Monitoring System Volume Control

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by covenant66, Apr 23, 2008.

  1. covenant66

    covenant66 Guest

    Ok, I have, in the past, worked with my DAW and Interfaces volume controls to control my monitoring system's volume. After reading John Scrips post in another post, I have seen that this is much, much less convenient than having something like the Avocet to control volume.

    I am in the middle of a massive equipment upgrade, and if I could get around paying the $1,800 for an Avocet, then I would like to put the money in other places.

    Can I place something between the DA and the amp to control volume without a reduction in sound quality? If so, what would be good? This actually sounds like a bad idea to me, but I am just trying to discover all of my options.

    Can anyone help me out with some good options for controlling monitoring system volume?
  2. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    South Florida
    Home Page:
    Well, you could "roll your own". There are a few tutorials out on the webernet for that.

    Other options on the less expensive end are like the Macke Big Knob and Presonus Central Station.
  3. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    North Vancouver
    What features do you want?

    Think of everything you can dream of, and then narrow it down to 2 or 3 core features you must have.

    Just a guess....
    To do it right will likely cost at least 1k, to do it cheap and dirty well......
  4. covenant66

    covenant66 Guest

    Well the only way I want to do it is right.

    Ok, so the Bryston has RCA inputs, and my Apogee DA has XLR outputs.

    So it basically, my thoughts are that it needs to be like this:

    Apogee DA XLR output ------> A volume control knob (with xlr input and rca output) -----> Bryston's RCA Input

    I mean, thats all I really need is a volume control knob, maybe a mute button would be nice.

    OK BUT..................

    John was saying he uses the Avocet as a second DA or something. So does the adjustment of volume NEED to happen digitally? I do not know why, or exactly how one would do this volume adjustment digitally. I am not saying it isn't the best way, I just do not know why it is the best way.

    I do know that doing it the way I have done it for quite some time has been an inconvenience. I didn't want to put anything between the DA and the amp in fear of signal degradation. I had to be very careful all the time with it set up that way. Please help!
  5. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    North Vancouver
    Basically it sounds like you want a passive device.

    I also use the Avocet, simply because it was exactly what I needed, and I could not build it for much less. Plus the fact that Dave Hill is major hero of mine, and it’s great to inspect his creations. But geek-dom aside, I think you can make yourself a simple passive device.

    Keep in mind you want to keep the audio path as simple as possible to reduce any signal degradation. Basically a simple network of resistive dividers can attenuate the audio path in a 0.5dB step. A simple rotary switch could be used.

    My only concern with this example would be possible popping caused by switch, or relays. But this can be controlled via a circuit not in the audio path.

    There are lots of site out there that show you how to make this, do some research and feel free PM me some specific questions.

    As for the Balanced to Unbalanced signal conditioning there are a few options:
    1) transformers
    2) Opamp type circuit (THAT makes some nice ones)
    3) Drop half of your signal and lose one wire(Not most elegant solution)
    Best of luck,


    opps I forgot as for the AVOCET DAC issue. Yes I use the DAC in the avocet for my monitors, it sounds good to my ear.

    In daves design all switching and gain control functions in the main audio path are done with relays which switch in different voltage dividers. So yes digital control select which passive attenuation you want.
  6. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    Nuremberg, Germany
    Home Page:
    If your on a budget check out m-patch 2 by sm pro audio. it's a passive volume controller with trs, xlr and rca inputs and xlr outputs. you can hook up two sets of monitors and switch between them. there's also a mute button, a mono switch and a headphone amp. very nice for 130€.
  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Music Service

    Home Page:
    Another vote for the SM Pro Audio M-Patch2 - it's difficult to beat for the money. You don't need to plug the power supply in unless you need to use the headphone amp. I haven't been able to detect any sonic degradation over the first 50dB or so of attenuation. Above that, the differences in the channel matching become audible but not objectionable, given that you won't be doing serious monitoring at those levels.
  8. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    Well, the monitoring DA. It's not like you can do without one (unless you're using some sort of digital speakers) if you're using an analog chain...
    The Central Station being quite a decent piece for the bucks --- A rather usable DA, passive circuitry post the DA, excellent switching options, "A-or-B-plus-C" monitor switching, front-panel calibration, etc., etc., etc.

    I'm still confused on how you can go *not* having some sort of control past whatever your current monitoring DA is... A tactile and fast volume control and a post-meter are rather vital things (IME).
  9. cerberus

    cerberus Active Member

    afaik, decent speakers lack protection.
    so that would make it absolutely
    necessary to have a volume
    control after the converter.

    jeff dinces
  10. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Music Service

    Home Page:
    It's your ears that need the protection. "Decent" powered monitors have in-built power limits that reduce the risk of damage to the speakers themselves.

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