Cubase 13 - Comping Lanes have no Audio after deleting audio on main track

Hey Everyone,

I’m fairly new to Cubase so I don’t understand how the comping system for audio files works.
I was doing a recording session and had multiple takes on one track, but then I deleted parts of that later on, only on the main track. In Ableton, the comping parts remain unaffected, but I see that in Cubase, the stuff gets deleted as I see no audio files in any lanes but there are 5-6 made on each audio track so something went in there.

Is there a way to overwrite this somehow that the lanes meant for comping are not affected by me deleting stuff in the main track? I wanna keep the main track clean, but it’s annoying if I can’t delete anything in it.
Maybe I’m doing something wrong and it has to do with the replace audio files or cycle properties within Cubase, but do let me know; thanks!

Cubase 13 Pro on Windows 11



In Cubase the “main” track is just showing the Lane, which is on top. So if you delete it, you delete the Lane data.

What is your use case? What do you want to achieve, please?

Hey Martin,

Thanks for the clarification. Well, what I would want is to be able to delete the lane on the ‘main’ track without deleting the lane/audio file within the comped lanes. That is my desire.
Often, I clean up the main track to have one vocal recording that I like because I worked in Ableton previously and there the comped lanes are never affected by what you do in the main track, so I hoped Cubase has something similar. But, if it doesn’t, then I’ll just not delete the lanes of the main track and later on when I’m compiling the final version of the song see which ones I keep or delete.

The concept in Cubase is that the track shows somewhat of a summary of the underlying lanes. When comping you would typically work in the lanes but not on the track.
If you operate on the track it will always affect the actual lane that supplied this data.
In my opinion this concept makes a lot of sense as when you fold the track (so that you cannot see the lanes anymore) the track shows you what actually gets played back.

If I’m understanding what you’re trying to do here (and it’s very possible I’m not), rather than deleting the clip on the summary lane, you can just mute it. That way you won’t hear it, but the clip will still be in the underlying lane.

My own use case is that, once I comp a section of a song, with multiple phrase-length clips in that section, I want to move the selected clips to another track (this helps avoid confusion as to where I am in the comping process, and will ultimately simplify things for editing, tuning, etc.). But now I don’t want to hear the alternate takes, and moving the clips I’ve selected to another track ends up selecting other clips in that section for the “new comp” (i.e. on the original track). So I mute those clips to avoid the doubling. You might ask why I don’t just delete them, but I want to keep them around in case of changing my mind later (e.g. if editing tuning the clips I’ve selected creates some unforeseen problem) and/or in the event I actually want to create a double from the clips I didn’t select (something I almost always do with background vocals, but also occasionally with leads).

I generally use Track Versions to manage this. Version 1 is just the raw Audio Recording, sometimes I’ll pick the best overall take to play or just leave the last take selected by default. Then version 2 is all chopped up and comped, but all of the Audio is still left in place (for those 2nd thought changes). Finally version 3 will have all the unused Audio deleted. That way I can easily jump back to any stage of the comping process.

When finished I’ll usually do a Render In Place to consolidate all the edits into a single Audio file.


That probably makes sense. Two questions, though, as I really don’t have experience with Cubase’s track versions thus far:

First, does this make it easy to copy clips from an earlier version and paste it to a later version? (In particular, when I figure out later that I need to redo some small part of the comp, I am generally just wanting to grab a few isolated phrases where there was an issue, not have to redo any of the comping beyond that. This is easy to deal with in the separate comp track scenario I use. And, in fact, I am often wanting to do this several steps down the road, for example after rendering some tuning, which is after doing the editing of fades and transitions, going back to some prior phase before whatever problem I found crept into the process, or at least prior to its becoming noticeable.)

Second, down the line further is it easy to clear all that old version information out of the project (so it is not taking up space, especially for the audio clips) when creating archive files)?

My process way precedes my switching over to Cubase as I’d been doing this ever since SONAR had track comping (I only started using Cubase at V9.5, and only as my main DAW for new projects at V10.5).

Fair point, I guess I got used to Ableton’s workflow as I’ve been using it for 5 years and Cubase only for a few months.

Hey Rick,

Yeah, that is indeed a good workaround! I generally prefer to not have any unnecessary audio - muted or not; but given Cubase’s built in settings as I understand it, that’s not really possible.
And to your other point, yeah, the fact that all those clips stay in the main track made it very messy for me personally, it was just not very convenient. Especially, when you start having a lot of takes. I’ll try it with muting!

That sounds like a good process indeed

Sure, depending on the specifics there are a variety of approaches that can work. A brute force approach, you could Alt+drag (to copy) the clip to any Audio Track, switch to a new Version and move the clip back onto that.

