Top 10 Best Studio Monitor Controllers
When you have a powerful studio setup, full of a lot of totally different inputs, outputs, audio systems, amps, and studio monitors, then it may possibly rapidly get complicated for the person in control of such a set of apparatus.
That is where ingenious units like studio monitor controllers can actually turn into necessary. By permitting you to run all of your studio monitors from one easy desktop box, you can also make changes with the flick of a button. So, convenience and practicality are the main causes for investing in an excellent studio monitor controller.
When you have a small setup with headphones a laptop, and a pair of studio monitors that you simply use for mixing and producing music, a simple monitor controller can be an excellent choice for you.
However because studio monitor controllers (additionally referred to as “studio monitor management systems”, or just “volume controllers”) provide the capability to regulate the volumes of your monitors unbiased of your PC’s soundcard, you may scale your workflow to handle a number of sound outputs (monitors) whereas mixing and modifying in the studio.
What you don’t need is to be relegated to a lifetime of vibe-killing, time-wasting repatching, power-down these speakers, unplugging them, plugging within the different speakers, powering them on, and so forth. Or modify your DAW’s master fader to alter monitoring volume.
With regard to that process, you want one thing that allows you to bypass the effort of physically disconnecting and reconnecting your array of sound-producing contraptions. You need one thing with buttons, knobs, jacks, and routing capabilities. You need a monitor controller!
When do you have to think about studio monitor controllers?
Though many newbie music producers don’t discover themselves trying to find monitor controllers, they need to positively be on the checklist if the next is true for you:
- You need a better option to control your monitor’s volume instead of utilizing your PC’s fader.
- You’ve got multi of monitors like you’ve added a subwoofer, or a cube-style monitor for isolating the mid-range, which needs a central stage control.
- You need to monitor more than simply your DAW’s output, like a CD player or an instrumental output.
- You need to rapidly transition mixing in mono to 5.1+ surround sound.
- It’s essential to cue mixes throughout recording sessions by having control of the monitor headphones within the recording room, not simply the monitors within the control room.
We just want to let you know that we’ll list these studio monitor controllers in no particular order. They’ll be randomized as we don’t wish to sort them from best to worst.
Listed below are our Top 10 Best Studio Monitor Controllers for 2023:
1. Mackie Big Knob Passive
The very first thing you’ll discover about the Mackie Big Knob Passive is its design, and it’s a handsome device. It follows the identical design style as the Big Knob Studio, although clearly on a smaller scale. The primary attraction right here is the “big knob” on the front of the gadget, which covers a pretty big proportion of the front panel.
Aside from that and the black-painted metallic body, you’ll additionally discover a source select button, with two choices out there; mono, mute, and dim buttons, and a monitor select button, which once more presents two choices.
One factor that may have been good is a headphone jack, although we assume that it wasn’t included because the gadget can’t energy headphones due to it being passive. Talking of passive, you’ll discover there’s no power input, which is because the Big Knob Passive doesn’t need one. It does imply you’ll need to ensure your different devices, headphone amps, and audio system are powered, however, most home-studio-quality audio products are.
The Big Knob Passive, as the title suggests, makes use of passive circuitry, which signifies that the output signal might be extraordinarily close, if not equivalent, to the input signal. That’s a factor for audiophiles out there that need something that won’t color their sound in any respect while monitoring.
- For up to two monitor pairs and two stereo sources
- Passive +4 dB signal path without separate power supply unit
- 2 Stereo line inputs: 6.3 mm jack balanced
- 2 Stereo monitor outputs: 6.3 mm jack balanced
2. Crane Song Avocet IIA Monitor Controller
The Avocet 2 is an analog monitor control device, with discrete Class-A electronics and a newly redesigned, fourth-generation D/A converter.
The primary unit is a sublime 2RU-height rackmount box with a clear, brushed-metal front plate that has the ever-present green Crane Song light and a 1/4” TRS headphone jack. The back is full of XLR jacks for 3 analog inputs, three digital inputs, and three speaker outputs — all stereo. There’s additionally a second TRS headphone output, in addition to optical and RCA jacks in case you favor S/PDIF format for digital input 1. On-the-fly gain trim is obtainable for each of the six inputs.
