It is possible to enjoy the comfort of a monitor controller without having to raid the piggy bank: the Palmer Monicon is living proof.
A common problem with studio monitors is the lack of volume controller on the front. And even if it is present, it is often impossible to regulate the sound of two speakers simultaneously without leaning dangerously over the desk, when you consider the distance at which both speakers are mounted. And then all the problems that this entails: the jack adapter that rolls across the table and eventually falls behind the desk where 28 more adapters are lying around, the cup of cold coffee that is poured over the audio interface, the audio interface, which causes a short circuit, which blows the fuse, the corner of the table at which you bruise your hips while you grope for the electricity meter… Luckily, there is a simple way to avoid all this: the monitor controller. What is this? It is a small box that is connected between your audio interface and your speakers, so as to give you the option to regulate the volume of the speakers as comfortably as possible. And that’s exactly what Palmer offers you with the Monicon.
Fetch the notebook: let’s check it out!
The reputation of the Palmer company is legendary: a company that specialises in small practical boxes, that cover a wide variety of uses (DIs, splitters, summing devices, etc.). A company that always attaches great importance to offering simple, high-quality products such as this Monicon, which is not an exception and is not lacking in elegance.
Made from a thick, black metal, enhanced by wooden side panels in decorative mahogany style, the Monicon throws its weight into the balance and that’s a good thing, because together with the four non-slip disks on which it rests, this detail ensures that the box does not move away from the place where you have placed it.
The controllers are as minimalistic as the design: on both sides of a large flexible scroll wheel to adjust the volume, there are two switches that allow you to switch a speaker to MONO, and to mute the signal for the other speaker. On the back, two formats are available for both the in and output connection technology: stereo mini jack or XLR/TRS combo on the input and stereo mini jack or XLR on the output, depending on the audio source and speakers that you need to connect above. This little gem is enhanced with legible white silkscreen lettering, to help the user learn a little more about the operation of the Monicon.
As described on the top of the unit, this is actually a passive volume controller; the scroll wheel does not, therefore, boost the sound but is used to regulate the attenuation between -85 and 0 dB: most importantly, this guarantees that the Monicon does not affect the sound in any way; we were able to verify this in the last readings with our meter. The decision to offer plugs, rather than incorporate little level piloting braids as on the TC Electronic, was undoubtedly right, because then users can customise the cable length and reduce the cable mess behind the desk as required. There are no buttons and no power supplies: just plug in and turn up the volume of the speakers generously so that the Monicon has sufficient bandwidth, and off you go. And it’s actually pretty good, because the Monicon turns out to be very transparent and extremely easy to use.
For the price at which it is sold (€ 75) the Monicon cannot be blamed for much, except maybe for a missing DIM switch, which is always handy; apart from that, it is solidly built, seems stable and is just as enjoyable to look at, as it is to use. Surely, we would appreciate it if Palmer would present a big brother to the Monicon with the same quality, that would be in a position to control more inputs or speakers for example, and could have a headphone jack. But this would be a completely different product, that would be sold at a very different price. Mr. Palmer, if you are reading this…
+ simple and efficient
+ attractive look
+ solid construction
+ XLR and hybrid plugs
+ stable thanks to the non-slip disks
+ competitive price
– we are waiting for the big brother…
– a small DIM switch wouldn’t have been bad
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Author: Los Teignos
Source: http://fr.audiofanzine.com/, France, January 2014