Frustrating Aspect of Cubase

There are a lot of things that Cubase does exceptionally well, or I would not be here. It’s the first, or one of the first, DAWs to implement chord tracks, and it has some of the best MIDI editing flow of any DAW; and many aspects are very convenient and easy to use. There’s just one particular gripe I think I need to share, because it may be that not all of us newbies understand what we’re doing in this regard, and maybe my concern here will help educate us newbies as to the ACTUAL proper way to make a smooth workflow - for those with a couple of thousand plugins that is. Yes, because I research audio plugins, I’ve amassed quite a number of them, and unless I’m missing something, Cubase is not quite accessible to “plugin collector” newbies like myself. For this “big plugin library scenario” it seems to fall short in one particular way. Other DAWs with simpler approaches are just doing nothing and yet manage, for my particular need, to be more accessible.

Prove me wrong here. I want to learn.

When I try to load an instrument (sometimes I’m adding one or 2 to my library per session) I get met with options that seem to reflect the categories in the VST Plugin Mgr:

Among the choices being Default, and All instruments. Normally the “current” folder is the only one I have access to unless I go back into the VST Plugin Mgr. (If I want to load an effect I believe the process also reflects the “current” folder (the last folder I navigated to within VST Plugin Mgr.

The problem here is that unless I painstakingly add my own folders, its totally hit or miss as to whether my Instruments or Effects will show up accessibly in the default or “all” listings cubase-DAW-created folders. (That’s my point - why are user plugins ONLY deposited in folders? Why are they NOT available alphabetically?) For example, right now I’m trying to find Chordjam, by Audiomodern. I haven’t yet added it to my custom folders (my instruments by company and my instruments by category). But I should be able to go to a default listing, where there’s simply an alphabetical or by-create-date listing. That way I don’t need to add everything to custom categories.

The folders Cubase has created are impenetrable. Although I know that Chordjam is in the main listing of instruments to the left side of the VST Plugins window, its simply not found by opening up ever y single Cubase-DAW created folder (e.g. Other, Drum, Effect [Effect is a choice in the Instruments dialog mind you] Kong Audio, Generator, Sampler, Synth, Pitch Shift, etc.). The “Other” folder is apparently NOT THE SOLUTION, because so often it WILL NOT HAVE, the missing plugin. And yet the missing plugin will be in Cubase’s list (to the left side of Plugin Mgr), BUT WILL NOT be available for me to select. Further, when I drag it into a custom folder then I see that there’s no problem with the plugin - aside from my not having been able to find it in Cubase’s self-created folder structure. Please tell me I’m completely missing out on how these whacky Cubase-created folder structures can be worked around, without that tedious process, because I’ve gone into all of them and Chordjam isn’t in there AFAIK. (I suppose I could just add every single plugin into a single custom-created root folder. But this is what other DAWs seem to be doing as part of their automatic initiation routines. )

I should somehow just be able to navigate a list of all my plugins (at least the ones, in this case, that Cubase agrees fall into the instrument category, along with a handy second list of those grayed out plugins that are categorized as effect or “failed to load” - at least then I would know why Cubase hasn’t made Chordjam available. {But in my case, these ‘folder buried’ plugins were actually working fine, including Chordjam).

Its obvious using other DAWs that many plugin companies are doing something non-standard (maybe there is no correct standard) in terms of placing some sort of header info as to the plugin developer name, etc., so I realize its not Steinberg’s fault that they can’t categorize things very well. But that’s not my issue. My issue is why can’t I just navigate to a list of all available instruments (or see blocked plugins in case my plugin isn’t found in the available list). I think some support requests that Cubase support people field pertain to plugins that are actually in the VST Plugins main listing (left side) but are tricky to find in the Cubase-created folder structure.

In another post I mentioned that the drag and drop in this user-customizable folder structure within VST Plugin Mgr isn’t functioning that smoothly; things accidentally get deposited in the wrong folder (more than occasionally), unless one is extremely accurate with the mouse. So its really that issue and this lack of “full listing” that combine to be problematic.

[Note, is there a non-mouse way to alphabetize these, since dragging results in accidents? For example, if I up-arrow on windows, it navigates up and down, but if I hit Ctrl-UP it highlights the above folder. Is there a keystroke combination that will “MOVE UP” & “MOVE DOWN” the folders so I can easily get them alphabetized without these accidents?]

But honestly, who wants to edit their plugin lists, either creating their own big list, or adding new folders, simply to be able to find a new plugin? Permitting Cubase to re-create this VST Plugins list from which to load instruments and effects should be possible (including at the bottom the problematic plugins sorted by their problem “grayed out” categories, hence notifying the user of the problem - I realize the knowledgeable user can already find this out - but including it in the “add instrument” or “add effect” process would seem helpful in my view).

I feel I must repeat, the “Other” folder is not helping in my case. By having things hidden in folders, when typically “Other” does NOT have my new plugin, its up to me to either 1) open up every Cubase DAW-created folder, or 2) create a custom folder and place it there. I tried option 1) several times in the past months, and could not find the plugin, only to find it on the left side, working beautifully.

I hope people will not get on board with this - but instead will tell me how to configure Cubase so the issue is a non-problem.

