New York, NY (April 30, 2021)—The SPL Marc One Monitoring and Recording Controller is a beast, providing high-end quality whether you’re listening back or putting down tracks. It offers three monitoring modes, a 32-bit AD/DA converter and a smart, user-friendly design.
For this review, we connected it to our Kali IN-8s and Neumann KH 120s studio monitors via USB to the DAW, but it was impressing us before we even turned it on. First of all, its heavy-duty metal frame body and actual weight give you a hint of the quality you’re about to hear. All knobs and toggle switches are weighted, supporting the impression of a high-end product.
The first toggle switch on the left side of the device controls the two sets of studio monitors and has an off position in the middle. Position A on the toggle includes the subwoofer if you have one, while the off position is silent. There’s no bleed into your monitors in any switch position.
Next is the volume knob. It takes up a lot of real estate but it’s ultimately the reason I love this controller. It provides lots of ways to tweak your outputs that we will get into later. You’ll use this knob the most, and the even volume response sounds amazing.
The second toggle switch gives you the option to listen in mono, stereo or channel swap, which reverses the stereo image so you can hear everything that’s going on with your mix. There are light indicators for left and right monitor distortion to help protect your monitors.
When the monitor knob is centered, all input signals are equally loud; turn to the left and the analog stereo inputs get louder while the USB input signal gets quieter. Turning from the center to the right does the opfeposite, all helping to tweak your system to deliver the perfect volume for mixing. There’s also a headphone volume knob and a cross-feed knob so you can blind-hear the studio monitors and headphones together for more listening options. The amount of depth from the headphone amp to our studio headphones, Sennheiser HD 800s, opened my ears to new things in our mixes.
Fela had more to say about the SPL Marc One on a recent episode of her podcast, The Art Of Music Tech.
Now to the back of the unit. First is a heavy-duty on/off switch that looks like it can stand up to years of use. Next to it are two dip switches: 1 provides a 10 dB pad on your studio monitor sources, while 2 is a Rec 1+2, which mixes together both line inputs and allows you to record them together via USB in mono. Both dip switches are easy to flip without requiring a tool or a long fingernail to use.
All of the TS and TRS inputs and outputs on the back of the unit stick out for better grounding. The USB connection is class-compliant, which means that all Mac computers and iOS devices like iPads and iPhones can use the full performance bandwidth of the 32-bit AD/DA converter without driver installation. (iOS devices will need the camera adapter to connect, however.) For Windows, you’ll only have to install a driver (downloadable on the SPL site) if you need higher sample rates. The USB connection will connect to your DAW for superb studio monitor playback at very high resolutions— for example, DSD4 and DSD256 (11.2 MHz) are supported.
Over the course of our review period, we found the amazing resolution and high-quality build combined perfectly in use as we toggled seamlessly between studio monitors and headphones to listen to mixes. Used as a monitor controller, SPL got the layout perfect for muscle-memory mixing, with the monitor toggle switch and volume knob ideally located for quick adjustments while listening. When you consider that it’s also an interface for recording, able to record high-resolution audio from 10 Hz to 200 kHz, the $799 price tag is worth it. The SPL Marc One is now a staple in our studio and workflow.
SPL Audio • www.spl.audio
Fela Davis is a 2019 Hall of Fame inductee at Full Sail University. She owns 23dB Productions and One of One Productions Studio, which specializes in podcasting, video, and music production. Clients include the Holding Court with Eboni K. Williams podcast, SiriusXM, Atlantic Records, iHeartRadio and numerous Grammy Award-winning musicians. www.oneofoneproductions.com.