PreSonus Blog

Use the Listen Bus for Dim Solo


Any time you want to do detailed edits in context with a mix, Dim Solo is your friend. When you solo a track with a Dim Solo function enabled, the non-soloed tracks aren’t muted but instead play back at a lower (dimmed) level. I find this essential for many workflows, particularly comping. When you use the Listen Tool to audition various comps, normally you don’t hear them along with the rest of the mix. So one of the comps might sound wonderful, but when you play it back in context, find the timing was off. Dim Solo provides an immediate reality check.

I wanted this function so much in Studio One that my second “Friday Tip” blog post was about how to kludge a Dim Solo function by adding a Sub bus. But kludges are no longer needed, because V5’s new Listen Bus provides an efficient, flexible Dim Solo solution.

This technique works best with interfaces that have a mixer applet (like Universal Control) with virtual outs. I’ve tested this with the 1824c and Studio 192; just make sure you don’t bypass the Universal Control mixer. Start by right-clicking in a channel, enabling the Listen Bus, and checking Solo through Listen Bus (Fig. 1).

Now go to the Audio I/O setup and choose the Listen Bus output (Fig. 2). Although the line outs can feed physical outs, with the Universal Control mixer they can also feed virtual outs. The Main bus can feed the usual 1+2 outs, while the Listen Bus feeds the 3+4 outs.

Figure 2: Audio I/O Setup for the 1824c or Studio 192.

As another example, Universal Audio’s Apollo Twin USB also creates virtual outs. Fig. 3 shows the Audio I/O setup.

Figure 3: In Universal Audio’s Apollo Twin USB, the Listen Bus goes to a set of virtual outputs.

With the Listen Bus assigned to a virtual output, you can hear both the Main and Listen buses within your usual monitoring system. If virtual outputs aren’t available, then the Listen Bus needs to go to a hardware output, which requires a way to monitor the Listen Bus audio. For example, the Listen Bus could go to a Monitor Station input.

Now it’s time for the Dim part. Insert a Mixtool in your Main Bus, and lower the Gain to whatever creates an ideal balance for listening to the soloed track compared to the rest of the mix (Fig. 4).

Figure 4: The Mixtool controls the Main bus level.

I usually choose about -12 dB of attenuation. To Dim the mix, enable the Mixtool. Bypass it to return the mix to its normal level. (Sometimes I even insert two Mixtools, one set to -6 dB and the other to -12 dB.)

So now we have the option of a continuously variable amount of dimming, down to -24 dB. But, Studio One V5 has a couple other tricks up its sleeve.

The Listen bus has a pre-/post-fader option. The soloed track will still appear in the dimmed mix if its fader is up, but this probably won’t matter because the Listen Bus level will be louder. However if you do need to excise the soloed sound from the dimmed mix, pull down the fader on the channel you’re soloing, and set the Listen Bus pre/post fader switch to pre-fader.

Another small but useful feature is that if there’s a fadeout on the Main bus, the Listen bus isn’t affected by the fade, so it’s easy to hear your edits even as a song fades out. Also, if you want to hear the track feeding the Listen Bus in isolation, no problem—just mute the Main bus.

Dim Solo improves workflow considerably when comping and editing, and thanks to the Listen Bus, it’s now easy to do.



  • With a proper dim solo you can also dim solo within a soloed group. So you can use dim solo next to solo. You can also still use Solo Safe.

    Those are excellent points, I hadn’t thought of wanting to dim solo within a soloed group. 95% of the time I use dim solo for comping, the other 5% to compare two instruments (e.g., drums and bass) while listening to the track.

  • Niles

    With a proper dim solo you can also dim solo within a soloed group. Cubase’s dim solo (it’s called Listen there) just works, no hassle. I have an RME card with Totalmix so it can easily be routed to mimic dim solo the way you propose (it was actually the first thing I did when I got 5 on my hands), still it does not beat a dim solo native solution. If the workaround works for you that’s great, I rather see a better design for dim solo.

  • Blue

    Yeah I figured it out, thanx. Although I am still confused about it, Sometimes the track is soloed in isolation, and sometimes other tracks that are not soloed are still audible, which I haven’t yet figured out. I also set up a Macro to enable the selected track to go to the listen bus, and then added the solo track command, so I can easily immediately solo the track through the Listen Bus. Bur for some reason when I press the key command on my keyboard it solo’s other tracks, but if a select the macro from the Action menu, it works perfectly. Very strange. This SO5 update has me really on my toes. :))) By the way, I did figure it out, everything is working again, thank you.

  • Although I’ve been pushing for a dedicated dim solo function since I started using Studio One, I don’t really see the need for it any more. With an interface that has virtual outputs, the only hoop you need to jump through is to enable the Listen Bus, and once you do, Dim Solo is always available – unlike (for example) Sonar, you don’t have to click on a Dim Solo button every time you want to use that function. If you want a preset or variable amount of dimming, a Mixtool in the master bus is more convenient than programs where you have to go into a preferences menu, adjust the amount of dimming, and then return to the project. So I’m okay with what we have now.

  • It’s not true that you can only send one track to the Listen bus. As it says in the Help, “After (Solo Through Listen Bus) is engaged, soloed Channels are routed through the listen bus…” When using the Listen Bus, you can solo as many channels as you want. For example, I’ll send drums and bass through the Listen Bus and dim the rest of the tracks, or lead vocal and background vocals so I can hear them together as I process the background vocals in context with a dimmed version of the song.

  • Niles

    Agree. There is a feature request you can vote on for dim solo, without jumping through hoops.

  • Blue

    You are now so close to turning me in to a blogger witch in it self is an accomplishment. :)))))))

    This feature is another example of the APPROACH i was talking about on your previous blog. Again great feature, it was about time to be implemented, Cubase does that for years now. But again to me, it was not implemented correctly, its lacking simple thinking. Unless Am I missing something again not reading the release note. :))) To me it should be a simple procedure, you should enable the Listen Bus, and then by a button on the mixer, or even a shortcut if they are so busy and cannot program a button, you should send the source channel to the Listen Bus end listen to it. Right now, they way they made it, you have to Enable the track to monitor through the Listen bus, then press the solo button again. And of course, you can only send One track to the Listen bus, which again is limited to me. being able to send more tracks, and see if they clash frequency wise, etc would be a much more useful feature, although it is a welcomed one.But it should be done on the mixer, pressing a button, and boom, so simple, and if you wanted to send another track, you just press it’s L button. So much easier inst it? Is that so hard?