Cubase 8 production workflow tips

Hi all,

I’ve been using Cubase for many years to finish pretty much all of my productions. I rarely ever start a track in Cubase though. Usually it’s something like Ableton where I can use the session view to get a bunch of ideas and variations of those ideas down really quickly and try out various combinations of those parts together. It’s great for starting ideas from scratch and getting a ton of material and possibilities together. I might start to do an arrangement in Ableton but usually I’ll just move all of the pieces to Cubase and do the arrangement there. This usually leaves me with a bunch of audio clips because it’s a bit tedious trying to save presets and move MIDI files to get VST instruments sounding the same in Cubase (never perfect).

What I’d like this thread to spark is some ideas on how to get a bunch of material down in Cubase as quickly as something like Ableton session view so that there is the possibility of having live synths and midi to work with in Cubase without the struggle of converting from one DAW to another.

I’ve only begun to think about it but maybe there could be some way of working with track versions and the arranger to achieve something similar to the clips and scenes in Abelton’s session view. It’s not that I want Cubase to be Ableton I’m just looking for a some workflows using Cubase to come up with a bunch of ideas and variations on those ideas quickly.

Thanks! :mrgreen:

You haven’t explained what style of music you make.
Try some or all of the following:

Arranger track
Chord track
Loopmash FX
Groove Agent SE4
Beat Designer
Step Designer
Pattern Banks in Media Bay
Halion Sonic SE2 chord / arpeggio pads (examples: the FlexPhrased presets)

Lately I’ve had some fun sending the Chord Track to an Instrument Track with an arpeggiater on it.

Aloha A,

IMHO you are already doing the most efficient thing possible.

You are using two diff DAWS and playing to their strengths
to achieve the results you want. Right on!

(the analogy to me is guitar players wanting
the ‘perfect ax’ by blending a Strat with a Les Paul).

Yes it is too bad you cannot use one app for that purpose
but the next best thing is owning and using both
which you are now doing.

In fact you could probably give us some workflow tips on
using both DAWS for one project. :slight_smile:

Good Luck!

Usually electronic dance stuff along the lines of Melodic Techno, Tech House, Progressive, etc…

Thanks! Yeah I guess this is how I ended up doing this in the first place; I found one is better for generating ideas (for me at least) and the other excels at arrangement and finalizing the mix. I guess I was more interested in how people who only work with Cubase generate ideas from scratch as I’ve been doing it with Ableton for quite a while (even though I started with Cubase back in the SX days).

I’m coming from Ableton Live (being my favourite for years) and Logic and was just doing the same thing, recently.

My thoughts: If you have something in mind, that is already pretty structured (maybe also sound wise) or wanna start with harmonic stuff (chord features, etc.) or real recordings, i would head to cubase directly.
If you have a vague idea and maybe want to get it down as quickly as possible in order to not forget anything or if you wanna experiment a lot with arrangement, Ableton is nice.

I am thinking of really using Ableton explicitly as a scratch pad:

  • simplify my project template
  • focus on factory content and plug-ins when possible (no need to plug ilok or elicenser when grabbing my MacBook in a hurry, also not getting lost in plug-in world)
  • get ideas down quickly

When i have something that’s expressing the idea clearly, i just export audio and midi stems to cubase (sounds horrible at that point, but the creative idea is layed out).
What’s good already will be kept (audio) - the rest will be put effort in then (effort i saved initially by restricting me to the factory content), so it’s not really a waste of time, just wor on that perfect lead-bass-layering a bit later in the process… Sometimes it’s also nice to work with exported audio early on, as it can open different ways than working in MIDI (which i tend to keep very long, when staying in a DAW from the beginning of a song), but just in case you always have the MIDI.

Good thing with Cubase in contrast to Logic is: I personally dont need live anymore for loop browsing, simple audio warping, sampler and creative cutting. Also Groove Agent is a pretty descent sampler to me. Works like drum racks and simpler in one device if you take some time to understand it.
In Logic, i very often felt the need to use Live in re-wire mode, which was ok but can get annoying when Logic crashes and you have to restart live as well.

And pretty often i also like to simply do stuff in cubase from the very beginning. Like the drum programming a lot, for example.

Here is also a video showing the Arranger track functionality pretty well.
I guess two obvious limitations compared to Ableton Live session view are:

  • All parts within a section have the same (maximum) length defined by the section length (in contrast to independent clip lengths in Live’s scenes)
  • You can’t simply fire single clips or stop them (you would have to mute/un-mute the events on the timeling)

On the other hand, it’s way easier to create different versions of an arrangement, compare or modify them. Also, if you want to “flatten” the dynamic section-based playback into a linear arrangement, you don’t have to record it in real time, which can be a good and a bad thing.

now 2017, … I wish there was a liveloops view in Cubasis, well here is a workaround:

You could draft your song in Yamaha Mobile Sequencer on iPad. Compared to Apple GarageBand Liveloops and Ableton Live Session View it offers you key transformations of your Midi loops. Yes: not the unharmonic transpose up/down minor/major transformation of LiveLoops, but true conversion from Maj7 to sus4 or add2 etc. Just like a real Arranger Keyboard Workstation.
Pair that with the Cubasis Halion Audio Sampler (88 Loops, max 300 MB per bank), let the audios play in loops (or not, also configurable), and you can fire them from within Yamaha Mobile Sequencer and have for instance a 4beat loop played twice in an 8beat section.

Tip: To record MIDI phrases that can be converted easily into other keys, record them in C7, and declare them as such.

Apple has directly imitated the GridView of Yamaha Mobile Sequencer. But the Yamaha has the advantage of letting your MIDI out of its prison.
So you can record it in Cubasis. Now, if you managed to export your target virtual instrument sounds (not the audio loops) from Halion into a Soundfont file, you could load that in bs16i.
So there are no sonic surprises when returning to desktop Cubase.

(1) audio loops (clips) --> Cubasis Halion Mobile
(2) virtual instruments --> Bismark bs16i
(3) live session --> Yamaha Mobile Sequencer
(4) record sequential timeline in Cubasis (in analogy to Cubase Arranger Track’s “Abspielsequenz umrechnen”)
(5) finetune in Cubase

One annoyance though: Yamaha Mobile Sequencer does not allow you to exchange (“share”/“openIn”) your phrases (aka riffs or MIDI loops). You always have to import/export them through Cubasis as MIDI snippets before you can exchange them with other users. It is a bit outdated and inconsistent here. MIDI must be exported into iTunes Sharing (yak, who would ever install iTunes on a PC where his precious Cubase etc. runs on - ¡todo ruin!) whereas phrases / riffs are written to iCloud but only into the application-isolated iCloud storage: that is not for sharing to other users (inaccessible for “openIn/share”) but only to SYNC with other Apple devices of the same user … useless. So as a workaround, you must always route all MIDI through Cubasis and record in there,