Cubase 6 - getting to work as a hardware drum machine?

A wee bit of an unusual post, Im looking for people’s advice on how I might achieve this for a live setup using a laptop and cubase…

I’m wanting to use cubase 6 as a live drum machine, possibly controlled via the touch pads on my piano top left hand axiom 49 keyboard.

Specifically, my old drum machine has styles each with 4 variations, A, B, C, D. And also fills/breaks Typically the ‘A’ variation will be the verse and the rest choruses. I want to record the styles as wavs, then somehow use cubase to play the styles (simple enough) but the tricky bit is when I want a fill which would then lead me into the next variation. It needs to be all seamless so that during mid A variation I press fill and then go into variation B once the fill has completed.

The benefit of wanting to work with cubase/laptop is I can use the virtual intrument too to create a nice bass sound for my left hand keyboard AND run it all with a USB cable.

Just not sure the best way to achieve this in cubase? Set up stereo tracks, one each for Variation A, B, C, D, Fills, Breaks etc… but the how to trigger them so that its all seamless?

Any help appreciated.


I am quite sure Al you cant quantize the Midi triggering for Cubae ( I may be wrong tho) What you need for this to be seemless (Im presuming you could map via midi, your Axiom buttons to groove agent template/Scenes…but it would have to be triggered by a quantized input for it to be seamless methinks)

Triggering Midi Loops / Audio loops in this way I would tend to send you to a lite version of Ableton Allan, (and you know Id be one of the last to mention ableton hehe,. but for your situation and giging needs .IT IS PERFECT for what you want to do. as the last thing you need is the stress of having to be @tick@ accurate when triggering your fills, Hava a look at the Akai APC20 Allan, its a great midi Drum Trigger/performance controller Machine…bout 70quid (cheaper on ebay).(would pay back first gig lol)…and It comes with a free version of ableton. (funky controller you can also use for Cubase & a free copy of ableton… which is FAR more stable a program Alan for Live work and very easy to use …it would suit your needs 100%

Only other suggestion here is to make you template fo ryour set, and arrange via automation the drum fills etc, you will lose the spontaneity…but lets be honest Al, unless your freestylin; Jazz, or taking requests your set will be rather fixed, so automation for drum fills in Groove agent could be a good & easy way to go.

Trigger quantize is your only headache here…(as in input being quantized to the Bar…lets see if we all can work out a solution… :smiley:

Wow you don’t know how much I appreciate your time and experience on that reply.

Yes I do nod with you on some stuff especially the akai/ableton chat. However. I really need to be able to integrate my axiom 49 keyboard as that will be for my live walking bass lines (via vsti bass sound) and I hope to use the 8 pads on that controller to triggerthe fills and variations.

Basically id love to replace my ketron midjay drum machine with laptop/cubase/kbd combo. I’m really stumped Not sure how to go about this.

Thank you again


not to sound like a stuck record Al, Im a cubaser just like you m8 :smiley:

Ableton is built around the needs you have. You can use your axiom to play back any vsti (ableton has vst intrument capability along with its own good sounds, but mainly fo rthe following important aspects

It is FAR more capable in any aspect than cubase for what you need Al. for example you can trigger any loop/Track/Midi part or sample at ANY quantize setting…1/4/8/16 ths and any triggering you do is LOCKED to your Bar /Beat. Changing drum variations, fills etc is the STRENGTH of the program Allan, its arranging etc is pants, but for triggering loops synced Or changing Tracks etc…its exactly what you need. It is a very robust program, which is why almost all Live artists I know…(and I know many) Pub, Festival, cruise ships etc…ALL of them I have pointed to Ableton Al, as its the Best there is for having a HUGE flexibility for Live work…check out some video s on you tube Al…I cant see anything that you would do while gigging, that you cant do easily and not too mention the fact of the easies MIDI mapping on the planet. click a “midimap” icon…select the control parameter.(button fader knob.Vsti bank switch /patch increment etc…and youre done! it also has a very good drum triggering system inbuilt.

Cubase “pisses” all over Ableton in evry dept, but not for what you need to do. 100% Al, Ive used both for many years…and your requirements will be far better met in Ableton in this occasion. If there something you want to know whether Ableton does it, just ask away m8. :smiley: (Cubase cant receive midi input to a quantised setting (triggering any scene change,drum fill, or patch switch to a set downbeat…thats what you need, and cubase cant supply, thats why im pushing the above :laughing:

Ok that’s decided. I’ll definitely take a good look at ableton now. I’m thinking it does sound like it’ll do the job for live work :slight_smile:

I appreciate your input on this post a lot!


I use Ableton Live as a glorified drum machine for my improv stuff and Cubase for everything else, a good combination.

Yup I use Ableton for mostly syncing vocals via rewire…(also Cubase’s Audio engine is far superior, wider in the stero field,and a bit more “open”…

I know the audiowarp/timewarp hitpoint detection system in cubase is workable, but I really find it very confusing, even after 18yrs with Steinberg!..Its workflow for certainly full tracks is not very intuitive or easy, If you make a mistake with the timewarp feature, “manual” or otherwise its a complete bugger to get back to your desired point…(you have to take it baby steps,and if you mess up, you HAVE to use undo all the time rather than trying to get close and then tweak your mistakes.

You WILL find Ableton a very ggod addition Alan to cubase, esp for your live work, but also with you “sketching out ideas” side…as most if not all music,is in repetative sections (verse /chorus etc) you’ll like the “jamming” capabilities, along with a ton of “playing Live” features.

In all other scenarios,it cant hold a candle to cubase! phew! :laughing:

Thanks everyone for that input. I’ve been on YouTube there and seen a few videos. I’m seein it mostly working in a recording capacity just like Cubase. Does anyone know specifically of any videos there that would show me it working like a drum machine? Also what happens with fills and moving onto a new variation. Just can’t imagine how that functions?

Some good videos about, this is one way of doing it,

i know its because its alien to me but this ableton is starting to look way too complex for what i want to do. Thinking i may opt for an SR18.

Appreciate the input though a lot.