I think Instrument Tracks have huge potential, but IMHO the current implementation is buggy, limited, baffling, disappointing, and ultimately unusable. It’s like the guy who came up with Instrument Tracks left the company, leaving them orphaned. (Did this happen, btw?)
Someone (or someones) need to really think through how Instrument Tracks are - and could be - used, and make those workflows and operations real. Maybe I’m just not understanding who the target user or workflows are for Instrument tracks, but my needs are pretty straightforward:
- I have a bunch of synths, some soft VSTs, some external hardware. Much of the external hardware, e.g., minimoog, has limited timbrality, i.e., can only play one or few separate parts at a time.
- I want to be able to record and edit MIDI, where possible, and then at some point Freeze it as audio, so that I can a) create additional tracks using that synth, b) use all the powerful Cubase audio editing & processing features as the next logical step in that part’s production, and c) keep the MIDI and audio together as one track, so that if necessary, I could UnFreeze back to MIDI, make the changes there, and re-Freeze. Without keeping them as one track, I have to manage both a MIDI and an Audio track (and possibly a Folder track to hold them both), making my Project both cluttered and complicated - and still without the ability to easily go back and forth between MIDI and audio.
My two cents:
#1. Instrument Tracks should be “chameleons” that have the best of both MIDI and Audio tracks: I record some MIDI, edit it, etc. as MIDI. Then, Freeze to render it as Audio. So far, kinda similar to what’s there now. But wait - if the MIDI has been turned to Audio, why is it still showing as MIDI? It should be showing as Audio - and allow all the normal Audio editing & processing! Naturally, this also includes being able to Split, Duplicate, Repeat, etc. - all things that you cannot do with Instrument tracks today, for some reason.
#2. A long-standing Instrument Track “Freeze” bug (only on Mac, I’m told) makes it impossible to use and External Instrument (e.g., minimoog) on multiple Instrument tracks, as, despite the Checkbox in the Freeze dialog box, the “External Instrument VST” does NOT get “unloaded” as it says it should be. The result? You did Freeze the Instrument track (rendering MIDI to audio) but Cubase still ties up the MIDI port, audio channels, etc. of the external instruments, even tho it is most definitely no longer needed.
#3. Right now you cannot even delete a Freeze’d Instrument track!! Why?
All these things, plus things others have mentioned in these Forums, just show that a) Instrument tracks are “buggy, limited, baffling, disappointing, and ultimately unusable” as I stated, above. They clearly are not getting any sw engineering love from Steinberg. But I think they can be salvaged and be a big win for Steinberg and for us loyal customers.