"Listen" button/Direct monitoring question

Can someone please help me understand the purpose/intended function of the “listen” button on each track in Cubase? And what exactly is “direct monitoring”? I’m just not understanding fully!

I understand from Steinberg Cubase tutorial videos: Steinberg hardware offers “direct monitoring” which i understand to be: hearing what’s coming directly from the UR22/44 and Not what’s coming thru my Cubase software. Is that right? When I disengage the “listen” button, I no longer hear my effects that I added in Cubase (reverb, delay, etc) So: I have to put the “listen” button ON to hear reverb while recording vocals, but then take the “listen” button OFF in order to hear playback! Which is a hassle! Is this how Cubase is intended to work? I want to hear my reverb while recording my vocal, and I don’t want to have to fight with that “Listen” button–turning it on and off, and on and off throughout every session! What am I doing wrong? Any advice, suggestions, insight greatly appreciated. Thanks Steve

You need to watch the videos on this. It will make sense then. I think that’s the fastest way to getting your mind wrapped around the Listen Bus.

Are you using the Control Room?

Direct Monitoring lets you have a lot of flexibility in your mixing. You can have Mix A and Mix B and switch between them automatically – or lots of other things. It’s an advanced feature. Again, I’d suggest watching some videos on it as the best way to learn it outside of reading the Operations Manual. Direct Routing Summing Mode can be On or Off. Enable it in the Racks and then mess around with it. It’s a great feature and not hard to learn.

I believe @Stephen57 has confused several different things to answer @sinnerman7777777 so here’s my attempt.

First let’s define somethings, I am being precise to avoid confusion, you probably know most/all of this, just trying to make it clearer:

  • Direct Monitoring: This is a feature of some ASIO audio cards that allows Cubase to use the Sound card for monitoring - bypassing the trip through the computer and all the plugins and latency - zero latency monitoring. With a UR series sound card Direct Monitoring can use the on-board effects so you get zero latency reverb and guitar effects. You can turn Direct Monitoring on or off in the Cubase Studio Setup.
  • Monitoring: This is turned on/off by the Track Inspectors Monitor (little speaker) button. (Not the Listen button). Can also be activated by Record Enable depending on your Preferences. This will use Direct Monitoring if it is turned on so bypass the software plugins on the track and use the sound card to directly, with zero latency, monitor the input signal. This is what is normally used to record with.
  • Listen Mode (and the Listen button): is a separate input monitoring capability which doesn’t interfere with recording setup or the mix. You can use it to Listen to a number of channels, it can automatically dim other channels volume. Serves a different purpose to the record monitoring but also similar.

In my workflow I use the Monitoring button with the Record Enable. That way when I record enable a track I get direct monitoring, and when I change tracks for recording it automatically goes off. I think that is what you want to achieve.

Direct Routings, Control Room with 2 Mix buses (on a UR44 for example), Cue Mixes are all also very hand to set up efficient recording setups. which I think is what @Stephen57 was getting too.

Does the ur22 have “on-board” effects? I didn’t see that it did on a quick look at the manual, but I may have missed that.

If it doesn’t - only way to hear effects while singing is a) turn direct monitoring off and add the effects to a Cubase channel (with the downside that latency might be too long), or b) buying a hardware effects unit and turn direct monitoring on.

If b), remember, the effect doesn’t have to get printed (you can put the hardware unit between the Mic output and the headphones), and things like “comfort verb” don’t need to be super high quality to be effective, so the hardware unit can be quite inexpensive.

Like robw said, some of the UR series (all?) have built-in reverb and compression that are available with direct monitoring on, a wonderful combination.

Indeed, sorry about that. I saw Direct Monitoring and read Direct Routing – assuming the OP was not using the correct term. My error.

To the OP: there is a key command you can create that will “Disable All Listen States.” I have it assigned to one of the Pads in a bank on my MIDI Controller. Search for “Listen” in Key Commands. It might be useful for you.

Oh, and the Listen button - think of it as a solo button, except instead of all the other tracks being forced to negative infinity dBFS, you can choose to hear them at any volume you want.

So, for example, you can do some tuning on a vocal, and have all the other tracks decremented by 15 dBFS.

Another common use, for example, is when you send audio to an FX track with a reverb inserted. If you solo the audio track, the FX track automatically becomes soloed as well therefore you are listening to both tracks.

But if you only want to hear the reverb on the FX track, and not the audio track, use Listen. (needs to be configured in the control room first)

fwiw, this can also be accomplished in the inspector without setting up control room and using the L button, but I find using the control room with the L button much more convenient.

Definitely have watched videos but still struggling to understand better. Not using control room, but wondering should I be? Working Alone to produce a demo of mainly piano/keyboards/vocals. struggling to get better vocal tracks!
this guy’s video confused me so much:
is he explaining it correctly?
any tips, insight always greatly appreciated. Thanks Steve

Is control room only available w Cubase Pro?

thank you!
Q: where is the “listen” button located??? I can’t find it!

You’re using Cubase Pro right? My understanding is that Direct monitoring is not available w Cubase Artist.

Even for folks like me working alone: Is “direct monitoring” somehow better for recording vocals w headphones (less latency?) I don’t need multiple headphone mixes because I’m working alone–just having a tough time (like so many singers) getting good workflow and quality on my Vocals!! I would consider investing in Cubase Pro…

Yes -also clearly visible from the manual.

As weitten above already, Direct monitoring is a hardware function and therefore is available with any Cubase version. As long as the hardware allows it.

The only one who can answer this question satisfactoriliy is you, since different people have a different feel about different latency values.

It depends on your interface.

I have a Steinberg UR28M. It’s latency is just long enough that it is a bit nicer to use direct monitoring, but if I didn’t have it, it would be OK for vocals. (One nice thing is that this interface can add some latency verb and compression to the cans when using direct monitoring).

I’ve heard that the RME interfaces have latency so small that they absolutely don’t need direct monitoring to be used.

And maybe there are some interfaces that are so long (yours?) that it’s just too hard to sing without direct monitoring on …

Interfaces don’ t “have” a latency (other than A/D D/A conversion time, which is negligible) If they had inherent latency, direct monitoring would not be possible. Latency emerges from having to route the audio from the interface to the computer, through your software and back into the interface, which requires the audio to be buffered to achieve a constant data stream.

Hi, thanks for the correction.

And yet I thought I’ve read that one of the advantages of RME interfaces is reduced latency … incorrect recollection on my part?

Q: “- Monitoring: This is turned on/off by the Track Inspectors Monitor (little speaker) button. (Not the Listen button). Can also be activated by Record Enable depending on your Preferences.”

I’ve scoured the Cubase Artist Preferences menu over and over and can’t find how to turn on the monitor button automatically whenever Record Enable button is activated!! Can you describe how you do that in PREFERENCES? MANY THANKS Steve

if the monitor button would go off automatically whenever I stop recording and want to listen to playback would be great! so help me can’t find that in Cubase Artist PREFERENCES menu

Look for “Tape Machine” mode, or something very similar.

You might have read that somewhere, but as so often, Phrases taken out of context are quite irritating.
A buffer of 128 samples is the same for any interface. Most will agree that RME drivers are very stable, and therefore you might be able to set the buffer sizes smaller before getting dropouts than with some other Interfaces.

Seems perfectly correct to me.
The RME driver/interface will give lower measured round trip latency at 128 (or any other) buffer than the Steinberg driver/interface set to the same buffer.

no such thing as Tape Machine Mode!