Getting VST Instrument to Read Parameter Automation

Hi all. I am using an EastWest Stormdrum2 instance in the VST rack. Everything is working great except I can’t seem to make it read the automation track for the Release parameter on one of the instruments. What’s interesting is that I was able to click “W” and write the information as I dialed the onscreen knob to where I wanted it at different points in the track. I know the write was successful because I can actually see its values changing as it goes over the automation curves when I check out the automation track. So the write seems good to go, but it doesn’t read it even when I click “R” for both the track in the lane inspector as well as the “R” at the top of the Stormdrum’s screen, press play and nothing changes.

So the summary is:

  • I can see the automation was written in the associated automation lane for this instrument
  • I have read enable for both the track and the instrument itself
  • I can see the value change in the automation lane as the track plays
  • The associated knob in the VST instrument’s window does not move
  • I do not hear any changes to that parameter either

I read several threads and double checked the manual about automation, but I haven’t found anything about this, so I am guessing I am doing something wrong even having done all the things above. I can’t imagine what it is, so could use some help.



Is automation of other parameter working on the very same instrument, please?

Can you reproduce it when using a new track (with the same instrument)?

Isn’t the automation track muted?

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Great questions Martin. Here are the results:

  • I was originally automating the Release parameter and, based on your suggestion, I tried automating the Sustain parameter on the same instrument. It wrote to the automation track (see first image with green color - the Sustain parameter is the one I just tried), but like before does not produce an audible change when listening nor a visible change on the instrument.
  • My first track (in green) is going to an instrument in the VST rack. Based on your question, I instantiated an instrument track with the same instrument, settings, etc. (see second image with yellow color - I used the Release parameter for this test since that is the very first one I tried at the beginning with the instrument in the VST rack). As before, I was able to write the automation but also like before it didn’t influence anything at playback
  • I think the automation tracks are unmuted, but fully accept I could be wrong. Please see both images and let me know if you think I am mistaken.

I suspect it is very close to working as it should and it’s just that I am doing something wrong, so I appreciate the help - thanks again!


I don’t see anything wrong from the screenshots. The automatons definitely not muted and all looks as it should.

Could you try with totally different instrument, please?

Ok, I instantiated Retrologue as an instrument in the rack (image with Rlog Test 2 label) and I also added an instrument track with Retrologue (image with Rlog Test 3 label).

The good news is that both Retrologue tests worked (as an instrument and in the rack). Hooray. I thought that might mean there is some trick to making 3rd party VSTs work with automation. However, I also tried automating the Halion Sonic SE mod wheel (which is from Steinberg ) but that didn’t work. So, it seems like some VSTs are working and others not.

What do you think is up with that?

Thanks again for helping - I appreciate it!


This is interesting. Could you attach a screenshot of this? What parameter exactly did you automated? MIDI CC1 or something different?

I am not sure which CC the mod wheel does (the right-most of the two in Halion Sonic SE), but I do know that whenever I open a session with Halion Symphonic Orchestra that I have to go move that wheel up before doing anything else so I can hear the instruments better. Based on a few posts I read, I have tried manually editing CC7 and CC11 to go to a higher value before the associated MIDI parts start and can see the curves once I draw them in, but they don’t get read either. So I have to manually adjust the wheel.

I will check the wheel to see what controller it is supposed to influence. I will also try again my experiment with manually adjust CC1, CC7 and CC11 since those seem to be the controllers that would influence HSO. Here is one of the articles I read along the way that makes me think this is the case: HALion Symphonic Orchestra volume issue... - #2 by roel (See Brian Roland’s post, that was really helpful).

I will try the manual changes, but am also up for better understanding what CC the right-most mod wheel of the Halion Sonic SE influences (inside red circle of the image below):

Ok, as an early result from my test, manually drawing a curve for cc1 appears in the automation display but didn’t change the articulation as needed. Writing automation with that wheel does not actually write automation. However, I manually drew a curve in for CC7 and it made the wheel move and I could hear the difference for the given instrument. I don’t know why that wheel can be influenced by reading CC7 control info even though it doesn’t write it when the “W” is clicked, but that is definitely the case. So the good news here is that I can get HSO to read the modulation information. The bad news is my EastWest Storm Drums 2 VST doesn’t read controller automation, which is the original problem. Is there a trick to make third party VSTs read automation in Cubase or do you have other ideas?

Thanks again for working through this with me.


The Modulation Wheel in HALion Sonic SE is not automatable parameter. You can control it by sending MIDI CC1 (Modulation) only.

Is n’t it possible to set the EastWest SD2 to read the MIDI CCs? Can you try to right-click to the parameter you want to automate, isn’t there an option to assign a MIDI CC?

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Thank you for the tip about the mod wheel - TIL! I don’t know the answer to the SD2 question, so I am going to go experiment a bit, see what I can figure out and then post the results here.

I think we’re getting close!

When I right click the parameter I would like to automate (Release):

  • It gives a little pop up that says “Midi Learn…”
  • I click it, the menu goes away and nothing appears to happen
  • I click “W” on SD2 to try writing automation
  • I ensure “W” is off and “R” is on when I play back, but nothing changes
  • I right click the Release knob that little pop up reappears but this time it says “Detach from MIDI”

It seems like it’s waiting for me to move a hardware controller somewhere to tell it which physical device manipulates that onscreen control in real time, but it doesn’t seem like it wants to let me map it to a CC.

The original setup was one instance of StormDrum 2 with 2 sounds loaded in - let’s call them kick and snare. I was recording automation with the kick sound selected, but after a bunch of digging I found the automation was actually changing that parameter on the snare sound even though I recorded it with the kick sound selected. I can finally see the automation curves so the only thing I can think is that it reads the automation but acts on the first sound loaded for the plug-in. I will try separating Kick and Snare onto their own tracks with a dedicated StormDrum instance for each to test this out. I don’t know if this is a Cubase thing or an EastWest thing at this point, but my brain is full so I am taking a break before experimenting some more to figure out the last bit. In any case, the good news is automation can influence StormDrum - the trick is figuring out how to properly direct it. More to come!

It is now working, but I feel like I passed a kidney stone getting here!

The net/net is that I had to give each StormDrum part its own instance of the play engine in the VST rack. In other words, I couldn’t get automation to go to the exact “slot” in the play engine. So even though automation technically worked, I couldn’t find a way to make the Release knob associated with slot 2 move - any changes to Release, even using the slot 2 kick drum’s Release knob to write the automation, seemed to influence the Release knob on the slot 1 snare drum on playback.

Giving each drum its own instance of the Play engine in the VST rack fixed the issue, but at the expense of computing resources. Happily, I have enough on my current rig, but I still wish I could find a way to get automation granular enough to go to specific slots in the Play engine instead of separating them. Again, it could be a case of me not knowing there actually is a way to do exactly that but I couldn’t figure it out even after many searches, reading posts/articles and manuals as well as great guidance here.

So, I have learned a lot today about automation, Halion Sonic SE, Halion Symphonic Orchestra and Cubase. Plus, I got good direction from the forum, so all in all a good day. Thanks for all of your help and guidance Martin!