Headphone Mix Question

I am new to CuBase, so please bear with me.

I am trying to determine how to set up a channel for a headphone mix. This would be a channel that i would use to send a mix to a singer, when laying down a vocal.

I read the manual and watched some videos but I foudn them very confusing.

Can someone help me do this?

Thank-you so much!

It depends on what level of Cubase you have. Cubase Pro calls them cue channels. I see you are looking at Cubase LE/AI.

First, you need hardware – some sort of audio interface or sound card for the headphones to plug in to. Then it needs a driver (which is generally written by the hardware maker). (A driver is software that interprets the operating system for the hardware and vice versa.) Therefore, the operating system can make the hardware available to apps like Cubase. Under menu item “Devices > Device Setup” there’s “VST audio system”. This is where you connect to the driver. There’s ASIO4ALL, which is a generic fallback driver, which you should only use if you have to. There’s a sub item under VST audio system that’s driver specific. Going in there, you can see what’s active. looks like this and this.

Now under Devices > VST Connections there should be a tab for output, which will have a bus for stereo out, and that should be connected to your audio device (= hardware) and output ports, which will be named as they were named under VST audio system. Looks like this

You probably have all this set up correctly if you are hearing any sound out of Cubase. If your hardware has only one output for headphones, then you wouldn’t be asking this question, so there are at least 2 stereo outputs. All you need do at this screen is to add an output bus. Give it a name like “cue mix” and assign the device ports for that second stereo output. The manual is pretty lucid about the details, but there are some important issues that need attention.

First, what’s your latency? Chances are that it will be too much, even if you have great hardware. Even 5ms is distracting for the singer, who may hear a digital delay effect. You are going to want to use ASIO direct monitoring to get around that issue, which basically means sending the mic input in 2 directions out of the hardware device. One signal copy goes on to Cubase for recording, the other makes an immediate U-turn to the singer’s headphones. How to do this depends on your hardware. If you can do it in the hardware driver or utility software, or by some kind of button on your interface, then that’s probably your best bet. Since I use this option, I have nothing to say about the alternatives, but there is a direct monitoring checkbox in the hardware specific sub-item of VST audio connections, which hopefully isn’t greyed out. In the worst case, you may just have to live with it. Try to reduce the latency by reducing the sample size your hardware is using. Reducing the sample size increases the risk of drop outs, so you’d have to experiment.

The other important issue is how to route the rest of the cue mix to the singer’s headphones. Using the main mix is an option, but that normally allows the singer to hide behind the band. Preventable mistakes are made, but not noticed, until the mixdown, or until the vocal is played back in solo. So you want to deliver a thin mix to the singer (for example: quiet drums, and one quiet instrument with pitch). This will involve going to the mix console and using sends from those channels you want the singer to hear to the output bus called “cue mix” (or whatever you called it).


Thank-you so much for taking the time to provide such a helpful answer. I followed all of your instructions. I have a few questions:

By the way. I am using the Steinberg UR44, whihc has two headphone out physical jacks.

I set up a new bus, as you suggested and I named it Headphones1.

So, if I understand you correctly, anything that I want the singer to hear in his/her phones, I would go to that individual channel strip and make sure there is a SEND that points to the Headphones 1 bus.


  1. So for example, if there is an acoustic guitar that I want the singer to hear, I’d go to that Acoustic guitar strrip in the Cubase mixer and route a send to the Headpones1 bus. Right?

  2. How does Cubase and the UR44 know to stream the Headphones1 bus mix to the Phones Out 1 physical jack on the front of the Steiberg UR44?

  3. There are two Phones Out physical jacks on the front of the Steiberg UR44. One is labeled Phone1 and the other is Phones2. Presumably, this would allow two different mixes. For example, the singer can have Headphone1 mix sent to his/her phones, whereas the producer can have a separate mix that is streamed to the Phones2 physical jack. I am assuming that for this to happen, i’d have to create a new bus and label it Headphones2?

Another thing that is confusing me, is that when I added this second bus titled Headphones2, the Device Port was automatically populated as UR44 FX Bus L and UR44 FX Bus R. Why is it calleed a FX bus?

  1. I do have access to a Direct Monitoring check box on the UR44 settings, and it is not greyed out. So I can use it. I understand the advantage of using it in terms of it cutting down on latency, but my objective would be to provide the singer with a wet mix on the vocal (in other words, he/she would hear reverb on their vocal as they record it), while the Cubase is recording a dry signal that will be processed post record. If I enable Direct Monitoring, will I still be able to avchieve this?

Thanks again Colin. I know you spent a lot of time articulating your answer, compete with links, and I appreciate it!!!


Right. preferably with prefader setting

They don´t know, unless you “tell” them by setting up the routing and connections correctly.

That would depend on the interface. some just copy the phones 1 output to phones 2. Check the UR44 manual.

The UR 44 has built in Reverb FX, that can be used with direct monitoring - again refer to the manual.

Thank-you Svennilenni

I hate to trouble people on the forums and I have been reading the manual and watching youtube videos. I have been a ProTools user for 15 years and just recently switched to Cubase. It’s a wonderful product but I am having difficulty understanding how it works, as compared to Protools.

Thank-you again for your help.
In terms of this part:

  1. How does Cubase and the UR44 know to stream the Headphones1 bus mix to the Phones Out 1 physical jack on the front of the Steiberg UR44?
    They don´t know, unless you “tell” them by setting up the routing and connections correctly.

That’s where I am stuck. I don’t know how to tell it to route the output to Phones1 or 2.

Riigth now, in the vocal strip, I have a Swend thast is ruted to the Headphones1 bus that I created in a previous step. But I can’t determine how the UR44 hardware knows to pick up only the DSends to Headphone1 or Headphone2 busses and funnel them to the Phone1 and Phones2 physical input jacks on the front of the unit, as oppossed to picking up the entire mix.

Your Cubase headphones bus has a “device port” tab on the right in VST connections where you you assign the channel that goes to the Headphones out of your interface.