I have tended to use the output as close to the source as possible to gain stage VST instruments. I more often turn the faders down in HS’s internal mixer. The small meters are just about adequate to see if the output from the VSTi is too high or going above 0. I try to do the same with other VST instruments.
My thinking in this is that I want the sound/data to hit the Cubase channel in that state, at that level - before the channel pre-gain.
I can check in more detail by changing the fader meter in Cubase to input, but I find that unnecessarily fiddly with it being on the drop down menu (and if you leave a session and come back, you can unwittingly forget you left a channel meter on that setting, as there’s no visible indication).
The other aspect of this is how/where to set the levels at this point.
To start a mix off, with faders at 0dB, I try to have my peaks between -18dBFS and -10 / -12dBFS - I’m never quite sure where the ceiling of that window should be… or if I should have my faders lower?
Where do you aim to get your peaks at this point in the process on the Cubase channels and master meters?