An alternative Mute function

This is my once year feature request. An alternative mute button function.

What does it do? It changes the Mute functionality similarly to the way Opt/Cmd/Solo on Mac* changes the Solo into Defeat/Safe mode.

In this case the key combo Opt/Cmd/Mute would change the way Mute works: from an absolute audio mute to the mute behavior imparted when using the Mute tool, which when used on an Track Instrument or Rack Instrument track, acts as a MIDI mute.

For those of you relatively new to Cubase or those who used Cubase prior to C4: muting a Rack Instrument track worked this way. I have missed this function for a very long time and I’d like to see it back in a way that can be automated.

How it is displayed is up to Steinberg (they change the S to a D for the solo defeat mode). I don’t much care what it looks like, I just want the functionality and the choice.

*Apologies…I have no idea what the equivalent solo defeat keystrokes are on a PC

Hi Weasel,
whereas I totally agree with you for Instrument tracks, where, since Cubase 7.5 (I think?), we can route extra MIDI tracks to that same Instrument, so we want the Instrument’s audio to remain unmuted while the MIDI data on the main Instrument track is muted, I don’t quite follow where you are going as regards Rack Instruments. The MIDI data is on a regular MIDI track, and the audio is on the Instrument audio return tracks (where there is no MIDI anyways). Maybe I just need a more detailed explanation? Could you describe a useful scenario, please?

Solved…There is a way to reproduce the way Mutes used to work on Rack Instruments in versions of Cubase before the VST Instrument Track was introduced. It’s reasonably elegant . There’s a bit of a story as to why I’m backtracking on my original feature suggestion. A bit wordy, but stay with me if this is a subject of interest to you.

After going back and forth (offline) with Vic France discussing this idea, I finally understood what Vic was trying to explain to me in his post; in that VST Instrument audio was not being muted absolutely when a Mute button is pressed. He pointed out that this could easily be observed, using a VST Instrument that has built in effects, like reverb or echo.

Press Mute and the MIDI note stops at the point of Mute but, the effect(s) tail-outs continue on. I’ve never noticed that before. My mistake. My apologies.

In the course of our conversation, Vic identified the manner in which Cubase Mutes a VST Instrument:

When a Mute is sent to a VST Instrument or Rack Instrument, Cubase sends out a MIDI Reset command that immediately stops the MIDI note playing and any controller at that point (the Mute button might in fact be sending a CC#120 “All Sound Off” message, but there’s no way to actually monitor that). This means if you were using a synth with a lot of release and/or a sustain pedal, the mute will cut the sound of the VST Instrument short right at the point of mute, but any incorporated audio effects will continue to ring out. The Mute is stopping the MIDI input to the VST, not the audio output of the VST.

On the other hand, if you use the Mute Tool on a Part, the note(s) stop, but not until they finish out the length they were recorded at, coupled with the synths envelope settings and/or any underlying sustain pedal command. This “mute” behaves the way Cubase used to work long ago. The downside to this method is that using the Mute Tool is not automatable.

Vic figured out a solution that creates an alternate automatable mute function that (and this is the important part) doesn’t send a MIDI Reset command to the target VST Instrument. In other words, this works the same way as the Mute Tool does on a Part. This works on both a VST Instrument track or a Rack VST Instrument MIDI Track.

Here’s how:

In the Inspector, open the MIDI Inserts menu and add a Transformer. Turn it on. Click its Editor button and set the Transformer like this, in the top pane:

• Filter Target = Type Is
• Condition = All Types
• Parameter = Note.

On the bottom of the Transformer, open the Function menu and select: Delete.
Save it as “Vics Mute” for future use. ClickMe

If you click on the MIDI Insert/Transformer’s Power button, it will now Mute the data on the track, but not send a Reset MIDI command….letting any recorded MIDI note length, release envelope and/or sustain controller to continue playing…and finally stop when they are finished.

Because the MIDI Insert is an active Track element, its Power button is automatable. This works a charm!

But there’s a bit more. As we were trying this out, we were kicking around ideas to make the process more elegant.

This brought me back to my original suggestion of an alternate Mute function. I’ve thought about this and have concluded that it would limit the prime functionality of the Mute button because it would force a “one or the other” situation.

We thought about adding a modifier key while clicking Mute. This could provide both types of functionality…but ultimately, it’d create a nightmare trying to identify what kind of mute was used and even worse: how to edit them.

Vic’s solution mimics the Mute Tool’s functionality and provides a way to automate and edit its behavior from the Track’s Inspector. And it isn’t hard to set up.

I’ve said it before: Vic France is a treasure to this forum.

Interesting discussion. It doesn’t affect me (I guess) but interesting. I never before thought about these differences.

I’ll add my 2p though. Although I LOVE the idea of flexibility in Cubase, I gotta say… adding options that require so much verbiage to grok is always somewhat fishy. It may be a great idea but I often wish that Cubase did -less- of certain things, but in a more straightforward way.

In this case, dumb me, I have always assumed I had no choice when I muted MIDI notes/parts that the FX would ‘tail’. That intuitively makes sense to me, so I take the extra seconds to automate the outputs. It never occurred to me that I might have an option that -instantly- silenced the output without that extra automation. On the face of it, that seems a good option.

BUT… if I had this option now it’s something else to master in Cubase. It’s something else to go wrong (probably when importing an old CPR!) And frankly? I’m getting sick of Cubase being like Linux… 4,000,000 options and little of it straightforward. IOW: I know I’m sounding like a downer, but the more I look at Presonus or Ableton, the more I like having LESS details but implemented in a cleaner way.


Regarding the complexity of the Cubase system:

When Vic pointed out that the plug-in’s own efx were tailing after a mute, I said I’d never noticed it before. This little exercise made me look at the details and I’m afraid I am about to add to the noise you object to.

It brings up an interesting question: why does muting a VST Instrument Track let the plug-in’s internal efx ring out after a Mute?

I’d expected that the VST Instrument’s track would mute any and everything being outputted from the plug-in the moment it was muted. Like the same thing I’d expect if I had recorded an external synth using its own internal Efx onto an Audio track. Push the Mute and the thing is silenced….reverb/delay, tails and all.

I now view the current muting paradigm of a VST Instrument behavior as some sort of “feature/convenience” that Steinberg has worked into the muting of VST Instrument Tracks. I’m not saying this is a bad thing….just that it veers from the expected analog console experience of muting a recorded track with Efx burned into it (provided there was no Efx Send open on that tracks channel). It’d just cut it off, dead.

I thought about this and decided I’d actually like some control over this behavior in the form of a VST preference.

Something like: “VST Instrument Effects Respect Mute”. What this would do is: when the Track’s Mute is applied, it either cuts the entire output of the VST Instrument to the audio busses or lets the instrument’s internal Efx chain ring out after a mute (what it presently does now).

Seems simple enough….but of course, this would add more complexity to the program. Yet another hidden feature hidden away in the Prefs. The advantage I see to this suggestion is providing an option for a Mute on a VST Instrument Track to behave exactly like a Mute on an Audio Track behaves.

Yes, there are work-arounds….but they all involve extra steps.

And of course, Vic punching a few holes in this observation/suggestion.