I have to improve some basic skills

A very, very long time ago I started with Steinbergs Pro-24 and external synths and samples. Then for an even very long time I only used Sibelius (and now Dorico) producing scores.
A couple of years ago I started again with Cubase, trying to catch up the years since pro24.
I learned a lot and nowadays I’m pretty satisfied with the results. I learned a lot about cc’s, automation, etc, etc but every day I have the feeling that I can do better, or more fluently. Especially regarding one very basic thing : volume
There are so many parameters that are effecting the volume : the gain, the mixer-fader (duh), the volume of the vst-instrument, modulation, expression (I use the Korg NanoKontrol), compression, maximising etc.
I wonder how you pro’s are dealing with this. What is the most effective workflow/ set-up? What are the do’s and don’ts? There are tons of tutorials about many aspects of Cubase, but are there any resources about this basic thing: the best way of dealing with the volume of vst-instruments and all the parameters involved?


I don’t myself a pro-. I know, my records sound awful, but…

I don’t use compressor to any Virtual Instrument track. The samples are already cleaned up and compressed.

The Expression (MIDI CC11) is the way, how the musician acts. So I’m using this to really express the volume of the musical context. Often, when you use the expression, the color of the instrument also changes. Some libraries are using MIDI CC1 instead of CC11. But the result is the same, it’s the musical expression.

The Volume (MIDI CC7) is the sound-engineer point of view for me. So I’m using it while mixing, after the musician/performer expressed himself (by using the MIDI CC11).

Sorry I don’t have a link to share. But I think you’ll find more useful videos if you search for ‘Cubase gain staging’

There was a thread here a couple months back (or maybe last week, time has lost all meaning) about gain staging that had some useful links.

One thing that I find annoying with a lot of vst instruments. The levels on patches are all over the place.
Some literally distort/clip when more than one note is played. Adjusting the output and re-saving useful patches is the first thing I do when I have a new VSTi

Thanks for your replies. ! I know about cc’s, and (a bit) about gain staging and vst-patch-levels. I was just wondering how to combine all these things. I will do some more gain-staging-tutorials…

It’s a bit of a Goldilocks situation - not too hot, not too cold. Internal to Cubase there is a huge amount of headroom. So if the only thing you were doing to the audio was routing it around and adjusting the level up and down, then this headroom will pretty much keep your signal safe. But that’s not what usually happens - instead we use sends and inserts to mess with the audio in various ways - compressors, EQ, reverbs, tape emulators & whatever else. These audio processors, especially emulations of vintage gear, often have a preference for an input level. For example, an EQ might start distorting when its input signal is -12dB or higher. That might lead you to keep your level below -12dB. But what if the distortion was pleasant and added some warmth - then you might want to push the level to -10dB or more (or not). The point is there’s no absolute right or wrong, rather it is a bunch of judgment calls that are dependent on your aesthetic goals. Critical listening, trial & error, and experience will eventually get you there.