New Music Gear Monday: Sonnox ListenHub Playback Monitor App

Sonnox ListenHub app on New Music Gear Monday post of Bobby Owsinski's Music Production Blog

There was a time back in the early DAW days before dedicated monitor controllers when turning your studio monitors up or down was all done in the app. It was a real pain back then, and we all yearned for a straightforward analog rotary knob that would allow us the simple task of turning the playback level up or down. Today most every computer audio interface has that function, and sometimes we even have a second volume control available on a dedicated monitor controller as well. But maybe that simple software control from the pre-controller days actually could have worked if it better fit the needs of today’s engineer. The Sonnox ListenHub app does just that, as it provides an elegant way to remotely control your playback monitor system without the need for a monitor controller.

ListenHub incorporates level control, measurement, and comparison routing in one simple app that can be used either as a desktop standalone or as a DAW plugin. Using it as a standalone app actually provides a few more capabilities as we’ll see.

The Input Section

Before we get into the level control aspect of the app, let’s look at the Input section first. That’s on the left and labeled System, Main and Reference. If you’re running the app as a standalone on the desktop, System will allow you to control the system audio of the computer, which means that you can easily route Spotify or Apple Music into the app as a reference. Main is the the output from the DAW, and Reference is another reference source, maybe feed from a ref track located in the same DAW.

There’s a small indicator on the left of each input button. If it glows yellow, that means that the level of that input doesn’t match the other inputs. ListenHub makes it easy to do that though, with a Match Input Loudness section below. Click the button, then Update and all input button indicators will now glow green telling you that the levels are matched.

The Analyzer

In the center of the app is a spectrum analyzer that not only visually shows you what’s happening frequency-wise, but allows you to solo each band too. These are labeled Sub, Low, Low-Mid, High-Mid, and High.

There’s also a LUFS meter at the top along with a dynamic range meter and loudness-over-time display. The Dynamics display will also provide feedback to tell you if your mix is too hot, competitive or too low in level.

Below that is a bank of speaker controls, allowing you to solo up the left and right channels, swap the channels, listen in mono, or just listen to the side frequency information.

The Volume Section

The Volume section I really like. I’ve long been an advocate of the “3 Level” system of playback where you listen at a loud volume level for a few minutes to move some air and hear how the low end mix elements work together, then do the rest of your mix at a moderate level, then move to a super quiet mode at the end to check the balances.

ListenHub goes one more step giving you 4 repeatable volume levels, labeled Loud, Normal, Quiet, and Soft. Repeatable is the magic word here, since that keeps your ears from being fooled from wildly switching around to different levels. There’s also Dim and Mute buttons on the bottom.

Maybe the best part is that ListenHub has an introductory price of only $59 right now, but that will go up $79 on April 7th. Be aware that this is a Mac and iOS app only, but that also means that it can work across your Mac or iOS devices so your iPhone or iPad can function as a remote for your system.

Click here to find out more about the Sonnox ListenHub app, or check out the video below.

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