Should I use Control Room?


After reading a Feature Request about a Mono Button on the Master section I am wondering a few things about Control Room and so thought I’d make this thread.

Basically, I monitor Audio when Recording with my Motu HD192 Near Latency Free Cuemix and since using it, I haven’t turned on Control Room. I didn’t think I needed it. I am just wondering if there is something I am missing because I thought Control Room was there to allow me to monitor through Cubase (and this gives more latency than using Motu’s Cuemix and onboard DSP) if I wanted to. I would love to know what, if anything, I am missing about Control Room because many people have been praising how Powerful it is.

Thanks for any advice and knowledge


Control room is primarily there to let you separate control of the mixing audio from the audio that is playing back thru your speakers. Say you’ve got a mix you like and are not using control room. You want to listen to it at a variety of levels, so you end up changing the fader position of the Stereo Out (assuming you aren’t changing levels via your audio interface). But if you use control room you can leave the Stereo Out fader alone and use Control Room to adjust the playback level.

Additionally Control Room adds extra functions.

  • Ability to switch between different playback speakers (assuming audio device has multiple outs)
  • Ability to have different cue mixes (again assumes multi-outs) for multiple musicians
  • Use the Listen function to dim other channels in mixer.
  • Listen in mono and downmix from surround.

If you are using direct monitoring on your audio device, you can do that independent of using Control Room or not. Also if you were to monitor through Cubase I don’t think the latency is different if playback is from the Stereo out or Control Room.

In general it adds capabilities you may or may not use, but doesn’t really have a downside. Plus you get a huge output meter you can see from across the street.

Agree completely!

That Listen button is absolutely hugely useful, not available in the MixConsole unless Control room is active (it allows any given track to float X dBFS above the rest). Having said that, it’s obviously mainly a mixing tool, so you won’t miss it while tracking.

The metering is wonderful too (uses the new loudness meters).

Also, the control room allows you to build up to 4 different different mixes,one per Cue send.

I have a Steinberg interface, so I use its on-board DSP effects and Cubase’s Direct Monitoring while tracking (so it is zero latency with comfort effects), and the control room allows for 4 separate Mix Cues. But it sounds like you (OP) can do that with your interface as well, and I guess RME users can as well with their monitoring software.

Really, that “Listen” function makes it worthwhile even if it did little to nothing else, IMO!

The control room is also very usefull in the “home” situation.

As an example: At my home I have two nice near field monitors, but as I am working in my living room you can imagine the treatment of that room leave an bit to desired (the well-known trade-off between room tratment and having an girfriend that has an bit of an resistance about turning an living room into an studio :wink:).

So - I use an Acoustic Room Treatment system (IK ARC-2 plugin) on this spot to get some usable results (yes - I know, but for me it seems to work). This plugin is last in the chain, so its sits in the master (output) channel. So far nothing that needs the Control Room.

But, as you probably can imagine, working late at night has the problem you cannot use the monitors for obvious reasons. So, I need to work on an headphone. Feeding the “corrected” signal from the ARC plugin to an headphone is (very strongly) not advisable. Also - to keep results somewhat consitent I use an plugin from Toneboosters called TB-Isone. This plugin gives an “virtual” near-field monitor representation on your headphones.

So - this is where the Control Room is really usable. I can set up two seperate stereo output channels (I use an firewire connected Focusrite Saffire that has 6 outputs). One channel for the nearfield monitors with the ARC plugin in that channel, and one Headphone output channel with the TB-Isone plugin. The big advantage is that neither plugins have to be swiched off when you do the final mixdown, and you cannot make mistakes by switching on/off both plugins when you are using only one output cannel.

For me the Control Room is really extemely usable.

I’d thought that the Loudness Meter was dependent on Control Room. But before I did my original reply (OR :question: ) I disabled it to double check what functions needed it. I was surprised to find the Loudness Meter worked without it.

Yes Listen alone is worth enabling CR. It really lets you hear details while still having some context.

When I’m back in the Music Lab tomorrow I shall activate Control Room and have a play with it. I’m intrigued about the Listen feature but I am also intrigued about using plugins that don’t have to be on the Master Bus. I’m not currently sure how that works without being in front of Cubase!

I was at a point like you a couple years ago asking the same question. I didnt think I needed it. I activated it and used and will never go back. Control room is great.

Like JClosed previous reply, I use IK Multimedia’s ARC2 for speaker/room treatment. Also use headphones for monitoring as well. You don’t want the room treatment showing up on the exported file. Using the Control Room I don’t have to worry about whether I turned the room treatment off for the mixdown or left it on when using my headphones.

When I get near the end of my mixing phase, I have a general set of mastering plugins that I use also. I use the generally mastered mix to catch those inevitable highs or lows that pop out when you start to compress. That way you can fix them in the mix before going to the full mastering phase.

The upside of all of this is that, with the Control Room, I can set my listening volumes for each one of these circumstances so they are all at the same apparent volume. I don’t have to mess with the gain structure in the project itself. I can listen to these different environments at the push of a button and not hassle with constantly adjusting volume levels.

