Do you use Hardware 'External FX' in your mixdowns?

Do you use Hardware ‘External FX’ in your mixdowns?

  • No
  • Yes (less than 8 channels)
  • Yes (more than 8 channels)

0 voters

Seems like with the digital plugin craze, people mixing more and more in the box.
Wondering how many people actually still use hardware with Cubase.

Not a fan of the ‘External FX’ options and wish they would be updated.
At a minimum give us External FX presets.
At best give us a Logic X ‘Utility’-like Plugin

With 7 or so outboard compressors, 2 EQs, stereo distortion unit, vintage rackmount analog Phaser, vintage rackmount analog Flanger, couple analog chorus boxes/pedals, a couple stereo tape machines, mono spring, stereo spring, vintage digital reverb, strymon digital reverb, analog delay, tape delay…it adds up quick and I have about 25-30 or more external FX.

I have a normalled patchbay for all this stuff and when recording I insert my mic-pres into the system. But when mixing I want everything ready to go with an External FX plugin insert. However they don’t make it easy for me since all the settings are always lost because I need to constantly re-assign when i switch from recording to mixing. Am i the only one? Is everyone officially in-the-box?

psssst…In Logic X you can easily manage this with the Utility I/O plugin. it doesn’t require a dedicated I/O pair exclusively for the insert. However their DAW doesn’t record audio or midi reliably on my Macbook Pro, so I’m stuck here :slight_smile:

Hmmm, I used to! I used to master through my ART opto compressor (which I love!) when I had my UR44, with the Apollo it doesn’t sound right, I think there’s something weird going on with me ending up with two streams of audio when trying to send to external effects, so I’m in the box now. (sadly) There probably some way round it but I don’t want to break something else trying to fix the issue given my rig has been so reliable lately (that’s done it!) :laughing: When I get round to it I’ll unhook the Art and then patch it in parallel with my pre-73dlx as part of my vocal chain, it’s a great vocal tracking compressor.

PS I used to use an external Digitec 4 second digital delay (bought new in 1986) and a Fender “spring” reverb too - but not now for the same reason above.

Yes, I use external FX all the time. I always “capture” them back into the DAW in case I need 100% recall for mix touchups. The External FX section definitely needs an update. I have to manually “trick” it into the right configuration by copy/pasting files from user data folder… It should definitely be able to store presets. Even just a global Input/output/external FX preset would be better than nothing.

I used to use hardware FX more, but about 5 years or so, the delay compensation stopped working for me. Cubase always reports 0ms. It has been very frustrating… when I need to use it, I sometimes need to manually slide parts around after processing to align them. I hope that one day it will work for me again, but I’m not feeling very hopeful. It’s been messed up for a VERY long time. :frowning:

I “usually” never mix down with hardware effects enabled… usually I just print the track first.

Hi Graveley…can you elaborate on your trick? I would love to give this a try.

I haven’t seemed to have this issue. I believe most of the time it actually should be 0ms. This is latency (in addition) to what it would expect it to be (ie your buffer setting). So if Cubase is guessing it correctly (and you dont have a digital FX processor with some latency) then it should be 0ms.

Cubase shouldn’t be “guessing” at all… when it sends the “ping”, it should be able to calculate exactly. Also, EVERY A/D and D/A converter on the planet has an inherent latency - usually just a few milliseconds, but Cubase should NEVER calculate 0ms if going through external converters. The “ping” will ALWAYS come back slightly later than when it was sent.

Yes the ‘Ping’ is exact. It is designed to compensate for 100% of the latency that it measures. (this works, at least for me)

To clarify:

Cubase already knows about your A/D and D/A converter delay. This round trip delay that it ‘guesses’ is already known, and built into the delay compensation of the DAW when using external FX.

So…for example if you directly routed a cable from your interface output 1 to your interface input 1 and did a ping test, it should report this as 0. Whether your buffer setting is at 32 samples or 1024 samples. Cubase already knows this obvious delay… so it is calculating any ‘extra’ stuff beyond the ‘guess’ or known roundtrip delay.

