Headphone Direct Monitoring of Vocal

Someone up to giving me a quick refresher, please?


  1. If I untick Direct Monitoring in the Devices> Audio page … then to hear a vocal while recording I have to also hit the monitor button in the track I’m recording to hear the vocal through a headphone connection from the Stereo Out. Correct?

  2. How do you increase the output volume from the track being recorded while monitoring without changing the gain level you are recording? Or can you?

  3. If you have ASIO 2.0 compliant hardware with Direct Monitoring then you must tick Direct Monitoring in Devices> Audio and in your hardware mixing software in order to monitor. Correct? So, when the manual says ticked Direct Monitoring will switch automatically, that means if you haven’t enabled Direct Monitoring in your mixing software, Cubase will behave exactly as if the option is not ticked? Or, if not, then what does automatic switching mean?

  4. ASIO Direct Monitoring bypasses Cubase … the part you’re hearing, not the input to Cubase being recorded. So, what you hear is unaffected by any effects running in Cubase on the input, recorded tract, bus or main out. So is the only advantage/ reason for using this to reduce CPU load and thereby latency? Or, is this also the only way you can increase the relative volume of what is going into your mic and back to your headphones through your hardware mixer software.

  5. Does Control Room incorporate or preclude ASIO Direct Monitoring? Besides permitting more than one submix send, what other, if any, real advantage does it have over simply monitoring through Cubase?

Thanks for any help.


Reading between the lines, it sounds like you are having a problem with the vocal level whilst monitoring. This is where the control room is very handy.

You can set up a cue mix that is independent from your main mix, in fact you can copy your main mix to the cue mix with a couple of mouse clicks then by selecting all the channels except the vocal channel/s reduce the mix level to get the vocal to pop through with one click.

You could also put a compressor on the vocal playback channel to increase it’s presence or just turn the gain at the top of the channel up.

I never use direct monitoring, preferring to have a reasonable mix running for the vocalist, if the computer is struggling I will freeze the channels that are causing it and any other channels that may be increasing the latency due to PDC. It’s important to run very low latency whilst using headphones.

I would definitely say the control room is the way forwards when doing these things ITB.

Thanks, Split. Your reading is essentially correct. But let me make it crystal clear that the problem is letting the vocalist hear their voice in the mix while the vocal is being recorded.

I was puzzled when running a test that I was getting a good clear signal recorded, but was not able to hear the vocal through the headphone mix.

That was why I asked all those questions for various scenarios. I think you answered the one about level or the recording input in the mix … you cannot increase the volume without changing the input gain.

I will definitely try to work on setting up the Control Room … but am also wondering if I am missing some basic step in setting up the monitoring.

I’ll take another crack at the manual … but simply, shouldn’t I be easily hearing the recording input through the main stereo output as long as ‘Direct Monitoring’ isn’t ticked and I have the little track moinitor icon on?



If that is how you have it set, then the level you are hearing through the monitors is the level in the mix.

Yes, correct.

On the track that you monitoring (that is, the output track) you can turn up the fader, turn up the input trim, or add an effect plugin which can turn the volume up for you.

I never use direct monitoring, don’t really know the exact ins and outs.

Yes, as I understand it, Cubase is bypassed. You’re hearing what Cubase is recording, but it’s fed straight through the audio interface and mixed with the main outputs by the interface.

I don’t use control room either…


Control Room is SUPERB! apart from the limit of four foldback channels… or upto 8 if you work in mono and are ‘clever’ about it.
I can’t believe more people do not use it… even if you do not need a foldback channel, or ‘studio’ as steinberg insist on weirdly calling them, as you have easy access to things like the click level, listen enable which is really handy, the ability to switch to different monitors at the click of a mouse if you have the facility, the ability to flick between mono and stereo with one mouse click etc, talkback system… from within the app… it all works flawlessly too!
Did a session with one of our vocalists yesterday and she LOVED the foldback and the talkback too.
I am an RME user and their stuff comes with the fantastic totalmix software which is massively flexible, i also have the hardware to set up a physical foldback system with a hardware reverb/compressor etc for their ‘comfort mix’ but that’s a load of buggering about when i can set all that up with just a few clicks in cubase… dead simple!
The only reasons i can think of for NOT using it are… that you need more fold back channels or the operator doesn’t understand how it works!
It is so easy to set up a comfort mix with enough reverb and the mix to the performer’s preference and then to work on their sound in the main mix concurrently and to be able to flick between their mix and the main mix again at the click of a mouse. i usually like to give the singer a play back after each take through their cans but give them the main mix so they can hear a more ‘finished’ sound… they love it!

It’s one of the most powerful and useful features in cubase these days.

If the hardware manula tells you so…

What are you refering to the RME Totalmix, or your Layla? In case of RME that means, that as soon as you go into recording mode (transport bar), Cubase will transmit the fader level and panning of your Cubase audio track to your totalmix input channel you´re recording from - given “Direct monitoring” is checked in Cubase and Totalmix. If it´s only checked in Cubase, but not Totalmix, Cubase transmits the info, but your totalmix channel doesn´t react and stays the same it was before…