A Comparison Of Surround Monitor Controller Options

Surround monitor controllers are a vital link in the chain for today’s composers and post-production professionals. Situated between your DAW or console I/O and speakers, this tool serves as the control for volume attenuation and routing of your audio at the final stage of reference.

The need for transparent and accurate control is shared by pretty much everyone, but there are a wide array of features and capabilities that require some decision making. Do you need a simple 5.1 desktop unit for an editing suite? What about something that will let you expand for additional channels down the road? How about a complete solution that will handle immersive content and also provide room and acoustic correction?

We have collected some of the most popular and powerful surround monitor controllers on the market, as well as a few brand new contenders. Continue reading below to discover how they will fit into your workflow and check out our comparison chart to see how they stack up against each other.


Grace Designs M906 5.1
Grace Designs offers the M906 5.1 capable system, which is comprised of a 2U rack mount chassis and wired remote. There is a full compliment of balanced and unbalanced analog 5.1 and digital 5.1 and stereo inputs, the latter featuring 24 bit /192k DAC capability. Grace Designs is well known for their transparent signal path and long term reliability. Optional features include both a down mix module (Factory/Upgrade) that creates stereo L+R mix of a 6-channel source and an AES loop thru option (Factory/Upgrade) for more AES digital outputs via AES DB25 connector.

Trinnov MC Pro and D-Mon 
Trinnov has created solutions that go beyond a normal monitor controller. The brand offers a plethora of ways to help analyze your space and provide acoustic correction to create a finely tuned listening environment. For surround, there are both the MC Pro and D-Mon series. The MC (Multichannel) Pro is a modular chassis that you can outfit with various analog and AES for up to 16 analog outputs, and they even have a MADI card option that can handle 64 digital I/O. The D-Mon is a drop-in replacement for Avid’s X-Mon and can be controlled from an Avid S6, ICON, or via the D-Mon app on your computer. The Vintage King Post team specializes in Trinnov solutions and are standing by to help you learn more about these powerful solutions.

Dangerous Music ST
Dangerous offers a very simple and effective surround add-on option for their industry standard stereo monitor controller. Start with the Monitor ST and add as many Monitor SRs as you need for 5.1 or more. The ST unit routes your front L+R speakers while the SR handles the remaining inputs and speaker outputs, and the remote manages both units as a unified system. Need digital inputs as well? Check out the Dangerous Convert 8 that offers crystal clear DAC for this system.

SPL SMC 7.1
SPL has a rich history in monitor controllers and are well respected in the mastering world. The more modest desktop SMC (Surround Monitor Controller) is one of their most popular selling items as it hits a great sub $1k price point that makes it available to a larger audience. It provides quick desktop access to surround and stereo operations and is a proven unit. Expanding on that success, SPL has recently released the new SMC 7.1 version. This unit features a newer chassis with all balanced connections, illuminated LED buttons, and is available in both silver or black. Another new accessory product from SPL is the Expansion Rack. With this, you can actually house the SMC 7.1 in this rack mount chassis which also expands the stereo speaker output capability.

Coleman Audio SR 5.1 MkIII
Coleman offers a simple and straightforward surround monitoring solution with stereo fold-down capabilities at a very reasonable price. There are individual mute switches and channel trims and the main six gang stepped attenuator tracks within .05dB throughout its entire range.

Crane Song Avocet IIA
The Crane Song Avocet IIA builds on the success of the original Avocet and Avocet II. It offers a new 5th generation Quantum DAC and direct subwoofer outputs for each of the three outputs. This system comprises of a stereo IIA unit with remote and adding more (3x total IIA for 5.1 for example) IIA rack units to expand your I/O.


Martinsound MultiMAX EX and EXR

The Martinsound MultiMAX EX and EXR family of products are well tested in some of the largest post facilities around. Able to handle multiple formats and connectivity, they can replace your entire consoles monitoring section with full accompaniment of monitoring, down mixing, and encoding and decoding paths. You have the choice of either a straightforward rack mount unit with front panel controls, or a blank rack version with external wired remote for better accessibility.

If you're interested in learning more about surround monitor controllers and what they can do for your workflow, please feel free to contact Troy Manning at 213.984.4000 x192.

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