Cubase 7.5 Work-flow With MIDI Controllers

Hi guys,

I’m having a hard time trying to use my MIDI keyboard controller with Cubase 7.5 efficiently, and comparing the MIDI mapping to Logic Pro 9 and Ableton Live 9, Cubase doesn’t seem as fluid as the other two DAW’s.

Currently I’ve been making new sounds with my mouth (sounds stupid, but it allows me to experiment without knowing how I replicate it in the box). Pitch scoops and noise filters are some of the techniques I am trying to do and to get my ideas down I have to record them with my phones voice recorder.

Now I’m wanting to do these properly inside the DAW, but what’s making this impossible to do is the fact that I don’t want to do it with the mouse and keyboard and instead give it a human feel to it just like my mouth but using the controllers on my MIDI keyboard.

On my Roland A-500 PRO I have 9 knobs, 9 sliders and 8 pads. All of the hardware controls on the keyboard apart from the pitchbend and modulation wheel that I’ve left by default have CC (control change messages) going from 0-29 done by using the A-PRO Editor software. Though trying to avoid common CC messages in DAW’s, VSTi’s and other software would be impossible so it’s not like I can set specific CC messages to the hardware controls because that would be stupid. This leads me onto how I can use the MIDI controller with Cubase. Under devices menu > device setup there is three different MIDI options,
[]Remote Devices
]Track Quick Controls
[*]VST Quick Controls.

Now I know how all three of these work in general but they don’t work well as I will explain below.

Remote devices allow you to control the DAW itself such as playback controls and this is something I made good use of by assigning the playback controls on my keyboard to the transport playback buttons in Cubase. However, the only things that don’t work are the reverse, fast-forward and record as nothing happens when I press the buttons on my keyboard controller. It works, but not fully as some of the buttons aren’t working, and really can’t workout what the problem is. Cubase definitely is receiving MIDI because the MIDI indicator bar shows in the floating transport panel when I press the MIDI controller buttons.

The Track Quick Controls work well when it wants to but for example when you want to do a filter sweep, on a group track with an EQ Quick Control assigned to a knob on the MIDI controller, whilst playing chords on a track outside of the group track, it’s impossible. When the non-group track is selected the Quick Controls now become active for that track and not the one that has the EQ on (the one I’m trying to control). Now using Ableton as an example when a software parameter is assigned to a hardware control they stay locked together so whatever happens inside the DAW using the mouse and keyboard, this has no effect on the MIDI assignment. If there was some kind of quick learn feature on any parameter in Cubase which you click on with your mouse, move the hardware control and job done, this would make everything so much easier. If you then wanted to tweak all of the quick learns enabled in your project, you could go to one of the menu’s (maybe even include a shortcut) so then you could add/remove/edit the quick learns. I’m not trying to slag off Cubase in anyway but this is exactly what Cubase really misses and I’m actually tempted to post this on the Cubase suggestion forum.

The same thing goes for VST Quick Controls, it’s a nice feature but when you want to continue to tweak the parameters of a track but have another track selected in the DAW, the VST Quick Controls switch over to the track that’s in focus.

A battle I’ve been having with Native Instrument products is that the controls on my MIDI keyboard controller were fiddling with the parameters inside the instruments (control change messages). Now after going on the Kontakt forum section on the NI’s forum I was given a solution to use a MIDI filter in Kontakt to not let control change messages to be picked inside Kontakt. However, I’m getting the same annoying problem with Cubase’s VSTi’s such as Prologue which when I move the sliders and knobs on the MIDI controller, my synth patches are changing. When I look inside Prologue whilst moving a slider on the MIDI controller nothing is moving on the screen. Is there some way of disabling control for the VSTI’s in Cubase? Like I mentioned before, it would make sense if a user like me wanted to control a parameter, they would need to manually assign the hardware controller to the on-screen parameter using a ‘quick learn’ function. This is also something that I mentioned in the NI forum post by setting it so nothing controlled nothing by default and then if the user wanted to control a parameter you could do so by using the ‘quick learn’ function.

I’m not slagging off Cubase in anyway but I actually prefer the MIDI learn feature in Logic Pro 9 and Ableton Live 9 where you can very quickly assign an on-screen parameter to a hardware controller using a simple keyboard shortcut.

Sorry for the long post, but any feedback will be extremely useful