About that BBC Monitor Control Approach

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bjosephs

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Every so often I remember that I've been meaning to build a monitor controller and start googling around for ideas. I always come across this article on the Presonus Central Station with a very interesting little side bar on the BBC approach to monitor control. There are one or two threads here but they are looking for schematics or implementation guidance, which I am not (yet).

My question is about the need for a "Mono to A" switch.

The author points out that the lack of a "cut both" function is mitigated by "Mono to A" and "Cut A" simultaneously. They also mention the need for a "Mono to Both" to facilitate calibration of balance, but then also lament that mono through 2 speakers overly hypes center material, so use "Mono to A". If they included a "Mono to Both" switch and separate A and B cut switches, why have a separate "Mono to A" switch? Couldn't you can just do "Mono to Both" and "Cut B" simultaneously? Was there some added reason I'm not picking up on? At first I thought maybe implementation/wiring convenience but if this was just a functional spec they flowed to console builders it seems like the usefulness of the switch would be paramount. It seems so redundant in such a judicious layout that I can't shake the feeling that I'm missing something. Does anyone know?
 

Winston OBoogie

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Ease of operation while "on air" ? No need for a "cut both" switch which might cause alarm if it were switched inadvertently ? To cut both would require 2 levers be thrown so, if you did need to cut both, you could.

I'm just guessing here... 😃
 

bjosephs

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That part is explained in the article (well, not “why” there is no cut both, but how to achieve it in practice) but if you reread my post that’s not the part that I’m curious about. I’m wondering why they included a mono-to-A switch when mono-to-both and cut B already covered that functionality.
 

pvision

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The monitor sections I remember had keyswitches (up-normal-down) where the normal monitoring mode is all switches horizontal

I think the logic has something to do with working the console by feel and with one hand - it's easy to feel if a switch is out of position and with one finger you can tell where you are in a row of three buttons

The most commonly-used functions (Cut B, Mono to both and Dim) involve pressing a key down

I'm slightly surprised by the provision of a balance control but many BBC continuities & control rooms were oddly-shaped with no guarantee of a seating position exactly at the mid-point of the monitors
 

bjosephs

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The monitor sections I remember had keyswitches (up-normal-down) where the normal monitoring mode is all switches horizontal

I think the logic has something to do with working the console by feel and with one hand - it's easy to feel if a switch is out of position and with one finger you can tell where you are in a row of three buttons

The most commonly-used functions (Cut B, Mono to both and Dim) involve pressing a key down

I'm slightly surprised by the provision of a balance control but many BBC continuities & control rooms were oddly-shaped with no guarantee of a seating position exactly at the mid-point of the monitors
Maybe a stretch but do you recall (or can you conjecture) if using “mono to A” or “mono to both” plus “cut B” would achieve the exact same result?
 

Winston OBoogie

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That part is explained in the article (well, not “why” there is no cut both, but how to achieve it in practice) but if you reread my post that’s not the part that I’m curious about. I’m wondering why they included a mono-to-A switch when mono-to-both and cut B already covered that functionality.


Probably because, as Pvision said, this was by feel. The most used functions required only one key lever be thrown, which is most likely easier on muscle/brain memory.
 

Matt Syson

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I had never really thought about the monitoring provisions except that when I was testing (at the manufacturers around 1980) various desks destined for the BBC and IBA (UK) the layouts and functions were directed by the BBC and of course they were for studio upgrades from mono desks that had been before and at that time all television and most radio was mono (although Stereo FM was coming in) so mono compatability was in a way more important than stereo as losing a significant bulk of your audience was frowned on. Of course the 'post Office' lever key switches were/are excellent for tactile operation (programmes you can engineer in your sleep). Of course the 20dB range of the level pot (-14 to +6db range) was a hint that if you needed more range you needed to address the programme material. A similar argument for PPM meters too really in that the needle should peak to scale mark 5 (?) for speech and other levels depending on the material and programme.
I only had to make them work, not drive the damn things!
 

calaverasgrande

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I bet they have some kind of thing in the BBC where they designate the A monitor as the primary or main monitor, and B as the secondary monitor. Kind of like how some video edit bays are set up.
Notice how they avoid using or Left or Right?
Perhaps in some situations A is the left monitor, in others its the right hand monitor. Depending on where the producers desk is and if there is a tape op panel.
I could imagine at some point there were stuffy old whitecoat BBC lifers who refuse to acknowledge stereo panorama as anything but a gimmick.
And then it gets encoded in some SOP manual in the early 60's and stays that way forever.
 

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