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Online-Guide Monitor Controllers
Features

 

Monitor controllers are available in various formats to suit different applications. Most offer at least simple
RoutingThe method of passing signals from a source to a destination for mixing or processing, either via an audio console's internal busses using routing switche, or with a patchbay using patch cables.
routing
and a
Volume1) In audio and music, the loudness or amplitude of a signal. 2) In computing, a fixed amount of storage space, addressed as a single entity ('C:', 'D:' etc). A physical drive may contain more than one volume, but a single volume may also span more than one drive!
volume
control, but higher-end controllers often feature complex matrix
RoutingThe method of passing signals from a source to a destination for mixing or processing, either via an audio console's internal busses using routing switche, or with a patchbay using patch cables.
routing
options along with a selection of other useful tools. We’ll now take a look at the more common functions of the
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitor
controller, which should give you a fuller understanding of their capabilities, and help you to select the right product for your
ApplicationSelf-contained program directly performing a specific function. This contrasts with the operating system, server processes and libraries which support application programs. Also used to distinguish programs that communicate via a graphical user interface from those which are executed from the command line.
application
.


AudioGenerally used to mean "sound"; technically it describes periodic fluctuations of air pressure or electrical energy at frequencies and amplitudes within the human range of hearing; sound, or electrical energy that represents sound; acoustic, mechanical, or electrical frequencies corresponding to normally audible sound waves.
Audio
TrimThe initial gain control on a mixer or other audio device such as a mic preamp, often labelled 'gain'. Trim/gain adjustment is crucial to maintaining a clean gain structure and good signal-to-noise ratio.
Gain
Control (Volume)

Volume

The most important function of a
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitor
controller is to control the output level (or volume) feeding the
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitors
. In a classic studio situation, the level of the
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitor
speakers is controlled from a
ConsoleA device through which audio signals are routed for mixing, monitoring, processing and re-routed for either recording, amplification or both. A console contains a number of channel strips and a selection of auxiliary, monitoring and main outputs.
mixer
, but if they are being used directly with a
DAWDigital Audio Workstation - a general term applied to any non-linear audio recorder/editor/mixer encompassing dedicated hardware and software components in a single system. Examples of this are Digidesign Pro Tools or Roland VS series DAWs.
DAW
, having to control the
Master1) The final version of an audio recording or album that has been prepared for release. 2) The physical medium on which this recording is stored or transferred, such as a glass master CD, CDR or vinyl master from which a production run will be replicated or pressed.
master
level from an on-screen
FaderVariable level control in the form of a slider usually found on audio mixing consoles, allowing attenuation of audio signals, also used on control surfaces for control of a variety of parameters.
fader
can be not only slow and irritating, but there is also the risk of damaging speaker cones if you’re unable to quickly reduce sudden unintentional or unexpected
DistortionIn most cases distortion is an undesirable alteration to a signal which occurs when a piece of equipment is driven with a input level that is too high for its operating level. Sometimes, as in the case of guitar distortion, this can be an intentional and desirable effect.
noise
such as
FeedbackThe phenomenon whereby audio picked up by a microphone or guitar pickup that is then played from a speaker close or loud enough for it to be captured again by the same source. If left the signal will continuously loop, with any resonant frequency causing the undesirable 'howling' sound often heard at concerts.
feedback
. Furthermore, reducing overall
Volume1) In audio and music, the loudness or amplitude of a signal. 2) In computing, a fixed amount of storage space, addressed as a single entity ('C:', 'D:' etc). A physical drive may contain more than one volume, but a single volume may also span more than one drive!
volume
from your
DAWDigital Audio Workstation - a general term applied to any non-linear audio recorder/editor/mixer encompassing dedicated hardware and software components in a single system. Examples of this are Digidesign Pro Tools or Roland VS series DAWs.
DAW
means that less
DigitalAll digital equipment, formats and systems represent audio in numerical code or form. Digital information is a precise way of expressing any of information that can be quantified in some way.
digital
bits are being used to represent the signal, and this degrades sound quality, which a good analogue
Volume1) In audio and music, the loudness or amplitude of a signal. 2) In computing, a fixed amount of storage space, addressed as a single entity ('C:', 'D:' etc). A physical drive may contain more than one volume, but a single volume may also span more than one drive!
volume
control will not. As with a mixing desk, the
Volume1) In audio and music, the loudness or amplitude of a signal. 2) In computing, a fixed amount of storage space, addressed as a single entity ('C:', 'D:' etc). A physical drive may contain more than one volume, but a single volume may also span more than one drive!
volume
control can be a
FaderVariable level control in the form of a slider usually found on audio mixing consoles, allowing attenuation of audio signals, also used on control surfaces for control of a variety of parameters.
fader
, but is more commonly a rotary ‘pot’.


Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
Monitor
or ‘Output’ Selector

Output Selector

No matter how
Flat ResponseTerm which refers to equipment that does not colour the frequency spectrum of a signal passed through it.
flat
or neutral your studio
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitors
, it’s always a good idea to cross-reference your mixes on at least one alternative such as hi-fi speakers, or a second pair of studio
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitors
that have different characteristics to your main set. This can prove invaluable in locating mix problems - for instance a vocal that seemed at the perfect level can turn out to be almost inaudible on different speakers, telling you that the correct level is probably somewhere in between the two. It can be less than ideal though if you need to keep swapping cables around to feed other systems, or even worse, having to
BurnTo write data to optical media such as CD, DVD etc.
burn
‘test’ CDs to play back on a hi-fi or car stereo. The ‘monitor selection’ feature enables you to quickly and easily choose which playback system you want to listen through. If the
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitor
controller has
SurroundA general term for any audio system where the listener hears sounds from all directions. Many such systems are described as '5.1' surround: there are five full-range audio channels (three front and two rear) and a sub bass channel. More complex systems (7.1 etc) are also found in larger cinemas. Most surround sound media, including DVD, uses some form of digital encoding to incorporate surround information into a stereo signal.
surround
sound capabilities then this feature really comes into its own, as you can quickly select individual
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitors
or subsets of them - extremely useful for listening to the rear speakers alone or isolating the sub for example, all while maintaining a constant level.


MonoSingle-channel sound recording or mix, as opposed to multi-channel formats such as stereo and surround sound.
Mono
Button

Mono Button

Modern music often uses a variety of stereo
EffectsGeneral term applied to audio processors for dynamics, time, ambience and equalisation whether in the form of 19" rack units, guitar floor pedals, or software plug-ins.
effects
and recording techniques which sound great when played back in stereo, but do not always translate very well to
MonoSingle-channel sound recording or mix, as opposed to multi-channel formats such as stereo and surround sound.
mono
, and can even disappear all together.
MonoSingle-channel sound recording or mix, as opposed to multi-channel formats such as stereo and surround sound.
Mono
compatibility is less of an issue these days as most TVs and radios have stereo speakers, however there are still plenty of
MonoSingle-channel sound recording or mix, as opposed to multi-channel formats such as stereo and surround sound.
mono
devices out there, and there are a number of other situations where
AudioGenerally used to mean "sound"; technically it describes periodic fluctuations of air pressure or electrical energy at frequencies and amplitudes within the human range of hearing; sound, or electrical energy that represents sound; acoustic, mechanical, or electrical frequencies corresponding to normally audible sound waves.
audio
is played back in
MonoSingle-channel sound recording or mix, as opposed to multi-channel formats such as stereo and surround sound.
mono
, such as in some pubs and clubs for example. So maintaining
MonoSingle-channel sound recording or mix, as opposed to multi-channel formats such as stereo and surround sound.
mono
compatibility is still an important part of the mixing process - the
MonoSingle-channel sound recording or mix, as opposed to multi-channel formats such as stereo and surround sound.
mono
button of a
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitor
controller is a useful feature which allows you (and reminds you!) to do this quickly and easily.


Dim Button

Although often viewed as a useful but non-essential feature, this should not be overlooked. The dim button lowers the mix to a set level (or by a fixed amount) without affecting the main
Volume1) In audio and music, the loudness or amplitude of a signal. 2) In computing, a fixed amount of storage space, addressed as a single entity ('C:', 'D:' etc). A physical drive may contain more than one volume, but a single volume may also span more than one drive!
volume
settings, so that when deselected, your mix
ReturnA 'return' is a desk input that brings back audio originally output for processing. There are two common types: the insert, where the whole channel signal is interrupted and sent directly out to a compressor or similar processor and then returned back to the channel, usually before the EQ stage; and the auxiliary send and return where only part of the signal is sent for processing and the return mixed together with the original signal.
returns
to exactly the original level. It’s very useful for checking a mix at lower volumes, as this can sometimes reveal that some instruments appear overpowered by others, which has not been apparent at
NormalType of patchbay configuration in which a top row socket is internally connected by default to the corresponding bottom row socket; the connection may be broken by inserting a plug into one or both front panel sockets, depending on the type of normalling in use.
normal
mixing levels – some mix engineers work almost exclusively at low levels, finding that mixes that work well quietly tend to work at all levels. The dim button is also particularly useful for temporarily dropping the
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitor
level when answering the studio phone!