The Avocet 2’s performance is managed by a well-designed desktop remote. The principle volume knob is a snug size, has a pleasant resistance, and is stepped in 1 dB increments from -32 to +12 dB. The text across the dial is marked in 2 dB increments, however, LEDs encircling the knob show every dB step by lighting one or two at a time.
Adjustments of the amount knob result in small clicks from the primary unit due to the usage of relays, inspiring confidence within the analog audio path, which stays secure and clear inside the primary unit, without the need for a detrimental detour down a long remote cable.
- 3 Analog stereo inputs: XLR balanced
- Analog audio section in Class-A technique
- All incoming digital signals are up-sampled to jitter reduction
- 5 Digital stereo inputs: 3x XLR AES, SPDIF RCA and TOSLINK
3. Dangerous Music Dbox+
The Dangerous Music D-BOX Summing Monitor Mixer and D/A Converter is a 1U rack-mountable machine designed by mastering engineers to combine the capabilities of a summing mixer, a monitoring system with talkback, and a devoted digital to analog converter.
For summing, the back of the unit contains a 25-pin D-sub connector for feeding eight channels of analog inputs into the mixer. You modify the panning place and stage of every channel inside your Digital to Audio Workstation after which the general stage of the stereo analog sum utilizing the unit’s sum output volume management. You may then send the sum via a balanced XLR pair of stereo sum outputs back by your analog to a digital converter and into your DAW.
For monitoring, the unit options two stereo pairs of balanced XLR outputs in your monitors and an alternate reference audio system. An alt speaker button on the front of the unit permits you to toggle between the 2 outputs, and an array of input choice buttons permits you to select from the mixer sum, a stereo pair of analog inputs, or one of two AES/SPDIF lockable digital inputs from a supply reminiscent of a DAW or CD player.
- 3 Bluetooth for wireless audio streaming
- Built-in talkback microphone with push-button activation
- Talkback via Smartphone (Bluetooth) possible
- 8-Channel analog summator (channels 7+8 mono switchable)
4. Presonus Micro Station BT
Traditionally, there was a little bit of a division between high-end wired audio, and wireless audio that will not sound fairly the same. Often, the wireless audio system is extra handy than wired ones however comes at the price of the quality that the majority of audiophiles and audio engineers search for. However, PreSonus wants to assist blur that line by giving your high-end wired audio system support for Bluetooth with the PreSonus MicroStation BT.
It’s typically straightforward to tell a PreSonus product other than a competitor. In recent times, PreSonus gadgets have supplied matte black builds with blue highlights, and the MicroStation BT is not any exception to that rule. The gadget is basically a black box that measures 4.9 inches wide, 3.9 inches deep, and 2.2 inches tall. It’s not a foul look and may match right in on any desk.
The PreSonus MicroStation BT is a superb possibility for individuals who need to add Bluetooth assistance to their wired speaker setup, whether or not that be a home theater setting or a smaller-format studio.
The Bluetooth efficiency on offer here is superb, and the gadget has a design that ought to look good wherever you place it. We might rearrange among the controls and ports, however that small gripe apart, the PreSonus MicroStation BT is definitely well worth the money.
- 1 TRS In L/R input: 6.3 mm jack, balanced
- 1 Aux input: 3.5 mm jack, balanced
- 1 Main Out L/R: 6.3 mm jack, balanced
- 1 Aux Out: 3.5 mm jack, balanced
- 1 Sub Out: 6.3 mm jack, balanced
- 1 Sub Out: RCA, unbalanced
5. SPL 2Control Monitor Controller
A brand new function of the SPL 2Control is the Crossfeed control for each headphone output, which was derived from the high-end headphone amplifier Phonitor. Headphones have the drawback of producing an excellent stereo image. The Crossfeed control corrects the stereo panorama.
Based mostly upon the imaging of a speaker set positioned at an angle of 30 degrees, the crossfeed may be adjusted in a solution to match the stereo imaging of the audio system. Each time speaker monitoring will not be possible or if monitoring different to speakers is required, the 2Control permits for mixes on headphones.
