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Controlling Monitors in a Digital World
Old 27th January 2022
  #1
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🎧 5 years
Controlling Monitors in a Digital World

There are more and more active speakers on the market that have a full blown DSP running under the hood, and have a digital AES input (Dutch & Dutch, Genelec, Danley etc).

So how do you do monitor control (M/S, Stepped Volume, etc) in a digital world?

I really love the idea of something such as a 2400 Audio Imperium, but obviously this is analog. While it is fantastic product, I am not sure it makes sense to go analog just for control.

I know TC Electronics used to make the BMC-2, but those haven't been made in over 4 years now, and have been scarce the couple times I have looked. That was a cool unit at a nice price point though.

---
Features I would love:
1. Stepped audio (mix at consistent volumes)
2. M/S
3. Mono
4. Physical Desktop unit (size of Grace M905) or controller.

---

At this point I am half wondering if I should simply use a utility plugin in a DAW, and utilize midi control or a Streamdeck as a physical UI to control these elements.

Caveats:

1: I am not a mastering engineer, and am not intending to be; however this piece of gear feels more oriented towards your world, so if acceptable I thought I would ask here (mods feel free to move this if this is not Kosher).

2: I did see some threads related to this from 4-12 years ago, however I wanted to see what new options exist.
Old 27th January 2022
  #2
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 
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5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I wrestled with a lot of options before I built my latest monitor controller. In the end I went analog. Yes, I have a DSP stage prior to the amp, but honestly, I don't hear the slightest degradation. For me, ease of use and having the functions I want outweigh the 1% gain I might achieve with a purely digital path.

Good digital in 2022 is as close to invisible as it needs to be. By far the most linear link in any audio chain. Picking a good analog controller is the bigger challenge.
Old 27th January 2022
  #3
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🎧 10 years
FWIW BMC-2s come up fairly often second hand.

There's one sitting in my local Cash Converters for 4 years.

I use mine every day for probably 8 years and it's literally never crashed or glitched.
Old 27th January 2022
  #4
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moostapha's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I'm pretty sure you can replicate the 2400 Imperium functionality with an RME Arc and one of their AIs.

Depending on the AI you choose, that would give you some combination of ADAT, S/PDIF, AES, or MADI to talk to the converters, 8 presets, mono, dim, and a stepped volume control.

It's the closest thing I've found.
Old 27th January 2022
  #5
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SmoothTone's Avatar
 
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🎧 5 years
I still think the BMC-2 can't be beat in this space and recently picked one up to put on ice in anticipation of future monitor upgrades.

Hopefully some smart developer has seen the writing on the wall and is developing something to fill this space as we speak.

Crookwood might be able to put something together to fit your needs.
Old 28th January 2022 | Show parent
  #6
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson ➑️
For me, ease of use and having the functions I want outweigh the 1% gain I might achieve with a purely digital path.
This is a great point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson ➑️
Good digital in 2022 is as close to invisible as it needs to be. By far the most linear link in any audio chain. Picking a good analog controller is the bigger challenge.
Agreed, this is why I am trying to keep everything digital, good analog hardware usually isn't inexpensive.
Old 28th January 2022 | Show parent
  #7
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe_caithness ➑️
FWIW BMC-2s come up fairly often second hand.

There's one sitting in my local Cash Converters for 4 years.

I use mine every day for probably 8 years and it's literally never crashed or glitched.
Still considering this as an option.
Old 28th January 2022 | Show parent
  #8
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by moostapha ➑️
I'm pretty sure you can replicate the 2400 Imperium functionality with an RME Arc and one of their AIs.

Depending on the AI you choose, that would give you some combination of ADAT, S/PDIF, AES, or MADI to talk to the converters, 8 presets, mono, dim, and a stepped volume control.

It's the closest thing I've found.
That is certainly an option. I use a lot of RME equipment at work, and it functions flawlessly.

This does still feel like a lot of money for something I wouldn't be utilizing to its full capability.

Which is not necessarily bad.
Old 28th January 2022 | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone ➑️
Hopefully some smart developer has seen the writing on the wall and is developing something to fill this space as we speak.
Perhaps it is time for a shift in the thread direction:

I have a friend who builds hardware. He may build me something.

So for those looking for a digital monitor controller or a replacement product for the BMC 2, what features would you want to see on such a product?
Old 28th January 2022
  #10
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moostapha's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by rugrat ➑️
That is certainly an option. I use a lot of RME equipment at work, and it functions flawlessly.

This does still feel like a lot of money for something I wouldn't be utilizing to its full capability.

Which is not necessarily bad.
If you've already got an audio interface that you like...it might be a bit convoluted. But an RME interface with just a little digital IO can be had for a lot less than a good analog monitor controller. If you don't already have an interface than you like and/or you use discrete converters...most of the RME AIs can probably replace what you're using as an AI....also for less than a good analog monitor controller.

I'm probably wrong, but it doesn't seem crazy to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rugrat ➑️
Perhaps it is time for a shift in the thread direction:

I have a friend who builds hardware. He may build me something.

So for those looking for a digital monitor controller or a replacement product for the BMC 2, what features would you want to see on such a product?
I could be totally happy with literally just a BMC-2 with a couple more presets. AES/EBU without adapters would be cool, and I think you can do both that and S/PIDF with BNC connectors on the device and the right cables (could be totally wrong there). I have no use for its converters.

I also might not be your target customer. I don't currently have extra digital IO to integrate it, and when I upgrade the AI to get it (which is coming soon), it'll be an RME anyway. And, technically, I monitor 4 channels instead of 2 (crossover for subs happens in software). So, I think TotalMix+ARC or an all-software solution is actually just better for me.
Old 29th January 2022 | Show parent
  #11
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SmoothTone's Avatar
 
Verified Member
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by rugrat ➑️
So for those looking for a digital monitor controller or a replacement product for the BMC 2, what features would you want to see on such a product?
Basically the BMC-2 feature set in a 1RU form factor.

Good tactile control and visual layout. Range of formats for I/O including at least 2 AES and seamless switching. Solo functions for sum and diff along with dim and maybe the ability to jump to 3 set monitor levels.

That would be my wishlist.
Old 29th January 2022
  #12
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🎧 10 years
I did look into the RME Babyface Pro FS when it came out, but it's missing a few key features.

Including the M/S monitoring (bizarre people leave this off when they are already doing the maths under the hood, just add one more setting Mono button people!)
Old 29th January 2022
  #13
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 
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5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
The only things missing for me are L to both speakers, R to both and a 10dB momentary lift for listening to fades.
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