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I’m hoping someone can point me towards what to buy to solve this problem.

For the longest time I’ve been using a mixing board as gain control and a headphone switch for my monitors. Here’s the rough layout:


I’ve been aware using a mixing board for this small task is stupid (and a waste of desk space) for a while but I didn’t know what to replace it with. The board’s slowly dying now though so I need to figure out what to replace it with. Here’s what I’ve thought so far:

  • I could plug the Delta 66 sound card directly into the monitors, but then how do I switch to the headphones? I hate dicking around in software to change volume and settings every time I want to do something.
  • I thought a headphone amp like the Behringer HA400 might be what I was looking for but I’d have to feed my sound card output into one of those headphone inputs and that seems sorta gross. Also I don’t need the two extra outputs and would like a mute switch for the monitors.

Aaaand that’s about it. Digging through Behringer’s product list hasn’t helped much. Basically I need two 1/4″ or XLR inputs & outputs, two volume dials and a mute button in a wee little package.

Posted on - June 7, 2007 [at] 4:16 pm by Brad
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8 Comments on this post

Jason Burns on Monitor/headphone issue
June 7, 2007 at 9:18 pm

It’s not graceful, but I come out of my main mixer, which powers my headphones, into a very small behringer mixer, ub502 I think, and use it to control monitor volume.

ken on Monitor/headphone issue
June 7, 2007 at 9:23 pm

I have a Mackie 1202-VLZ which has a control room out and a bunch of buttons that control the input source. If I turn off “main mix” it will cut the signal to the monitors. I run the main out of my mixer to my headphone amp (the Behringer) which gets constant signal from the master gain. You can also run aux outs to a separate set of crappy monitors (like cheap computer speakers) to a/b the signal and make sure it will sound good on car stereos and such.

If you are looking for something small and cheap, try the Soundcraft COMPACT 4. It has separate monitor and headphone levels, which may allow you to bypass the headphone amp altogether, though it is very useful when recording other musicians in your studio. And from what I can tell it has a “mute monitor” switch or something similar.

Brad on Monitor/headphone issue
June 7, 2007 at 10:17 pm

I’m actually using a 1202-VLZ right now (it’s the dying one). The compact 4 is interesting but looks like it’s just another mixer dealy. I could probably buy some smallish mixer like this:–BEHXENTX502

But I don’t even need the one preamp as I use my Presonus Bluetube for that, so it’s a waste of space. I also never record anyone else in here.

ken on Monitor/headphone issue
June 8, 2007 at 1:04 am

I was wrong – what you need is the Mackie Big Knob. That has everything you need and more.

ken on Monitor/headphone issue
June 10, 2007 at 7:24 pm

After more searching, I found lots of options. The Presonus Central Station seems to be a big hit. Here is the Sweetwater link to your options:–Monitor_Management

Heuristics Inc. on Monitor/headphone issue
June 11, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Huh, my monitors have a headphone-out jack right on them, it’s very helpful and easy to use :)

boolean on Monitor/headphone issue
June 15, 2007 at 9:17 am

I second Ken’s recommendation for a Mackie Big Knob. I’ve been looking at that as a replacement for my (crap) Behringer mixer and it looks like it’ll do everything I need it to. My Fireface800 handles most of my digital mixing anyway. I just need to get it to my monitors and a pair of headphones or two.

As an afterthought, I’m never buying another piece of Behringer hardware. I’ve had two mixers of theirs (a small, 4 channel mixer and a larger 16+4 channel rack) and they just don’t last. They’re cheap for a reason. Future analogue mixers will be Mackie or Allen and Heath.

Brad on Monitor/headphone issue
June 15, 2007 at 10:48 am

Thanks for all the suggestions. I haven’t had a chance to decide on what I want just yet.

The Mackie Big Knob certainly looks cool but is way overkill for what I want. Three monitor outs? Two headphones? Turntable amp? Built-in talkback microphone? Shave like 65% of its features and price off and you might have yourself a deal.

And personally I’m okay with Behringer hardware. My Mackie wore out in less time than the Behringer (the Behringer’s still going). I definitely feel it’s less trustworthy audio-wise. I’m more inclined to buy Behringer for live use than studio use.

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