Cubase on Virtual Machine

Sorry if this has been asked before, but the search function ignores “virtual” saying it’s too common of a term… and I couldn’t find any relevant results using other keywords.

I have a very powerful PC (top i7, tons of RAM, SSD,…) that can run several virtual machines at the same time. When I used to produce music at home about 10 years ago I had a dedicated DAW, but today with the dramatic evolution in virtualization it seems really redundant…

So I’m considering purchasing the latest Cubase, but I want to avoid buying a second PC just for it, and I don’t want to run it on the main PC as the family has access to it and I’m afraid they screw something up. Questions:

  • Would the latest Cubase work on a VMWare virtual machine (or others), at least in terms of USB dongle?
  • Does anyone have experience with such a setting?
  • Any hints on how a decent sound card (like an Audiophile 2496) would perform in a VM?
  • In short, any clues if anything virtual could work at all.

Thanks a lot in advance,

I wouldn’t run Cubase on virtual machine. It’s one unneccessary layer of software between Cubase and hardware. This might hurt your audio performance quite hard.

In your case I would suggest following solution.

  1. Get a virtual machine software which tuns on the top of the OS. (don’t know if VMWare works this way)
  2. Remove all functionality you don’t need for DAW work from the native OS. Minimal setup would be
    2.1. Cubase
    2.2. Virtual machine system
    In this setup Cubase runs on native OS and all ‘home computer’ software on virtual machine.

As I’ve never used virtual machine systems for Cubase, there may be others with better solutions.

Thanks Jarno for this interesting idea. But my need for a VM is also for mobility, as I’d love to carry it around with me on a USB 3.0 stick… probably I’m dreaming!

I think Jarno means that you should probably run Cubase on the primary or main OS installation (if there is such a thing or similar using VMWare) and any other software installations you want to use on virtual installations.

I’m bumping this because for people with large CPRs, being able to run Cubase in multiple instances of VMWare would be a BOON to mankind.

(Imagine being able to have several large projects running simultaneously. I get hot just thinking about it.)

I’ve asked Matthias if RME hardware supports it. I hope he answers.


I took a quick look at this because I have found installing multiple VSTs and things like Komplete on a new system everytime I upgrade a complete waste of time, it can take days. A VM would make more sense.

I work a bit with VMware so may be able to help. I also am good at typing stuff into google. So first off:

This guy seems to be doing it, so it’s possible.

So VMware is one of many virtualisation options, and that has a few different options within itself. But in summary VMWare is a very solid, easy to use and mature software which gives you direct access to hardware (Meaning probably ASIO, USB licencer etc), VMware player is free, but you may find limits in how many cores or how much memory it can use in powerful systems (Until you buy a full licence ~£180). You would also need the licence for commercial use.

Multiple instances of VMware VMs… If you have powerful hardware you could do this, but you would be sharing CPU/memory access etc with both VMs, this may affect performance of the Cubase VM. And if you want to run one VM on multiple PCs to share the hardware, this is called clustering, and the technology isn’t really there for that yet.

Could you stick the VM on a USB stick and run from that? Yes, although this would probably be slow (In terms of loading times), and it would need to be a fairly high capacity USB stick. USB3.0 would probably not be so slow if it’s a high end memory stick.

Would there be preferred hardware? As I understand it, probably not. Because the virtualisation gives the virtualised OS direct access to the PCI bus (To the card), so the virtualisation layer shouldn’t interfere.

In terms of other options, virtual box is probably the most solid competitor, by oracle. This is free (GNU licence).

Personally, I’d much rather have a dedicated DAW machine that only I have access too, skip the newest Cubase and use the older version I already have. Having your own dedicated music machine is hardly redundant IMO.

As long as the VM see’s the audio device. I know VMware has issues with firewire ports, you should be fine.

Actually that’s a heck of a way to clone your setup and have a setup in the cloud too. I have a 24 core 128gig setup but haven’t put VMware on it yet. I might just to see how it handles.