Sonic LAB: TC Electronic Level Pilot

Classy master volume knob for your studio      26/02/09

No flash plug

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4:11 mins

First of all, I'm going to give you full disclosure - TC handed me and Andy one of these things each at last months NAMM as some show swag, apart from having to destroy the packaging and secrete it in my camera case so security didn't give me a full cavity search after finding contraband, I managed to get this one home, where I've been using it in my setup ever since. And I like. I know y'all probably expect an endless stream of smutty innuendo based on the fact that it is a knob, well I refuse to take the bait, you'll have to go elsewhere for your cheap laughs. Cheap this certainly isn't. The Level Pilot is a quality chunk of metal - sand blasted aluminium actually, with a single, quad core, fully balanced cable that terminates in the two channels of XLR i / o for hooking into to your monitor system. What is this thing?
Simply, it's a fully balanced master volume control for your monitor system. Hook it up between your sound source - laptop or desktop PC soundcard, or mixer and your active monitors and you have a volume knob to control the overall monitoring level by attenuating the signal. This thing is also totally passive. There are no batteries, resistors transistors, or anything else in the way that could colour the sound – which I think is a pretty important aspect to something that affects the way you listen. Obviously if you work with a reasonably featured mixing console with a decent monitor section then you wont need one of these, but lots of us don't - I myself use the Mackie 1202 VLZ-3 which does not have independent level control for both headphones and speakers, so sometimes I want level in the cans but not the speakers – TC Level Pilot to the rescue. Upsides
This thing is Built - there's not denying the swish, chunky, form is pleasing on both the eye and the hand, the fact that it's made of solid alumnium with a rubber base pad, makes it stick to the desk and the smooth travel of the knob makes it nicely tactile. Its hard to hone in on any specific features as frankly, you turn it up and down and the volume adjusts correspondingly y'know? But one thing that is worth mentioning is that it is totally transparent – it doesn't change the sound in any way, at least as far as I can tell. Downsides
Attached cable tails are quite short, so you'll need to extend them to get any distance between your speakers and monitor source, also XLR connections only so if your system requires anything else, it's into the adapter pot for you my lad. The real problem may be in the price – at $99 it's not cheap. And this will of course put off a lot of people who can make do with reaching round the back of their active monitors, or fumble for the software control of the system volume – but not me, I'm a convert. TC Level Pilot available now $99 / €69 /£59

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