ATEN CS1942DP Review - 2-Port USB 3.0 4K DisplayPort Dual-Display KVMP Switch
Category: Computer Gear
Published: Sunday, 21 March 2021 17:30
It's been a while since we needed a KVM switch and man have they evolved nicely. The ATEN CS1942DP 2-Port USB 3.0 4K DisplayPort Dual-Display KVMP switch is an excellent solution for a dual workstation setup that requires the ability to drive two 4K displays.
The ATEN CS1942DP is a professional level solution which includes the ability to share common peripherals and independently switch KVM. USB and audio. We used it to switch between two editing workstations where both units took advantage of dual displays and a wireless mouse. We didn't use the audio connections on the CS1942DP because each workstation's sound card was already connected to a mixer for audio so the mini stereo mic and speaker connections were unnecessary in our setup.
Our main interest was the ability to share a wireless mouse, wired keyboard and two displays between two workstations with maximum up-time. The ATEN CS1942DP works very well in this scenario. Each workstation has a Quadro graphics card with DisplayPort outputs to drive 4K displays. We used with various displays from HP and Dell and the ATEN recognized and scaled the image properly as if the computers were connected directly to the displays. The wired keyboard and wireless mouse performed as if they were connected directly to the computers without any perceivable lag. The computers were used to edit and color correct video and the color was accurate going through the ATEN CS1942DP as would be expected with quality DisplayPort connectors.
ATEN includes all the cables necessary for connection two computers to the CS1942DP KVMP switch. The cables are decent quality and on the shorter side. We used two workstations underneath an average size desk, one to the left and one to the right. The cables provided worked fined in our scenario. However, we could easily see a scenario where longer cables would be required. ATEN really has provided the bare minimum to make this work.
One of the main issues with using a KVM switch is the lag time from the moment you press the button until the other computer is active and the display live. The CS1942DP takes about 4 seconds to switch between computers. So it's not instant but we haven't used a KVM switch that is. It's not a big deal as we don't rapidly pop back and forth between workstations. More importantly when doing windows updates the monitors are accurately recognized when connected to the CS1942DP just as they would be if connected directly to the computer.
The ATEN CS1942DP has an excellent built quality with metal case and quality buttons. The lights on the front of the unit make it easy to identify the active computer and the status of the KVM. Our only gripe on the build or usability is the wall wart. We hate wall warts and would much prefer this unit to be shipped with a built in power supply.
At a typical street price of $329 the ATEN CS1942DP is not cheap. It's a premium unit designed for a professional environment. If you have a need for a 4k, dual DisplayPort cable KVMP switch the CS1942DP is an excellent choice.
Visit ATEN for more information and all the specs on the CS1942DP.
Mackie 1402 VLZ4 Mixer Review
Category: Production and Creative
Published: Thursday, 18 March 2021 14:32
So your Mackie mixer finally died. Now what? There are a lot of options on the compact mixer market. Soundcraft, Allen and Heath, Yamaha, Tascam and Mackie all make quality units in the sub $500 price range. Some folks love the super affordable Behringer units.
In many video post facilities you'll find the ubiquitous Mackie VLZ series. This includes everything from the original VLZ series made in the USA to the more recent VLZ4 series made in China. Our 1202 VLZ Pro recently died after 12 years of abuse. Not bad.
This time we decided to opt for the Mackie 1402 VLZ4. While we considered all the other options in the sub $500 price range we decided to go for the Mackie for practical reasons and a history of quality. It's easy to swap out the cables from the old mixer to the new without dealing with a new mixer layout. And, there are a couple of Mackie features we really love like Mute alt 3-4 versatility and inserts on inputs 1-6 that make it super convenient to use our FMR RNC1773 with 1 TRS per channel. Plus, and perhaps most importantly, to our ears, it's sounds just as good as previous generations of Mackie mixers.
There are some things we don't like. While Mackie touts the new color scheme as user friendly with the neon colored Aux and Eq knobs, the knobs themselves have no texture, no grip. We miss the old knobs with the indents. They were a 10X better experience. Also, the amount of torque it takes to twist a knob is not consistent. For example, the pan controls on channel 1 and 2 feel completely different. Even after repeated attempts to twist the knob back and forth to loosen it up channel 2 is very stiff. Same goes for the Aux 1 knob. That's not a great experience and make us question the quality control.
We have mixed feelings about the faders. We actually think using the faders is a better experience despite the faders themselves looking and feeling cheaper to the touch. The faders have a good feel to them and the updated color scheme do make them easier to use. The outline around unity is helpful.
The build quality seems up to Mackie standards. In spite of the cheaper feeling knobs and faders the chassis still feels tank-like and we hope will prove to be durable over time.
So how are the Onyx Mic pres. They're fine. Condenser and dynamic mics with enough output work fine on the 1402 VLZ4. Lower output mics like and SM7B need a preamp. Our use case is not critical recording but rather post production and the ability to keep multiple audio sources connected for easy access. While we may lay down some tracks we'd use a separate preamp instead of the built-in preamps on the 1402 VLZ4. They're perfectly fine, low noise preamps but there is nothing special about them.
The EQ works. The 1402 VLZ4 has fixed frequencies for lows, mids and highs and we find the EQ musical when used sparingly. Does it sound a little nicer than previous Mackies? Yes, we think so but mostly because the overall design provides a cleaner signal flow overall. More headroom also helps with AUX sends and results in better sounding reverb...etc. The Big Sky sounds even more transparent with the new Mackie. So overall, we think the 1402 VLZ4 sounds good and the EQ is good enough to tweak things a bit but we would use is sparingly just like we did on our previous Mackie mixers.
So there you have it. The VLZ4 series has been out a while and maybe Mackie will address some of the cheap knob and fader issues in an upcoming release. The VLZ4 series is quieter and has more headroom then previous generations of Mackie mixers and still offers one of the best values in compact professional mixers for post production, despite the knobs. Did we mention we hate the knobs?
Visit Mackie for more information and all the specs on the 1402 VLZ4.