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Using Cubase's Control Room with a Focusrite interface

Applies to: all audio interfaces

This guide explains how to set up Cubase’s ‘Control Room’ feature for use with Focusrite interfaces. Control Room allows you to quickly enable talkback functionality with a microphone connected to one of your interfaces inputs, create cue mixes for each performer and also easily switch between pairs of monitors attached to different outputs on your interface. The Control Room Mixer can be accessed in Cubase by going to Devices > Control Room Mixer.

In the example below we are aiming to provide the following functionality using the inputs/outputs on a Liquid Saffire 56:

- Allow the engineer to switch between two pairs of speakers

- Also be able to listen back on headphones

- Provide separate mixes to two performers (a guitarist and a vocalist), one via a headphone amp connected to a pair of line outputs on the interface and the other mix via one of the interface’s built-in headphone outputs.

- Have a dedicated talkback microphone that can be switched on and off that only the performers can hear (not also coming through the control room’s speakers/headphones).

This diagram shows an overview of the setup:

The setup instructions below are applicable to all of our Scarlett and Saffire interfaces that use Mix Control, as well as our Clarett interfaces using Focusrite Control. The number of speakers and talkback microphones you can utilise is of course dependent on how many inputs and outputs your interface has so some steps may not be possible for your interface.

  1. Configuring Cubase’s VST Connections

a) In the input section of the VST Connections window, we will need to set up the inputs for recording as normal. In this example, Input 1 and Input 2 on the interface have microphones connected to record the performers with.

b) In the output section, we need to create a stereo bus. It’s important that we do NOT assign this to an output on the interface. This will allow us to determine which set of speakers we are sending the signal to later on and be able to switch between them.

c) Now, in the ‘Studio’ section, we can set up everything we need to incorporate two sets of speakers, two cue mixes (one for each performer) and a talkback microphone.

Talkback – click ‘Add Bus’ and then select ‘Talkback’. Select your interface as the device, then select an available input (one that you’re not using for any other purpose). In this example, a spare microphone is connected to Input 8 on the Liquid Saffire 56.

Speakers – click ‘Add Bus’ and then select ‘Speaker’. Select your interface as the device, then select a pair of outputs. For simplicity, it is recommended that you select the outputs that directly correspond with the outputs the speakers are physically connected to on the interface, though this isn’t in fact completely necessary (this will be explained later). In this example there is a pair of speakers connected to outputs 1-2 and another pair of speakers connected to output 3-4. These signals will enter Mix Control/Focusrite Control as DAW 1-2 and DAW 3-4 respectively.

Cue Mixes – click ‘Add Bus’ and then select ‘Cue Mix’. Set either a single output or a pair of outputs for each Cue Mix. Though the outputs are named as the physical outputs on the unit by Cubase, these channels can be freely routed using Scarlett/Saffire Mix Control or Focusrite Control. As such, you can select any outputs you wish (ensure that you’re not selecting any outputs already in use for speakers). In this example, we have used outputs 5-6 and outputs 7-8 to create two stereo cue mixes. These will enter Mix Control/Focusrite Control as DAW 5-6 and DAW 7-8 respectively.

The outputs from any software have to pass through Mix Control/Focusrite Control before reaching a physical output on the interface.

    2.  Configuring Mix Control/Focusrite Control

We now need to set up a few different mixes for each output on the interface that we are using. We will need a mix for outputs 1-2 and 3-4 which correspond to the speakers in the control room, a mix which ensures that this signal is also sent to the second headphone output on the Liquid Saffire 56 (again for listening back in the control room), a mix for the first performer (using a headphone amp connected to outputs 5-6 on the interface) and another for the second performer (using the first of the two built-in headphone outputs on the Liquid Saffire 56).

a) For outputs 1-2 and 3-4, we only want to send the outputs from Cubase when we select each set of speakers in Cubase’s Control Room Mixer. To do this, assign these DAW channels next to each output in the routing section of Mix Control.

b) Outputs 5-6 are going to a headphone amplifier to provide a mix for one of the performers (the guitarist). We can use Mix Control/Focusrite Control to send both playback from the DAW so that they can hear backing tracks/metronome clicks as well as combining a very low latency mix of their performance (as well as the other performer if recording together.

To do this, we need to create a custom mix that incorporates Analogue Inputs 1 and 2, as well as DAW 5-6 (their Cue Mix from Cubase).  The balance between these can then be adjusted as necessary. We can then assign this mix to outputs 5-6.

c) We can then do the same for the other performer by creating a different mix incorporating the Analogue Inputs as well as DAW 7-8. Assign this mix to the headphone outputs (mirrored onto line outputs 7-8 on the Liquid Saffire 56).

When creating a headphone mix for the engineer, we want to ensure that switching between the two sets of speakers does not cause the sound to drop out. To do this, create a final custom mix incorporating DAW 1-2 and DAW 3-4 and assign this to the second headphone output (mirrored onto line outputs 9-10 on the Liquid Saffire 56).

In order for the speaker volume to be controllable using the volume dial on the interface, the square boxes labelled 1-4 need to be coloured blue on the right hand side of Mix Control. The rest of the square boxes should be coloured grey (shift+click on them) to ensure that the other outputs are not affected by the volume dial. You can accomplish the same thing using Focusrite Control by navigating to the Device Settings tab and selecting which outputs are controlled by the volume dial.

Now that everything is set up you should be able to switch between your speakers, enable talkback and enable/disable the mixes to your performers using the Control Room Mixer.

If you encounter any problems please contact Technical Support

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