cubase monitoring

Monitoring in Cubase

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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).

Enable or Disable Monitoring in Cubase
Enable or Disable Monitoring in Cubase

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

  1. Go to top menu and select “Devices” dropdown and then select “Device Setup …” usually last item on the dropdown menu.
  2. Right under VST Audio System, select the current driver.
  3. 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).

Set Up Direct Monitoring in Cubase
Set Up Direct Monitoring in Cubase

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

Select Monitoring modes in Cubase
Select Monitoring 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.



  1. Bloody hell! I’ve spent the best part of an hour trying to figure out why I could only hear sound from my interface and not the processed sound from Cubase, and all I had to do was press that little yellow button! Man, do I feel stupid. Thank you very much for writing this.

  2. I am simply trying to monitor a previously recorded track(Audio 01) while recording a new track(Audio 02).I have tried (I think?), every combination of the Cubase Monitoring options, as describe in this article, albeit as repeated in the manual. Yet every time, the result for track 02 is the intended input, plus the copy of Track 01. Not as intended as an isolated unique track (Audio 02). I have no problem with my physical multitrack digital recorder, yet I have tried several other software models with the same result? I can not still achieve this basic requirement.
    Am I obviously doing something fundamentally wrong? Any guidance please would be appreciated.

  3. This makes no sense at all! The listening gray button is grayed out, and there was no way to put it on each track. The direct audio-related monitoring was grayed out, and there was no way with my ASIO driver to get it working, anymore. There went my vocals recording and outputting to my mics; and I know what stereo is, by the way! Enough with the lies that it is something different than what it really is. So vocal is mono and piano is stereo; BIG WOOPIE! And pan left and pan right just pans your instrument to the orchestral “seated point”, for your voilin, for whatever. There is some common sense; and so why the heck is the VST involved, when I am just trying to use my audio vocal recording which needs no microphones? Enough with the lies! And where is the tapemachine switch-off activated, so I would not have cubase messing with all of my sounds? And I know what the monitoring button is: it is the other way besides the tapemachine for cubase to control your sound; in the golden days, just playing something was ok; you did not need a monitoring sound to manipulate your tracks. SO, no wonder my listen button is turned gray, and things do not work, and the logical cubase is full of manipulative things, such as doubling things with how-to-get-things-done, and not explaining virtually anything impossible in the manual; kind of like pro tools, where you use midi very low, and bark sounds come out, or flute, or tiger sounds, and when played, it just really scares people. Why in the world would anyone record them for use, and keep it from people, and you just wake up trying to play a note and hitting some keys with it? And then some teacher or themselves did disactivate it; I have heard enough of this. Someone please fix it before I get really, really angry. Some post logical responses.

    1. And, any remember of the MIDI-filter on Preferences? Just wishing Cubase would stop being overly-manipulative. BUt, I guessed you could never get through to them, though I chose cubase for LOGIC. Iit all was advertised as making sense.

  4. And monitoring was really supposed to connect all, hence the inspector. Why, oh why, ,cubase, could you not be uncumbered, more logical?

  5. Nevermind. Just for the record, the graying out was from someone saying it online. And I still have some questions, on the topic.

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