Best Monitor Management Systems for Home Recording (Top List For Beginners)

07/02/2020
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As young studios grow into maturity…

A common upgrade folks add is an array of multiple studio monitors…

To cross-check their mixes across a variety of playback devices.

The problem however, is that audio interfaces are rarely equipped to handle this kind of routing…

So a monitor management system is needed as well.

But once you start comparing options, it quickly becomes apparent that the “best option” is anything but obvious.

So to help you understand their differences, in this post we’ll examine the 6 best systems currently on the market and see just how they stack up.

First up…

 

1. TC Electronic Level Pilot

level pilot

In its simplest form, a monitor management system is nothing more than a glorified volume knob.

Because with a single set of monitors…that’s all you need.

In most cases, the audio interface is perfectly capable of handling that task.  But when it’s not, the TC Electronic Level Pilot offers a great alternative.

Compared to other volume knobs, the Level Pilot is nice because it can be positioned anywhere on your desktop, and since it’s weighted, it remains securely in place.

Plus, by controlling the volume passively at analog level, it offers ultra fine resolution, without the need for an external power supply.

So if your setup is simple, and you don’t need anything fancy, the TC Electronic Level Pilot is the perfect solution.

However, since what you probably need is a solution to connect multiple monitors…

Up next, we’ll see some of those, starting with…

2. Behringer Minimon MON800

Behringer Minimon MON800For a device as affordable as the Behringer Minimon MON800

It’s truly amazing how many great features it has.

With 3 stereo inputs, 4 stereo outputs, a talkback mic, and a headphone jack…

It has everything you need to cross-reference multiple mixes through multiple monitors, and offers advanced routing capabilities normally seen only on high-end systems.

For a cheap, yet reliable solution to monitor management, you can’t do much better than the MON800.

  • Click to see current price – (Amazon)

For a slightly pricier option with similar features, also check out the Samson C Control – (Amazon).

Up next…

3. Mackie Big Knob

Mackie Big KnobOne of the most popular systems on the market for a long time now…

The Mackie Big Knob is known in many home studios circles, as the industry standard for such devices.

Surprisingly, when you compare its features with the Mon800 and Samson C Control…there’s not much difference.

Yet as anyone who owns the Big Knob will tell you…it blows the other two away.  And the main reason is…because of its LAYOUT.

Unlike with cheaper desktop systems, the layout is so intuitive and user-friendly, it barely even needs a manual.

And while that may seem trivial to some, once you use it…you’ll see what a difference it makes in your workflow.  Which is why the Big Knob is easily my top pick of the options we’ve seen so far.

Up next…

4. PreSonus Monitor Station V2

Presonus Monitor Station V2

After the success of the Mackie Big Knob…

Other companies tried to piggy-back off the smart design by creating their own similar versions.

But the only one that really saw success was the Presonus Monitor Station

Because it had one brilliant feature that the Big Knob only sorta had:

  • a 4 channel headphone distribution system with a main/cue toggle on each channel

So it was essentially a monitor management system and headphone amp in one.

And with their recent release of the Monitor Station V2, Presonus refined the design even further with a cleaner, more intuitive layout.

Check it out:

Up next…

5. Presonus Central Station Plus

Presonus Central Station

While the last two systems we’ve seen were excellent products…

There’s one BIG problem that some people have with the design of desktop monitoring systems in general.

And that is…they’re a nightmare to set up when the rest of your gear is rackmounted.

The solution of course, is to choose a rackmounted system such as the Presonus Central Station Plus, which in addition to its organizational benefits, has the MOST advanced routing capabilities of any system we’ve covered so far.

And if you prefer your monitor controls on your desktop, the Central Station Plussolves this problem as well by adding a remote control that you can easily position where you want…

While at the same time keeping all those cables tucked neatly away behind your rack…where they should be.

And finally, for the last option…

6. Dangerous Music Dbox

Dangerous D-BoxAsk any engineer what they believe is the top brand in monitor management…

And each one will say the same thing: Dangerous Music.

And while most of their ultra-high end products go far beyond the needs of home studios…

The Dangerous D-box is the one model in their line that is:

  • so functional,
  • so easy-to-use,
  • and so well-designed…

That you might say it’s the picture-perfect monitor management solution for almost any studio, home or pro.

Which is why, despite its painfully high price, it’s been among the best-selling systems for many years now.  So if you can afford it, get it…because it’s easily the best overall option on this list.

As an alternative, another good option by Dangerous to check out is the Dangerous Music SOURCE – (Amazon/B&H/GuitarC/MusiciansF/Thomann)

In comparison to the D-BOX, the SOURCE is possibly better for today’s mini home studios, because it’s smaller, cheaper, and includes USB and 1/8″ inputs for laptops, iPads, etc.