Creating Audio Stems from MIDI

Haven’t really found any good information on this topic, so here we go. I use large 30-55GB templates using VST sample libraries and use MIDI tracks to control them. After I am done composing for the project, I go to the mixing stage. What I want to do is bounce every MIDI track to it’s own audio track within Cubase 7.0.6.

I wish there was a button that when I pressed it it just changes all the MIDI to audio stems. I know that I can export every instrument to a .wav file then import them into the project. I will do that if that’s the only way, but what I want to do is bounce the MIDI within the project. Is there any way to do this?

Sidenote: In case you are wondering, I want to do this to make it easier to mix, to make it easier if I want to send the stems to a nother mixer with a different DAW, and so I can come back to the project after a year without Cubase having to re-find my sample patches that have been updated or replaced.

Thanks for your help!

You can freeze the tracks and then they become audio tracks. Cubase, however, is way behind any major DAW on this, since frozen tracks are untouchable. They cannot be edited and cannot be stretched. But if you want to do that at the end of your project, when everything is set and done, then freezing a track is just one click away.

I’ve been advocating a button that turns an instrument track into an audio one for years. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. Unfortunately, the people at Steinberg don’t seem to be particularly receptive to that request. Maybe it’s because it involves too much work?

But yeah, if you need to convert ALL your tracks to audio, batch export is definitely the way to go.

Cubase has Batch Export.

Two options, Freezing and Batch Export, has been presented above. There is a third option. Unfortunately, Instrument Tracks and VST Instrument outputs can’t be routed directly to Audio Tracks (I really wish Steinberg would fix this). You need to create a Group Channel and route your Instrument Track or VST Instrument output to this. You then need to create an Audio Track and route it’s input to the Group Channel. You can then record on the Audio Track in realtime. Just be sure to take care that you follow the number of channels assignment. You can select a stereo Group Channel as input for a mono Audio Track, for example.

The Freeze option is pretty close to the one-click option you request. However this definitely not recommended for your purpose (moving to other DAWs or archiving). The reason being that Freezing only saves the part of the track that actually has audio on it.

Imagine the following; you have a five minute song and on one track there’s a gong at the end (and nothing else). If you Freeze this track, only the part of the track that has audio on it will be saved. When you open this audio file in another DAW (or Cubase, for that matter) it has no way of knowing where it belong! It may end up anywhere in your song. Aligning with sample accuracy is extremely difficult and time consuming. Then multiply this with the rest of the tracks, and it may be faster to re-record the whole thing than piecing it together.

It’s vital that you make stems that all start at the same place at the beginning of the song, and runs uninterrupted to where the last audio of the track ends. Even if this means an audio track with silence for almost 5 minutes before the gong sounds.

To do this you need to Export the tracks (with the Left/Right Locators correctly set) or Record them as described above.

Not making uninterrupted stems is a mistake that even professionals do. Just ask any re-mixer.

Thanks you guys, some awesome information. Papi61, t is good to know I’m not crazy and the only one wanting this kind of feature! Hopefully Cubase will add something like this soon.

Svenne, some great information! Thank you. So, freeze is more for saving your system resources I’m guessing. Looks like I’ll be using batch export or the group channel trick. Won’t batch export also ensure each track starts at the beginning?

Batch Export will export what’s between the Left and Right locators. So, as long as you remember to set the Left locator at the beginning of the song, yes.

I might be wrong, but I believe that you can batch import your exported stems and specify that a new audio track be created for each. Doing so into a new project just for mixing might make for a cleaner environment to focus on mixing only without many muted VSTi tracks taking up real estate.

That’s three steps:

Batch export
Create new project
Batch import

Actually, you may dispense with step 2.

Just drop all the Instrument Tracks, and anything else you don’t use, into a Folder Track and minimize it’s size. It will, then, take up a very small amount of real-estate. Now, deselect their visibility in the MixConsol and they are, for all intents and purposes, hidden. But they are still there, should you need them at a future date (which I assure you will, sooner or later, occur).