DampTo reduce vibrations - in music this usually refers to the technique of reducing an instrument's vibrations and overtones by touching it in some way, to shorten the length of the note and deaden the timbre of the sound. For example, a percussionist may place the palm of his hand on the skin of a kettle drum, or a guitarist might use the wrist of his plectrum hand to rest against the strings. Also used to describe the effects of acoustic treatment.
Mute
Button

Mute

Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
Monitor
controllers often incorporate a
DampTo reduce vibrations - in music this usually refers to the technique of reducing an instrument's vibrations and overtones by touching it in some way, to shorten the length of the note and deaden the timbre of the sound. For example, a percussionist may place the palm of his hand on the skin of a kettle drum, or a guitarist might use the wrist of his plectrum hand to rest against the strings. Also used to describe the effects of acoustic treatment.
mute
button, or sometimes multiple
DampTo reduce vibrations - in music this usually refers to the technique of reducing an instrument's vibrations and overtones by touching it in some way, to shorten the length of the note and deaden the timbre of the sound. For example, a percussionist may place the palm of his hand on the skin of a kettle drum, or a guitarist might use the wrist of his plectrum hand to rest against the strings. Also used to describe the effects of acoustic treatment.
mute
buttons on
SurroundA general term for any audio system where the listener hears sounds from all directions. Many such systems are described as '5.1' surround: there are five full-range audio channels (three front and two rear) and a sub bass channel. More complex systems (7.1 etc) are also found in larger cinemas. Most surround sound media, including DVD, uses some form of digital encoding to incorporate surround information into a stereo signal.
surround
controllers. These are a useful feature for isolating individual speakers or sets thereof, and are commonly found on larger mixing desks. Also good for answering particularly important calls on the studio phone!


Headphone &
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
Monitor
Mixes

Many
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitor
controllers incorporate a headphone
AmpereUnit of current; the amount of electricity flowing through a conductor. One Ampere is equal to the flow of 6.25x10^18 electrons through a conductor in one second.
amp
to allow the mix to be listened to through headphones. This is another crucial part of the
MixdownThe process of adjusting the relative balance and stereo position of all tracks in a multi-track recording, including processing of individual tracks, and committing the resulting stereo output to a tape or file.
mixdown
process as it can highlight problems which aren’t apparent on regular
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitors
, something which is even more important these days as the popularity of
mp3MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3: a digital audio file format employing data compression to achieve small file sizes, in common use on the internet and most portable music players.
mp3
players and listening to music on the move is increasing rapidly. Some higher-end units offer several headphone outputs and also separate ‘monitor mix’ controls - invaluable when recording multiple performers simultaneously, allowing different mix levels to be sent to different performers.


Talkback

Depending on your recording situation, it may be useful to have a
TalkbackA function built into most studio-oriented mixing desks, allowing the producer/engineer to communicate with performers. Typically, the talkback microphone is either built into the mixer's top surface, or attached via a gooseneck. The talkback button is usually non-latching, in other words it must be held down each time the function is required.
talkback
facility built in to your
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitor
controller, allowing communication between the control room and the recording area via the performer’s headphones. This feature is particularly useful for giving instructions to the performer on the fly, such as asking them to move closer to the
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
, or just to damn well sing it in tune this time please! Most models with
TalkbackA function built into most studio-oriented mixing desks, allowing the producer/engineer to communicate with performers. Typically, the talkback microphone is either built into the mixer's top surface, or attached via a gooseneck. The talkback button is usually non-latching, in other words it must be held down each time the function is required.
talkback
have an internal
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
, but some give the option of connecting an external
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
, allowing it to be positioned independently of the controller. Look out for a non-latching switch for the
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
, as this will spare your blushes if you happen to make an off-the-cuff remark when you think the ‘talent’ is not listening!


