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Controling powered studio monitors

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hello, A question for the members here using powered speakers. I was wondering what you are using to control the volume of your studio monitors  (other then the volume knob on the back panel).  Preamp? dac with line out volume control?  Thank you

post #2 of 16
You can use a preamp, or a passive preamp, you set ur monitors to a set volume and then use the digital volume control from ur computer to control the volume, and there is the nht pvc passive.volume.control ( I have one for sale here) and the tc electronic volume control.
post #3 of 16

Active Studio monitors were pioneered by Genelec 30 years ago and were initially enthusiastically adopted by the pro audio community. Traditionally they would be connected to a hardware mixer, usually via a balanced connection.

 

More recently producers and engineers tend to mix ITB so it has become common practise to connect monitors via an audio interface. This will almost always have a gain control on the front panel and is your best course of action if you haven't already invested in a hi fi grade sound card. Look for models by the likes of Focusrite, TC-Konnect, Akai. Presonus and Native Instruments amongst others. RME if you can afford it. If you are genuinely skint even Berhinger and M-Audio models are surprisingly good for the money provided you are lucky and they don't break.

 

You can also get dedicated monitor controllers ranging from the $300 Mackie Big Knob to the $30 Fostex.PC1EX.

 

ADAM monitors in the AnX range have a feature whereby you can con troll the gain on both from a single front mounted rotary control provided you are willing to forgo the balanced connectors.

 

Personally connect all my inputs and outputs to a Soundcraft Spirit M4 mixer via a MOTU Ultralite. Physical slider faders ftw. 

post #4 of 16

I simply use the RCA output from my soundcard through RCA cables to my monitors with a RCA to 1/4" inch mono phono  plug at each monitor. I use the soundcards volume control as this to me represents the lowest loss solution.

 

This bit about bit loss when using digital volume controls while true is actually inconsequential to the sound as all the bits lost are at the low end of the scale far below what you can even hear especially if operating in 24 bit mode. Even if operating in 16 bit mode you don't really start to hear quantization distortion until you get to -80db on modern DACs. This is below the noise floor in actual recordings irrespective of technology used to record it, it doesn't matter if the technology offers 144db dynamic range or not as only about 60 to 70 db is ever used due to the noise floor of the room it is recorded in, you cannot go more than that in real recording.

post #5 of 16

Greetings... I use a Wyrd4Snd DAC-2 to directly drive a pair of Dynaudio BM-5s via XLR. Works great. I use a pair of homemade floor-level (literally) stands, similar to the "Bedrock" stands that are sold by Mapleshade. It's a musically stunning combination.

post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by germanium View Post

I simply use the RCA output from my soundcard through RCA cables to my monitors with a RCA to 1/4" inch mono phono  plug at each monitor. I use the soundcards volume control as this to me represents the lowest loss solution.

 

This bit about bit loss when using digital volume controls while true is actually inconsequential to the sound as all the bits lost are at the low end of the scale far below what you can even hear especially if operating in 24 bit mode. Even if operating in 16 bit mode you don't really start to hear quantization distortion until you get to -80db on modern DACs. This is below the noise floor in actual recordings irrespective of technology used to record it, it doesn't matter if the technology offers 144db dynamic range or not as only about 60 to 70 db is ever used due to the noise floor of the room it is recorded in, you cannot go more than that in real recording.

 

Yes the other i think even better way is a stepped ttenuator, Goldpoint makes some but they are like 500, you can make on easily for under 100 if you buy the attenuator from ebay.

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies, I was thinking of going with a dac that has volume control for the analog line out. Any decent options up to about 4-$500.00 new or used? Thanks

post #8 of 16
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kawai_man View Post

 

Yes the other i think even better way is a stepped attenuator, Goldpoint makes some but they are like 500, you can make on easily for under 100 if you buy the attenuator from ebay.

