The Matrox Monarch HD is a small but powerful device that allows you to simultaneously stream a live event and record a master quality version for post-event editing.
When we first heard of the Monarch we thought it was a neat idea; by separating the task of recording from streaming it ensures a) that you don’t clog up your audience’s bandwidth and b) you manage to keep a higher res version for the archive and any other uses of the material downstream.
It works by generating an H.264-encoded stream from any given HDMI input source; encoding the video at bitrates suitable for live streaming on the one hand while simultaneously and independently recording a high-quality MP4 or MOV file on the other. A typical setting (and the Monarch comes pre-loaded with handy recording and streaming profiles) will let a user record a master quality file at 25Mbps while simultaneously streaming at a bitrate of 5Mbps, with maximum values for the unit in both areas being 30Mbps and 20Mbps respectively.
As well as function Matrox has paid some goodly attention to form too with the Monarch, all of which should lead to impressive levels of usability in the field with features such as one touch stream and record pushbuttons, low power consumption, a locking power connector, and a fanless design. Usefully given the sheer range of events it can be used for it works as easily on a desktop as in a rack, where up to three units fit in a single 1RU tray. Storage and button controls are sensibly located on the front of the unit while the power and I/O ports are found at the back, and it can also fit happily into most live production environments and interpret SDI signals thanks to the additional Matrox MC-100 SDI to HDMI convertor.
Files can be split while recording to prevent anything getting too indigestibly big and, when loaded on an NLE timeline sequentially, will playback seamlessly and can then be exported as a single contiguous file once safely in post. Browser-based control is relatively simple and the unit has an HTTP-based API that lets users and system integrators create their own control software to start, stop and even get the status of a device
On the audio side of things, eight channels of embedded audio can be passed from the HDMI input to HDMI output ports, while two channels of analogue audio input with loopout are also available via 1/8" stereo jacks.
Elsewhere, the Monarch is a certified “Works with Wowza” encoder, which allows for enhanced integration with the Wowza streaming engine, while it also supports XML files generated for use with Flash Live Media Encoder. It can also be configured to target software based players such as VideoLAN’s VLC Player, which is going to be particularly useful for remote viewing of content being recorded locally.
You get the feeling that Matrox has got the right product at the right time with the Monarch, but we’ll be putting it through its paces after IBC and seeing exactly how well it lives up to its promise