Help me understand... Monitors!

So, I got rid of my amp because ever since moving all my stuff out of the garage and into the house proper, I’ve not used it. I’m playing strictly through headphones, using either my Zoom B1 Four or my Focusrite Solo (3rd gen).

Sometimes, though, I think I would like to be able to hear without headphones. So I’m considering monitors, but I don’t understand… how they… um… work. I’ve got two 1/4" outs on the back of my Solo labeled “Line Outputs Right” and “…Left”. Is that where the monitors would plug in? Wouldn’t they need an amp of some sorts, so that you could control volume to them? Or does the volume on the Solo control that?

Thanks in advance!


Yes, I have a Motu M4 and have a JBL EON 710 connected. It’s a great PA speaker that acts as my “monitor”…

You can use any active monitor speaker though. You need either two of them or something like this to convert stereo to mono and connect one monitor speaker: the t.mix Volume 1 – Thomann UK


Welcome to the wonderful world of going sans amp! I only used a bass amp for a brief time myself before I ditched it.

Yes. Studio monitors and PA’s expect a Line level input, and that’s what those outputs are.

No, they have amps built in. Maybe larger than your bass amp, in fact; my 5" monitors each have 80W, for 160W total. Larger monitors have larger amps built in.

It should. Better audio interfaces will have a Direct Monitor blend knob too, which will allow you to control the mix of computer audio out and bass audio in to send to the monitors.

In your DAW you also need to take care to disable the track audio out on your bass track if you are direct monitoring, or at least be aware of it if you want to keep it or both for live monitoring (due to adding effects in the DAW.)


Just a quick note on the cables that go between the Monitors and your Solo:
Those should be balanced (TRS), otherwise it will be very noisy.

When I used this setup (Focusrite Solo with Yamaha HS5) I first used Iinstrument cables, and it was noisy as hell.


I am using instrument cables with my Motu M4 (there is no other choice) and I have no issues with noise…

while not wrong, this is very system specific. you can start with balanced cables if you want to safeguard against noise. or you can start with unbalanced and see how it sounds and switch cables if needed. unbalanced cables can absolutely be noisy with some equipment, but most people use instrument cables in their setups and have no problem.

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I went nuts with the KRK 7" monitors, 145w each :sweat_smile:

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