Grace Design m905 Monitor Controller
The Grace Design m905 Monitor Controller was engineered from the ground up to provide unrivaled sonic purity with a comprehensive and powerful feature set. Incorporating an impeccable analog I/O as well as digital DA section, along with support for DSD64 and DSD128, the m905 represents a combination of pristine audio performance, robust mechanical construction and complete reliability.
The Grace Design m905 represents a new benchmark for audio playback quality. DAC performance is on par with the finest esoteric mastering equipment available. Grace Design's redesigned s-Lock PLL ensures ultra-low jitter clock regeneration. An asynchronous USB class 2 interface allows the m905 to act as the master clock of the computer's USB audio buss, effectively eliminating interface induced jitter for computer audio playback. And finally, meticulous analog circuitry measures with outstanding numbers in dynamic range, distortion and noise performance, ensuring bracingly open, detailed and musical playback of any input source.
All main audio and power supply circuitry is housed in a 2U rack mount mainframe, while system control is managed by a sleek, ergonomic remote control unit. This new RCU is a combination of dedicated hardware and a color graphical LCD display. All primary monitoring features are accessed via hardware switches and a rotary encoder, while all system information is presented by the graphic LCD and illuminated switches. This hybrid design allows for the solid feel and function of traditional hardware with the added power and functionality of a graphical user interface.
AES and S/PDIF connectors now support DSD 64x or DSD 128x via DoP Version 1.1 (DSD over PCM frames). DSD audio can be sourced from the AES3, S/PDIF or USB digital inputs. While still a niche playback format, DSD has held its ground over the years, and now more and more content is available via download. And playback is now supported by a number of players. DSD sounds stunningly natural (Dare we say "analogue"?), especially rendered through the rest of the playback circuitry of the m905. So If you're the type to seek out this kind of fidelity, the Grace Design m905 cannot be recommended enough.
The GUI is designed so that any engineer unfamiliar with the m905 can use the system immediately and confidently. Then with a minimal time investment, advanced functions can be accessed and controlled with ease. Additional features include: naming individual inputs and speaker outputs, calibrating level offsets of any input and output, setting preset levels, and much more. The setup menus only ever drill down one level, so the main operating screen is always one button away. And when returning to any previously visited setup menu, its previous edit status is remembered, keeping redundant navigation and editing to a minimum.
The m905 offers the ability to transfer up to 10 channels of digital audio (8-channels of ADAT and two of AES3, or S/PDIF or TOSLINK) over USB to a computer, making the m905 capable of operating as a standalone USB audio interface. This is an advanced feature as there are clock issues to be aware of, but it works and is documented in the owners manual.
With stunning sonic performance and timeless design, the Grace Design m905 is a mark of genuine progress in the pursuit of high quality audio production. Intuitive, reliable and beautiful, it is the perfect studio centerpiece - home base for your ears, eyes and hands.
Computer Audio Requirements
Regardless of the type of computer you will use to playback audio from, it must have at least one available USB port. The m905 ships with a standard USB type A to type B cable. The type A connector plugs in to the computer and the type B connector to the USB m905 input. The m905's asynchronous mode USB DAC supports standard driverless operation on MAC to 192kHz and on PC to 96kHz. For sampling rates above 96kHz, PC users will need to download and install a free driver on their computer. This driver can be found on the Grace Design website - http://www.gracedesign.com/support/support.htm Driverless operation basically means 'plug and play'. The m905 will automatically show up in your computer's list of supported audio devices as 'Grace Audio Device'. In most cases, simply choose that as your audio playback device and the system will work.
Different operating systems may pose their own set of complications in setting up the m905 as the audio playback device. In the event that 'plug and play' operation does not occur, you will need to look at some specific setup variables for your OS. In this case, we will direct you to a very well written and comprehensive document by friend and colleague of Grace Design; Charlie Hanson from Ayre Acoustics. http://www.ayre.com/USB.htm. This is an invaluable resource for computer/USB audio setup information for most all current operating systems, and we strongly urge you to familiarize yourself with the information pertaining to your specific OS.
