2 computers running 2 Cubases in sync ?

Hello,
I’m wondering if I can do the following :

Having 2 different computers, with their own audio interfaces, running 2 instances of Cubase (with 2 licences obviously) in sync.

In my studio, I can record up to 24 simultaneous tracks, which has suited me just fine for the past 15 years, but I find that I may need to record more than that every once in a while. I like my system, I don’t want to change interfaces, etc., so I’m thinking a budget 8 channel interface (with ADAT options to expand it even more) hooked to another computer would do the trick for the few times I would need it, IF what I asked above is possible. Though I’ve been a Cubase user for the past 15 years, I have absolutely if I’ll get answers like “Where have you been, of course it’s possible !” or “Are you out of your f’n mind, that’s completely impossible” ! :smiley: So thanks in advance for your answers :slight_smile:

EDIT : and if it works, would using a cheaper version of Cubase work ? I would just need that for tracking, and then dump the tracks in the main studio computer.

Hello,

I am not exactly sure (the manual also is pretty quiet about it) if you could use VST System Link for that. I am not sure if this allows you to record simultaniously on both Interfaces or if it just allows you to spread you project over different computers to ease workload.

maybe a steinberg representitive could fill the gap here :mrgreen:

Hey,

System Link is exactly meant for that. You need a digital sync on both audio cards.
Advantage, two completely different and independent systems, that can run in sync.
Every Cubase version, even the free AI has system link.
Look here for more info on system link (VSL) and if your gear allows you to use it: https://www.steinberg.net/nc/nl/support/knowledgebase_new/show_details/kb_show/vst-system-link-vsl.html

But there are other options like vienna ensemble pro where you don’t need an extra audio card. The computers are linked by network interfaces. This is a change in workflow though, since it is hosting VST’s in an external program, and hosting it in servers. Quite a bit more complex, but your possibilities will increase vastly, and you can connect up to 3 computers to distribute resources. The weak point in your setup with Vienna Ensemble pro (VEP) is the bandwith of your network connection. Be sure to have gigabit connections on all systems. Look for info here: https://www.vsl.co.at/en/Vienna_Software_Package/Vienna_Ensemble_PRO

It depends on what you want and what you want to do. Both are viable alternatives, but double check the hardware before purchasing anything.

I can assure you though, once you’ve tasted this kind of power, it is very addictive. :slight_smile:
But it needs a good organisation of things.

kind regards,
R.

To spare you some headache: If you’re considering Vienna Ensemble Pro 5, awesome at offloading virtual instruments as it is, it will not offload FX with its “audio insert” in a way that stays in sync with “complex” PDC use-cases (and by “complex” I mean it’s actually pretty darn simple to end up with a project that won’t work with VE Pro’s “audio insert” module without sync issues – virtual instruments are fine).

VSL is aware of the limitation and has revealed it’s working on some features to address the limitations, but no release date has been given (it’s now been over two years, so I’m not holding my breath).

Basically, VE Pro will work for simple asynchronous FX like reverb (what VE Pro’s “audio insert” was designed for). Or, it will work with any kind of FX if the project is unusually simple (“flat”) in its bus architecture (no group channels, or group channels with effects at or under the PDC delay value of the PDC delay of the offloaded effects – you don’t have to understand that part, it’s complicated to explain. In a nutshell, it has to do with how VE Pro circumvents a DAW’s normal “insert” path and instead, transmits the audio in a roundabout way to a “server instance”; it prevents a DAW from doing its normal PDC thing, because the audio does not appear at the output of the “audio insert,” but rather at some other signal path “scope” within the project).

In short (in English): If you’re just wanting to offload virtual instruments, I’d recommend VE Pro (even over VST System Link). Oddly, using VST System Link was discouraged by Steinberg support when I had some questions about it (with no further explanation as to why he suggested I not use it), but I digress.

If you’re wanting to offload FX (like a virtual FX rack) VE Pro and its “audio insert” will only work in the simplest of configurations (without becoming out of sync via PDC-induced issues). In that case, VST System Link might be the way to go.

There is also a promising product on the horizon called Dante Via, but it seems to have been in pre-beta forever, now.

are you using a mac?

if you are you can create an aggregate device and join two audio interfaces joined to the same mac together.

This was an interesting read… a hardware alternative/option perhaps:-
http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=6213548#p6213548

Remember, he’s just interested in using it for the digital (audio) ins/outs - quite neat…!

