Instrument track versus Midi track with VSTi

Could somebody please explain clearly and simply what the differences and advantages are of running a VSTi in an instrument track versus in a midi track ? This is really confusing to me.
And while you’re at it, I’m also confused about the pull down with 16 slots where you can specify, when creating a single instrument track, various VSTi instruments in the slots. Is this so you can somehow layer and hear simultaneously multiple VSTi’s sounds from multiple VSTi instruments using one midi channel ?
Or is it so you can record a track using one of the VSTi’s in the Instrument track and then easily change the midi channel in the single Inspector track to record a different VSTi that’s in a different slot in the pull down menu ?
And/or is there some benefit/convenience having to do with the mixer or … or … ?
Please enlighten me, as I am confused and clueless…
Thanks !


Hi Bob,

Yes, it is misleading. i bought Cubase last year and followed the dvd tutorial as much as i possible could. But i am more and more realising that you are better off coming on this site and asking questions (as you are doing) because (in Cubase) there seems to be lots of ways of doing the SAME thing !! When i do things the way in the manual, people always seem to say “No, do it THIS way” !! However, i am still quite new to Cubase.

i used Midi Track for 6 x months and it was just so problematic !! Then an expert mate of mine said don’t use it (even though it tells you to in the dvd !!). So i switched to Instrument Track and it solved tons of issues (like the ones i think you are experiencing).



Maybe this can be helpful?

THANK YOU, THANK YOU ‘The Present’ !!! Finally clears up what 3 books and a DVD could not.

Paul, if you have not already and still have any confusion, look at the two YouTube presentations. They will clear up any confusion.

Thanks again !!!


OK Bob,

i will do thanks.

Let me know if you are still having any issues in this area mate as i spent a long time on it. Defo go against the grain of the advice on the dvd tutorial mate. And there are tons of experts on the site who can help. i am still learning myself.



i wish i had bloody known about these 6 x months ago !! :unamused:

You are welcome :slight_smile:

there are some awesome vids on the tube, check out the channel audiotekblog for example. Very clear tutorials.
Oh no, I just quoted myself :unamused:

It’s actually not that difficult to understand. The reason why it turns out confusing, I think, is because they really do provide two levels of complexity, but essentially does the same thing.

MIDI is what currently dictates the situation of these two types of tracks, i.e. Instrument Track and MIDI Track.

MIDI has three things called Ports, Channels and Events. On each MIDI Port, MIDI Events can be sent on sixteen different MIDI Channels. (I am referring to MIDI Events as being notes, pitch bender and controller data, for now.)

A MIDI Track has a choice of one Port (virtual or physical) and a choice of sixteen Channels.
(This track type can talk to external instruments or VSTi.)

An Instrument Track has a choice of VSTi.
(This track type automatically use a single virtual Port and a single Channel to communicate with a VSTi.)

As can be seen here, the difference really is that from MT to IT the traditional concept of MIDI Ports and MIDI Channels has been removed altogether. This is why it is easier to use an IT, since the most basic concepts of MIDI communication are absent.

On the other end of either of the track types is an instrument which is either a one-sound-at-the-time or a multi-timbre device.

Ports and Channels are probably more interesting to people like me, that have used and are still using external synthesizers and have already learned how MIDI works. Some people also prefer to continue using VST instruments in this way, even though that is generally not necessary.

HALion 4 is a good example of a VST instrument that can function as both. It has the capability of receiving MIDI Events on many Ports and Channels from one or more MIDI Tracks, but also functions great on an Instrument Track.

There are however lots of VST instruments around that works like H4 in this regard. (Old habits die hard!)

If I have confused matters or can clarify in any way, give me a shout. :smiley: