Conceptual Issue - non-audio tracks and instruments

Elements 8
As a new user I find it hard to wrap my head around MIDI, Instrument Track, Halion. There seem to be a number of way of creating, using tracks that function somewhat the same. I don’t really get why I should go one way rather than another. Sometimes I seem to create tracks when I do not intend to. I also sometimes cannot take in midi from an external keyboard.

IOW I understand the difference between an audio track and the others. But I am not clear in differentiating the others kinds of tracks/approaches to making instruments.

As a very specific issue related to this: When I make changes in effects in an instrument loaded in Halion, the effects do not seem to kick in. If I am playing back the instrument and I alter the setting when load is lit, it does affect playback directly. But if I add effects it does not affect the sound.


If you want to keep it simple, use Instrument Tracks only. Don’t use Instrument Rack. If you want to Add a new Instrument, just Add an Instrument Track. You can ignore the Instrument Rack right zone (same as VST Instrument window) completely. Just close it.

Also don’t use a MIDI tracks.

Then the count of Instrument Tracks and the count of Instruments is equal, and there is Direct relation between the track and the instrument.

Hi, thanks for what is no doubt a wise suggestion, but I still want to get an overview. I now have a better understanding of Media Bay and why different kinds of tracks get created when I use one of the MIDI, loops, audio programs on it.

You say ‘don’t use MIDI tracks’ Why do you suggest this?

One thing I have been working on, in a sense as an exercise to understand MIDI is creating a bass track to go along with voice and guitar tracks I recorded in audio. I do not play bass and have been alternately working with a Yamaha and then the key editor, trying to get a sense of how to use each method and likely how to combine them so I can lay down such a track fairly quickly. I created the track by pulling Halion from the rack and putting Electric Bass, pick, in there. Setting aside my poor skills as a bassist it is going alright.

I assume I could have also directly created a MIDI track, without going to Halion first, then adding the instrument in a short menu in Inspector. Would the result be the same or would it have advantages and disadvantages compared to going through Halion.

You suggest using an instrument track. Are there advantages to this and is this why you warn me off MIDI?

I did not understand this part…

Then the count of Instrument Tracks and the count of Instruments is equal, and there is Direct relation between the track and the instrument.

With the way I did it via Halion, I have one instrument per track. I assume, then, that doing it with a MIDI track adds more tracks somehow. Is that correct?

I know you have suggested a streamlined approach but I tend to try to get an overview and feel for my options. This creates short term losses but long term gain for my learning curve - at least I think so. But I realize I am going past your advice and then asking a bunch of questions. I do appreciate you’re responses.


MIDI track is meant to be used for an external hardware MIDI device, or an Instrument track, if you are using a multi-timbral instruments.

If you want to keep it simple, I would recommend you to use Instrument tracks only.

I do have an external MIDI device which I am using for the bass part, but otherwise I will follow your advice.

Generally you would use ‘Track’ instruments for monotimbral VST’s like Mystic because one instance can only be used with one midi channel at a time. If you create a track instrument, either from the project window or from the instrument rack, you will always have to create a track because it makes no sense not to. A Rack instrument is mainly used for mul-titimbral instruments like Halion Sonic SE. When you add Halion in the instrument rack (as a rack instrument) the creation of a track is optional because you might want to set things up first, like instrument slots, effects, etc, before creating the ‘multiple’ tracks that control Halion. So a midi track can be used for ether external gear or for use with multitimbral VST’s.

I understand some of that. Let me mull it over and get back to you.
I can tell that it was the type of answer I was looking for.
I am trying to understand why someone would choose route X to creating a track rather than route Y. And there are so many ways to get to what seem like the same places in Cubase, but are not always the same.

Put very simply, the Rack Instruments are there because Cubase needs to maintain compatibility with older software versions and working methods. There are some circumstances in which the Rack option is useful, even preferable, but Martin is steering you correctly.

The Track option bypasses the need for a MIDI track and assignment to the rack. Originally it was only for instruments with single outputs, but has been improved to allow multiple outputs. Taken together these two improvements largely bypass the need for the rack. MIDI is still the underlying system, so it remains available in many areas of Cubase as a way of connecting with the outside world and internally moving data around.

Your welcome. I must admit it’s pretty confusing and difficult to get good information on this. The manual also isn’t very clear on this. A good threat on the subject is:

Great, the link looks right on topic.
Yeah, I find the manual rather poor. 1) I have to read it in the computer and I work better with a physical book. 2) It is organized like a list, not as a user manual. Yes, I can find out whatever button is, but I do not get guided through a partical task. Very specific tasks, yes. But connecting these up and prioritizing them into approaches to working in Cubase, nope. For that I have gotten more use out of a Cubase 5 physical book which is written in what is a second language to me. And of course videos and you guys.

Thanks again.

I fully agree! The manual basically just lists whats in the menu’s without explaining what it really does. For more in depth explanations you are bound to learn by trial and error or roam the Internet. The videos on YouTube are helpful but they don’t cover enough ground. I think if Steinberg would produce a good tutorial DVD(s) it would be a great success.

I found this forum…

A subforum in a non-Steinberg forum. I see Steinberg has a videos section on their website, but I search for cubase 8 and not a lot came up. I did better just using video search in google and also on youtube. Also there seems to be a focus on problems rather than elegant use. I can understand that focus, but…