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Best Monitor Headphone Control System Review & Buyer’s Guide [2022]

Best Monitor Headphone Control System

Recording is one of the most difficult tasks for any musician or recording engineer to accomplish. No matter the person’s expertise or skill level, you need to have the right gear in order to get the job done. This is why you need the best monitor headphone control system.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the best monitor headphone control systems. We’re going to narrow down their prices, features, and our own review of each product.

At the end of each review, we’ll also list the pros and cons of each system. This article will allow you to pick which system is best for you.

Best Monitor Headphone Control System Comparison Chart


Best Monitor Headphone Control System

Down below are five products that we think are some of the best options for monitor control systems. As noted, read through to pick which system is best for you.
Best Monitor Headphone Control System - Behringer AMP800 Four Channel Headphone Amp

Behringer AMP800 Four Channel Headphone Amp

This is a compact headphone amplifier system for either a studio or stage setting. It has a total of 4 stereo amplifier sections. It’s listed as having a high audio quality no matter the volume.

Very easy level control plus an accurate 6-segment LED output meter per channel. The system also features 2 main stereo inputs with independent levels and balance controls for individual mixes and is selectable for all 4 headphone amplifiers.

Behringer has been known to make relatively affordable equipment. This specific four-channel headphone amp is no different. The price is very attractive since it’s under $100 USD. The real question is: “How does it perform?”

Despite the price, it’s a pretty decent system. If you’re looking for something to work for your gaming rig or radio show, then this will definitely get the job done. If you’re looking for something to work for your studio then it should work very well for you as well.

The main issue with it is how it can hold up over a few months of work. As with Behringer’s reputation, this system has been known to stop working after a few months. With a cheap price comes a cheap build.

However, Behringer offers a three-year warranty on this product which should relax any consumer of this product.

Overall, go ahead and check the product out. The price should be enough for you to try it out. It’s great for people who don’t have a ton of money to spend and is a great tool for a smaller studio, streamer, or podcaster.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Good sound quality for the price
  • Three-year warranty
  • Great for beginners

Cons

  • Build quality is sub-par
  • Not the greatest for professional studios

Best Monitor Headphone Control System - JBL Professional Switch Box (MPATCH2)

JBL Professional Switch Box

This is a high-quality passive volume attenuator. It’s a great monitor switching device. It features 2 input and 2 output channels. As well as a Combo, RCA, & 3.5mm input connectors.

Besides that, it also has XLR outputs (balanced or unbalanced depends on the inputs selected).

This JBL switch box is extremely versatile and great to use for just about any set-up. It’s built with decent quality and is great for getting the job done.

One of the interesting aspects of this system is how precise the knobs are. Allowing you to dial in the exact audio you need.

A lot of consumers of this system have noted how great this JBL switch box can act between two sets of speakers. Noting that it allows you to have volume control over both speakers; making it a really great piece.

Besides how great of a system it is, it also comes with mounting brackets. Making it extremely easy to mount up and use.

There really isn’t anything negative to say about this system. You may find the build-quality to be a little bit lackluster. However, since the price is around $100 USD, that’s expected.

I do wish the system had an RCA output and a TRS input, but what can you do? If this is an issue for you, then try looking for some adapters or consider looking at another system.

Other than that, this is a very solid system. Relatively affordable, versatile, and an easy set-up. What more could you want?

Pros

  • Relatively affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Precise knobs
  • Comes with mounting system

Cons

  • No RCA output or NRS input
  • Build-quality is sub-par (Not the biggest deal)

Best Monitor Headphone Control System - Mackie Audio Interface, 3x2 (BIG KNOB STUDIO)

Mackie Big KNOB Studio

This system is a professional source and allows monitor selection. You can choose between 3 sources and 2 monitor pairs. Not to mention the big knob volume control.

Other features include a 2×2 USB recording interface, two Onyx mic preamps including phantom power for condenser microphones, a comprehensive feature set for professional studios, and a flexible source connection including a 1/8” input for your smartphone.

Besides that, it has dual headphone outs with independent level control. It’s compatible with all major DAWs on both Mac and Windows. It also includes traction recording software.

Mackie has the reputation of being a very solid company for recording equipment. This is no different for this specific system.

This system only takes a minute to set-up and is a very solid build. You’d expect a $200 USD piece of equipment to be build great, and Mackie doesn’t disappoint.

This system is sturdy and heavy. It’s not made with flimsy material that some of the other systems are made out of.

All of the buttons are a great size and everything works very solidly. As for the actual sound, it doesn’t disappoint. The sound is clean, exact, and perfect. Everything you hope to achieve with a system like this.

One of the great aspects of this product is that it comes with Waveform’s DAW software. Although most people already have their own DAW software they use, it’s a nice addition that comes with the product.

Despite all of the good aspects of this system, there are a few bad ones. The system runs warm. So warm that the actual knob may be too hot to touch. This isn’t something that was a random flaw with one unit. It’s generally thought of in all of the systems.

Keep that in mind if you want this product. Although it works great, you may run to issues with it down the line since it runs so hot. However, Mackie has a one year warranty for the product. Allowing consumers to be a little more comfortable with spending $200 USD on something.

Despite the overall temperature of the system, it works great. It’s extremely versatile and something you should consider getting.

Pros

  • Built like a tank
  • High-quality
  • Big knob is more useful than you realize
  • One year warranty

Cons

  • Runs extremely warm
  • Knobs have almost no resistance

Best Monitor Headphone Control System - PreSonus Monitor Station V2 Desktop Studio Control Center

PreSonus Monitor Station V2 Desktop Studio Control Center

This system has 4 stereo input pairs plus one S/PDIF digital input into three selectable sources. It also has 3 stereo pairs of individually selectable speaker outputs with level controls.

It also features a cue section with source select and input- and output – level control. Plus a large Main level control and main mute, mono and dim switches with variable dim attenuation.

It also has 4 loud stereo headphone amplifiers with volume controls and independent source selection. As well as built-in electret-condenser talkback microphone with input-gain control and talkback button.

PreSonus is one of the most established brands for recording equipment. This specific station has been known to improve studios by a great deal. It’s a truly great piece of equipment. Let’s dive in to see what it does well and what it might not do well.

If you have a studio and need something to communicate between your DAW and studio, then this is the system for you. If you use a few sets of speakers, you can use this to switch back between them to listen to the exact sound quality.

Besides that, the DIM switch is a great tool to use. The DIM switch allows you to automatically lower the music in the room while keeping the music on. Although this sounds useless, it can be extremely useful if you’re trying to communicate with someone and you want to easily change the volume.

This unit is a tank. PreSonus didn’t hold back any key features that you need for a system like this. Making it very versatile and easy to use.

The only downside is the price. Although $329.95 USD is a lot to drop on a headphone control system, this is definitely worth the price.

You can’t go wrong with this unit. It can do everything you want and more. Don’t hold back, and get the unit so you can experience it yourself.

Pros

  • Premiere sound quality
  • Extremely flexible
  • Clean and simple layout
  • Pots are high-quality

Cons

  • Expensive

Best Monitor Headphone Control System - Mackie Audio Interface, 4x3 (BIG KNOB STUDIO PLUS)

Mackie Audio Interface, 4×3 (BIG KNOB STUDIO PLUS)

This system allows you to choose between 4 sources and 3 monitor pairs. Like its predecessor it has the classic big knob volume control.

There’s an independent trim on all sources and monitor outs. As well as a flexible 2×4 USB recording interface, two onyx mic preamps including phantom power for condenser microphones, as well as a high-resolution 192Khz / 24-bit recording and playback.

It has a comprehensive feature set for professional studios. Plus, a flexible source connections including a1/8” input for your smartphone.

It includes traction recording software and is compatible with all major DAWs on both Mac and Windows.

As noted, Mackie is one of the best brands for equipment. Earlier in the article, we took a look at the Mackie Big KNOB Studio. This system is basically the upgraded version of that.

This system is very similar to the smaller Mackie system, but it adds a few more features. You can choose between 4 sources, as opposed to 3. And you can pick up to 3 monitor pairs, as opposed to 2.

Besides that, there’s a 2×4 USB recording interface instead of a 2×2 USB recording interface.

Just like the smaller Mackie system, it comes with the Waveform DAW software. One of the bad similarities it has with the smaller Mackie system is that it also runs warm. Without repeating myself too much, this is something that means the product won’t last too long because of the heat.

Even though this product is very similar to the smaller Mackie system, it’s almost $300 USD. Making an entire $100 USD more than the smaller Mackie system.

You have to ask yourself if the more source option, more monitor pair options, and the USB recording interface make this worth it.

Pros

  • Built like a tank
  • Versatile
  • One year warranty
  • Has a wide range of options for sources, monitor pairings, and USB recording

Cons

  • Not much different than its smaller predecessor
  • Runs warm

Q & As

Best Monitor Headphone Control System - JBL Professional Switch Box (MPATCH2) We hope this article helped you narrow down your choices for a monitor headphone control system. Below are a few questions that are in regard to the subject of this article

“What is a cue mix used for?”

The cue mix is completely different from the main mix. It’s something that’s used to help the musician who is recording to record better.

For example, a vocalist may ask for something to be louder or quiet. Just like a guitarist might ask for something to be louder or quiet.

