Very simply, I want to be able disable my monitor speakers and leave the headphones on. This is obviously important when recording in the same room.

All the mixers I have come across place the main level controls before the phones output, which have their own level control. This seems like a missed opportunity.

Sounds simple enough, but the thread Home studio mixer/mic/monitor/headphone setup questions, which is the closest I've found to a statement of the question, never addresses it.

The biggest thing I am not sure how to do is set up my monitors/headphones on the mixer so that I can go back and forth when recording

Up to now, I have been driving my monitors from the 1&2 bus of a mixing console. This allows me to turn down the speakers using the group faders. But this console is broken, and I would like to replace it with something simpler that is strictly for monitoring (since I don't need the preamps or EQ, etc.) It seems like a simple line mixer should be able to handle my requirements. But even the line mixers with 2 aux buses don't have single faders for those sends.

What am I missing here? How is this normally done?

  • Would be useful to know what kind of audio interface you're using. Jan 14, 2012 at 15:51
  • I'm using the (discontinued) ART TubeFire 8, which has notoriously bad monitoring options. In any case, I need more than just the output from the interface, as I also monitor audio from MIDI devices.
    – harpo
    Jan 14, 2012 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


you are in the correct track: a small mixer would do the trick. Basically you have the pfl button that would get the specific channel(s)/souce(s) selected to your headhones jack (monitors) without modifying at all your master (and viceversa). Another option would be something like the Mackie Big Knob, made specifically for what you want, but in this case you can only select to monitor a source, not individual channels).

  • Thanks for the reply. Can you give me an example of a "small" mixer that has such a feature? I was looking for a rack unit, but I'm pretty sure I've checked all of those. I did look at the Mackie Big Knob, but as you mention it doesn't do any mixing at all.
    – harpo
    Jan 14, 2012 at 18:32
  • in just one or two RU? hmmm, nothing comes to my mind. Now I have question for you: can't you do what you want via software? what recording software are you using? Now analyzing again the setup, a mixer wouldn't be any good. Unless you use it taking all the outputs from the ART. Let's say you have mains in outputs 1/2, drums in out 3, guitars in 4 ans so on. You can have those coming into a Mackie 1402 and 'solo'those channels to hear in your headphones. But that's NOT worth it ($400 for a monitoring device?). Again, let me know what software you are working with, so I may be more useful.
    – Claudio
    Jan 14, 2012 at 19:15
  • I'm using Cubase. I was having problems with high latency, so I needed a direct monitoring configuration to work around this. I will find out today if a system upgrade fixes this, but I think the problem remains. I just want to control the speaker and headphones level separately.
    – harpo
    Jan 14, 2012 at 20:19
  • The other thing you can do is to set a few aux outputs from the mixer you already have. How many channels you record at the same time? Forget about the 1402: it has no direct outs. The 2404 would cover your monitor issue completely and you can find something used for about $700. But the problem will arise again if you need to do overdub (latency from the prerecorded tracks).
    – Claudio
    Jan 14, 2012 at 20:58
  • The MOTU828 mk2 has separate levels for headphones and main out, I assume the mk3 does too. Jan 15, 2012 at 5:19

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