Wondering what the direct monitoring button on the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface does? Should you use the bypass, mono, or stereo setting? In this article, we’ll explain how the three monitoring modes work and when we would recommend using each one.

Quick Answer: In bypass mode, you’ll only hear the audio that comes from your computer in your headphones. Mono and stereo modes give you two different ways to monitor the inputs in real time without waiting for a signal to return from the computer.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Direct Monitoring Button

You’ll find the direct monitoring button positioned below the Scarlett 2i2’s phantom power button. These are situated to the left of the monitor volume knob on the front of the interface.

Pressing the direct monitoring button cycles through the three available monitoring modes, with a series of lights indicating which one is active.

  • No Light: Off/Bypass mode
  • Single Green Ring: Mono mode
  • Two Interlinked Green Rings: Stereo mode

Scarlett 2i2 Direct Monitoring Bypass Mode

Scarlett 2i2 Direct Monitoring Bypass

In bypass mode, the Scarlett 2i2 processes the incoming audio signal and sends it to your computer. If you set your audio software to send a return signal to the audio interface, this is what you’ll hear in your headphones or studio monitors.

Even with high-speed cables and modern computers, the distance the signal travels results in a slight but noticeable delay. If you’re recording vocals, you’ll hear your voice with your own ears, and then the microphone signal a couple of milliseconds later.

It doesn’t sound like a huge problem in theory, but it can be really distracting and annoying in practice. What we like to do in this circumstance is kill the return output on our computer and use one of the other monitoring modes.

Scarlett 2i2 Direct Monitoring Mono Mode

Scarlett 2i2 Direct Monitoring Mono

Mono mode allows you to monitor the audio source connected to the Scarlett 2i2 in real time. Instead of waiting for the signal to loop back from your computer, the Scarlett 2i2 routes a version of the input audio to your headphones before sending it via USB.

To continue with our vocal recording example, you’ll hear the mono signal from your microphone in both ears of your headphones with no noticeable delay.

Mono mode gives you the best of both worlds, allowing you to hear playback from your computer mixed with monitoring a near-zero latency input like a microphone. You need this functionality from your music production equipment if you want to make sure you’re hitting the right notes and keeping in time with the music!

Scarlett 2i2 Direct Monitoring Stereo Mode

Scarlett 2i2 Direct Monitoring Stereo

Focusrite has designed the direct monitoring stereo mode with the Scarlett 2i2 audio interface’s dual inputs in mind; each input is routed to a separate stereo channel. So if you have a single microphone connected to the first input, you’ll only hear it in the left ear of your headphones.

If you connect another mic to the second input, you’ll hear that in the right ear of your headphones. Some people like to use stereo monitoring mode with their multi-host podcasting setup as it isolates each mic in their headphones, allowing them to pinpoint any background noise.

This is also useful if you’re mic-ing a stereo source, e.g., you use two condenser microphones to record a grand piano. Stereo mode allows you to monitor each mic in isolation, ensuring you know what sound is coming from each source.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Pricing & Specs

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Direct Monitoring Button Topics

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 0:20 – Direct Monitoring Button
  • 0:45 – Direct Monitoring Bypass Mode
  • 1:35 – Direct Monitoring Mono Mode
  • 3:00 – Direct Monitoring Stereo Mode
  • 4:09 – Final Thoughts