Input Selector

Input Selector

This allows you to select from a variety of playback sources, for instance allowing you to make a useful comparison between your mix and a commercial recording on a CD player - Some
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitor
controllers include an onboard
RIAAIn the 1950s the Recording Industry Association of America reached an agreement to adopt an EQ encoding process as a way of overcoming the limitations of vinyl when trying to emulate large peaks or transients of audio. To ensure that the amplitude is reasonably constant over all audio frequencies, the lower ones (below 500Hz) are reduced and the higher (above 2kHz) boosted in the cutting process. On playback, the opposite characteristics are applied to restore the sound by an EQ circuit usually built into the amplifier.
RIAA
PreampAn amplifier device or circuit that provides initial amplification of a weak electronic signal, usually to 'line' level, in order for it to be processed or passed between other devices, as opposed to a power amp which amplifies a signal in order to drive loudspeakers. Examples include microphone preamps (as dedicated hardware and in mixing desks/recording interfaces) and guitar preamps. Most guitar amps combine the preamp and power amp in the same unit.
preamp
for direct connection of a turntable.


DigitalAll digital equipment, formats and systems represent audio in numerical code or form. Digital information is a precise way of expressing any of information that can be quantified in some way.
Digital
to Analogue Converters

In addition to a selection of analogue inputs, some controllers also feature
DigitalAll digital equipment, formats and systems represent audio in numerical code or form. Digital information is a precise way of expressing any of information that can be quantified in some way.
digital
inputs which convert the
DigitalAll digital equipment, formats and systems represent audio in numerical code or form. Digital information is a precise way of expressing any of information that can be quantified in some way.
digital
output from your
DAWDigital Audio Workstation - a general term applied to any non-linear audio recorder/editor/mixer encompassing dedicated hardware and software components in a single system. Examples of this are Digidesign Pro Tools or Roland VS series DAWs.
DAW
or other source to analogue, ready to send to your speakers. Care should be taken when selecting a
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitor
controller with a DAC, as when choosing a soundcard, to make sure that the quality of the converters meets the standards you require. Also consider whether you will need wordclock connections (or even wordclock generation) to properly synchronise your
DigitalAll digital equipment, formats and systems represent audio in numerical code or form. Digital information is a precise way of expressing any of information that can be quantified in some way.
digital
equipment.


Metering

Meter

Having an output
MeterAn electrical or electronic device for measuring the properties of electrical signals, such as voltage and current. In audio, level meters measure audio signals against an appropriate reference.
meter
on your
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitor
controller is very useful - although all
DAWDigital Audio Workstation - a general term applied to any non-linear audio recorder/editor/mixer encompassing dedicated hardware and software components in a single system. Examples of this are Digidesign Pro Tools or Roland VS series DAWs.
DAWs
do have output
MeterAn electrical or electronic device for measuring the properties of electrical signals, such as voltage and current. In audio, level meters measure audio signals against an appropriate reference.
meters
, they’re often hidden on a busy screen when you need them most, and having a constantly viewable
MeterAn electrical or electronic device for measuring the properties of electrical signals, such as voltage and current. In audio, level meters measure audio signals against an appropriate reference.
meter
helps to ensure that you don’t overload your
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitor
section, or clip when sending the output signal to a (properly aligned)
Master1) The final version of an audio recording or album that has been prepared for release. 2) The physical medium on which this recording is stored or transferred, such as a glass master CD, CDR or vinyl master from which a production run will be replicated or pressed.
master
recorder. Dedicated
MeterAn electrical or electronic device for measuring the properties of electrical signals, such as voltage and current. In audio, level meters measure audio signals against an appropriate reference.
meters
will also tend to be more accurate than software
MeterAn electrical or electronic device for measuring the properties of electrical signals, such as voltage and current. In audio, level meters measure audio signals against an appropriate reference.
meters
, and are not affected by how hard your
CPUCentral Processing Unit: the silicon chip at the centre of a computer system.
CPU
is working on other processes.


Remote Controls

Remote

The majority of
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitor
controllers are designed to be kept within easy reach on a desktop. A drawback of this design is the shear number of cables that you end up having connected to it - multiple inputs and outputs, not to mention headphones, the power supply and even a
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
mic
. Some manufacturers have solved this problem by using a combination of a rackmount
Monitor1) Recording studio loudspeaker. 2) Stage loudspeaker, usually wedge-shaped, facing the performers so that they may hear themselves. 3) Computer display screen.
monitor
controller that can be hidden away with your outboard, and a desktop remote control connected with a single cable for communication.

 

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