Cubase Channel Strip, including "Pre", AFTER Insert Section (is all backwards?)

I would use it more, as it stands, I hardly use it at all.

There’s a reason for this. For one, my style of work uses a lot of FX and sound shaping, much more so than what the channel strip offers. So, naturally, I’m reaching for my inserts section even first, even when it comes to basic EQing.

Let’s think about this so more. Am I the only one who works this way? Think about this in a production line kind of way…
…Why would you mix what was before the production (raw dry audio) after the production?

You see, so I would do my production, do my production mix… and then if I could have the channel strip AFTER my inserts, I would utilize MixConsole as the final more exact mixing stage.

Produce (inserts)
Mix (Channel Strip)

Is this not how most people work today? So the workflow topology seems backwards which is why I never use MixConsole EQ/Strip. And, it actually becomes unusable if you’ve already loaded in inserts because, you don’t want to change the sound before your effects, you want to tweak the sound after effects.

If thinking about this is a analog/DAW hybrid kind of way…

Production (inserts)
Mix (consoles channel strip)

So, if this could be done. “Pre” when moved to this new position essentially becomes a pre-fader trim which also in itself becomes extremely useful because, it allows one to balance adjust all the channels, then do a fader mix.

I believe this is how it works.

I think then it was just the pre section that wasn’t.

Let the Pre section be the ‘Trim’ section, and let it also be moved in the signal topology.

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The Pre section comes first and is aptly named pre. Isn’t this how it’s supposed to be?

Pre to what? This answer is anything. Pre-Fader? Pre Channel Strip?

I want the entire thing after inserts as a switchable option.

Think of the insert section more of an instrument or guitar FX pedal board than a send/return bus on a console. Think of the insert section as the sound of guitar FX, going into an amp, going into a microphone, THEN into a console.

This is also a better topology potentially for sound designers. The insert section is more of a laboratory less concerned with mixing at first and more just discovery and mangling… THEN balance things before it gets sent out to the games asset implementation team.

The “Pre” section is the basically the “Pre-Amp” stage like a channel in an analog console. Thats the stage where the signal comes in and you can adjust the gain going into the channel as well as having a LC and HC. Even on an analog console the “Pre” section is always the first section to control the input of the channel and cannot be moved - just doesn’t make sense in that regard.

You can easily use a plugin at any point you like to adjust gain or have LC/HC, but “Pre” section is - well “Pre” everything. There are of course cases to adjust gain or filters after some processing (because that processing introduces some unwanted stuff or the gain needs to be leveled at a certain point), but I use a plugin at this point - I certainly wouldn’t want to loose the “Pre” section or have it all over the place.


Pre everything as @MixMike explains. It’s there to set gain and clean out excessive highs and lows from incoming material before processing. It makes perfect sense for it to be where it is as it’s a well established convention in the real world workflows that Cubase mimics.

Think of it not as a mixing tool per se but as “conditioning” the program material. If that makes sense.

@MixMike @Sibben I think you’re both failing to think outside the box a lil’. MixConsole is digital software, it’s not an analog desk. The benefit of this, is that it can have features and capabilities outside the realm of what is possible with an analog desk as well as being able to avoid the unavoidable rudimentary gainstaging topology optimizations an analog desk calls for.

You’re also failing to focus in on the philosophical aspect of my point of how people user their inserts, instead you’re being overly locked in on “rules” and “how things have been done” and “definitions”. If you allowed yourself to open up your openness trait, you’d see I’m talking about the inserts as being a place users go to create, produce, program, design rather than being overly occupied with current reality of the inserts being a topologically hard-soldered component of a console.

Actually, if you’ve ever run a spectrum analyzer after your insert chains, you’d see that a lot of pugins people use, and how they use them, re-introduces a lot of low-frequency back into the signal.

This is another point for me, as to why in many modern mixing scenarios, as well as in sound design, it might be more productive and useable to have the filters after the inserts.

There’s more, this allows the Pre knob to become a trim knob, and gain match the inserts section pre-fader, instead of using the faders for gain compensation.

There could actually be two places it could go.
*Pre (Now called Trim)
Post Fader Inserts

Post Fader Inserts
*Pre (Now called Trim)

Position 1 would affect the gain going into any Post-Fader inserts, and Position 2 would affect the gain AFTER post-fader inserts. Again, another very useful utility - you might have compression on post-fader inserts that you are pushing the sound into for a loudness effect. You might want to retain the effect, but lessen the volume before it hits the master bus.

