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Topic: Switching Between Active Monitors and Headphones

  1. #1

    Switching Between Active Monitors and Headphones

    I use GPO/JaBB/CoMB through both Finale 09 and Sonar 8 Producer. My output is through an M-Audio 192 to my Beyer Dynamic DT150 headphones and a (newly acquired) pair of KRK VXT 6 Active monitors.

    I have been trying to find a high quality solution to switch between my monitors and headphones so I don't have to keep connecting and disconnecting leads. I realise that care is needed to avoid 'colouring' the signal so the switch has to be as neutral as possible.

    The SM Pro M-Patch 2 Passive Volume Attenuator often comes up and this had an excellent review in Sound on Sound http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec0...mprompatch.htm The problem with this seems to be that it just switches between speakers and not between speakers and headphones. It does have a headphone socket and built in (optional) headphone amplifier but I can't see how this switches between speakers and headphones. Also I have read a user post who describes it as 'a piece of junk'. If anyone reading this has this switch I would be grateful if you would explain how this works as speaker/headphones switching.

    Other suggestions include buying a metal case, a switch and connectors and make my own.

    I really would be grateful if anyone can help with this.

    Patience is a virtue, sensitivity is a gift

  2. #2

    Re: Switching Between Active Monitors and Headphones

    Hello Michael,
    Take a look at the Mackie Big Knob

    the Presonus Monitor Station

    and the Presonus Central Station

    I've not used the Monitor Station, but I've heard pretty good things about it. The Central Station and Big Knob are both great units.

    Last of all is the somewhat pricey Dangerous Music D-Box. Some people swear by it, but only truly useful if you record alot from outside the computer. In other words, if you mostly do soft synths and sample libraries it would not be your best option.


    With either the Big Knob or Central Station you can't go wrong, at least to my ears.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member bigears's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Central Illinois

    Re: Switching Between Active Monitors and Headphones

    Hi Michael, I can give the Mackie Big Knob a big thumbs up. It meets my needs w/ 2 headphone outs with individual level controls, 4 input sources and 3 monitor outs w/ switches to facilitate instant comparison switching, mute and mono switches, and the unmistakable great big volume knob.
    Good luck in your search! John

  4. #4

    Re: Switching Between Active Monitors and Headphones

    while Kevin and John were being helpful, you don't need all those features that the previous mentioned products provide. They are expensive for all you need.

    Use a Presonus HP4


    You would plug the stereo output of your 192 into the two 1/4 inch inputs, and connect your powered monitors to the 1/4" outputs.

    There are four individually controlled headphone outputs, and on the right side of the unit is a volume control for your monitors with a convenient mute switch. The mute switch will allow you to quickly mute your monitor speakers and leave the level set. Then put on your headphones... and use it's headphone level for your headphones.


  5. #5

    Re: Switching Between Active Monitors and Headphones

    you could just get a small mixer and connect it to your system. it will have monitor outputs as well as a headphone jack. put the monitors on a dedicated power strip and just turn 'em off when your on headphones. that way you get more inputs to expand. add a mic or an outboard fx unit, for instance.
    something like this would work, but there are plenty of options.


  6. #6

    Re: Switching Between Active Monitors and Headphones

    I use the SM M-patch2.

    Just leave the headphones in and switch output selection to turn your monitors off/on.

    It gives you two sets of monitor outputs, and an aux input also, to switch between your DAW and, ...whatever else. It has a stereo/mono switch (this is handy in mixing!) as well as mute.

    The advantage over the mackie Big knob is that its passive ( dont think the Big knob is), and is much cheaper. Its solid, the knobs are good, and its a great price.

    2 small disadvantages - some of the markings around the knobs may wear off pretty easily and also, while you need to power the unit for headphone use, there is no off/on switch for this, so you need to plug/unplug at the back of the unit each time.

  7. #7

    Re: Switching Between Active Monitors and Headphones

    that thing looks very cool,
    and I think it is a better solution since it gives you the choice of two different sources for inputs, DAW/CD.

    It looks like it has good build quality too.

  8. #8

    Re: Switching Between Active Monitors and Headphones

    Just to maybe save somebody the pit that I have fallen into once: If you use a headphones amplifier to distribute audio to different sets of amped loudspeakers you can easily overdrive and damage their input preamps.

    - audio card output into headphones: good idea
    - audio card output into active monitors: good idea
    - headphones amp into headphones: good idea
    - headphones amp into monitors: bad idea
    All your strings belong to me!

  9. #9

    Re: Switching Between Active Monitors and Headphones

    Huge thanks to you all for your really helpful replies.

    Oddly enough, the answer was right in front of my nose. My M-Audio 192 has two outs .. one dedicated to a headphone amp and the other to active monitors. The out to the headphones has a mute in the M-Audio Control Panel. So all I need to do is to buy a good headphone amp and a passive controller for the KRKs and voilla.

    I have decided on the Creek OBH-21SE headphone amp which also has a rear power switch and a mute button.


    This gives me all the control I need for the headphones. This is a high quality headphone amp which has received excellent reviews. It costs more than I had intended to pay but here goes.

    I have decided on the SM Pro Nano Patch Passive Volume controller for the KRKs. This allows full control over the monitors with complete transparency plus it has a mute button.


    The monitors do have power switches at the back but it will be more convenient to leave those switched on and to have an easily reached switched socket so I can turn them on only when needed.

    Unfortunately I couldn't source the Nano Patch in the UK so I had to order from Europe. Just means waiting a bit longer.

    Anyway, thanks again for all your input, it really is appreciated.
    Patience is a virtue, sensitivity is a gift

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