The 2Control allows for the connection of two sources, two stereo speaker units, and two headphones. Each of the three speaker outputs (2 stereo units, 1 x mono speaker) is pushed by its personal balancing stage. Every headphone output is equipped with a separate amplifier to permit the completely unbiased operation of two headphones.
A majority of D/A converters and sound cards don’t present analog monitoring stage management. As an alternative, they decrease the bit rate, which results in a lack of audio quality.
The benefits of an analog monitoring controller develop into particularly obvious in combination with fashionable audio and video production tools similar to ProTools, Nuendo, Cubase, Logic, Deck, and so on. Monitor ranges and supply management can be dealt with independently of the software program and with nearly no loss in quality. In addition, you won’t have to fret about over-or underdriving the converters when altering monitor ranges.
- Connection and selection of two stereo sources
- Additional mono speaker output for subwoofer
- Crossfeed control
- XLR inputs and outputs
6. Burl Audio B26 Orca
The B26 Orca is an all-analog, 2RU-height “monitor controller” designed to allow you to route your choice of input to choice of output. In the back, XLR connectors in stereo pairs present three mix inputs, two return inputs, two speaker outputs, and output for driving exterior meters. There’s additionally a single XLR input for a talkback mic. Moreover, a pair of RCAs is employed for a consumer-level (-10 dBV) stereo input.
Upfront, the unit is basically divided into two halves. The left side, labeled “Studio,” serves the artist, whereas the right side, labeled “Control Room,” serves the engineer. Both sides have identical source-selection switches (Mix A/B/C, 2 Track A/B, and RCA) and a pair of LEDs that change color (green, yellow, orange, red) relying on the signal degree.
The management room level is set with a giant knob turning a stepped attenuator, which makes use of audiophile-grade, 0.1% matched resistors, whereas the artist side will get separate studio quantity and headphone level potentiometers.
Both sides additionally will get a headphone jack (Studio Phones and CR Phones). In the midst of the unit are a button and level knob for talkback, in addition to buttons for speaker choice, monitoring in mono, and selecting a studio or control room for the meter output.
- 3 Stereo mix inputs: XLR
- 2 Stereo tape returns: XLR
- Stereo Input: RCA
- 2 Stereo outputs: XLR
- 2 Stereo headphone outputs: 6.3 mm Jack
7. Presonus Monitor Station V2
PreSonus is a critical force within the audio know-how world, and for good reason. It provides a spread of excellently-built audio gadgets geared toward both home and professional studios, and a few of these gadgets can be right at house in either situation. Like, for instance, the PreSonus Monitor Station V2.
As the name suggests, the device is the follow-up to the unique PreSonus Monitor Station, and it boasts a brand new coloration scheme in addition to a slew of superior new features. However, is it definitely worth the $299? We put it to the take a look at to find out.
On the back of the device, you’ll discover the choice of inputs and outputs, which supply good and easy access. You’ll get two stereo inputs, three stereo speaker outputs, and two stereo line outputs, all of which come via TRS ports. You’ll additionally discover an auxiliary input via RCS inputs or a 3.5mm port.
The PreSonus Monitor Station V2 is set up brilliantly. Those with various levels of knowledge will be capable to grasp the device shortly and simply, and people who are already within the know regarding monitor control gadgets could have an even simpler time.
The build quality is also fairly noteworthy. The casing is constructed from steel, and measures 2.5″ x 8.5″ x 9″ (63.5 mm x 216 mm x 228.6 mm). In terms of weight, it sits at 6lbs or 2.72kg.
- Calibratable 2 x 8-segment LED level meter
- 4 Separate headphone controls
- Source (Main or cue) per headphone output selectable
- 3 Speaker outputs (stereo)
- 2 Stereo line outputs (Main and Cue)
8. Heritage Audio RAM System 2000
The RAM System 2000 options generous I/O, with three pairs of +4dBu balanced analog inputs and three stereo outputs, an impartial pre-fader MIX OUT, impartial stereo CUE I/O, a S/PDIF coax input, and pro-audio-quality Bluetooth input for simple cell device integration.
The 2000’s two audiophile-grade diamond-buffer-based headphone amplifiers are able to drive any headphones without noise or coloration. For simple recall of frequent settings, two user-assignable preset ranges are provided.