A poor cue mix will greatly affect how the musician performs on the track. If the musician can barely hear certain aspects of the track, then they might underperform. It’s as simple as that.

Despite the necessity of a great cue mix, a lot of recording engineers completely ignore it. If you’ve been ignoring your cue mix, don’t. You’ll find that a proper cue mix will allow the musicians your recording to achieve peak performance.

Back in the old days of recording, cue mixes didn’t exist. Performers would record “live” and their general “feeling” and “emotion’ were essentially their cue mix.

Now, if you want to achieve a sound as raw as that, then go for it. However, it’s generally frowned upon to record that way. Technology evolves for a reason. It’s better we utilize it to our advantage.



“What is a studio monitor controller?”

Think of a studio monitor controller as the organization of your studio. It makes everything run smoothly; making it a lot easier on your end.

A recording interface can only do so much. Think of a studio monitor controller as the upgraded version of a standard recording interface.

Besides the ability to control the level of your monitors, you can utilize them to control exactly what you hear.

One of the main aspects of a studio monitor controller is using them as a speaker selection. Allowing you to choose the exact speakers you want to use. It’s not uncommon for a professional studio to have a plethora of monitors, so why shouldn’t your studio.

Besides speaker selections, you can use a studio monitor controller for sub control, input selection, cue mixes, and more.

If you’re looking to build a top tier studio, then you’ll need a studio monitor controller at some point.

“What is the purpose of monitor speakers?”

Think of monitor speakers as a way to give you the true sound of your recording. Without giving a boost to the sound, they’re something every recording engineer needs.

The reason they give you the true sound of your recording is because they give a flat frequency. Meaning that the audio is reproduced truthfully.

However, keep in mind that if you cheap out on monitor speakers you might get a weakened version of your audio.

As the recording engineer, you need to hear the true sound of your mix. You need to do this so you know what to add, remove, and edit. All of these are important parts of the job.

You can find a lot of monitor speakers online and make sure you do your research on them. As noted, buying something cheap may result in a bad experience.

On the other hand, buying something expensive just because it’s expensive may be just as bad. Don’t waste your money. Always read reviews and make sure you get something that is known to be a great product.
Best Monitor Headphone Control System - Mackie Audio Interface, 3x2 (BIG KNOB STUDIO)

“What is a headphone mix?”

The headphone mix is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the mix of the headphones. However, don’t let this simple name think it’s of less importance.

Similar to the cue mix, it’s something that is essential for musicians who are recording to perform their best. It’s exactly what they want to hear through their headphones while they’re recording.

Some musicians may only want to hear a few of the tracks isolated. Just like a vocalist may only want to hear the main instrument while they recording their part.

It really depends on the musician. As a recording engineer, it’s your job to allow them the options they need.

Having the options available will make it so they reach their full potential while recording.

“How much should I spend on a headphone control system?”

This question all depends on your budget. If you’re a professional when it comes to recording then you shouldn’t cheap out.

However, if you’re a beginner then I wouldn’t even worry about a headphone control system just yet. This is something every professional recording engineer needs, but it’s not meant for beginners.

If you’re a beginner you may be overwhelmed with it, and not know exactly what to do. It’s best to just learn all of the basics first before you dive into something like this.

Just take your time with the whole process and realize it’s not the end of the world. It’s better to take your time anyways. If you don’t, you may feel discouraged by how confusing it can be.

On the other hand, if you’re an expert then definitely buy a top-tier system. You’re going to use it a lot more than you realize. You’re going to use it almost every recording session, so why wouldn’t you get something that’ll last a long time?

Don’t be scared to spend a few hundred dollars on it. Once you get the handle on it and feel you want to upgrade, then go for it. This process is entirely in your hands.



Final Thought

Hopefully, by the end of this article, you figured out what monitor headphone control system is best for you. Or at the very least, you learned more about the subject.

We went over five of our favorite systems and why we recommend them. As well as their price, features, pros, and cons. We hope this list-style made it easier for you to read about each of the systems we recommended.

After we went over the five systems we recommended, we went over some common questions about this subject. The topics went over cue mixes, headphone mixes, monitor controllers, and more.

Overall, being a recording engineer is great. Whether you’re a musician who wants to record your own music or someone with a recording passion, these systems are a great tool to use for your studio.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Remember to never stop chasing your dream!



 

Michael B is a Music Producer, Musician, and Formally Trained (and was Certified by the Recording Institute of Detroit in 1986) Recording Engineer. As of 2022, He's built 3 home recording studios go back to 1987, where he wrote, played all the instruments, and recorded his music. Michael B is also a Writer, Chief Editor and SEO of TrackinSolo.com