Cubase 11 Render in place bug

For two weeks now I have researched how to work with external MIDI-instruments in Cubase Pro 11.
I’ve found out the following:

  1. The “old-school” technique is to create pairs of MIDI-tracks and audio tracks and record them one by one. Edit → Render in Place doesn’t work = nothing happens (although the menu item is not disabled).
  2. Creating an external instrument with a return bus bound to an audio input of my sound card only allows one track instance. Render in place works in such a way that a new audio track is created automatically, and the selected interval is muted in the MIDI-track.
  3. If putting the external instrument in the VSTi-rack instead of VSTi-tracks, it can be reused by several MIDI-tracks. Works really well. But I am unable to render the audio for any of the MIDI-tracks now. Render in Place doesn’t work, just as for the first bullet, and rendering to another audio track doesn’t work since I cannot select the audio bus because the external instrument has claimed it.

How can I render the MIDI-tracks for the third case?


External instrument:

No SPDIF-inputs available for an audio track:


What would you like to render? There is just dry audio file, there is no need to render anything. If you would apply any effect, you can render it then. It’s the same, like another Audio Track. Imagine, you would record a guitar (or a vocal) and then you would like to render it immediately after the record. Why?

Of course. You also have only one hardware. You can add MIDI tracks and route the outputs to the given Instrument Track, if you want to use multi-timbral.

Or you can set the instrument to Not Connected (once you render it to audio) and add another instance of the External Instrument.

You can do so with the Instrument Track too.

What would you like to render? There is just dry audio file, there is no need to render anything.

Ok, maybe bad wording. I want to record the dry audio from my external sound module channel by channel. I know I have 16 channels available to the external instrument, and one stereo out. I’m trying to find a good workflow where I start by creating MIDI-tracks. One for each channel. For the drums I might also want to use “Dissolve Pitches” to obtain a separate MIDI-track for each drum sound. If I use an external instrument VST the return bus captures the sound easily, but I could also use a single audio track to do the same.
Now I want to record the dry audio one MIDI-track at a time (while the rest of the MIDI-tracks are muted). That way I can mix and apply effects to each audio track individually. When using the external instrument I can, of course, only affect the incoming audio and for all channels simultaneously through the single stereo audio output of the instrument.

I looked into Studio One 5.5 last week and I saw that that DAW also have some external instrument concept. A return bus is defined for the audio. Several tracks can be created for the same external instrument (this is not possible in Cubase AFAIK, and I was hoping that putting the instrument in the rack would be an equivalent solution). Usually one for each MIDI-channel. The external audio output of all of the MIDI-tracks are routed to the bus in the mixer and then to e.g. the main stereo output. It is possible to record the audio for each external instrument track without creating a new audio track while keeping the MIDI-data such that you could revert and rerecord if you need to adjust something (see image below).

The visuals there shows the MIDI-data in the background with the audio waveform overlaid on top (from this video).

I don’t mind having to create an extra audio track in Cubase, but it would be nice to be able to find a good workflow using external instruments with multiple MIDI-tracks where I can “render” (or record) them one channel at a time. As I said earlier, this workflow works with the “old-school” technique where the external instrument feature is not used. I’ve also seen people move the external instrument around, but it’s kind of cumbersome. I was hoping that I had missed some obvious way to do this in a nice way.


Cubase can also provide multiple Audio Return Channels, but it doesn’t make sense, if your hardware offers one stereo out only.

As I mentioned, you can use Instrument track and then add MIDI tracks and route them to the Instrument track.

The only way is to Solo the MIDI tracks one by one and record it as an Audio track.

Cubase can also provide multiple Audio Return Channels, but it doesn’t make sense, if your hardware offers one stereo out only.

In Studio One they are using the same Audio Return Channel for all of the multiple instances of instrument tracks. Not one Audio Return Channel per track…

The only way is to Solo the MIDI tracks one by one and record it as an Audio track.

Ok, so no automation helping out here then. Too bad. :disappointed:


Then you cannot mix the tracks…

You can do this in Cubase too.

I guess I am doing things the “old school” way. I am right now in the middle of a project where I’m using the same hardware synth for all a chromatic parts. The synth only has 2 audio outputs. So my workflow is:

  1. Create a MIDI track routed to the MIDI port connected to the synth.
  2. Create an audio track with the synth’s output as its audio inputs.
  3. Once the MIDI is tracked out and ready to record, I record-arm the audio track. (I leave 1 bar of silence at the beginning of all projects and record up to a bar after the song’s ultimate end point for every audio track.) (In order to hear the hardware synth before and during the audio record, I use my audio interface’s routing software to direct-monitor the instrument; I never monitor in-DAW.)
  4. When it’s time to record another track I disable the prior MIDI track and un-route the inputs on the prior audio track. And I repeat the above steps for each part.

So, no render-in-place. Just a straight-up audio record. I am not sure I knew you could put hardware instruments on the plugin rack, but I don’t know what benefits that could deliver?

1 Like

Then you cannot mix the tracks…

Correct, but you can do it after transforming the MIDI-tracks to (dry) audio tracks.


What you can do track by track again by one of the way, I described above.


The advantages are the same, you have in the other Instrument Tracks (which were also MIDI Tracks, routed to the Rack Instrument with Audio Return Channel formally). So for example apply the plug-in Insert effects at the very same track. The MIDI data and the Audio Return Channel is collapsed in one track.

1 Like

I experimented a bit with the Kontakt VST in the rack and compared with the external instrument.

Render in place works fine with the Kontakt tracks.

This results in a new audio track (as expected).

It’s the same for the second Kontakt track.

But when trying to do this with the external instrument, nothing happens.

This seems like a bug to me.

Steps to reproduce.

  1. Studio → Audio Connections → External Instruments
  2. Connect external MIDI-instrument to input on sound card.
  3. Setup return bus under external instruments to the input. Also attach to MIDI-device for the given external instrument
  4. Add external instrument to VSTi rack on the right side of the screen.
  5. Accept that a MIDI-track should be created.
  6. Insert a MIDI-event in the MIDI-track.
  7. Alt+Right click on the MIDI-event and select Render in Place → Render (with current settings)
    Nothing happens. Expected behavior is to create a new audio track where the given MIDI-event is recorded.

If a software VST-instrument is added to the rack and rendered in place an audio track is created and the audio is recorded, just as expected.

When I make a midi track in Cubase Pro 11, I can hear the soun generated by instrument (Korg Prologue 16) but when I try to render audio the application does nothing.

Advantages to registering inputs as an instrument rather than a regular input:

  1. Mixer inserts for hosting effects plugins. You don’t get those with a regular ‘input’.

  2. Maybe the pre and post mixer features available are slightly more robust.

  3. Optionally, you can also bind MIDI device stuff to it. I.E. My Fantom XR has a lot of instrument maps and a few automatable control panels for the track inspector.

  4. Don’t have to arm/disarm some track to hear what’s coming through it. It registers and shows up in project view and on the mixer as a VSTi even though technically it’s not.

Obviously, you can’t instant render such an instrument, so you’ll need to take to ‘exclude it’ from any attempts to ‘render in place’ with your stuff that’s using plugins that can handle offline rendering.

As you say, the only way to get it in is to record in real time, one MIDI channel at the time.

One thing I’ve found that helps me out sometimes though, is to kind of do it in sections while I’m composing. You can use the project locators and “mix to audio” and kind of do it in phrases or sections while you’re composing for a given instrument. Import those sections and paste them onto an audio track…name and color accordingly.

1 Like