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I’m sorry, but I have not read your entire post – but wanted to ask if you are familiar with the Plugin Collection feature in Cubase?

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The basic category is assigned to a Plug-In by its manufacturer and is not changeable. This is why Plug-In Collections that @steve referenced were created - so you can arrange & order your Plug-Ins in whatever manner makes sense to you.

Well you really only need to create your initial structure once and then occasionally modify it as your needs change. If I buy a new Reverb I don’t need to create a new Folder for it, I just stick it into an existing Folder with all my other Reverbs. You can even put the same item in multiple folders/locations.

In my main Collection for effects I have my “go -to” plug-ins (although looking now, some are more like “went-to”) all at the top not in any folder. Then below that are Folders for things like Dynamics, Distortion, Delay, etc. and finally there are Folders for each manufacturer. So my “go-tos” are listed 3 times. Once at the top, another in their function folder and third in the manufacturer.

It’s worthwhile to think about how you generally want to organize your plug-ins and then design a structure that will facilitate that organization.

And don’t forget about the always useful Search feature


Thank you - I’ve tried the search feature - and frequently it does find the plugin, but occasionally I think it has failed; for example now when I search chordjam, it finds the instance of it in the collection I created for it (under audiomodern), but earlier today I found nothing, maybe I don’t always type the name as it exists in Windows - I need to test this more - sometimes the plugin devs name the plugin with the company name in front, in abbreviated or non-abbreviated form - I just personally would like the option of scrolling so I can check those possible alternatives instead of trying to figure out how to search each one - especially since, for example, I may type “chord jam” into search, instead of chordjam, and not find it), and I do appreciate that I can add my collections in whatever manner, (I do have effects folder types - a fairly extensive set - in my collections).

My collections for INSTRUMENTS is there, by company name and category, but I have probably 500 instruments to “plop” into category folders. All I would do, instead, is place them in a root folder, so they appear automatically by name, which is what other companies do as part of their auto-functions (e.g. waveform tracktion, Reaper, Bitwig, FL Studio).
If I did this I might face a crash, unless I limited the drag / drop to maybe 50 at a time, which I could do. But I imagined that either by searching or by using some sort of Cubase directory, I wouldn’t need to.

You can see below, it says my current plugin count is 3832, and that’s not including any weird Novation Automap duplicates AFAIK - I removed them or I would have more. Its part of my long term project to review and assess the features of plugins so I have a database with listings and comparisons including well more than what I officially purchased, including musical instrument and sample sound types, and all manner of music software functions and features. (So I know this is completely odd as a problem - and being an outlier, I understand why it doesn’t occur to Cubase to make my life easy :upside_down_face: )

Plugins Manager in FL Studio

Unless you have an enormously huge collection you’ll likely find it after typing “ch”

I think (but not really sure) that the Collection structures are saved in .xml files, which implies someone could build their own editor for Collections if they wanted to. There’s a guy on here that wrote a program to generate complex Expression Maps - something like that maybe.

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Well that’s certainly not a typical Cubase use case.


I just checked and it is indeed an .xml file. Good chance that something like this would let you sort by different fields.

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I bet there are more than 2 thousand plugins you don´t use, better clean your system, you´ll get disk space and Cubase will take less time to load, it´s just a suggestion. All the best producer/ mastering engineers I know use less much less than 500 plugins.

But the OP is reviewing them, which means combing through a bunch of them I’d expect. Although if I were doing that I’d uninstall most of them ASAP (yeah I’m talking to all you loser plug-ins, you know who you are).

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That’s astute, I’m not only reviewing them, I’m using them as inspiration from which to code new toys. I have an excel database just to keep track of my thoughts. I could delete them, but that means being sure of several additional facts going back 20 years (The unbeaten flagship synth U-he zebra 2 came out in 2007 - seems like yesterday ) - If plugins were all installed simply by copy / paste of a DLL that would be one thing. But occasionally the small devs have issues in their installers - I do save the installers, in a folder structure under the dev name - but I haven’t made a meticulous record of all the ins and outs of every plugin. Some tiny devs have produced some amazing plugins that are top of class IMO. Even “BIG” devs are not that big, and don’t have a perfect handle on everything about these changing technologies.

I enjoy what I do. I would like to have a 2nd system, and keep that one clean and lean. Eventually. But in the near months I’m hoping to start funding my own development, and the complete system with all the plugins is my “brain”. Its redundant so there are many kinds of “reminders”.

Speaking of “loser plugins”, you’re right I do lack motivation for this sort of house cleaning, but I must do it. But when you said that I was thinking of what the loser plugins were, and I remembered 2gether Audio’s Space Duck. That is one of the most unstable, but also one of the best plugins. I don’t use it because its too unstable - but it does one particular sound designy thing that may have its times. Camel Phat and some of these old plugins like this are sort of unique and its hard to know (not seeing the code or being an expert at most factors) what exactly is going on without pulling up the plugin and toying with it a bit. Yes, the huge winners are a minority of what’s out there and there are probably many, many average plugins that could be dumped. If I did music production rather than sound design and software brainstorming I would be much more in the tweak averse category and it would be a survival thing - like carrying too much in my back pack. As it is for me, its a bit different. I already know what unique things I can accomplish by deliberation.