If you work in the box and don’t use an analogue mixer between your interface and your monitors, you might be thinking about a purpose-built monitor controller for your studio. Monitor controllers are very handy things to have in your setup…
For one thing, it’s just much more ergonomic to control the volume of your studio monitors by simply grabbing and turning a physical control on the desk in front of you, rather than moving your mouse to a fader, clicking and dragging. Also, if you use a monitor controller, you can just leave the master fader in your DAW set at a convenient 0 dB, which saves those mishaps of rendering very quiet mixes!
Many monitor controllers also offer a number of additional functions. Devices such as the Mackie Big Knob (fnurr, fnurr), allow you to select between multiple inputs and outputs, making it easy to compare your DAW mix to a reference mix from your CD player, or to audition your mix on your studio reference monitors or your hi-fi with the push of a button. Controllers such as the KRK Ergo also feature a room correction system, using sophisticated room analysis and corrective eq to get around the problem of poor room acoustics.
While you may think twice about buying bits of studio gear that don’t actually make a sound, the improvements to your workflow can be worth it and more. You’ll soon find that a monitor controller passes one of the most exacting tests of a piece of studio equipment: you’ll use it all the time, but forget that it’s there…
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