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Wednesday
Apr202011

Cool new tool: JBL MSC1 Monitor Controller

The biggest problem with studio monitor speakers often isn't the speakers themselves, its the room they're in.  Just like a microphone only works as well as the acoustics and placement in the room, the same holds true for speakers, only in reverse.  This is why I often tell my clients to not listen to the speakers for any critical listening, especially when judging the tone and EQ of their voice.  Whatever problems your small bedroom studio's acoustics cause will cloud your judgement severely.

 

For example:  The typical bedroom or home office based studio is pretty small in volume, dimensions under 15x20'.  In any room "modes" exist that cause certain frequencies to resonate, but in small rooms these frequencies are smack dab in the middle of the vocal range.  One of the worst modes occurs around 120-150hz, the range in which a voice sounds warm and full.  If your speaker/room combination is boosting this area, you may think the sound you are delivering your clients sounds like what you hear.  You would be sorely mistaken!   Ideally your room would be carefully tuned with acoustical materials and speakers placed in the ideal location, but we all know that it just isn't realistic for most of us who use their studio as an office, a guest room, or walk-in closet. 

It's because of this typical problem I recommend to most of my clients that they do any critical listening in headphones, which eliminates room interaction altogether. But this is tiresome, fatiguing, and makes one hyper-critical of every tiny mouth noise when editing.  Thanks to the JBL MSC1, you have technology to assist your studio monitors in sounding as accurate as possible.  JBL takes the technology previously only available in their own costly and bulky monitor speakers and places it in a very cool looking monitor controller.  A monitor controller is a device that makes it easy to control the volume of your studio speakers, headphones, and listen to multiple sources (such as your PC, ISDN codec, and more).  Think of it as a Mackie Big Knob, but half the size, with no talkback, and you get the idea.  

What really makes the MSC1 stand alone in this product category is the inclusion of their Room Mode Correction technology.  With the use of the included measurement microphone, the MSC1 in conjunction with your computer can analyze the sound coming from any studio monitors you already own, make adjustments to the EQ curve, and calibrate them to be as accurate as possible in your particular room.  This may sound like a gimmick, but rest assured it isn't.  It really does work!   The M-Audio AV40's my client had sitting on a desk, against a wall, and in two corners (worst case scenario position), were tubby sounding.  Once I calibrated them with the RSC software, they smoothed out and sound much clearer.  We patched the control room output from his mixer (in the booth) and the output of his iMac into the MSC1, so he can have someone outside the booth listen in, or he can hear an ISDN caller talking before he gets into the booth.  

Plus, that thing has "God's volume knob", it's huge! 

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