So yea err umm, there’s no rules and there’s no reason why there doesn’t exist in the universe the possibility of doing things differently than have done before… it could… put Cubase ahead of the competition…

Rules are not written by a comittee in a vacuum and then imposed. They come up through practice, becoming methods. Leaving that philosophical issue aside, if we start thinking out of the box:

We don’t even need a strip, inserts, faders. We could very well have cells, like a spreadsheet, where we connect module to module, both in serial and in parallel. So that you could have a signal, insert a parametric eq module in its path, then split off a send that would get a panning module and then a gain module, while the original path would go on to a saturation module, before applying a high cut module, etc etc.

The whole point of the mixing desk approach is that people are already familiar with it and can get results more quickly and intuitively. A new non-skeuomorphic system could or could not be an improvement. It would gain some people, it would lose some people. How many those people are, well that’s a subject for R&D. Personally, I think it would be catastrophic to let go of tried and true approaches for the sake of exotic routing. We can always bounce material and go for another round of processing.


I’ve worked on everything from Neve to Behringer to SSL to API to Tascam. I’m very well versed in what consoles are.

The whole point of the “pre” on an analog console, is to gain a mic low level signal to line level in which it then continues down the line level signal path. We don’t have this conundrum here in the digital domain… we are not dealing with a mic level signal needing gain… there is no topological reason the ‘Pre’ could not be a (post and)pre to anything anywhere… There is no reason, and I’ve pointed out some pretty logical use cases

Another one of which is, I do a lot of my low end cleanup on the inserts without touching MixConsole, so I don’t need the the MixConsole filters at that stage, and, I gainstage my events instead of using ‘Pre’ gain.

Not sure what there isn’t to get… Maybe if I explain it this way… Let’s say you have two video game sound designers working together and one is handling sound design, one is handling mixing. The sound designer utilizes inserts heavily. The mixer comes in the next day to tidy up and finishing, broad balancing, finishing touches and for project efficiency and control integration the mixer opts to use only MixConsole for these duties… why not give them the option to have the ‘Pre’ AFTER the inserts especially if those two employees agreed to leave the ‘Pre’ for final touches?

Is there no room for innovation in the industry? innovation can be in how we work, especially when the digital domain allows us to essentially, virtualize our imagined needs.

Because there are already ways of doing that? Just use another insert plugin, e.g. Frequency, you can do that pre-fader, or post-fader, and in any position you like. You can also route your stuff to a group track and use the pre section there.
Software development/design is a trade-off between features and usability, also taking into account available resources like time and money.
You can of course do pretty much every thing and put every option you can think of in it, but the more options you have, the more complicated the UI/UX will become. And frankly, Cubase is complicated enough as it is already. Better to spend time and resources into developing features that offer something new that couldn’t be done so far than just an alternative to a workflow that already exists. IMHO.

Then there is no reason for the pre to exist at all? Why not use just a gain insert down the chain or an eq band for filtering? And what’s the purpose of the channel strip at all? Isn’t it just a neat selection of zero latency plug-ins whose position in the signal chain we can easily swap? I mean, isn’t it the same thing as “packing” plug-ins into a container and saying "Ok I’ve got 64 slots. 1-8, I’ll have them be my PRE pack, with gain, LC, HC, polarity etc. Then 9-32 I’ll use for creative purposes. 32-64 for other stuff. But later on I could grab the 32-64 pack and interject it before the 9-32 pack, with a gain plug-in at 8, or 33, if the signal didn’t sit well? It’s not so much innovation as housekeeping. It’s an interesting discussion though.

I understand what you are saying, and I’m not against it, I mean it’s not outlandish or irrational. I just think that in your specific use case (your current project) you discovered an out of reach shortcut that would be beneficial to your workflow. But alas, even if Steinberg thought this is an exceptional idea and started working on it right away, you still wouldn’t be able to use this on your current project.

Guys I don’t think we’re on the same page of thinking here. Trying to have a fairly nuanced discussion here beyond “how things have always been done”. Things were once also only mono, we have Atmos now.

I already explained this… it could be summed up as, “different project stage meets different efficiency and time needs”. I mean, there are a number of reasons… Should I go through them all? Using inserts takes time, controls aren’t uniform and easily accessible for a magnitude of channels at once, all the insert slots might be taken, insert slots might be reserved for the sound designer, inserts might take up more CPU… I could list hundreds of reasons if the initial ones I gave weren’t good enough… :slight_smile:

Moving a “Pre” section is akin to swapping two guitar pedal positions, I really don’t think it’s that complicated, and Cubase already offers some degree of reposition as it is so it is right in line with the rest of Cubase protocols.

