Applies to: Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen (also applies to 8i6, 18i8 and 18i20)
What is Direct Monitoring?
The Scarlett 4i4 uses Focusrite Control for setting up 'Direct Monitoring'.
Focusrite Control allows you to route your input signals directly to your outputs, this means you will hear the input in real-time along with the computer playback.
This setting does not affect input signals to your computer in any way.
However, note that plug-ins in your recording software (DAW) will not be heard whilst recording. This is because direct monitoring means you are hearing the signal before it reaches the software.
Remember to mute the channel you are recording to in your DAW. Otherwise, you will hear both the clean direct monitor signal and the track in your DAW a few milliseconds later. You will be monitoring both if you hear a small echo or the sound is 'thinner' when you record-enable a track.
How do I enable Direct Monitoring?
To take these screenshots, Focusrite Control was reset from File > Restore Factory Defaults.
1. Open Focusrite Control (downloadable here) and go to the 'Output Routing' tab.
On the left, you will see your outputs, Monitors 1-2 and Headphones 3-4.
2. Set the dropdown to 'Custom Mix' for the outputs you want to Direct Monitor from. In the screenshot, I have set the headphone for Direct Monitoring.
- If you're monitoring on speakers set Outputs 1-2 to Custom Mix.
- If you're using headphones then set Outputs 3-4 to Custom Mix.
3. Click the '+' icon in the mixer section of Focusrite Control, you may already have some hardware inputs in the mix.
4. Add the inputs you wish to monitor latency-free from the box on the right.
- Inputs 1 & 2 are the front mic/line/inst inputs
- Inputs 3 & 4 are the line inputs on the back
In the bottom part of the Custom Mix window, you will see your Software Playback channels. These channels will come from your DAW. You can use the faders to control the level of the hardware inputs and software playback (backing tracks, click track).
Again, note that the level of these faders will only affect the level of the signal going to that output. The fader will not affect the level into your DAW software.
Focusrite Control Direct Monitor Video
From 2:47 in this video, we explain how Direct Monitor works in Focusrite Control.
*You may have heard the term “latency” in digital audio systems. In the case of the DAW application above, latency is the time it takes for your input signals to pass through your interface, computer, audio software, and back through to the outputs of your audio interface.
Under some circumstances, high latency can be a problem for a performer who wishes to record while they monitor their input signals. This might be the case if you need to increase the size of your DAW’s buffer size. This usually only becomes an issue when you use many DAW tracks, software instruments and FX plugins.
Common symptoms of a buffer size that is too low could be glitchy audio (clicks and pops), or a particularly high CPU load within your DAW (most DAWs have CPU meters).
If you experience this on a Mac, you can raise the buffer size from the DAW application itself but on a Windows PC, you will most likely need to change this from the ASIO Control Panel which you can usually access in your DAW Setup Preferences.
Optimising your computer for audio can help you achieve lower buffer sizes, lower latency and stop glitches: