing can deliver great results with whatever comes to hand" - H. Robjohns

Re: CMC3 monitor controller. a few questions please

Postby Luke W » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:03 pm

Not if the adjustment is after the audio has left the DAW. If something playing in mono sounds slightly to one side due to someones ears, then adjusting speaker trims would balance it for that person in that room without changing the source. If it were adjusted before it heads out to the speakers, then it would be off balance everywhere else as well.

I may be thick as well though...
User avatar
Luke W
Regular
Posts: 376
Joined: Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:00 am
Location: Northamptonshire, UK
Studio - Techical Audio Services - Bespoke Construction

Re: CMC3 monitor controller. a few questions please

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:08 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:I'm probably being thick here (no change there, then) but surely if one of your ears is more sensitive than the other, setting a stereo image by ear will result in all your recordings having a skewed soundscape?

No. Exactly the opposite! Remember this is just the monitoring, and doesn't directly impact the recording or what anyone else listening to the recording hears.

What you're doing is adjusting the monitors so that when a source is panned central, it sounds central to you. So conversely, when you pan something to sound in the middle it really will be... (and other panning positions will be where you think they are too).

In the olden days, the monitoring section of professional broadcast consoles had balance controls for the same purpose -- so that individual mix engineers (sound supervisors and studio managers) could tweak things to suit their own perception. Everyone has slightly different left/right sensitivity quite naturally.

What we're doing here is making the speakers sound right to the primary user, so that they serve as an accurate monitoring tool to them, revealing accurate acoustic spatial positions to them from panned sources.
H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 28666
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: CMC3 monitor controller. a few questions please

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:09 pm

Ah yes! Of course, told you I was being dense! :thumbup:
User avatar
Dr Huge Longjohns
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3763
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Gallifrey
"The performance is 99.9% of what people hear"- J. Leckie
"It's all complete nonsense, anyone who knows what they're doing can deliver great results with whatever comes to hand" - H. Robjohns

Re: CMC3 monitor controller. a few questions please

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:11 pm

I like solid people... :lol:
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 28666
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound