Product review: unboxing Matrox Monarch LCS

An in-depth look at the new lecture capture appliance from Matrox

Product

Part Number
MHLCS/I
Form Factor
Standalone appliance

Rack-mountable: 1U, 1/2 rack (horizontal)

Connectivity

Video Input
HDMI 1* (video sources)
HDMI 2* (computer sources)
SDI*

*Video Input Format is Auto-Detected in SDI and HDMI.
All outputs are active regardless of audio and video input selection.
Video Input Resolutions
HDMI 1
Progressive
• 1920×1080 @ 60/59.94/50/30/29.97/25 fps
• 1280×720 @ 60/59.94/50 fps

Interlaced
• 1920x1080i 29.97/25 fps

HDMI 2
Progressive
• 1920×1080 @ 60/59.94/50/30/29.97/25 fps
• 1280×720 @ 60/50 fps

Interlaced
• 1920x1080i 29.97/25 fps

SDI
Progressive
• 1920×1080 @ 60/59.94/50/30/29.97/25 fps
• 1280×720 @ 60/59.94/50 fps

Interlaced
• 1920x1080i @ 29.97/25 fps
• 720x486i @ 29.97 fps
• 720x576i @ 25 fps

Compliant with SMPTE 259M/292M/424M (Level A) / 425M
Video Output
HDMI
SDI
Video Output Resolutions
Preview output of video input signals. Preview output can be mapped from either SDI or HDMI input sources.

Note that when input is an SD-SDI resolution, the HDMI preview output will show video window-boxed on an HD output.

When HDMI output is set to Preview Mode, refer to the manual for a complete description of behavior.
Audio Input
Processes the first two channels of audio embedded in HDMI or SDI input signals.

Unbalanced analog stereo input via 1/8” (3.5mm) jack.

Line Level
Audio Output
Passthrough of 8 channel of embedded audio channels in HDMI and SDI signals.

Unbalanced analog stereo output via 1/8” (3.5mm) jack—passthrough of input.

Line Level

Note that all outputs are active regardless of audio and video input selection.
Confidence Preview
1x SDI

1x HDMI

Maximum resolution: 1920×1080

Performance

Color Space and Chroma Sub-Sampling
4:2:0 (8-bit)

Video and Audio Processing

Frame Synchronization
The Monarch LCS contains frame synchronization circuitry designed to compensate for disruptions of the input signal. This circuitry is in place for both SDI and HDMI inputs. Streaming and recording operations will proceed cleanly with repeated or dropped frames.
Video Scaling
High Quality multi-tap 10 bit Down Scaler and De-Interlacer
Available for both streaming and recording operations
Video Compositing
Yes, Side-by-Side (SbS), Picture-by-Picture (PbP)
Audio Encoding Format
AAC-LC
Audio Sampling Frequency
32 kHz

44.1 kHz

48 kHz
Audio Bitrates
Range from 32 kbps to 256 kbps
Note that audio codec settings are applied to both encoders.

Codec

Video Encoding Formats
H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10 (AVC)
Encoding Profiles
Baseline (BP)

Main (MP)

High (HiP)
Encoder Bitrates Range
Single Encoder – Streaming mode: 16 Mbps
Dual Encoder – Maximum of 8 Mbps for streaming channels
Dual Encoder – Maximum of 10 Mbps for recording channels
Encoding Rate Control
Average max/min data rate controls

Deblocking Filter

Selectable frame rates

GOP Size

Variable bitrate support
Encoding Level
Up to 4.2

Recording

Recording Locations
2x USB 2.0*

1x SD card slot**

Network mapped drive***

* Support for NTFS (3.1) and FAT32 file system. The Monarch LCS will support writing to USB3 devices at USB2 speeds. Also note, there is a very high variability in the performance capabilities of “thumb” drives (even USB3 versions). Many are optimized for “read” operations while the Monarch LCS requires sustained “write” capabilities. For best results, Matrox recommends using powered USB drives. If small portable media is required, SD cards may be more suitable.

** Supports SD and SDHC cards. Only NTFS formatted SDXC cards are supported. (Class 10 highly recommended).

*** Support for writing to shared folders in computers found on a network using Windows Share protocols (suitable for Windows system) as well as NFS protocols (suitable for Mac and Linux systems).
Recording Lengths
Maximum file length of 300 minutes—irrespective of storage type used. File splitting feature allows a user to record continuously for long periods by defining file segment sizes. The Monarch appliance will create these sequential file segments over the course of the recording operation without losing a single frame of video. File segment can have a length of 1 to 300 minutes.

Network

Network Standard
RJ45 providing 10/100/1000 Base-T Ethernet with Static or DHCP addressing
IP Addressing
IPv4

DHCP (default) and static IP
Streaming Protocols
RTMP, RTSP/RTP
Unicast and Multi Unicast (number of clients may vary from 3 to 10)
Command and Control
HTTPS over TCP

UPnP (discovery)

Physical

Product Dimensions
5.6 (L) x 8.5 (W) x 1.4 (H) inches
14.2 (L) x 21.6 (W) x 3.6 (H) cm
Unit Weight
1.3 lbs / 0.6 kg
Power Supply Unit
Line voltage: 100-240 V a.c.
Frequency: 50-60 Hz
Input: external AC/DC adapter – IEC320-C14
DIN4 locking power connector

Power-supply safety:
cULus (Canada/US)
CE (EU)
GS (Germany)
CCC (China)
RCM (Au/Nz)
EAC (Russia / Customs Union)
PSE (Japan)
KCC (Korea)
BIS (India)