Ok, I’m diving into the Control room. The Listen Feature seems very useful. I will no doubt be back on here asking annoying questions if I get stuck. Already been reading the Manual and its not answering a few initial questions I have. Thank goodness for YouTube huh! :wink:

Thanks for everyone’s input!

Another nice way to use control room is to make instant A/B comparisons between the track you are working on and other reference tracks without having the reference tracks play through any master bus processing you may have. You can set up your reference tracks to be routed to the four Cue Mixes and then switch between the Cue Mixes and your main mix.

Ok, So I’ve Turned on Control Room. Created a Monitor Output and assigned my Master Bus to it. Hey presto, The Listen Feature Works. Now, am I right in thinking, The Control Room is always left on, the Listen Enable is always left on and the Control Room Level is left at 0db like the Master Stereo Output is (for me anyway) to give consistency? I’m also thinking the Listen Level should be set at 0db and then you Dim the rest by however many db you want?

I’ve never used the Listen function whilst mixing something (yet) and obviously, if I want to hear a specific Channel I just hit Solo. I guess the Listen Button just gives you the option to hear a specific channel whilst still in context with everything else playing (however dimmed you have set it). Does this help with mixing? I only ask because as I have never used it, means I have never needed it.

Say, for example, I am tracking a Drummer (and have Control Room and Listen Enabled etc) and I hit the Listen button on one of the Kick Mics, will this only affect what I hear in the Control Room (physical control room) and the Drummer will not be affected by it (and just have the mix he/she has asked for)?

Sorry for the questions. Last week, learning about the power of Articulation Lanes blew me away. I have a feeling Control Room is about to! haha


I’ve just realised I can sit in my Control Room (real one - I am not Tron) and record Guide Vocals when by myself and at the touch of the Listen button I can give myself More or Less “me” in my headphones at the flick of a button. Very quick. This is amazing. Already loving Control Room for this reason! :slight_smile:

It’s up to you. I use the control room level to control my monitoring volume (controlled via an Avid Artist controller). Yes, technically, if you turn the control room down you are not hearing your audio at the maximum bit depth at which you work but it’s absolutely fine for general working/composition etc. If you are doing critical listening then you would want your control room volume at 0dB and then adjust your monitor volume elsewhere in your chain.

One thing to watch out for: You might have a situation where you are clipping your master Stereo Out but if you have the Control Room volume turned down low enough, you will not be hearing the clipping through your monitors so you might think everything is fine but if you bounce the session it will be clipped. (If however you have a dither plugin on your stereo out, you will hear any clipping that is taking place, even if Control Room is set lower.)

Sometimes it’s nice to be able to work on one of your channels whilst still being able to hear it in the context of your overall mix. So the Listen function lets you have the rest of your mix playing in the background at say -18dB whilst you tweak away for the perfect EQ/compression settings on the track you are focused on. The other thing to note is that Solo will also solo any FX channels that are being fed by the soloed track, whereas Listen will only listen to the specific tracks which have the Listen button enabled.


Yes, Control Room is a brilliant feature and I’m not sure if any other DAWs have much going on that is similar.

With regard to the listen function,
You mention using solo to focus on a given channel - this is exactly what one would do on an analog meter, and also in many DAWs. You should be aware however that in Cubase, if you are providing a custom phone mix i.e. cue to an artist while recording, the solo function should not be used, as this also affects the cue in a typical setup. The listen function operates in a traditional soloing mode and is safe to use in conjunction with the main mix without any affect on the cues. If you decrease the dimming level of the listen feature to zero then you have a standard solo function, but I think you’ll find soloing in context much more useful.

This is what the Cue mixes are for. You can have a completely different mix sending to each of the 4 Cue mixes and adjust those mix downs via the Cue Sends to tailor the mix balance for a vocalist/drummmer etc. This is all done without affecting your main mix.

So, you can setup a cue mix as you like, and then have that cue mix going to you headphones. Then you can have as much or as little ‘me’ as you like.

Simple answer to the original question: “Yes” :astonished:)

That’s a great idea. Thanks.

Hi, I’ve been trying to do something like this with Control Room but without success. I’d like to set up several different alternative mixes with different sets of plugins (e.g., Mix1=Stereo Out; Mix2=Stereo Out+mastering effects; etc.).

I considered using one Cue Mix for each alternative mix, but you have to assign a unique physical output channel to each one (in VST Connections). However, this would prevent me from clicking one of the Cue Mix buttons to send the different sets of plugins to the same output channels and monitors/headphones such that the only difference between the mixes is the plugins.

Can this sort of thing be done in Cubase 8?

You can use plugins on the monitor channels in the control room (see the setup tab). Keep in mind these are monitor channels though i.e. won’t apply on your mixdowns or renders.
Or you might try using direct routing. Set up multiple stereo outputs and in VST connections change the “Set as Main Mix” setting.