Cubase for live purpose

How many of you have been using cubase for live purpose …4/5 tracks or more ?

I haven`t used it in a live situation, but I did in rehearsals.
My recommendations so far:

- Get your hands on a Cubase Elements licence.
You`ll avoid dongle loss, and have another USB port available.

- If viable, use Arranger Track.
My musical project is based on songs in a more traditional way. I use ONE CUBASE PROJECT, and separate the songs using the Arranger Track (one Arranger event per song for example) . This way I can change my setlist whenever I want. Also, this way you can automate any parameter on a song basis.

- Consider using an interface with more than one stereo output.
This way you can send one stereo out to PA/FOH, and use the other outputs for monitoring purposes. Also, you can use an audio input for microphone, and apply effects the usual way. IMPORTANT: you will need a rather low latency audio interface for this, and your mix must be made (at least for the Cubase part) inside Cubase.

- Use audiotracks instead of virtual instruments for playback.
This will reduce impact on CPU, as audio files will be played back from hard disk/SSD.

- Where possible, use virtual instruments that understand Program Change commands.
This way you can automate Patch Changes. IMPORTANT. None of the included Steinberg instruments does actually support Program Changes, as they are kind of abandoned in VST 3 (because of the 128 patches maximimum, I suppose).

- Make extensive tests with your setup.
You never know…

Hope this helps.

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Excellent post, @roger-s !

Personally, my use of Cubase in live situation was very simple : 1 st. audio track containing all orchestrations / arrangements (final mix of all instruments), plus two empty audio tracks for live voice and guitar (+++ if I play with other musicians)…

But I would like to know if we could do a thing I have in my mind since longtime but never have the time / opportunity to work on and really test in situation : is it possible to automate precisely an audio track, even if it’s empty ?

My goal in saying that, is to suppress completely the pedals (+ a lot of cables and transfos !) that I have to switch in realtime with my foot to change the sound during songs, so I could concentrate completely in my play and not on playing football ( :foot:) with hardware delays, overdrives, etc…

The majority of the songs I could play on stage demands (very) precise sound changes at precise moments of the songs.

How do I could proceed if I wanna replace all my hardware fx by VSTs AND automate them in Cubase so that they change / switch automatically while I play live ? In other terms, could I proceed with empty audio tracks the same way I do with regular audio tracks ?


As far as I am aware, you can automate an empty audio track.

As for replacing your pedals with plugins, you can use the following approaches:
- Use Program Change commands to switch between different presets.
- If there is no chance to use Program Changes, you can use several inserts and switch them on and off via automation. Now that we have 16 inserts, there`s plenty of space. Use them for distortions, delays, whatever you want.
IMPORTANT: A plugin in bypass is not switched off, and therefore might consume CPU.
- Check the time it takes to switch between presets, or swithing inserts on and off.
In my perception, this is more a question of which plugin you use. I have heard, that there are people out there using Guitar Rig from Native Instruments in live situations. This is Trial and Error, preferibly in a rehearsal :wink: .

Your goal is exactly the same as mine, I intent for my live shows: To have automated everything that makes sense.

Hope this helps.


Thank you very much, @roger-s, for your clear and complete answers !

Longtime ago I bought a license of Guitar Rig as it appeared to have an extended palette of special creative sounds FX / modulations / delays, etc… But I also had an occasion to test Amplitube in situation with my own guitar, and it seems to my ears that it’s far, far better for all that’s authentic / vintage / blues, country and rock sounds, so I think I will end up buying a licence too !

Fortunately, it seems that (AFAIK) both plugs read program changes, so it could do the trick, but I hope (for some special songs) to manage to morph progressively between two presets, and here I suppose that I’ll have to automate this manually, button after button, as I didn’t seen any way to do that simply inside the plugins themselves (though this could be an innovative function to develop for the plugins’ vendors !).

I understand reading your posts that if I wanna not use too much CPU I’d better not use the two plugins at the same time, and also take into account the effects I use for my voice. Usually, I only use Cubase internal effects with very simple chain, most of the time only a reverb, an EQ and a compressor.

But regarding the CPU usage (and almost all, latency) I have an little advantage, as I use a thunderbolt interface (Focusrite Clarett 4pre). And most of the time (buffer set to 512), even with several instruments / voices playing live on stage at the same time, I didn’t noticed audible / uncomfortable delays.

But in some web reviews, I red that with some quality USB interfaces, you can manage to also have very low latency, around 3 ms, is it true or just marketing ?

Hello my friend!

There are indeed interfaces with as low as 1 or 2 ms latency, but to be honest, you won t need to get that low. If you can manage below 20 ms, you should be fine. Guitar and Voice aren t so timing sensitive, so it should be alright.

As for the “parameter morphing”, you are right, you will need to automate each affected parameter accordingly.
If a crossfade can do the trick, you can instead go for two instances of Amplitube, and crossfade between them (which is by far easier than automate :wink: ).

All the best.


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Thank you @roger-s for all these practical tips and advises duly noted, and crossfade is really a great idea ! :+1:

Now a big work awaits me, but it’s the perfect times to start it and experiment…

…Have great creative days !

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I had not thought of using Cubase and the arranger track but after seeing this thread and testing it (in C11Pro) this morning I now have a new live playback rig to set up! I was using DP for only this purpose and the screen is so hard to see. Elements will do the job nicely for this purpose.

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Great to see, my answers could help!

Happy Ne Year to everyone!