Confused about Outputs?

I have Superior Drummer 3 as a rack instrument with a midi track in the arrange window. I set each drum in SD3 to it’s own channel, so Kicks 1/2 Snare 3/4 etc then activate each output. I’ve dragged out a midi pattern from SD3 into the midi track in Cubase, I can then open it drum editor and change anything I need to.

This all works great, I have a separate track in Cubase for each drum and mic and can mix them and add inserts independently.

But. If I set up inserts or sends on the midi channel (with the drum patterns) it only affects channel 1/2, the kick. For instance, I set up an FX track with Valhalla Room Verb on it, link to that from the midi track and only the kick is processed. I would have to set up a separate send from each of the other tracks to the verb and balance them all.

What am I missing? Isn’t the whole point of the multi-channel setup so that all the tracks can be routed to one send? I haven’t used group tracks before so is this the time to do so? Do I send all of the drums and mics to 1 drum group track and then send from there, or should it work the way I originally intended?

Can you verify that you are really using a MIDI Track and not an Instrument Track.

On a MIDI Track the Sends do not produce an audio signal, they only send MIDI data.

Perhaps a few screenshots showing what you are doing would be helpful.

Understood Raino, I must admit my post was pretty impenetrable!
It’s late here but I’ll get something up tomorrow with screen-shots and try to be clearer.

1 Like

Right, after a great deal of faffing with both rack and track instruments I understand that what I was trying to achieve can’t be done. It would involve many individual tracks being affected by a send inserted on one of them, which wouldn’t make sense.

So the answer was group tracks. I set up a group track for all the drum tracks and I can apply sends to that while still having inserts on the individual drum tracks. Makes sense.

Slightly off topic, I know there are no rules but is it preferable to apply compression individually to different drum tracks or as a single send to the whole kit?

I don’t use Superior Drummer but use BFD3. Basically I have individual audio tracks out for all the kit pieces.

Assign a Kit in SD

First you have to activate the outputs. On the top right of the GUI is an arrow pointing down click on that and a window will open with Activate Outputs about halfway down. There is a combination of Stereo and Mono outputs. You then need to assign the kit parts to their own outputs and assign the Overheads and Ambient outputs if you want them.

When you have done that it might be time to create a Track Preset. In the Superior Drummer Track Inspector top left on the arrange page you will seeabove the Midi Inputs box A diamond an No Track Preset. Click on the diamond and then Save Track Preset. Give it a name and save it. Now you can recall that kit whenever you need it.

I find that this allows me to use the plugins I like best to process the kit and to control the sound. I also hilite all the kit outputs and add a VCA Fader… The right Click menu after highlighting the kit channels. This allows me to raise or lower the volume of the whole kit whist also being able to alter the relative volume of each channel.

Hope this helps.

1 Like

Well there isn’t really a general answer that would be right. It’s gonna depend on the actual audio and what you are trying to accomplish or correct in that audio. Depending on the material you may well want to do both.

On individual kit pieces you may find some of the dynamics are wider than you want. For example some of the Kick hits are too soft to cut thru & if you raise the Kick level then the others are too loud. A compressor will fix that - but frankly this is more an issue with recording live drummers than using a VSTi because with MIDI the easier & more natural sounding solution is to edit the Velocities of the offending Kicks. You might also want to compress individual pieces for some aesthetic reason - like you want a totally smashed snare sound. Also using very light compression on individual pieces can help make them blend better if you later decide to compress the whole kit.

Compressing the whole kit is generally used to help ‘glue’ the individual parts together and make them sound like they are in the same room. It is also useful to control the dynamic relationship between the drums as a whole and all the other audio in your mix.

Like a hammer, compression is a tool that can be useful in a variety of totally different situations to achieve different ends. So you shouldn’t compress something just because… Rather figure out what you are trying to achieve and let that guide you on where and how to use compression.

1 Like

+1 to raino. Although I would use parallel compression for the kit, as compression on it’s own can be a little lacking in dynamics. if you use two group channels, one with the compressor and one without as the output sources you can vary the amount each kit piece sends to the compressor and vary the amount of compression against the uncompressed sound. You can use the effects send to direct sound to the Group Compressor. Right click and select Group Compressor, activate then select how much you want to send.

1 Like

Thanks for all the great advice guys, all gratefully taken onboard and will be utilized in my future flailings.

After much experimentation I can offer some small experience if anyone is trying to use Superior Drummer 3 with Cubase that might help.
Use it as a Rack Instrument. For some reason if it’s a Track instrument when you have multi-outputs it assigns the main instrument with the same name as output 1/2. This is really annoying because if you name your Kick on the first output channel then the main instrument will also be called Kick, or if you name the main instrument “Drums” for instance then you get this:


This is inelegant and badly triggers my OCD .

A Rack Instrument allows you to name the Tracks:

—Hi-Hats etc.

When I create the Rack instrument I don’t create a midi track. I let SD3 follow the DAW and keep all the levels in it’s internal mixer. At first I used to set them all to unity and then mix from the DAW but the levels that come with the kits are much better and when trying to do them in the DAW it quickly gets messy and I can’t get it back to the original sweet spot.

So I do all the levels, bleed and panning in SD3. I also do the actual drum editing in SD3 using the Grid Editor because it’s really straight forward, if I try to do them in the Drum Editor in Cubase the drums are generally wrongly named and it all gets messy again.