 

Stepped attenuators have their own issues such as high output impedance (true of all analog attenuators by the way) at the most likely used volumes.necessitating the use of a buffer amp following the attenuator as well as extremely limited volume choices unless you really want to spend big bucks for your attenuator. I have used stepped attenuators without buffers successfully but I had to make my own very short extremely low capacitance cable to really make it shine. Running straight off the DAC's buffer& using digital attenuation offers more volume choices & no need for extra amplification. It also offers perfect channel balance at all volumes & a potentially low output impedance making it less susceptible to  cable capacitance thus offering a more lively lifelike sound with practically any old cable, no need for expensive cables with this setup.


Edited by germanium - 11/19/12 at 11:12pm
post #10 of 16

I have a stepped attenuator I made, yes there isnt an infinite number of positions so you cant get it exactly the perfect volume, but I get close to the volumes I want, its a very minor issue for me. They sell different impedance attenuators to match to your monitors, most monitors are 10k. I use 6ft cables to each monitor and it gives me a more dynamic and clearer sound at low volumes tha when using digital attenuation from my computer,  the difference isnt huge but its obvious.

post #11 of 16

I use a spl 2control to control the volume of my dynaudio bm5a mk2.

http://spl.info/de/produkte/monitor-controller/2control/videos.html

It's kinda on the expensive side, but it also gives you two headphone ports and the attentuator in it, has a really good channel balance all through the range.

post #12 of 16

I use a Mackie Big Knob.  I love it for its convenience.  I can connect multiple sources, multiple outputs, and select amongst all of them as I want.  I can have three headphone amps connected, as well as three power amps or powered speakers (could even connect an HE6 to a power amp and control the volume with the Big Knob).  And be able to select between 3 sources (and one sucky phono pre as the fourth) to any of the outputs, and even have multiple outputs gong at once or multiple sources being summed and going at once.  Really nice for convenience.  And it handles both balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs.

 

The downside is that the sound through the Big Knob isn't transparent.  You do lose a little bit of stereo separation and a little bit of openness in the sound.  It still sounds fine. But if you start playing with $1000 DACs, $1000+ amps, and $1000 headphones, the Big Knob will be the sonic bottleneck.  I'd say that up to about the level of the HD600 and a Schiit Lyr  and a couple hundred dollar DAC the Big Knob is totally fine.  Start playing with the big toys and the Big Knob will limit the capabilities of the other gear.

 

One way around that would be to use a DAC that has two or more switchable outputs.  Have one of the DAC outputs go direct to your good headphone amp and the other to the Big Knob.  And use that direct connection for the good sound with the good headphones.  Then use the Big Knob for everything else.

 

Another downside is that TRS jacks in the back of the Big Knob can get flakey and can start getting some poor connections after being left alone for a while.  You'll hear a problem and then have to pull out all of the cables, blow canned air in each TRS jack, then plug everything back in.  TRS or TS jacks aren't the most reliable way to connect audio gear.

post #13 of 16

I'd use a pre-amplifier. Do you own a DAC? If so, you can hook up the pre-amplifier to it and use it as such. I have seen some use the Schiit Audio Lyr as a pre-amplifier to operate volume controls for active studio monitors. If you already own a DAC, this could be an option for you. Plus you'd get the headphone amplifier built-in as a bonus. If you do not already own a DAC, the Matrix Mini-I could also be a possible option for you.

 

Destroysall.


Edited by Destroysall - 11/20/12 at 11:46pm
post #14 of 16

I use my keyboard with audio controls on it, pretty much every media or gaming keyboard has audio controls on it. It's the lazy way to go about it that doesn't really require any special setup and can be done for about $20 without distorting sound what so ever.

post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by boomhaur View Post

I use my keyboard with audio controls on it, pretty much every media or gaming keyboard has audio controls on it. It's the lazy way to go about it that doesn't really require any special setup and can be done for about $20 without distorting sound what so ever.

Until there is some kind of software freak out and your monitors are blasting on full volume...

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