The filters are accessible, visible, surgical tools. Using the EQ is not the same. I gave a bunch of other reasons above.

Let’s get into some more reasons. Maybe the inserts are frozen. It creates a mess, because now if the channels are unfrozen, the before inserts ‘Pre’ is now altering the response of the inserts.

Or imagine this,
A guitarist producer, all their inserts are guitar related, pedal sims, amp sims, cab sims… They are using their inserts creatively like a pedal board… Well, they could probably make use of an entire console channel strip after their guitar pedals and amp(inserts)… like cutting out low end with a filter.

What else, what about the percentage of people who are using samples and sample services? most of these are made “mix ready”. There’s no need to be filtering out low end at that stage when you are getting into a writing/production momentum… but certainly after a few days of adding random inserts haphazardly without thinking much… well now you want to do a Quick mix… those filters would be useful now…

No reason we Cubase users and Cubase devs can’t innovate our workflows…

Sorry, I fail to see the innovation there. It is just a little convenience function so you don’t have to use an insert plugin. Maybe nice to have, but I certainly don’t need it.
What would be more interesting is having a set of filters on each send so you could pre-filter channels that go into the same reverb differently.
Or a chainer/splitter where you could split the signal in different ways (frequencies, sum/difference) and apply separate plugins on each stream. Technically also not really innovative as several DAWs already have this feature.

Maybe I’m a little OT. I think that, for sound design purpose, it’s more convenient to use inserts and then, when all is good, drag all the insert chain into the Direct Offline Processing window. It’s a not destructive way to have minimum CPU commitment and to have insert slots free to mix.
Maybe I’m old school, my work flow benefits form using the MixConsole as it is.

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Hell, no. That makes no sense… the pre section is like the preamp on a console. It levels the incoming audio and reverses the phase if needed. It needs to be in the first position.
Everything else is already movable, but it’s not easy to find how.

You can do that? Drag a set of plugins to a DOP window? Cool, I didn’t know.

@fese from WebHelp:

You can add processing by adding plug-ins or audio processes. Furthermore, you can add FX chain presets, track presets, or effect favorites within the Direct Offline Processing window, or drag plug-ins or plug-in chains from Inserts or from the Media rack.

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I get what your saying but I think most people treat production and mixing as two stages. So there is a project for production with plugins. Then another for mixing with plugins.

But when making electronic music the production and mixing is often done it the same project. But then I don’t see many ppl use the stock channel strip in any DAW for the final mix. They usually use insert plugins. In Pro Tools some are the generic stock eqs and comp that get used but they are not tied to a channel strip.

Now with electronic music I use the pre gain on the channel strip eq and phase and the eq to remove low bass where required. Then I start using insert plugins for sound design. But I try to level match as I go through the inserts so at most for final mix all I need to do is add an extra eq or compressor and then use the channel fader or group fader and mix.

I still prefer to bounce it all into a mix template. I would say that Cubase channel strip is their way of saying “if you don’t own any plugins you can still use our software”.

But I would still think a better solution is to do all the sound design and a rough level mix in one project. Then bounce it out into a proper preconfigured mix template.

That’s my workflow.

Guys, gals, theys, its, all elses

What would be the harm in allowing people to work this way?

Also, now you’d have pre-send filters. The amount of dogwater people have been putting into their sends post insert all these years…

Actually, come to think of it… I think I would actually put the Pre section at the very last position in the channel strip… After the fader, and after the post-fader-inserts.

Is there a problem with that? Am I no longer an audio engineer? Should I bother explaining my logic? :slight_smile:

Why not? If you’re running tape saturation simulator on your main bus, you now have the perfect trim utility pre-tape like tape machine inputs.

Or, you realize you need to make some broad stroke volume changes at the end of the project… but… the project is a complex network of pre and post fader sends and fx… Well, whether you adjust the last inserts output or adjust the fader - that is going to affect levels going to sends which will change the project drastically. If able to place the Pre as a Pre-Main Bus trim, this allows the user to adjust per channel levels without touching faders which to make things more complicated, could also be bound to automation. The ‘Pre’ essentially becomes a fader trim, like a manual VCA of sorts.

That is a mess I and others have encountered at least once (much the time they are just start from scratch scenarios), so, why not allow this to be a moveable utility in the chain? Wherever people need it, they can put it…?..