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5 Jul 2018

Why and which studio monitor controller should you buy? (The 8 best monitor controllers)

5 Jul 2018
producer/hardware Why and which studio monitor controller should you buy? (The 8 best monitor controllers)


The problem with an audio interface is often that the volume knob is not ideally within reach. In addition, not every audio interface gives you the options you would like to see, such as switching between different sets of monitors and direct playback on mono.

In this article, we are going to the solution for this and that is the studio monitor controller. With this, you have the volume knob within reach and more options during mixing and mastering your song. Connect multiple speakers and switch between your speakers at the touch of a button.

Originally, the monitors were controlled from a mixing console, but now that the computer usually takes over, the industry is responding to this with a desktop studio monitor. Another reason for the increases of studio monitor controllers is the rise of active studio monitors. Basically, a monitor controller has a volume knob and preamps have these on the front, but with studio monitors, they are on the back. This is therefore not very convenient to operate when you want to switch quickly.

A studio monitor controller may not be the sexiest upgrade, but it can contribute to better productions, workflow and masters - very important!

Below we look at the different components why a studio monitor controller can be very valuable and we conclude with a selection of the best and most popular studio monitor controllers.

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Different monitors

One of the main reasons to buy a studio monitor controller is that you can switch between different monitors at the touch of a button. This can be very useful if you are working on a mix or tune an EQ, you can then experience with a push of a button how it sounds on another set of speakers - very good as reference material! I recommend switching between monitors at different times so that the reference is just as possible. Pay attention to how many monitors you want to connect and perhaps you can choose an old Logitech set as option B, so you can also experience that sound as a reference on the mix. Depending on the controller you can connect 1, 2 or more sets of studio monitors.

Mono mix

When mixing and listening to music, it can be useful to listen to it in mono. Many audio systems, for example on the radio, in clubs and at festivals, are mono. Does your mix sound bad on mono instead of stereo? Then you might not be able to give the quality you want at different locations. With a monitor controller, you can easily switch your system to mono at the push of a button. Mono puts both audio tracks right and left on a track, which we call mono. So that both speakers reinforce the same channel. Mixing in mono is a technique that many audio engineers use. More sophisticated systems allow you to mute an individual speaker so that you can detect problems in your mix.

Vocal booth

If you have a separate room where you record vocals or other sounds, a monitor controller is very valuable. So you can talk to advanced controllers with a built-in microphone to the separate room, this is called 'talkback'. In addition, you can control different headphones for the people in the vocal booth.

Other volume controls

Monitor controllers also often have a mute and dim function. This is very useful so you do not have to continuously lower your volume button when you get a phone call or elsewhere. You then forget what volume you were mixing which has an effect on the overall result. The dim function often lowers the volume by about -20db so that you can have a normal conversation. It is important that you use the volume consistently to be sure of your mixing choices.

Summary

  • Do you have a separate vocal booth? Then pay attention to talkback
  • How many sets of monitors do you want to connect?
  • Do you need mute and dim functions?
  • Is there a mono function?

The 5 best studio monitor controllers and most popular

Entry models

1. ESI MoCo passive monitor controller

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Price: € 73,-

2. Berhinger Xenyx Control2USB monitor controller

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Price: € 139,-

3. Mackie Big Knob Passive monitor controller

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Price: € 66,-

4. Presonus Monitor Station v2 monitor controller

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Price: € 275,-

5. Mackie Big Knob Studio+ monitor controller/interface

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Price: € 278,-

Professional

1. Crane Song Avocet

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Price: € 3.222,-

2. Dangerous Music Monitor

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Price: € 2.290,-

3. Presonus Central Station Plus including remote


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Price: €595,-

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