Setting up monitoring reverb in Logic Pro X the easy way
Imagine you want to record a singer. You want him or her to hear reverb in their headphones, but you don’t want to actually record this reverb, and you also want to use zero-latency hardware monitoring, so that the singer can hear themselves in their headphones without any latency whatsoever. In this post, I explain how to set this up, but without using the pre-fader send technique.
The “standard” setup for recording vocals is for the vocalist to listen to the backing track on headphones while they sing into the microphone, to avoid having the backing track bleed into the recording too much. The vocalist will also want to monitor their own voice in the headphones too, but they won’t want any latency between singing and hearing their own voice in their headphones, which is why we use zero-latency hardware monitoring.
But often the singer will also want to hear some reverb in their headphones, especially if they are singing in a dry-sounding room. And it doesn’t matter if there is latency on this reverb. So we can set it up in software.
Step one: Logic Pro X preferences
First off, from the main Logic menu, go to Logic Pro X -> Preferences -> Audio. This window will appear:
Under the Audio -> General tab, you want to make sure:
- Software Monitoring is checked
- Input monitoring only for focused track… is unchecked
Step two: Logic Pro X Record menu
From the main menu, make sure that Record -> Auto Input Monitoring is unchecked:
Step three: Create the aux channel
Open the mixer window by clicking on the mixer icon at the top, or pressing ⌘2, or from the main Logic menu clicking on Window -> Open Mixer:
Then, in the mixer window, click on Options -> Create New Auxiliary Channel Strip, or press ^N:
This will create a new aux channel that we will use for the reverb monitoring. Now, make sure the mixer window is in Tracks mode, and that Aux channels are visible:
Then, your new aux channel should look like this in its default state:
First off, we want to set the fader level to 0dB (for now), and give the aux channel a better name. However, when you are adjusting your levels, you will probably want your aux channel to be much quieter than 0dB, otherwise your vocalist will hear way too much reverb:
Now, we want to set the input of the aux channel to be the same as the hardware input on your audio interface that the singer’s microphone is plugged into. Also, the aux channel we’ve created here has defaulted to being in stereo. But typically you won’t be recording vocals in stereo, so you may need to change this aux from being a stereo aux to being a mono aux by clicking once on the two little circles. My (imaginary) vocalist today is singing into Input 1, but your input may be different:
Now, all we need to do is add a reverb plugin to the aux channel. The choice of reverb is up to you. I tend to favour a short, ambient reverb, which makes the singer sound like they are singing in a large room, without them actually hearing lots of reverb. You may also experiment with the predelay: longer predelay times create a bigger sense of space, but if they’re too long, the singer may become confused and disorientated. Remember that with software monitoring, the reverb will already have some predelay added by your audio latency.
But whatever reverb you use, you must remember to set the reverb to 100% wet, with no dry signal whatsoever. This is because we’re also going to be using zero-latency hardware monitoring to feed the singer’s dry signal back into their headphones.
Here’s my aux channel with the reverb I’m using, followed by a bit of EQ (a highpass filter at 350Hz):
You don’t have to use Valhalla VintageVerb or Fabfilter Pro-Q 2, but they are two of my favourite plugins. Here are the settings I have for them, but remember that these are just a starting point, and you should listen and adjust:
Note that this instance of VintageVerb is Mono->Stereo, so the aux channel has a stereo output, and as you can see, it’s being sent to Stereo Out:
Step four: Enable hardware monitoring on your audio interface
This step is going to be different depending on what audio interface you have. My main audio interface is a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, which comes with the free Scarlett Mix Control software to control it. If you have a Focusrite interface, your steps will look similar to mine. If you have a different audio interface, you will need to consult the manual on how to use its software / drivers.
Here’s how I have Mix Control set up:
A: The volume of my main monitors is down. This is so none of the backing track bleeds into the vocal recording. (I don’t have a control room – everything is in one room).
B: “Mix 1” (Mix Control uses virtual mixes) is being sent to both headphones. The singer and I are both wearing identical sets of headphones, and can both hear “Mix 1” at the same volume.
C: This fader controls the volume of Logic Pro X’s output (and the volume of any sound coming out of my laptop. If I played a YouTube video, it would also control the volume of that too). Since the monitoring reverb is coming out of Logic Pro X, this fader also controls the level of the monitor reverb. (If we want to adjust the level of the monitor reverb relative to the backing music, we can do so from within Logic Pro X, by adjusting the fader on the aux channel).
D: This controls the zero-latency-monitoring volume of the singer. Note that this is not the input gain, which is set via a physical knob on the front of the 18i20 audio interface.
Step five: Mute the track you are recording to, and then start recording!
This isn’t a tutorial on how to record, so I will assume you have set up an audio track in your project to record your vocals to. The only problem we have now, is that in Logic Pro X, there is no way to turn off software input monitoring for a track while you are recording to it, unless you turn off software monitoring entirely, which would prevent us from setting up the reverb. Software monitoring will be disabled for the track (that’s what we did with all the settings we changed at the beginning), but as soon as we press the Record button, the software monitoring will start again – and we don’t want that!
The solution is to simply mute the vocal track before you press record, by pressing the “M” button so that it lights up:
Also, make sure input monitoring is disabled on the track – the “I” button should not be lit up:
If either the “M” or “I” buttons are not visible, you can make them appear by right clicking (or Cmd-Clicking) on the track and clicking on Configure Track Header.
Step six (optional): Make the aux channel visible as a track in the arrange window
As you’re recording, you’ll probably be mostly working in the arrange window. So it’s handy to make your aux channel visible from there.
First off go to the mixer window, then right click (or Cmd-Click) near the top of the aux channel, then click on Create Track:
When you go back to the arrange window, the aux channel will appear as a track:
… and that’s it!