2. Why use a Monitor Controller?
More studios than ever are now recording and mixing entirely within a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), attracted by high quality software plug-ins, synths and samplers, and above all, convenience and affordability. Recordings with 48 tracks or more used to require mixing desks of 48 channels or more, but with most studios now moving to mixing in the box, many consoles are becoming nothing more than cumbersome and expensive volume controls.
Although the computer keyboard and mouse have largely taken the place of the mixing desk and tape machine, most engineers still want instant control over key parameters such as master volume and monitor and source selection. The monitor controller offers the user all these features along with a several other controls, including mono, mute, and phase switches, and sometimes also headphone monitoring and talkback facilities.
Finally, with the move towards 5.1 surround sound and the recent introduction of the 7.1 surround format, the benefits of a dedicated monitor controller are becoming even more apparent. Engineers require full control of the output of each speaker, and muting or soloing of individual speakers on the fly makes isolating sounds and problem solving within a surround mix much easier. Some controllers even facilitate instant switching between complete sets of surround monitors.