So with all the tracks in the DAW set to unity I put all the inserts and sends on the DAW tracks and route that all to a Drum group track, and I do all the editing and mixing in SD3, this seems to be the tidiest solution. It also means I can use the Song Creator in SD3.

This may be all nonsense as I’m brand new at all this, if there’s a far simpler way of using SD3 in Cubase I’m all ears!

Good point. I was trying to just answer the OP’s about placement in the signal flow without turning the thread into a general discussion on compression.

Parallel compression is not just for Groups/Busses, it can for example, really tame a snare without making it dull sounding. While the setup that @silhouette describes is the original way to do it, many compressor plug-ins include a Mix control which lets you do parallel compression within the plug-in. Just did a quick count and about 40% of my compressors have a Mix control.

Another technique that can be useful is to use 2 or 3 compressors in series, one after the other. Then you set each one so they only do a small amount of compression - kind of just smoothing down the top a bit. Then the next compressor does it a bit more, etc.

Take your time with figuring out compression because it can be subtle and require some time to really hear what is going on. Also in general under compressing is better that over compressing.

Quite right raino. I was trying to point out that it is probably more interesting and easier to be creative with the audio outs than to try to utilise midi. You are indeed also right about the mix controls on many compressors, however the glue that a compressor gives the whole kit via parallel compression is another thing altogether. The point we are making is that there are many ways to develop the sound of a kit using audio and that is is a great musical journey. I am just discovering the differences with this technique between pre and post fader. The learning never stops!

Good point Riojabilly as this happens with BFD too. However, I use the main output as Ambient or Overheads whichever suits best. I just name it BFD Ambient. I also use mono outs for the Snare, Bass Drum, the High Hat and for the Ride. I tend to use Stereo outs for the toms, for the cymbals and for the Overheads.

The best reason for using the instrument track is of course to be able to create Track Presets to remember this setup, which to be honest I don’t know whether you can do with a rack instrument. Also I find the whole rack instrument thing very unwieldy with all the extra mixer channels. I like to keep things as simple as I can.

Hi silhouette.
I’m trying out your suggestions now. Could you be a little more specific?
I have set up two instances of SD3, one a Rack, the other a Track. Got exactly the same pattern playing in each and have each routed to its own group track.

What do you mean when you say the Rack has all the extra mixer channels? If I use multi-outputs on a Track Instrument instance of SD3 (so I can work with each drum individually) I’m still getting all the extra tracks in the mixer.
What am I doing differently from you?


Quick edit. I see what you mean about the Track Preset! That’s a massive time saver! Doesn’t work with the Rack Instrument. Great tip thanks.

I’m still interested in how you are getting multi outs without extra mixer channels though.

I also work with SD3. In SD3 preferences you can activate for multiple outputs only for Cubase, you could use that.
But i choose multi outs in Cubase rackinstruMents, and leave output 1/2 alone, those are the mains for sd3.
Then every instrument/channel of SD3 becomes a seperate channel in the cubase mixer. With those audiochannels you can do whatever you want in Cubase. i treat them like real drums and do not use any plugins in SD3’s mixer itself.
I leave the created midi songteack inSD3, running along with Cubase, so i can still edit this whenever i want to.
So my workflow is to forget about SD3 and work with the drum-audiochannels in the cubase mixer, SD3 just runs along in the background. Only pull it up for any midi edits in the created songtrack.

That’s pretty much how I’ve been doing it ca-booter.
Good idea about ignoring 1/2, I’ve just set it up like that and then just hid that track so everything has a nice layout now.
It’s a shame rack instruments can’t be saved as a preset though, seems the only downside.

I use SD3 all the time so i made a template for starting a new song, with SD3 allready installed and layed out

Hi Riojabilly. I am sorry that perhaps I was not clear enough. What I actually meant is that I was not using the extra midi tracks for the rack instrument. When you use the Rack Instrument you only get the Midi channel in the mixer and the audio channel. With the Audio Outs you do of course get the audio channels in the mixer.

I tend to use parallel compression. Having created all the audio outs I then create two group channels, one I call Drums the other ll drums. I then route the stereo outs at the top of the mixer channels of all the drum channels to the Drum group. I then place a compressor on the llDrum group and route all the drum mixer channels to this Group by right clicking the mouse on the bottom send box in the Channel Settings window and select the llDrum group. I then activate the send and adjust how much send I want to go to this group. For most it will be 0db a sometimes a bit less for the bass drum.

Of course you can also experiment with Pre and Post faders. There is a semi circle with a dot next to the send on/off button. This symbol facing to the right in orange is post fader and facing to the left in blue is Pre (When the send is switched on).

This will then allow you to adjust the two groups to get the best balance between the the compressed drum kit and the uncompressed one. You can solo each of these groups to get a an idea of what the compressed and uncompressed kits sound like.

I also like to leave the BFD out as where the ambient sounds are as sometimes I like to use that in my mix or sometimes I prefer to use the Nimbus or R4 reverbs instead on one or both the group channels. Well you have to experiment here to find out what you prefer.

It really is possible to get some extraordinarily rich sounding kits by processing the individual channels with much better plugins than are in the the BFD mixer.