The SPL Volume2 Monitor Control
[REVIEW 2020]

The SPL Volume2 came to me on a recommendation of a friend who runs her own studio in Dorset, UK. Although she also used other monitor controls on occasion, this monitor was always the one she used for reference.

Front of SPL Volume2 monitor control - Tannoyista.com

The SPL Volume2 is very simple. It's basically a balanced pre-amp control. No bells 'n' whistles. This is exactly what I was looking to try out for recording with my Reel to Reel.

My Reel to Reel machine is a STUDER A80/R - You can read my full review HERE!

SPL designed the Volume2 mostly for the use between a DAW and some active monitor speakers. But it's use as a pre-amp between signal sources, such as a CD player or Streamer is also fine.

But why use this? Well, reducing the volume to a very low level using the master control on your DAW reduces the resolution slightly. With this unit, that doesn't happen.

Showing the front control panel of the SPL Volume2 Monitor Controller - Volume and Mute controls - Tannoyista.com

Rear connection input / Output panel of the SPL Volume2 Monitor Controller. Balanced XLR connections input and output

Construction

The SPL Volume2 is comprised of a two-part shell secured with 9 screws. The main chassis part is metal whilst the clam-style top section makes up the top and front panel. This construction makes up the weight so when loaded up with XLR cables plugged into the back the unit doesn't sit up and beg. 

With 4 substantial rubber feet it sits firmly on the surface and remains nice and solid. No flexible panels, no rattles, no nasty ringing (if tapped). Just very strong and quite unlike a lot of the tin-box type units out there.

Inside the SPL Volume 2 showing the circuit board

The control knob is also nice and hefty. Again, made from aluminium it has a really nice chunky (45mm in diameter) and has a satisfying feel.

The back panel is well thought out too. All XLR sockets are gold plated and made by Neutrik. The IEC socket is also good quality with a power switch.

The potentiometer is made by ALPS and has a very nice feel.

Inside the SPL Volume 2 showing the circuit board

Features

A control knob.... oh, and a mute button. That's about it, visually.

The mute switch is handy if your DAW decides to play a section of invalid memory. Not a nice sound and it's certainly not good either for your ears, your speakers or any other equipment. So the mute button is there to give the user an option to cut the sound without adjusting a finely tuned volume.

It gives a red glow when active which is always good.

The Volume2 isn't a passive control. The problem with passive controls the impedance can change the phase and frequency response. Volume2 is an active pre-amp using high-quality balancing stages. With extremely good common-mode rejection it diminishes interference and keeps everything accurate and in check.

Inside the SPL Volume 2 showing the circuit board - Power supply

The Sound

Out of the box, the SPL had a bit of an edge. I bought my unit second hand from a friend but he never really used it enough to give it a good burn-in. After a good burn-in, the sound became more full-bodied and fluid. At first the bass was a little flappy, but again, after some use the bass has become much more focussed.

The whole sound is now very accurate. It's not going to carry any golden globes away with it but it's a very decent unit for the price. Some on the internet have said that the tracking of this unit is not very good but I can't find any fault with it. I've had it running a selection of frequencies into my RTW plasma PPM and it tracks accurately enough.

To conclude. The SPL Volume 2 is an essential bit of kit. The sound and build quality of this little thing will put a smile on your face.

Inside the SPL Volume 2 showing the circuit board opamps

Updates/Mods


There are some who say that changing the TL071CP OP-Amps in this unit result in a better response and something to consider and because the OP-Amp chips are socketed it seems rude not to, but I feel a better PSU (maybe external) would be part of this mod too. This is something to consider at a later date.

Another idea was to have a valve stage installed. Personally, I think this would be a great addition if it could be done but this would also have to include an updated PSU.

Change the potentiometer to a stepped attenuator? If there was one mod I would do, it would probably be this one as I'm a big believer in stepped attenuators over traditional controls. But decent attenuators with more than 24 steps are quite big physically. A Khozmo, DACT or Goldnote would be great. How easy would that be to implement would be something to check out.

These are all ideas and at the end of the day it's all about what suits your system, expectations and of course, your ears. It's certainly something to think about because the Volume2 is well worth the effort.

For purchasing and further information, follow the link to the official SPL Volume2 HERE!