For communicating with expertise, there is a built-in Talkback with console-style administration. Lastly, Heritage Audio geared up the RAM System 2000 with an impartial Subwoofer output that permits you to effortlessly share your sub between totally different speaker pairs.
The RAM System 2000 Bluetooth device mechanically acknowledges your machine’s best Codec choice and makes use of it for streaming. Apple’s iTunes Store and YouTube use AAC as native so streaming from an iPhone or iPad will lead to a lossless transmission, significantly better than an analog wired connection.
The overwhelming majority of Android units have already adopted the superb sounding Qualcomm® aptX™ Audio Codec which is almost lossless and the usual that wireless high-quality headsets and soundbars are adopting.
- CUE input and output 6.3 mm jack (L / R)
- S / PDIF input with 24 bit / 96 kHz Burr Brown DAC
- 3x stereo line output 6.3 mm jack (L / R)
- Independent stereo mix output 6.3 mm jack
9. Behringer CONTROL2USB
The Behringer Xenyx Control2USB Control & Communication Center is high-end studio management and communication unit with VCA management and a USB audio interface. It may be used to place master volume, talkback, source choice, and monitor management right at your fingertips when recording or mixing in a studio setting.
It options a big control knob, permitting you to make minute changes to the volume. The Control2USB helps you to set levels quickly and precisely, which may be essential to the ultimate sound with regards to mastering an essential mission. It additionally makes use of a high-end Voltage Controlled Amplifier (VCA) to offer much more precise level changes.
Moreover, the built-in USB audio interface helps you to connect to your computer and its digital library, with no further hardware or drivers required. In addition, the Control2USB helps you to change between three pairs of studio monitors. You may add or take away a subwoofer and listen via small monitors or some other combination with the press of a button.
- Large, illuminated volume knob
- Integrated USB audio interface
- 4 stereo inputs with independent level
- Additional monitor mix input for DAW
10. Mackie Big Knob Studio+
The first function of the unit is to route inputs to monitors. Three stereo analog input pairs could be routed to a few completely different monitor pairs, with all of those inputs and outputs having devoted trims to match their ranges.
One important new characteristic of the most recent model is the built-in USB audio interface, which might carry out at sampling rates up to 24-bit, 192 kHz without having for exterior DA conversion. On top of that, a pair of Mackie’s Onyx preamps have basically replaced the phono preamp from the unique model and could be routed back to the DAW for recording functions. One other new characteristic, to not be missed, is the front-mounted 1/8-inch input jack, which makes it simple to reference mixes from the client’s smartphone.
When the unique Big Knob came into being, mixdown decks had been an extra important part of studio workflows, so there have been basically three different analog output pairs devoted to printing mixes. This has been scaled back to a single pair, plus the built-in USB interface.
It looks like the Big Knob Studio and Studio+ nonetheless dominate their price friends. The one competition seems to be the PreSonus Monitor Station V2 and the Behringer Control2USB, which, when you have a look at the back panel, is actually a replica of the unique Big Knob. The brand new Big Knobs have surpassed the original.
- 2 Microphone/Line XLR/jack 6.3 mm combo inputs
- 4 Line inputs: 6.3 mm jack balanced
- 6 Monitor Outputs: 6.3 mm jack balanced
- 2 Stereo headphone outputs: 6.3 mm jack
- 1 Stereo line input: 3.5 mm mini jack
- 2-Track connection: 6.3 mm jack (L/R)
All of those 10 picks might do you well in the studio if you have multiple monitoring system. Some of them have some extra options featured for additional control and functionality, from which you can pick your best controller.
It appears that they have become an essential unit in every recording, mixing and mastering studio, so do not overlook them and try to snatch one for yourself. We listed budget and not so budget items, so there will be something for everybody!
Visit our store and check our Mixing eBooks and Galeries!
Best Midfield Studio Monitors: Top 8 Models You Can Go For!
Best 8 Inch Studio Monitors: Top 11 Picks + Reviews!
Best Adam Audio Monitors: Top 8 Choices + Reviews!
Best KRK Studio Monitors: Our Honest Review on 8 Models!
Best Passive Studio Monitors: Top 5 Models + Brief Reviews!