Does Cubase Pro 9 have external instrument PDC? Also multi channel?

Hi there… a few questions regarding using External Midi Synths in Cubase… Bear with me as this will be quite a long post but I’ll try categorise it a simple as possible.

First an explanation of how I do it in pro tools thus far.

  1. because I have 32 analog inputs via UAD apollo8’s with one adat expander a piece (16 total a/d each), what i do is very simple… I create a midi track in Pro tools, I monitor through console… All Apollo console settings save with my project due to the console daw sync plugin…
    if i need to get them into Pro tools as audio, I just create an audio track and record them. Pro tools is not doing any monitoring itself, and if i were to keep my Apollos for Cubase, i would use the same method

  2. However, my aim is to sell all UAD stuff and monitor entirely natively through Cubase… Unlike Pro tools, Cubase is not limited to 32 inputs with Core audio. My plan is to buy 3 presonus quantums and use a total of 5 adat expanders with them (2 on 2 quantums, 1 on the 3rd). This would give me,
    24 a/d directly on the 3 quantums, and another 40a/d via the five 8 channel adat expanders, for a total of 64 inputs… I will be able to flesh out my synths much better, with a larger template and barely any re-patching needed.

  3. So, in this case, everything becomes much easier once i have set up the midi instruments in Cubase… They will appear along with VSTis and will insert, already routed through midi and the cubase mixer with one click.
    My hope and plan is that i never actually have to go into the audio recording domain and that I can keep everything as midi.


  1. I noticed a MS delay on each VST external instrument… I presume this is to compensate for midi delays? Or for converter delays? I presumed converter delays would have already been reported by the interface driver

  2. Does Cubase keep everything in sync on playback regardless of buffer size setting? this is the big one I need to know. I am hoping that Cubase’s PDC engine comes into play for external instruments, including if i add latent effects on them, or if i change the buffer size to say 128 samples once my project is getting really heavy and can no longer handle a 32 sample buffer. My guess would be that it would shift audio tracks and Vi tracks the required amount of latency to line up with the external midi instruments… Just a guess but my aim is to use Cubase itself + 64 quantum inputs as a complete replacement for my UAD console & my external analog mixer.

  3. How on earth do i set up external instruments to use multi midi and audio channels? I can’t find any tutorials that show multi timbral setups for the external instrument plugin… The only way i can see to do this is the tradition midi track and separate audio track way. Am i missing something?

Thanks so much in advance! I am really hoping i can just set everything up once, create a template, and literally have all my external synths on command at any time, with compensated playback.

Cheers and thanks again!

sorry mods, please move this to cubase 9 forum. this was a genuine mistake posting here.

Wow… this sounds like a huge undertaking and especially so with external MIDI synths. I may not be able to answer all your questions but hopefully some seniors will be able to chip in and point you in the right direction. It sounds like the good old days when we were getting a new studio in place with your desired setup; now using Cubase at its centre.

1st-ly if you are looking towards an external multimberal-MIDI setup, the challenge these days is to first locate a MIDI Patchbay. They were fairly common in the 90s but nowadays its even difficult to locate a 5-Pin DIN MIDI cable. The patchbay will effectively give you MIDI 8x8 or 16x16; some will have zoning functions too.

2nd-ly i do humbly suggest a MADI interface with the total number of inputs and outputs you desire as one singular unit - this is for stability.

finally for total peace of mind, get a standalone SMPTE Generator. It whips the clocks into precision. Had a couple of MOTUs before - rock solid every time. pun intended :laughing:

all the very best and hope this helps. would love the see your final setup. Cheers!!!

Hi… i have a motu express 128 for 8 midi in and midi out… to cover the old synths without USB… each on its own port… every other synth has it’s own midi port via usb. So that’s all covered…

I have not noticed any midi timing issues at all with PT and i can’t think why it would be different in Cubase.

My question basically revolves around whether Cubase’s PDC engine covers the playback of live external signals. After i have done the composition and need to raise the buffer, the monitoring latency no longer matters… but if a higher buffer affects playback as well, and it’s all out of time uncompensated, then there is no point in leaving apollo and my 32 channel external analog mixer. I just wanted to simplify my setup.

I can get that entire presonus setup for 4 grand including the adat a/d’s (i already have 2 of them, will just buy 3 ada8200)
64 a/d via madi will be like 20 grand from the ones i have seen. It’s not even remotely feasible. If i would do that, i would have gone to pro tools HDX.

Hi… ah… you’d be lucky with the MOTU :smiley: great piece to have these days.

Honestly, its a very tough call to make with regard to the PDC question. Speaking in today’s context everything boils down to the quality of the audio interface and it protocol drivers; which is software. Even on 2 similar built systems, electronically there will still be the slightest amounts of jitter, most of the time caused by the power supply; however not until the human ear may detect.

I am out of my depth here, but if there is a user who has gone through running Cubase just a sequencer in the early days with experience in multi-channel setups he/she will be in that position to advice. Unfortunately these days, its either the band records one shot studio style or multi track individually one by one. That being said, most would still prefer to print to audio rather than keep it MIDI.

much as i understand your requirements, my Midi workflow is sequence each (VST) instrument one at a time, quantize and or perhaps cheat a little. If its a hardware synth, just get the fella to play and hit record.

its a tough one, my friend… hope some one chimes in soon.

I don’t run nearly as many external MIDI units as you do/ are planning to but I’ve had no timing issues on playback or when/if I want to record them back into Cubase as Audio which I generally only do when I’ve finished a track. I’m using a Steinberg Midex 8 for external units but I’m sure your units will do just as good a job.


Same as you I use external synths etc… in my studio. As far as I’m aware Cubase will compensate for all software latency (instr/plugs) but can’t compensate for external instruments because of the very fact that they are external instruments and Cubase has no way to know what they are doing. For instance, once recorded, my 808 clocked via a Phillip Rees Sync 24 will be slightly delayed (perhaps as much as 10 ms) when I compare it with VST drums recorded internally in the same project.
Some adjustments can be made here and there, in the sync setup window I believe you can ‘offset’ the sync clock going out and in the audio setup window you can adjust the overall recording latency. I don’t think you can adjust latency per track (or per external instrument) though. This would be awesome of course!
I have just moved my studio and will set it up again soon. I will try to test and report for you here :slight_smile:

F4 for audio connections, then on the External Intruments tab, set up your instrument and add a delay to compensate. For external effects this can even be determined automatically (right-click and Check User Delay), but not for external instruments – the manual is incorrect.

Cubase will automatically compensate for the A/D latency, and buffer size is irrelevant on playback. You set the delay in milliseconds equvalent to the time between when the MIDI note is sent and the audio signal returns from the synth – trial and error by ear, but you can record a track and check the time difference between the start of the audio waveform and the start of the MIDI note that triggered it. Best results are obtained using a test sound with a sharp attack.

A multitimbral external instrument must have multiple hardware outputs in order to set it up with seperate audio channels in Cubase – when you click Add External Instrument, just set the number of “returns”, either mono or stereo, to match the number of hardware outputs on your external instrument and connect them accordingly.