Take Command of Your Monitor Speakers
You mostly monitor on near-fields, but occasionally switch to big main speakers or a second set of near-fields. You need to be able to switch between multiple sources and want to hear what your mix sounds like with and without subwoofer. You want to monitor straight from digital sources as well as analog. And you don’t want cables cluttering your workspace in order to achieve all that.
Meet the Central Station PLUS.
Central Station PLUS is one of our most popular products for professional studios because it provides the perfect combination of stereo inputs, outputs, and recording-communication functions, allowing you to easily manage multiple sources and monitor speakers.
A Wide Variety of Input and Output Options
With Central Station, you can easily switch between three sets of stereo, analog input sources. Two stereo S/PDIF digital sources connect via one coax and one Toslink optical port. You can audition these sources with up to three pairs of speakers, with individual trim pots for each speaker—recessed to avoid accidents.
You also get a pair of line-level main outputs, a pair of line-level cue outputs, and two screaming-loud headphone amplifiers with individual level controls. And because Central Station is a 1U rack-mount device, with only one multi-conductor cable running to the remote control on your desktop, all of the cabling is in the back of your rack, where it belongs.
Three sets of stereo analog inputs enable the Central Station to accept a wide variety of sources. If your mixer and DVD player have analog outputs, connect them here—and still have a pair of analog inputs available.
Two input pairs are ¼” TRS balanced; the Aux inputs are unbalanced RCA jacks. The TRS inputs are passive but the Aux inputs provide preamp gain and have independent level control. (Note, however, that the Aux inputs do not have an RIAA phono preamp, as found on the PreSonus Monitor Station.)
Central Station’s ability to convert and manage digital signals, including simultaneously available coax and Toslink optical S/PDIF I/O, sets it apart; you’d have to pay several times as much to get comparable features elsewhere.
The digital inputs provide up to 24-bit, 192 kHz digital-to-analog conversion, and the converters deliver more than 115 dB of dynamic range. So you can connect the output from your digital mixer (StudioLive 24.4.2 and 16.4.2 mixers include S/PDIF output for this purpose), DVD player, audio interface, or other digital device directly to your monitoring system. The Central Station will automatically detect and lock to the sampling rate of the source device.
The Central Station’s output configuration is every bit as flexible and versatile as its inputs. With three sets of balanced outputs, you can, for example, connect two sets of studio monitors with very different tonal characteristics and still have an output available to feed a subwoofer. If you have a large room, you might want two sets of near-field monitors and a pair of mid-fields.
Each of the three sets of balance monitor outputs has a passive trim pot for adjusting levels without coloring the sound. These outputs are passive; the only outputs with gain are the headphone amps.
You get two stereo headphone outputs with level controls, and not only do they have gain, they have a lot of it: the headphone amplifiers deliver 150mW/channel into a 60Ω load.
If you need to use more than two sets of “cans,” no worries: Central Station’s line-level cue outputs are perfect for feeding a headphone-distribution system such as the PreSonus HP60 or HP4.
High-End Audio Quality
The pros know that for critical listening, a monitor-control system must be as sonically transparent as possible. That’s why we gave the Central Station an audiophile-quality, passive signal path, with no op-amps or ICs, and equipped the S/PDIF inputs with high-definition, 24-bit, 192 kHz D/A converters.
Many monitoring systems use op-amps or active integrated circuits (ICs) but these types of components typically add noise, color, and distortion and produce a “pinched” sound. The Central Station’s main audio path uses no amplification stages.
Signal routing is achieved using 34 sealed, mechanical relays (instead of active ICs). Extraneous electronics are hard-wire-bypassed, helping maintain a minimal signal path. Using relays ensures the most transparent signal path and maximizes dynamic range, frequency range, and headroom, while minimizing noise and coloration.
The Central Station uses the highest-quality passive components, including military-grade, 1% tolerance, metal-film resistors; multi-element potentiometers; and durable connectors to deliver the highest sonic performance.
Being from southeast Louisiana, we’re big fans of The Meters (Art Neville, Leo Nocentelli, George Porter, Jr., and Joseph Modeliste). Being audio professionals, we’re into extremely accurate metering.
To enable you to watch your input levels, the Central Station sports dual 30-segment, tri-colored, fast-acting, peak-hold LED meters, which can display dBu and dBfs. A handy Clear switch lets you clear the peak-hold.
Unlike The Meters, these meters are anything but funky!
The Central Station meters are accurate within 0.25 dB and can detect signals within a frequency range of 10 Hz to 22 kHz. You can (and should) calibrate the meters to match your DAW or other audio device.
To this end, we provide a downloadable -18 dBfs, 1 kHz sine wave for calibration (in AIFF and WAV format). And of course, the Central Station manual includes step-by-step instructions for calibrating your meters, input sources, and speakers.
A Complete Tool Set
Because Central Station PLUS is a professional tool, we’ve included all of the key features you’ll need to manage monitors in a commercial or project studio. Speak to the musicians over the headphone and cue buses using the onboard talkback microphone or connect a dynamic mic to the XLR talkback input.
The cue signal is automatically dimmed when you use the talkback mic, and a jack admits a footswitch for hands-free talkback operation. A Mono switch sums the stereo source so you can check for phase problems, and a Dim switch lets you reduce the speaker output by 16 dB.
Of course, you can mute the speakers as well.
Finally, with the included CSR-1, you can remote-control the Central Station’s main volume, input select, output select, talkback, mute, dim, and mono functions.
The Professional’s Choice
With pristine audio quality; the ability to switch between multiple analog and digital sources and three sets of speakers; fast, accurate metering; and all of the extras that make your studio work easier and more efficient, it’s obvious why the Central Station PLUS is the professional engineer’s choice for monitor control.