Using the m905 for DAW playback
With the extremely high quality audio playback achieved with this USB interface, the m905 can be great option as an stereo output device directly from your digital audio workstation. For playback only, this will work very well. However, using it in conjunction with other USB audio devices connected to your workstation computer's USB will require some adjustments to your computers audio settings and for best results, some external clock routing between audio devices. For Mac OS X, this is achieved by setting up the m905 in an 'aggregate audio device' setup, with the m905 as the output device. For Win 98 Win 7, you must use 'asio4all' drivers- http://www.asio4all.com/. There is currently no support yet for windows 8. With both of these setups, if you are using multiple I/O devices, you will need to pay careful attention to clocking. In Mac / Core audio aggregate setups, you are able to set which device is the clock master. However, this means that other devices will be sample rate converted, which we do not recommend.
Grace Design m905 Monitor Controller Features
- Analog inputs - unbalanced, balanced, CUE, talkback mic
- Digital inputs - 2x AES3, 1 S/PDIF, 1 TOSLINK, ADAT (selectable in 4 pairs, or 2 pairs in S/MUX), USB, AES3 Dual Wire mode. AES and S/PDIF connectors support DSD64 or DSD128 via DoP Version 1.1
- Audio circuitry designed for completely transparent and musical playback performance
- Asynchronous Class 2 USB playback supports up to 24bit /196kHz and DSD64 or DSD128 via DoP Version 1.1, configured for two channels down from computer and 10 channels up to computer
- Mastering quality DAC circuitry with configurable de-emphasis filtering
- s-lock dual-stage Phase Lock Loop for ultra low jitter clock regeneration
- Hybrid RCU with hardware switches, large level encoder and graphical LCD
- LCD display shows input, level, output, SPL and DAC status plus a full calibration menu
- RCU includes built in microphone for talkback and onboard SPL meterâ?¢ SPL meter features include level, peak, fast and slow modes, A & C weighting
- Precision .5 dB step level control for speakers and headphones, volume displayed in absolute or custom reference level
- Reference headphone amplifier circuitry, with outputs on both the RCU and ACUâ?¢ Dedicated mono, dim, mute and sub mute switches
- Mono mode can be set to L+R summed, L only in both channels, or R only in both channels
- L solo, R solo, L-R and sub solo modes are available
- 3 available stereo speaker outputs, with two assignable mono sub outputs (or single stereo sub output)
- Multi-mode SUB/ DAC/ METER out
- SUB out mode for stereo or multiple mono subwoofer outputs
- DAC out mode for a fixed DAC output fed by the selected digital input
- METER out mode fed by selected input signal (digital or analog), configurable with a fixed level or to follow the monitor level
- Detachable RCU tilt base
- Phono Preamplifier option for the m905 makes it possible to connect a turntable to the unbalanced input connectors (may require firmware update).
Grace Design m905 Monitor Controller Includes
- The m905 Audio Control Unit (ACU)
- The m905 Remote Control Unit (RCU)
- The RCU tilt base and accompanying hardware, premounted to the RCU
- 25 serial cable to connect the RCU and ACU
- m905 Analog comes with an ethernet cable and 2 serial adapter jacks . For RCU headphone operation a
- RCU cable ugrade is required. This is available from youe dealer or from the Grace Design factory)
- 6 AC power cable which connects to the ACUs universal power supply
- A bag with rubber feet and rack screws
- The owners manual and warranty registration (5 Year Warranty)
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I have the m905 analogue and could not be happier. The control unit is top notch. Sessions run smoother with the talkback built in to the remote unit. There is a great ka-chunk sound when you engage the talk back - everything about this unit it scream pro gear - great upgrade
How can I describe this? The converters are top notch the sound is incredible. I have the analog/digital version, an older one (would love the black model) but still truckin' as it were. I got SPDIF AES Analog USB BNC for word clocks, i'd really have to look at the back to list off all the connectivity. Astounding. But yeah even when I'm watching a youtube video or something not related to recording, I use the USB connection and get wonderful audio from it. I've tried a couple of other DAC's and headphone amp's etc., i mean face it. You get what you pay for. Thats my axiom for life. I think its an extremely wise investment when you can hook up to three speakers, headphone monitor, subwoofer, and more.
The m905 is definitely one of those products that make you say "WOW!" within the first second! Very easy to setup on a MAC. Audio quality is incredibly detailed, clear and accurate, including the headphone amp. I LOVE the monitor control remote and the dB meter readout. Input/Output section is great for most setups. Purchasing the m905 is proving to be one of the best investments I've made for my studio. Highly recommended! *** Also, a big shout out to Alan for the INCREDIBLE customer service!