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Review: SPL MTC 2381 Monitor Controller

clean, full bandwidth sonics, ample I/O, improved components and the most clever design

Fellow gearheads and those golden ears, it’s great to write for you here in the pages of PSN. I’ll be bringing you streamlined reviews and you can check out my new PAR-Tube video channel using the latest and greatest devices available in the pro audio marketplace: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxQETfhANv1Vh-G6XTVw7rg/videos

Many monitor controllers on the market do not possess the requisite audio neutrality for pro users, or have the specific feature set to compliment our specific workflows. I was first attracted to the MTC 2381 for its features and I’ve grown to appreciate it for ergonomic and sonic reasons.

Features

A large stepped control room volume pot attenuates six 2-track inputs (four balanced, one unbalanced at -10, level compensated) via three speaker outputs on XLRs with talkback mic (foot-switchable with dedicated output), dim, mono sum, as well as “Musician” and control room outputs, both with “dual signal path” blending/routing abilities which is very advantageous.

See here for a complete specifications list: http://spl.info/fileadmin/user_upload/anleitungen/english/MTC_2381_BA_E.pdf

In Use

Sonically, the MTC 2381 has a robust sound; not hyped, rather flat with no rolloff at frequency range extremes. The soundstage has the expected width, punch and internal detail, plus a nice sense of depth and openness. If indeed “The Box” from API is about as sweet a control room section as I’ve heard, the MTC 2381 approaches that level of fidelity, if maybe not quite as flat in frequency response (or as punchy) as that $18k standard bearer.

In researching the MTC 2381, I came across some forum posters complaining of a noisy control room pot and poor switches. I am glad to report that those problems are not present in my review MTC 2381—or at least they are problems solved—as all components functioned properly without noise.

Three speaker outputs are a bonus, and the -10 level 2-track input is super convenient for quick monitoring of client iOS/mobile device playback at similar levels to other +4 sources. Its mono summing is a must-have that many competing controller manufacturers (foolishly) overlook. The additional Slave output is useful for either connecting meters or additional headphone amp sends.

The best feature—it’s dual, blendable signal paths—are available for both control room and performer signals (via Musician output and a headphone amp). I run a music mix (mix minus without the live performer) into the 2-track Mix input while simultaneously running a no-latency signal of the performer (either via a split or “direct input” from the DAW) into the Musician input. The performer’s Musician output has three pots (designated Mix input, Musician input and Master); I can blend those easily for my performer (satisfying “more me” requests very quickly) while deriving a separate Mix and Musician blend for my control room/producer’s mix. During ensemble tracking I run the click-track through the Musician input, making separate mixes easy for the drummer, and another for the other players.

To My Ears

The MTC 2381 boasts clean, full bandwidth sonics, ample I/O, improved components and the most clever design for making multiple two-source monitor mixes a breeze. I give the MTC 2381 an enthusiastic thumbs up. It sells for $999 street—not cheap, but the purchase allows me to hear everything in my studio quite well, not to mention helping my workflow. All in all, it’s worth the price.

SPL | http://spl.info/index.php?id=176&L=1

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