Hardware direct monitor for live scenario without delay

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007ff413215138> #<Tag:0x00007ff413215048>

Dear all,
some DAW have the ability to control input with direct hardware monitor to have zero latency in ASIO mode. The DAW can set volume of the “pass through direct monitor” without using any dedicate vendor mixer.
This avoid the classic “dubbing effects” that you can notice when you have inear monitor and your mic input pass through asio chain also with a small buffer.

With c3 I can achieve this using the “external program” mixer of my sound cards, but it would be nice to be able to manage the direct monitor volumes directly from c3.

Direct monitoring is always a feature built-in to the audio interface itself, and so it has to use its own mixer software in many cases, or the hardware knobs on the front panel. However, some do permit remote-control via MIDI of that software’s sliders. If that is the case, you can send MIDI out to it from Cantabile or from a controller connected to Cantabile having sliders and/or knobs. But that would be on a case-by-case basis depending upon the audio interface you own.

The bottom line is, if the audio interface provides a method to reach inside its hardware to control its internal sliders, then you’re golden!



A popular feature lately of several manufacturer’s audio interfaces is to provide a wireless mixer-panel interface accessed via a phone or tablet, too. See if they make that available for yours, just for having that option also.


Terry thanks for your reply.
I think that is not only a “built in feature of audio interface”. With Asio 2.0 driver the Daw can take control of the input direct monitor volumes probably via API.
I can do that with Samplitude and my 2 audio interfaces (MAudio FastTrack c400 and MAudio Ultra)

With this settings the 2 analog input in MAudio Interface Mixer are disabled and the DAW controls the volumes of the two channels (Control host activated appair at the bottom of the mixer window).

Here some discussion about that feature.

Yes, I also use Samplitude. I have never been able to control the monitoring volume via Samplitude inside of my hardware (MOTU 828 mk3 hybrid and Ultralite mk3 hybrid, Focusrite 2i2). All that setting does is turn off software monitoring.

I’ve tried software-monitoring but the round-trip latency drives me crazy sometimes (but usually not with any keyboard stuff – I perform with the buffers set at a conservative 512 and it doesn’t get in my way.)

But you were specifically asking for it without delay, and short of incredibly small buffers that are not advisable for live performance, the round-trip monitoring (software monitoring) approach would possibly not be immediate enough for that use-case.

What are you trying to monitor? Drummers and guitar players often complain about such latency, but since pianists and keyboardists “play with their fingers, not their ears” it usually isn’t a big issue for them. Some vocalists also hate that latency, as do I, so I never try to monitor my microphone in my headphones except during setup. The trip from my vocal chords through my skull to my ears is immediate enough for me!


I believe @ClaudioCas is talking about the ASIO direct monitoring feature. This is a feature of the ASIO 2.0 specification, and it is up to the audio interface manufacturer if they support it or not. Essentially, this means that the DAW is able to control the internal mixer of a direct-monitoring-capable interface (assuming there is a mixer;-) ) via the ASIO API. Not all interfaces provide this ability, some don’t have a software mixer at all but offer just a physical knob do mix direct and processed signal (e.g. Behringer interfaces)

My RME Fireface has a great mixing environment that allows pretty much latency-free monitoring (of course there is some minimal converter latency, but that’s true for any digital mixing console) while recording. I believe that it does have the ASIO direct monitoring capability, but I actually don’t use that - because I am comfortable enough with the RME mixer that I use around all my audio apps (not only Cubase). So setting up my monitoring in the RME mixer is easier for me than using Cubase direct monitoring.

Given that Cantabile isn’t mainly a recording environment but rather a processing environment (convert MIDI and audio to processed MIDI and audio) and that its purpose is mostly to hear the processed result, I wouldn’t see direct monitoring as a big priority - especially given the fact that most audio interface capable of no-latency monitoring actually provide a mixer app to manage that task, so it’s easy to work around that.

Plus: this ASIO direct monitoring feature is a feature of some audio interfaces, but by no means supported by all audio interfaces, so this would definitely be a niche feature…

@ClaudioCas: as you wrote, you can achieve this easily with the sound card mixer, so I don’t see this as a top priority, but maybe it is easy to realize for @brad and could be slipped into the backlog somehow…



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I agree with @Torsten on this, I don’t think this is a high priority for Cantabile. I wasn’t actually aware of this capability in ASIO 2 but I’m happy to look into it if enough people think it would be useful to warrant it.

First of all, thanks for your kind replies

Using inear monitor the voice is terrible if you have latency. Although it manages to reach 128 buffers at 48khz (2.67 ms) it seems like having a double voice in the head and singing is difficult and annoying.
No big deal with guitars / bass or drums.

@Torsen, sono daccordo con te, ma avere il controllo dei volumi tramite asio è veramente utile in un contesto live. Se puoi mappare tramite midi CC the input volume , you can adjust levels facilmente con un hw controller senza dover interagire con mouse o tastiera.
Inoltre un utilissimo trick per aggiungere effetti a un direct input è quello di utilizzare effetti con dry a zero e wet al 100%

@brad Thanks for the answer, at the moment I’m using some walkaround thanks to the xr18 digital mixer and osc commands using the mixer as a sound card directly during the live shows, but I can’t do it with a simple sound card.

Have a nice weekend!

Not trying to decode this :wink:

Ahahah Sorry Torsen, It’s happen when you write at 2 am and your english is not really well :slight_smile:

@Torsen I agree with you, but having volume control via asio is really useful in a live context. If you can map the input volume via midi CC, you can adjust levels easily with a hw controller without having to interact with mouse or keyboard.
Also a very useful trick to add effects to a direct input is to use effects with dry at zero and wet at 100%.

Right - that’s what I assumed: having ASIO direct monitoring supported by Cantabile would allow you to remote-control your monitoring levels directly in Cantabile (and automate per song / song state).

Fully understood, but probably really a niche application - for those of us who

  • use an ASIO-direct-monitoring-capable interface,
  • process vocals or instruments with Cantabile,
  • need to monitor the dry signal directly through their interface, and
  • need to change the monitor level through Cantabile

I get that this is a plausible use case, but probably not a very widespread one. I assume that the vast majority of use cases of Cantabile are either

  • trigger VST instruments (and external synths) from a MIDI controller
  • process an input signal - frequently guitar - through VST effects (amp sims)

In both cases, only the processed output is relevant.

But again, if there is broader demand for controlling ASIO monitor levels via Cantabile, maybe @brad can sort it into the backlog somehow. If @brad puts it on the Trello as a feature request, users can vote for it - that would quantify the demand for this feature…



Hi Torsten,
thanks again for your kind reply.
You are right. Probably It’s a niche scenario.
I use cantabile as host for a vst looper Mobius and I need to process also mic.
Thanks a lot for your time!