Many thanks for all your answers. It seems after all these years I’ve completely missed the VST system link possibility (Vienne Ensemble seems great, but I don’t think it would suite my needs. I’m not looking at expanding the processing power).
Sooooooo, I read up on how it is set up etc. So let’s be practical and imagine the following (as I mentionned, my goal is to be able to record more than 24 channels at the same time) :

  • I have my main computer. The audio interface is the UR824. 2 ADAT 8 channel interfaces are hooked up to it, giving me the additionnal 16 ins to add to the 8 ins of the UR824.

  • Let’s say I have another computer, with another 8 channel audio interface with ADAT extension (let’s say another UR824, or similar).

As I understand, VST system link needs some physical hookup, obviously, to work. With the UR824, I would have to use ADAT. So I would connect the UR824 with the audio interface on the 2nd computer, with ADAT. That means that I lose 1 in and 1 out of ADAT connections on the UR824. So now I now only have 16 channels on the main computer. But I should get the 8 channels of the audio interface of the 2nd computer. So I’m still with 24 channels. But I can hook another ADAT interface to the audio interface of the 2nd computer.

So theoritically, that way I should get 32 channels, am I correct ? Let’s sum up :

  • 1st computer : UR824 (8 channels). ADAT interface hooked up to it (8 channels) via ADAT1 in. ADAT2 in and ADAT2 out are used to hook up to the audio interface of the 2nd computer.
  • 2nd computer : audio interface (8 channels). ADAT interface hooked up to it (8 channels) via ADAT1 in. ADAT2 in and ADAT2 out are used to hook up to the audio interface of the 1st computer.

So, 32 channels, right ? NOW, how does it actually work ? Will the 1st computer (or the 2nd computer for that matter) receive all 32 channels inside the same Cubase ? Or will the 16 channels on each computer stay on each computer and can be recorded in 2 different Cubases ? That’s where I’m lost with this thing :slight_smile:

Yes, you are right, with two UR824’s and two additional ADAT interfaces you should get 32 channels of audio this way. However, the first 16 channels will be recorded on the first computer and the other 16 channels can be received only on the other machine. So, you will have to merge the two Cubase projects after the recording session.

Although VST System Link actually can transfer audio from one computer to another, the synchronizing connection (ADAT) carries at most 8 channels, therefore, with this setup there is no way to record all those channels directly on one computer.


Miloslav

Yeah, that’s right. The outputs of the second, slave computer would need to be connected to inputs on the first, master, in order to have them be included in the mix (and mixdown). It’s not sending audio over Ethernet, like VE Pro.

VST System Link is just providing sync/transport control, PDC and MIDI between the computers via piggybacking on one of the digital out/ins of the audio interface of each computer.

You could do almost the same thing with rtpMIDI over Ethernet (or even just MIDI Time Code via physical MIDI), but it wouldn’t be sample accurate like VST System Link.

Another idea is getting a second 8 channel interface and using ASIO4ALL. It actually works well.

Two computers with Cubase can be easily synced using MIDI Time Code, at Synchronization Setup.
All you need is a MIDI interface in each computer, set on as master (internal) and the other one as slave, selecting MIDI Time Code and the correct MIDI input.

I have used this for years, especially when I needed more channels than my interface would provide.

Hope this helps.

Roger

Couldn’t you just use ipMIDI or MIDIOverLAN on each computer, which would bypass the need for MIDI interfaces, and can be routed over a network, so is more scalable, besides being more time accurate.

Is arbitrary sample-accurate positioning possible with hardware MIDI interfaces?

It is this sort of expandability that Audio over Ethernet (AoIP) takes in it stride!

One AoIP card installed in the DAW, with an arbitrary number of audio interfaces placed wherever you need them, with only standard low-cost Ethernet network switches and cables connecting them.

I personally have no experience with ipMIDI or MIDIoverLAN. First and foremost I wanted to provide a low cost solution.
MIDI Time Code can manage subframes, which would represent nearly 0.0003 seconds in 30fps.
If you want sample accuracy, you would need to use wordclock, or maybe an Analogue - to - ADAT converter,
if your interface supports it (higher price tag though).

Most of the time, I do not need sample-accuracy, and I care more on the fact of being able more channels than my primary interface provides.

All the best.

Roger

Also, you can add “rtpMIDI” to list of things to try along with ipMIDI, etc. I use it and it’s been rock solid.

It also shows you the latency, which for me, has always been 0 ms (nothing to do with sample accuracy, of course).

I’m using a total of four computers in my distributed DAW and shall never look back. Mostly, I don’t have sync issues. I just use the “external outboard fx” plugin in cubase to loop out to the other computers, and back (over ADAT optical).

Also, if you haven’t looked at Synergy, for sharing a single mouse and keyboard across a LAN, it’s indispensible. And of course Dropbox or similar for keeping project files in sync.