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Monitor controllers and their role in the recording studio

1 February , 2018

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Monitor controllers are an essential element in recording studios and improve workflow. Most engineers set up their home studios in spacious rooms without proper sound deadening design and proper placement of studio speakers. As equipment upgrades, it becomes necessary to purchase a monitor controller to route the audio signal.

How to quickly switch between a pair of studio monitors and one subwoofer?

This will help the monitor controller (sound router) to connect headphones, two (or more) pairs of monitors, a subwoofer and a microphone for feedback. These devices do much more than the name suggests. In addition to spacious balance level controls, they also allow you to control what you hear directly. To date, the functionality of controllers has been significantly expanded and can offer wireless connection of mobile devices and remote control of functionality.

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Choice of studio monitors

Often engineers buy several pairs of monitors for recording studios. It is not uncommon to see professional studios having a pair of near field monitors, a pair of field (far) monitors, and one or two small cube-shaped monitors (for shield control). Each set of monitors performs its own task for correcting and listening to music.

Monitor controllers usually have multiple connection outputs, so you can easily switch between them. Without a monitor controller, you would have to run around your desktop and manually redirect output connections.

Audio control from mono to 5.1+

When mixing music, it’s important to hear how your tracks will play on different types of sound systems. Important is the readability of the composition in full mono format.

Perhaps one of the most useful features on the monitor controller is the built-in microphone with feedback. Talkback microphones are used for communication between the performer (located in a vocal booth, possibly in another room) and the sound engineer who controls this process. The built-in microphone works separately from the DAW program and does not burden the performance of the computer.

Which monitor controller to choose?

There are many options available on the market today to choose from. We can highlight the following professional models: Grace Designs M906 5.1, Dangerous Music ST, SPL SMC 7.1, Coleman Audio SR 5.1 MkIII, Crane Song Avocet IIA and Martinsound MultiMAX EX. Probably there are other popular budget devices. It’s important to remember that not every recording studio needs a monitor controller. If you’re only using one set of studio monitors and recording everything in the same room, you won’t need additional speaker control. All basic functions will be performed by an external sound card.

Mackie Big Knob Studio or Presonus Monitor Station V2, which are usually bought for home recording studios, will be enough to start. If you’re an audiophile looking for something really high-end, check out Antelope Audio Satori or Crane Song Avocet IIA, with high quality D/A converters.

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