INPUTs / OUTPUTs - Please UNconfuse me

In the process of trying to learn this mammoth audio recording subject using Cubase, I’m beginning to see that much of my confusion comes in understanding the Inputs and Outputs of the whole picture.
(In the analog days, things were as simple as following the “water” flow thru the system)

Anyway… What I’m trying to accomplish is very simple (or so I thought)
I want to record a midi track and then convert it to an audio track.

I’ve been through this before, successfully converting my physical external module (Roland 3080) midi track
into an audio track. Things work fine. I wind up with a midi track and a copy of it in an audio track. Great.

But now I want to record a short midi track played by a Cubase built-in VST, (let’s say Monologue)and convert that.
But I’m really having a VERY CONFUSING time of understanding the In’s and Out’s of what’s going on.

I can get this far : I know to select “Devices” menu and call up the Monologue in slot 1. I record 5 notes into a midi track, and all plays back fine. I create a new audio track. Now I’m stumped. I can’t get anything at all to record into my audio track. (I’m doing all the correct “elementary” things… arming the track, setting the start,
clicking the red record button… all that)
Obviously, I’m not getting how the IN’s and OUT’s should be set up. And frankly, I really don’t understand
the INs and OUTs in this set up, like I used to understand them with analog recording.


You don’t actually need to set any ins or outs just to render a single vst instrument output to audio.

First set the locators to govern the length of the recorded audio.

Then from the file menu open export audio mixdown, tick the vsti (Monologue) on the left instead of the stereo bus & on the right check the option to import to an audio track along with choosing whether you want stereo/mono & bitrate etc.

The file will be created & added to a new track in your project.

Physically piping audio from an instrument to an audio track is also possible using some trickery in the vst connections panel, but gets rather complex & the above method is perfectly adequate for what you are trying to do.

I don’t wish to disagree with Grim at all, except that it’s not that complicated to record a VST Synth within Cubase, and it does give you a bit of an introduction to the different types of useful track that are available. So here goes… (if you want to try this, get a nice cup of tea and make sure you’re sitting down - it takes a lot longer to describe than it takes to do).

With a VST Instrument playing back, you’d kinda expect to be able to create an audio track and play the VST Instrument into that track to record it, but you’ve found it can’t actually be done directly (yet!), hence the very good suggestion to export it as an audio mixdown which is then imported back into the project as an audio track.

But in fact there is just one bit of piping necessary to do this within the project, and they’re so useful that I’m going to talk about them - Group Tracks! There I said it.

These are often used as a sub-group of audio tracks all sub-mixed through the same track so they can be processed and level controlled as one source, which in itself is staggeringly useful. But in fact the inputs and outputs (so it does all come down to that - you knew it!) are much more flexible and make Group tracks into very useful audio routing tools.

So to recap you’ve got your MIDI track playing back already - now just recklessly add an Audio track and a Group track to your project! Now to connect them all together…

Find the track in the project window that the synth (Monolog?) output plays through - the one that indicates audio level when you play. It’ll be labelled Monolog, in the VST Instruments folder. Now look in the top panel of its Inspector, and you’ll see the routing options for its output, probably set to something like Stereo Out. You can click on that and send it instead to the input of your new Group channel - Group 1, if you haven’t changed its name. Do that! Now your synth is playing back through the Group channel on its way to the Stereo output, which gives you very little except another place where you can add effects, sends, and control the level again (don’t stop now, this hasn’t got good yet).

Then if you go to the same part of the Inspector on your Audio track, there isn’t just an output routing, there’s an input routing as well - and this can (gasp) be set to receive its input from the output of your Group track! Keeping a steady hand, choose that option, and marvel at the playback of your synth part through not one, not two, but three audio channels - the synth output channel, then the Group track, then the Audio track.

And finally you can put the Audio track into record (coz unfortunately Group tracks can’t record - yet!), start the project from the left locator in Record, and your synth will be rendered onto the Audio track (with any processing you choose to add along the way).

OK, it was a bit of a trek, but in exploring the ins and outs of Audio tracks and Group tracks, the versatility of Cubase can start to be fully realised, and it is pretty darn flexible. But surely a direct connection between Instrument track outputs and Audio inputs, or recordable Group tracks, can’t be too far off, please Steiny! :unamused:

…or yet even simpler - freeze your vst instrument, that automatically bounce an 24bit audio file of it on your hard drive, it is located in the “audio” subfolder in your project-folder! Just select “keep audio files” in the pop-up window when you decide to unfreeze that vst instrument, otherwise the program will erase it automatically!

THANKS to Grim, Billum, and AbstractIV !!
It’s gonna take me some time to try all three of these methods, but I think by the time I’m thru, I’ll have a better
understanding of the INs and OUTs of the system, which is really what I’m trying to do in this little experiment in th first place.
THANKS so much
BTW- billum, … liked your humorous approach… was laughing all the way thru.

