Monitoring in Cubase
There are several ways you may monitor the signal in Cubase. I will talk about the easiest way of monitoring in Cubase. Assume the following scenario. Let’s say we have a vocal on the input channel and we would like to monitor it while we are recording with the rest of the backing track (if we have one).
First we need to enable the monitoring on the channel (input channel). This is done really easy, just click on a icon with a speaker under the channel name. When it turns dark yellow, the monitoring is enabled. Check the picture. This will enable the monitoring, however Cubase offers different ways and modes for monitoring. I will explain them a little later. For now let’s see how we can set up direct monitoring and monitor modes.
Set Up Direct monitoring in Cubase
- Go to top menu and select “Devices” dropdown and then select “Device Setup …” usually last item on the dropdown menu.
- Right under VST Audio System, select the current driver.
- On the right panel you will see checkbox with “Direct Monitor” label.
When your driver does not support direct monitoring, this field will be disabled. Usually, in most built-in sound cards this option will be disabled. That pretty much means that only way monitoring can be done is via Cubase or External (Read further).
Select Monitor Modes in Cubase
- Go to File menu and select Preferences.
- On the left panel will be a directory list style listing. Scroll down and select VST.
- Once VST is selected there will be a dropdown with monitoring modes on the right panel.
We will need to know how to set up those settings in order to change monitoring ways and modes in Cubase
Monitoring Ways in Cubase.
There are three ways to monitor the signal in Cubase. the signal can be monitored via Cubase, externally or using ASIO Direct Monitoring. Let’s briefly look at each option.
Monitoring via Cubase. This way the input signal is mixed with the playback, and all added effects and mixer features like panning and levels are active. This would be a really good way to monitor the signal, since in this way basically what you hear is what you will eventually get. This way has a big drawback and that is the latency. If the project is busy and the system is not powerful enough, the latency will increase. At some point, monitoring this way will be a challenge, though in my personal experience, it worked about 80 percent of times. Also, this way we can use different monitoring modes (read further, Cubase monitoring modes).
To activate this mode make sure that Direct monitoring is unchecked(Read above) .
External Monitoring is tied to a hardware, such as soundcard or soundboard, where signal is monitored before it hits Cubase. Latency depends on hardware. All effects and volume adjustments are controlled from hardware as well. In order to make it work, two things needs to be set in a specific way. Make sure that Direct monitoring is unchecked and monitoring mode is switched to manual.
ASIO Direct monitoring tied to hardware as well if it is ASIO 2.0 compatible and supports ASIO Direct Monitoring. This is more like a mix of hardware and Cubase .The actual monitoring is done in the audio hardware, by sending the input signal back out again. However, monitoring is controlled from Cubase. This means that the audio hardware’s direct monitoring feature can be turned on or off automatically by Cubase, just as in internal monitoring setup. However, volume and pan adjustment could be controlled at hardware. Effects are not going to be applied in this mode (unless hardware has it as built-in feature).
To activate this monitoring mode, make sure that direct monitoring is enabled under the ASIO driver preferences (See above on how to enable direct monitoring).
Cubase Monitoring Modes
These modes are only available if we are monitoring via Cubase or via ASIO Direct Monitoring. (Read above about monitoring ways). Now, once we enable the monitoring, we should be able to hear input signal directly. The next step is to figure out what monitor modes we would like to have. Usually it is in manual monitoring mode by default, which means a user should manually turn on and off monitoring in the inspector, track list or in the mixer. For example, during recording, monitoring can be “on” to hear the input signal while singing or playing. After the recording during the playback, monitoring should be disabled so recorded track can be heard. This works fine for me, but Cubase offers three additional monitoring modes besides manual. These modes can be set from Preferences (VST page, read above). Lets briefly explain each mode.
While Recording enabled. When this option is selected, the input source connected to the channel will be heard whenever the track is in record mode.
While Record Running. This option will enable the monitoring only during the recording and will disable as soon as recording stopped.
Tapemachine Style. This option emulates standard tapemachine behavior: input monitoring in Stop mode and during recording, but not during playback.
So, looks like Cubase has a flexible ways and modes for monitoring. I personally use monitoring via Cubase with manual mode, but with Focusrite saffire 56 soundcard I’ve been using external monitoring more since it is flexible and saves CPU resources.