The Top 5 Monitor Controllers for your home studio
As monitoring is one of the most important aspects of music production, we’re going to look at the Top 5 Monitor Controllers for your home studio. I realize that the term home studio is highly subjective, as this could refer to setups ranging from laptops to consoles.
These are by no means the latest or the most sophisticated monitor controllers available. Instead, they are tried and tested recommendations based on my experience with studios I’ve worked in and different artists I’ve collaborated with.
Everyone has different demands when it comes to music. While few home recording setups even require talkback, it’s important to be aware of what is available and why certain products are favoured over others.
Heritage Audio Baby RAM
The Baby RAM is a passive desktop monitor controller. Like all things from Heritage Audio, the design combines quality components, analogue signal path, and a retro sensibility.
This is a perfect monitor controller for those still new to the world of audio. Also, a solution when you’re running low on desktop space. The vintage Neve console look might not be for everyone. However, the large red stepped pot makes it easy to precisely control your monitoring levels.
Overall, the feature set gives you all the essentials like mono, dim and mute switches. The Baby RAM provides uncoloured signal path at an affordable price.
PreSonus Monitor Station V2
With the success of the first generation model, it only makes sense to find the Monitor Station V2 on this list. Presonus didn’t change much in the design between the two versions, but there are a few features that set them apart.
The layout has changed slightly with the main source and speaker select buttons placed on either side of the LED meter. In addition to this, features like Phono aux input have been replaced. Instead, you now have SPDIF and a mini jack input for mobile devices.
There is also no longer the option to use an external talkback mic, so you’ll have to make do with the integrated one. Otherwise, it’s the same trusty centerpiece with two I/O paths, four headphone outs, and support for three sets of monitors.
Drawmer MC 2.1
Another manufacturer with a long history, Drawmer is known for creating quality analogue studio gear. At first glance, the MC 2.1 is rather tanky looking and its front panel layout may not be the most practical.
However, it does have a transparent signal path and all the features you’d expect in a pro monitor controller. The MC 2.1 provides one mono and three stereo speaker outputs, with two individually controlled headphone outs.
The built-in talkback mic works over the headphones channels and there is an additional mono talkback output. The unit is also rack mountable, which makes it easy to incorporate into any scale of audio setup.
The 2Control may be more expensive than most home studio users would like it to be, but SPL is a proven high-end manufacturer so it comes with the territory. Here, the design philosophy is far more functional and minimalistic.
The 2Control gives you exactly the features required for accurately controlling your monitoring levels. This certainly beats bombarding you with features you never actually use. The fact that All the I/O is XLR, save for the two headphone outs just screams pro audio from the offset.
In addition, you have SPL’s unique crossfeed feature for simulating your monitoring environment when you’re using headphones. There is no talkback circuit, but Input 2 does allow you to switch between -10 and +4 dBU, and there’s a full-range mono out which is perfect for a Mixcube.
Dangerous Music Monitor ST
When Dangerous Music put together the Monitor ST, there must have been something in the water. From the time of its release, it instantly became the gold standard of monitor controllers.
The level of R & D that went into the Monitor ST is extremely thorough, taking in decades of design ideas and creating something truly innovative. The price tag is formidable for an item many would regard as a peripheral studio tool. However, the Monitor ST is made to be the centerpiece of your studio.
Whether you buy it for the incredible analogue circuitry or the extensive routing and connectivity options, you’re unlikely to regret it.
More Monitor Controllers:
- New SPL MTC mk2
- Palmer Monicon XL
- Audient Nero
- All about monitor controllers
- Everything studio
- Thomann’s guide to monitor controllers
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- Heritage Audio Baby RAM: Heritage Audio
- PreSonus Monitor Station V2: Presonus
- Drawmer MC 2.1: Drawmer
- SPL 2Control: SPL
- Dangerous Music Monitor ST: Dangerous Music
- Heritage Audio Baby RAM: Thomann
- Presonus Monitor Station V2: Thomann
- Drawmer MC 2.1: Thomann
- SPL 2Control: Thomann
- Dangerous Music Monitor ST: Thomann
Audient Nero is the best Controller ever i used.