If you want complete control over your sound (no Native Instruments pun intended), then to invest in the best studio monitor controller you can get your hands on, would be a wise move.
We personally like to think of them as ‘Audio Interface 2.0’ – a helpful add-on that takes the capabilities of an AI and expands them even further! For those who’re after the most in-depth level of monitoring (mix engineers for instance), monitor controllers truly are the holy grail. Maybe even a necessity!
Want to adjust the volume of each studio monitor independently? Or perhaps feed two versions of the same mix into two independent studio monitors? With some of the best studio monitor controllers you can do just that. Not to mention adjust the level of specific headphone outputs, the level of ‘kick’ given by your subwoofers or even govern the level of talkback in-between you and an artist in the booth.
All very clever stuff, that for any workflow-aholic is a complete god-send! However, not all studio monitor controllers are that straight forward. In fact, if you’re after the best studio monitor controller for your setup, you’ll be hard-pushed to do it in one. Which is why we’ve picked apart 13 of the best studio monitors on the market. That way you should be able to clearly suss which is right for you in a matter of minutes. Sound like a plan? All you have to do is read on.
After something specific about studio monitor controllers and how they relate to your setup? Or just curious what is the best monitor controller for mixing? Use the menu below to get all the answers you need in just 1 click…
The best studio monitor controllers @ a glance…
10+ of the best studio monitor controllers you can buy
Hunting down the best studio monitor controllers is NOT easy.
Why being because (spoiler alert) there isn’t 1 ‘best’ monitor controller out there. Which is best really all depends on you & how much control you’re after. Are you just after a large volume knob, or a whole bunch of other settings? Plus, there’s aldso other factors to consider too like budget & build quality.
Not that you should let it worry you though, as we’ve done 90% of the legwork for you. Simply read on & we’ll reveal what we believe to be the best studio monitor controllers you can buy today…
1: Mackie Big Knob Studio+ monitor controller
2: Audient Nero monitor controller
3: PreSonus Monitor Station V2 monitor
4: TC Electronic Level Pilot X
5: JBL Professional Active-1 Precision monitor controller
6: M-Audio AIR|HUB monitor management system
7: PreSonus MicroStation BT 2.1 monitor system
8: Palmer PMONICON passive studio monitor controller
9: Behringer Xenyx Control2USB master controller
10: Dynasty ProAudio PMC-2 passive monitor controller
11: Senal PMC-II passive monitor controller
Here’s the best studio monitor controller for beginners…
In the case you’re a beginner, you’re likely going to be after a studio monitor controller that’s reliable, high quality & affordable, yet doesn’t drown you in 10k features. Besides, if you’re never going to use them, where’s the point in paying for them – right?
Exactly why we’ve made this budget studio monitor controller by Behringer our number 1 choice for any beginner…
12: Behringer MONITOR1 passive studio monitor controller
Which is the best studio monitor controller? Our editor’s choice
The best studio monitor controller really all depends on what you’re after. Are you a mix engineer who’d benefit from cut, dim and mono features? If so, then an active studio monitor controller is likely going to be your best bet, especially if you’re recording with artists on a regular basis. The talkback features you get with most of these devices make them ideal choice for the studio. Otherwise, a passive studio monitor controller would likely suffice.
And this has left us as at a bit of a conundrum. You see, we can’t really say one is ‘best’ if there’s two types of people who’d buy a studio monitor controller. So with that being said, we’ve decided to split our conclusion into two parts: the best passive studio monitor controller & the best active controller. That way you’re doubly sure that you’re considering the best studio monitor controller for your setup.
In which case then, we think that if you’re a pro mix engineer, the best studio management system out there for you is…
Mackie Big Knob Studio+ = Best Studio Monitor Controller For Mixing
As far as studio monitor controllers go, we’d say the Big Knob Plus very much lives up to its name and is the undisputed Daddy of sound management. And that’s because this active controller is one of ‘the’ most flexible ways to control your audio.
Aside from virtually every input and output that you could desire, the Big knob also boasts a whole host of built-in features too. The Onyx preamps for instance, are top notch. So much so that if you wanted to use this as a standalone unit, it’d be ideal. That built-in talkback microphone isn’t half bad too. Perfect in fact for communicating with an artist in the booth.
Then there’s the inputs themselves, which are some of the most intuitive that you’ll find. The fact you can toggle them on/ off with the touch of a button is really nice. A perk that means you could hook up a subwoofer and listen to a track both with and without it. Invaluable for when it comes to finalising and getting an all-rounded sense of your mix. Couple that with the direct monitoring and dim feature you get with the Mackie, and it’s actually quite hard to fault.
Yes, in comparison to a passive controller, the Big Knob Plus does appear to be pricy, but that’s because you get SO much more with the Mackie. Hence why it’s no stranger to a professional studio & if you ask us, the best studio monitor controller for mixing and mastering.
However, if you recognise the perks of the Mackie, but know deep down you won’t use half the features, then we’d recommend checking out the…
TC Electronic Level Pilot X = Best Studio Management System For Beginners
If you’re just in the market for an extra volume controller then the Pilot X is really all you need. As far as passive monitor controllers go it’s one of the best built that you can get. To hold, the Mackie feels super solid and moves nice and smoothly. And what’s more, being passive means that there’s no chance of it creating any extra sound colouration. Something that you may incur with active monitor controllers, although we haven’t to date.
And while the Pilot does appear to be nothing more than a glorified volume knob, it’s the flexibility it gives you that makes it SO useful. Get your hands on a Pilot X and you’ll no longer have to reach around the back of your monitors to turn them off, every time you want to listen through your headphones. You can even hook the Pilot up to other hardware like synths and mixers too. Therefore, during a session this plucky little device can do wonders for your workflow.
Exactly why we’d say it’s best passive monitor controller you can get. Yes, it’s by no means the starship enterprise, but due to its sheer ease of use, this volume controller will soon pay itself off in time.
Enjoy this review of the best studio monitor controllers & eager for more? Don’t miss out on all our Audio Gear Reviews, as well as our latest Music Production Advice. Recently, we also did a rundown of the Best Audio Interface For ANY Budget + another on a bunch of good 8 Inch Studio Monitors For Sale, which may also be a good read.
Or, if you’ve still trying to decide what type of studio monitor controller is best for your setup, keep reading & we’ll answer even more of your burning questions…