Or maybe for more changes I’d go to the Version (2 above) that has everything chopped up with a comp selected. Duplicate that to create a new Track Version (4) and revise the comp as desired there. When done you can flip between Track Versions 2 & 4 to compare comps A & B.

Well that isn’t really going to save you much of anything, but it does bring up a common misunderstanding of how Audio Files and Audio Events interact. The Audio Events you are comping aren’t actually Audio. They are really just pointers to a section of an actual Audio File. Deleting the Events does not impact the underlying Audio Files.

As far as archiving, there are several threads here offering both advice on best practices and clarifying misconceptions. search for something like preparing Projects to Archive

This seems like it might be a bit convoluted/inconvenient compared to my workflow. In particular, I need to be able to hear the current version (in my case on a separate track that is the comp), along with whichever earlier version (probably pre-tuning and pre-fade editing – i.e. the leftover clips from the initial comp) I’m considering phrase takes from so I can hear the context. This is easy with my way because I’ll just cut the part(s) I’m considering replacing into separate clips and mute them on the current comp, then unmute the equivalent parts on the earlier track and use the comp tool to audition those while listening to transitions. I’m guessing hearing (parts of) two versions together for context may not be possible? But, to do the auditioning, before Alt-dragging the selected clips elsewhere, that would be necessary. I guess that could be worked around by duplicating the track with the versions and reverting to an earlier version on the duplicate, but my workflow avoids this extra step since I’m essentially keeping multiple old versions in their own tracks, just disabled until/unless I need to access them again for whatever reason.

This might be similar to what I mentioned as a potential workaround, though I’m not sure if it takes into account that there may be several generations of versions with different processing in between. For example, there are the initial (pre-comp, but cut up) raw tracks, the unedited (i.e. prior to any fade editing and/or other basic audio-type editing, for example if tweaking clip volumes, comp version, then one with any restoration-type processing (e.g. click removal), then (only in the case of background vocals) tightening against the lead vocal, then tuning. (Obviously, if I pick up anything from a really early generation, I’ll need to redo a bunch of editing/processing, but my track renames at each point help me know what I did between that generation and the prior one.

I do understand how audio files are referenced in non-destructive editing, but I do a bunch of destructive editing – i.e. bouncing of edits and processes – along the way once I get past the initial comp. For example, when I do the fade editing in the step right after the comp, that will get bounced into song section-sized clips, and those no longer reference the underlying audio files from tracking. Then, if I do any restoration-type processing, those will be bounced on return from RX. If I do any time alignment for BGVs, those will be bounced. Ditto for any tuning with Melodyne or RePitch. By the time I’m ready to archive, I’ve already decided to commit to all those changes along the way, so all the earlier audio references will be purged from the project before doing the project backup with the option to delete unused audio.

To give a concrete example of how this affects space, on one project I am currently working on (or, rather, have on the back burner until I can get back to it), the original lead vocal takes (24-bit/96 kHz) weigh in at 545 MB. That probably represents 3 passes of 3 takes apiece (my typical process, short of problems or a real time crunch, in that the first 3 takes are largely warming up, the next 3 are probably where most of the comp parts will come from, and the final 3 are getting more experimental but also potentially running out of steam). The actual comp and fade-edited version of that, which consists of 8 audio clips (one file per song section after bouncing the song sections) is only 42 MB. (The main difference in the math of 42 times 9 is for non-vocal sections as I sing the songs straight through on each pass.) Anytime there is another pass with destructive editing (e.g. after tuning), there will be another 42 MB set of files. At the current point in the project (I think I have all lead vocal edits bounced, I’m at 637 GB of lead vocals. There is a similar scenario with the BGVs, though the initial data there may start out smaller (on this project 568 MB for two BGV parts, which get doubles comped from each pool of takes) because I’m tracking a section at a time and there won’t be BGVs throughout the whole song. I’ve got about 843 MB of BGVs from the various phases of this project, but that will likely slim down to about 40 MB for what is in use on the final project. Thus, what we’re talking about here is going from about 1.8 GB of audio data to about 82 MB of audio data that will end up in the archive. (This is not counting instrument tracks, but those never end up in audio until any comping and editing is finished, other than possibly having freeze files if my system is running out of steam in between.)

Even if I hadn’t been bouncing editing and processes along the way, so everything that would end up in the archive for the Cubase project came from the raw takes, we’d still be talking about the difference between the tracking files, at about 1.2 GB, and the final files from my workflow at around 82 MB. That works out to about 7% of the audio file space that would have been consumed with all non-destructive editing and just pointers to data in the original audio files.