Hardware & Software

Hardware Included
Matrox Monarch LCS appliance

Matrox Monarch LCS external power supply

IEC320-C14 power cords (US, UK and EU)
Accessories (sold separately)
Monarch Rack Mount Kit* (MRCH/RACK/KIT)

Monarch LCS power supply unit** (PWR/SUP/MHLS)

* Monarch Rack Mount Kit. Can fit up to two Monarch LCS units in a 1RU space.
** Monarch LCS power supply unit. Does not include IEC-C14 power cord. These cables must be sourced locally.
Software
Monarch LCS Command Center
Monarch LCS Radar*
HTTPS API *

*Free download

Environmental

Operating Conditions
Temperature: 0 to 45 degrees Celsius

Altitude: 650 hPa (3,580 m) to 1,013 hPa (0 m)

Humidity: 20% to 80% non-condensing
Storage Conditions
Temperature: -40 to 70 degrees Celsius

Altitude: 192 hPa (12,000 m) to 1,020 hPa (-50 m)

Humidity: 5% to 95% non-condensing
Power Consumption
Input: 9-24 volts
Total Power Consumption: 20-30 watts (42 max)
General
Supported Operating Systems (software)
Mac OSX EL Capitan
Windows 10 (64 bit)
EMC/EMI Device Class
Class A
EMC/EMI Certifications
CE (EU)

FCC (US)

ICES-3 (Canada)

KC (Korea)

RCM (Aus/NZ)
Environmental Certifications
RoHS Directive 2011/65/EU amended by (EU) 2015/863
Warranty
Two-year limited warranty with free online or telephone support

Technical Specs

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With remote and blended learning likely to remain a core feature of education for some time, schools and universities are understandably seeking the very best capture and streaming devices. They’re particularly looking for state-of-the-art kits that will allow them to broadcast their lectures and presentations anywhere, at any time, and onto any viewing device — with the best image and sound quality that technology can achieve.

Given this state of affairs, you’re likely looking for a versatile, fully-featured lecture-capture solution, open to virtually all platforms. And, if so, the Matrox Monarch LCS lecture capture appliance is the piece of kit for you.

Simple to integrate

The headline news for school IT managers is that the Monarch LCS is impressively easy to set up.

The first question they’ll ask, “What platform is Monarch LCS compatible with?” The good news: the device is compatible with most Video Management Systems (VMSs) – including Kaltura, Presentations2Go, Streamitup and Ubicast, as well as Learning Management Systems (LMSs)/Virtual Learning environments (VLEs), including Moodle, Blackboard, Brightspace and Canvas. What does this mean? Monarch LCS is ready to integrate seamlessly into almost any existing infrastructure. Furthermore, with its compact size, the encoder makes it an ideal fit for any storage rack that can be installed discreetly within the classroom. Its metal frame also makes it extremely hard-wearing.

Simple to operate

The device has passed the first test, but how does it fair from a usability standpoint?

For starters, the Monarch LCS does away with the need for complex recording equipment when capturing presentations in lecture halls. Instead, it allows you to simply and effectively mix video, audio and supporting digital material from SDI and HDMI sources into a single webcast.

Once your physical setup is ready, you can take advantage of convenient features such as the scheduler, which allows you to set the Monarch LCS to start automatically in time for any lecture or event — no need for any interventions on your part. Meanwhile, the ‘set and forget’ facility allows you to input settings just the one time — the Monarch LCS will do the rest and broadcast with the same settings until they are altered.

When presenting, lecturers can choose from a number of operating modes, including layouts such as Picture-in-Picture (featuring two or more images displayed in the same screenshot) and Side-by-Side. Want to change inputs during the lecture? No problem — just select Switcher mode to navigate between, say, presenter and presentation-slide views.

Deep dive: streaming, recording, storage

The Monarch LCS gives you multiple destination options when streaming or recording. When the device is set to record, an encoding channel captures H.264 content in MOV or MP4 files, meaning that your video files will play on virtually any player. You can also record files locally to an SD card or USB attached storage and transfer those files over the network or via FTP/sFTP at a later time, thus reducing network congestion during peak times, or worse, the potential of losing files in transit due to connectivity issues. Alternatively, you can record lectures to USB drives, SD cards, or network-mapped drives and have them made available immediately to your school’s virtual management system (VMS). For streaming purposes, the encoders use either RTMP or RTSP protocol to deliver live streams to local media servers or cloud-based CDNs.

Synchronised sources, exceptional viewing experiences

One key feature that your viewers will hugely appreciate is the Monarch LCS’ built-in frame synchronisation. Too often, when streaming or recording audio and video contents, presenters will find that, while a camera and computer’s output resolutions can easily be managed, if the frame rates are not matched, this will result in a distracting lag between video and audio.

The Monarch LCS adjusts for this by taking in the different feeds and synchronising them before encoding, delivering perfectly timed video and audio, regardless of the operating mode. Built-in frame syncs also correct any signal discontinuity at either input, ensuring uninterrupted streaming and recording operations.

The verdict

The Monarch LCS brings complete peace of mind to the table. The lecture capture appliance provides a simple-to-integrate and simple-to-operate platform for both IT administrators and lecturers alike. What’s more is that the Monarch LCS is built on a one-time purchase model, with no annual subscriptions or contract renewals, for a state-of-the-art kit with budget-friendly pricing.

Final verdict: the Monarch LCS lecture capture appliance will comfortably cover all your bases when it comes to recording and streaming content anywhere, anytime — and with exemplary sound and picture quality.

Find out more here/video or email video@matrox.com

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