External Synths

I have two external synths that I use all the time. Both can be used in a multi-timbral mode. I setup in Audio Connections both as External Instruments but I seem to be only able to load one instance unlike a true VST instrument. Have I missed something here? Any thoughts about how I can use them within the VST workflow but as a multi-timbral instrument.

Hi you,
yes, you are missing something ;o). Let me try to help: A multi-timbral instrument is one that can produce multiple sounds at the same time. This is just one relevant aspect when connecting to a mixer or daw. The other aspect is the number of AUDIO outputs the instrument offers that can be used simultanously to output the different sounds at the same time. These can be analogue or digital (e.g. USB or Firewire or whatever).
Bottom line at the symths-side: The number of simultanuously available audio-outputs is the relevant aspect. If there is only one (Mono or stereo) You can transfer audio only “one sound at a time” or “one mixed sum of all sounds at a time”.

On the DAW-side it is absolutely logical that you have only ONE instance per physically available external instrument. In other words: ONE single external instrument that you set up in cubase representy ONE physical instrument. There is nothing “virtual” going on here - the “VST” that you use in Cubase in this case is just a representation of your single external instrument. If you want TWO of them (or more) you have to set up one external instrument per physical external instrument. You can use them in parallel provided you have enough physical audio inputs on the daw side!

Now: If one of your synths fulfills the requirements I described on the synths-side - true multi-timbral synths with more than one audio output (analog or digital) - you can easily set up as many stereo or mono connections when you define the external instrument under vst-connections. This way you will create a “VST” with multiple oudio-outs (that of course require multiple audio-inputs on your interface to be available).

From this point on you have a single instance vst that represents your physical external instruments in cubase. But one with multiple audio-channels - just like a vst with multiple audio channels. Those you can handle as rack instruments or track instruments - just like any instance of a “real vst” with multiple audio-outputs.

HTH, Ernst

Let me add: you can of course control the mulitple audios of a single multi-timbral synth with cubase via midi as well - provided the synths reacts on messages on different midi channels that control the individual sounds. You will need multiple midi tracks (which is available both for rack and for track instruments).

Excellent explanations!

Let me add my $0.40 (2 * $0.20)

The physical instrument may need a special setting to work in multi-timbral mode, my Roland RS-70 has to be set to “pattern” mode, for example.

Unless you can assign different patches to different channels on the instrument itself (through buttons and/or menus), you will need a script file to define the instrument so you can make patch (program) assignments within Cubase. I can probably help you with that if required.

Thank you for the addition, Barry,

the first part of what you write is also true e.g. for Yamaha Motif and their relatives. We have to set up song/pattern mode to use the multitimbral capability of the synth(workstation) with the DAW effectively.

Thank you both for your comments. My baseline setup let’s me use multiple voices from either synth. Like Barry suggested I did import patch lists so I can use the Midi Inspector to select different sounds. My Yamaha S-90 requires I put it in sequence mode. This all works fine things get challenging when I try to route the sound to create an audio file. Something that has always confused me. I was setting up the external instrument in the hopes it would simply that process.

Elien, if I understood you correctly, I should make additional audio outputs (and inputs?). I’ll play around with this and see where it goes. Again thanks for you input. Very helpful.

Hi jwr1361 :slight_smile:

Yes - create as many “return” channels as your physical synth actually provides. This will allow you to output the multiple timbres of your synth and input them (via these returns) simultanuously into cubase. The rest will work the same as with any multitimbral vsti!

Wish you success!

Excellent thread and posts. One minor detail if only for sake of redundancy: Depending on the operation of the Instrument, MIDI channels on the External instrument likely need to be routed, in the physical synth’s set-up, to the Instrument’s physical outputs and then the Synth Audio Out > goes to Interface Input > to Cubase Track set to MIDI channel for the voice you want to us. This may or may not be an needed on your instrument but it can be a source of confusion.

Hope it works out for you. It should.

To all of you - thanks. I’ve looked at any number of posts since I started this thread and bit by bit … having just reread this post I got a very important fact that probably controls the conversation. Both of my synths have two physical outputs (left & right) this trumps the midi multi-timbral. Everything sums to those two audio outputs. So as far as Cubase is concerned it’s one input.