What is Direct Monitoring in Audio Interface! – A Detailed Guide

what is direct monitoring in audio interface

You may have seen the direct monitoring on an audio interface. Mostly, it is present in the form of a button or a mixer knob. But do you know what exactly it is and when to use this feature? Even if you don’t know, we are discussing it here once and for all.

After you know about direct monitoring, I bet it will make your studio sessions and vocal/instrument recordings like a piece of cake. After all, it is there to make our life a bit more convenient.

You may also like: Do I need Audio Interface to produce great music]

Now, without any further delay, let’s dive deeper.

What is direct monitoring on an Audio Interface?

Direct Monitoring audio interface

The direct monitoring feature looks somewhat like this if you are using a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 or other Focusrite line of Audio Interfaces. In such cases, there is a button to engage with the direct monitoring feature. The single and double circles represent mono and stereo modes respectively.

Direct Monitoring: The direct monitoring feature lets you hear the input signal without any delay as it is in real-time. The input signal is amplified, which is then sent directly to output ports. You can either hear the audio through headphones or via the studio monitors/external speakers.

The difference here is that the audio does not travel from input ports to converters and converters to output ports. The audio voltage is only boosted so that the quality does not drop too much in propagation.

In simple words, consider it as a “shortcut” that audio takes to remove latency.

But why is such a feature provided? And when to use it?

When Should I use Direct Monitoring?

So, we understood the overall concept of direct monitoring. But, at what point does the it come handy?

Any ideas?

Let me tell you!

Direct monitoring becomes useful in recording sessions in which you want to layer the already added tracks with more instruments or maybe even vocals. And that too with precision.

It lets the artists know which section of the song is playing and when to start with their parts. So, when the artist starts to play any instrument, they can easily know that whether they are playing the instrument in sync with the backing track or not.

In short, it helps to maintain the overall sync of the artists & flow of the song.

Direct Monitoring on Focusrite Scarlett audio interfaces

Focusrite line of audio interfaces has a button on the front panel that engages the direct monitoring feature in a Mono or Stereo setting. After clicking the button, a green indicator lights up, meaning that the direct monitoring feature is active. You can confirm this by listening to the sound on headphones. 

You can check more on focusrite official website.

Monitor Mix on PreSonus audio interfaces

Some audio interfaces like PreSonus have a mixer knob to control and engage the monitor mix.

Direct Monitoring audio interface

Presonus line of audio interfaces like Presonus Studio 24c or AudioBox USB 96 have a knob to control the direct monitoring feature known as mixer knob. The mixer knob helps to adjust the audio coming from the DAW and the audio coming from the inputs.

If the knob is fully turned towards input mode, you will only hear the audio coming from the live instruments. On the other hand, if the knob is tilted towards the playback mode, you will only hear audio coming from the DAW.

In such interfaces where the feature of direct monitoring is provided in terms of mixer knob, you have direct control over what you hear.

Direct Monitoring Vs Input Monitoring

In the earlier section, we saw what direct monitoring is and how & when to use it. Another term you’ll hear, more often than not, is known as input monitoring.

If direct monitoring is the “shortcut,” then direct monitoring is the “highway.”

Input Monitoring: When the audio signal travels through the audio interface to the computer and then from the computer to your ears. The audio travels from inputs to the converters and then from converters to your DAW, where DAW may process it. This audio then leaves the DAW and goes back to the audio interface. The audio interface again passes it through converters, and the converts pass it along the output lines. It is how you hear input monitored signals.

It marks the full journey of an audio signal.

The time of the journey, however, is pretty short, mostly in milli-seconds.


In conclusion, direct monitoring is a pretty useful feature that can save you from hours of frustration. Knowing how and when to engage the direct monitoring feature is an important tool in any producer’s arsenal. I hope you’ll use it to its full capacity.

Also, if you want to have more control over direct monitoring, go with a mixer knob type of interface. It lets you control the audio more simply and conveniently. But, you can choose what you like. It’s more of a personal preference kind of thing.

Lastly, I hope this article helped you out. If so, do let me know in the comments.

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