… Just to add… very often the way we think or ‘visualise’ things can impede our understanding… rather than thinking of ‘converting midi to audio’… try thinking of midi as just controlling your synths, external or internal… quite a few people seem to have that paradigm in their minds which you describe and it does seem to cause them some confusion.
EXACTLY the same ‘flows like water’ paradigm applies perfectly to cubase too both in terms of midi AND audio… they always have done in fact but in the ‘good ole days’ the audio side of things was analogue and thus required much manual patching which required the operator to have to think and work out their routing… this is where the ‘old guys’ have a distinct advantage as they can ‘visualise’ what they are actually doing because they can analogise it to analogue equipment.
Hope that ramble made some kind of sense and is of some use to you! :wink:

Yes, that makes lots of sense. Thanks.
And I’m still trying to wrap my mind around WHERE the ‘water’ is coming from,
and WHERE the ‘water’ is going, and it still seems to be confusing.
I’m sure, after I work with things a while, I hope to get the A-ha moment !

OK - I think I’m able to pinpoint more accurately exactly what it is that I’m confused about if I could
find the answer to the following question:

Below I describe two scenarios, both of which I’ve tried. #1 WAS successful
but #2 was NOT successful.
— WHY does #1 work and #2 not work ??

#1 - I make a 5 note midi recording using my external Roland XV3080 in Track 1
I play it back. It works. Life is good.
I add an AUDIO track 2, arm the track for recording, and play back the 5 notes
from Track 1. That works, too. Life is even better.
I now have 2 tracks - one midi, one audio, of the same material.
Mission accomplished.

#2 I make a 5 note midi recording using CUBASE’S built-in VST ‘MONOLOG’ SYNTH into Track 1
I play it back. It works.
I add an AUDIO track 2, arm the track, play back the 5 notes from Tr 1. But it doesn’t work.
I get nothing.


btw- I’m not ignoring the three VERY helpful suggestions above - just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
Thanks you all again.

Here’s the difference.

Your Cubase is currently set up with recording inputs being your soundcard inputs…your Roland is plugged into the soundcard inputs & so this is what is recorded.

The Monologue doesn’t go into your soundcard inputs becuase it is internal to Cubase.
So to record it you need to create routing from the Monologue outputs to the record inputs…which is what Bill’s post covers…See… told you it was complex :smiley:

You’re right Mr Grim - conceded! :blush:

In theory, the plumbing to record an internal VST synth directly onto an audio track could be created inside Cubase by the programmers (and many on these forums would say it should have been there ever since synths were first planted inside Cub), but at the moment it isn’t. You’ll see that the only choice of inputs to audio tracks are your audio interface physical inputs, unless you do all that faffing with Groups.

Hey Bill…I’m sure you realise I was only joking…your advice is more than useful in the context that the OP is trying to understand the general ins & outs.
Sure he’ll work it out with a run through your well described process himself.

Yeah yeah, I did! No worries matey, it’s all good! :smiley:

Im getting there. Im getting there. Thanks to both of you for helping me see some light.
I sussessfully re-created the previous suggestions.

Just curious though…
In Grim’s post:
"The Monologue doesn’t go into your soundcard inputs becuase it is internal to Cubase.
"So to record it you need to create routing from the Monologue outputs to the record inputs…which is what Bill’s "post covers…

Bill’s Group Tracks idea worked, but Im just wondering… IS there a way to create routing from the Monolog outs
to Record INs ?? (other than Group Tracks ?
If it’s too complicated, don’t bother, I absolutely learned a lot from just this. But I was just curious.

If you have more than one pair of outputs on your audio interface, then yes, you can route the Monolog to a spare pair of outputs, that aren’t being used as your main monitoring output, and physically patch the Monolog outputs to a pair of the interface’s inputs (this is physical patching, of course, using real cables with plugs on the ends!! Lovely tactile stuff.)

Then you’re all set up to record the Monolog on an audio track in Cubase. But do be careful about not monitoring through the same outputs that you’re feeding back to the inputs, or tweeters blow and everyone’s ears start hurting!

Never worked with Grouptracks.
Thanks Billum for explaining us, very useful.


There is an excellent video explaining how to record vsti’s called “Internal Summing" on using Cubase 4. I believe the concept remains the same in 5 and 6. You can either use groups (as discussed above) or set up unconnected busses in vst connections to rout the audio from a vsti for recording internally in Cubase.


Bad advice unfortunately. In the case of non-contiguous parts it makes an edit file (absent spaces), not a contiguous audio file like a stem export. The subsequent file would generally be unusable as a stem without editing/chopping.

Unless this freeze behavior has changed in C6 (doubt it).

I’ve really learned a lot. The video mentioned by Dave is above, and it was excellent!
I found exactly what I needed to know. It shows that you CAN rout things internally and get
an audio copy of a vsti - and it’s really quite simple.

Sorry, I should have mentioned that the particular video that I watched is
called “Internal Summing”, which is listed among the many from the link above.

Yep, that works a treat, and is easier than using Groups. Oddly these free-flowing busses have completely passed me by (heh) even though they’ve been in the programme for years! Useful, though - thanks hubmus!