If you have mostly Analog Outboard gear, (which has no inherent latency or delay) this should mostly read 0 no matter what buffer setting. However, if you have something like a ADAT output converter, or other digital process or digital FX that has some latency to it…this is where Cubase tries to calculate that and compensate it for you. Its possible your interface itself might have some onboard-DSP processes that introduce extra latency beyond the advertised ‘guess’ too.
At leasts that is how I understand how it works.

Make sense?

To further clarify and be very specific about it…the A/D and D/A converters themselves don’t add latency.
These ICs are designed to convert analog voltage or digital bits back and forth, in typically 1 clock cycle. Like 2 uS. Barely nothing at all.

The latency of recording audio into your computer comes from the time that is spent inside the computer (your buffer settings) and the extra latency of your Interface software driver.

Good explanation. If one thinks too hard, its too easy to forget that ASIO already reports it’s sample buffer size to the host.

Exactly! Cubase already knows this delay.

So ‘Toader’… good news, if you have a interface that is working properly and a studio full of just 1176s, LA-2As and Neve 1073 eqs…you should always be seeing 0 no matter what buffer setting! So its working :slight_smile:

At least thats how I think it works :confused:

The trick:
Open a project and set up the external fx tab the way you like it
Work on your mix, everything is cool.
Now save a preset of each your “Inputs” and your “outputs” tabs on the vst connections panel. (“band “x” mixing 2018” or something.)
Now close the session AND the software, and go to the folder where your External FX xml file is saved (windows it’s: c/username/appdata/roaming/steinberg/cubase/ or something similar) and make a copy of the External fx xml file and store it in a folder called “band x mixing 2018” or similar), but don’t rename the actual file…

As you know, the usual problem is that when you load the next project if it uses any of the i/o that’s used in your external fx setup, they will be wiped from the routing in your external fx tab and you will have to reconnect them which is tedious and sometimes hard to remember… (and the external fx xml is overwritten in the cubase folder)

BUT, to use the trick, you would then load the presets you made for inputs and outputs, then save the project and close Cubase.
Now go to your previously copied external fx xml file and drag it back into the cubase folder where you originally copied it from, replacing the newly overwritten "wrong"one.

Now when you open Cubase and open your project, the external fx routing will be as you had it.
I made it sound laborious, but it really comes down to just swapping the xml file with the one you copied when it was set up the way you liked it. You just have to remember to grab it after closing the session where you had it set up properly AND quitting Cubase.

It works, but they could make it soooooo much easier!

Darn…I’m on a MAC. But ill give this a shot!

I also use a lot of external FX… One other workaround is to create all of your FX channels as mono channels and insert two in a row on stereo tracks, then go to the Routing tab and route the left and right sides to the appropriate external insert for your left and right channels. It’s an extra step but it eliminates the need to ever go back into the External FX settings or move the XML files around and guarantees that projects with external FX will always be compatible with each other.

This method also eats up an extra insert slot, but since C9.5 expanded to 16 slots it’s a non issue for me.

Not sure I follow this…? Can you elaborate?

Most of my External FX are mono.
Most of my inputs are mono too.

Glad to see that there are some people here using outboard gear, man… How could one sacrifice quality over ease, IDK.

digi001 - Sounds like you have a pretty sweet setup… But I did want to mention, and it looks like you know now, 0ms ping is wrong, especially when you can hear it with your ears.

I mostly “re-amp” tracks as opposed to using so many outboard fx on Mixdown. On mixdown I usually run through an outboard mix bus rack with a few comps, eq’s, etc…

  • Sean Ryder Williams

I have a couple of Alesis units that have midi control, and work well using a midi track and patchname scripts. In fact the LCD of my Quadraverb is kaput, so I can only use it with cubase as a controller. In total I have five external fx units and three hardware synths linked through a patchbay. They’re all quite old, but some of the sounds and fx remain special. Or maybe I’m just used to them.
The patchname scripts allow me to set up templates of different combinations.
However, tbh the setup is more to do with me never wanting to throw anything away, and a determination to explore ways of hooking things up. Frankly for most projects it is much easier to use Valhalla, and the result usually much better. It depends how retro I’m feeling on the day I guess.

Anyone have an issue where it reports 0ms when it used to be 0.02 and then doesn’t work at all? My busses are dead silent. In a bad way. It was intermittent for a couple days. Now I’m just completely at a loss.