Live setup with cubase

I write this in case someone is interested to do something similar, or has some tipps for making this task easier.

I own a dedicated vst-hosting performance software called “inTone Keys” which works great but supports neither 64-bit nor vst3-plug-ins (at least until now). So I decided to use Cubase for my upcoming live-performance in november.

I use two keyboards: one with weighted keys (for piano-like sounds) and one without (for organ-like performances).

For each song in my setlist I add a folder track containing (at least) one midi-track for each of my keyboards, respectively more tracks, if I want to have keyboard-splits or layers. The folder track gets the name of the song. I set the input of the midi-tracks to one of my two connected keyboards. If I want to add keyboard-splits I do this in the midi parameters section of the track-inspector. (Setting Range to “note filter” and min and max values according to the key-range I want to use)
Multi-timbral vst-instruments (like Halion Sonic SE) I load in vst-instruments other vstis directly in the track.
In each track I load Transformer as midi-insert in slot 1. I make a preset called “Mute all” which uses a filter that deletes all events containing “channel” “equal or greater” than “1”. This I recall in every Transformer

Next I insert an Arranger Track to my project. Each Song in my setlist gets an entry. I edit the defaul A, B, C, … to my songnames.
In each midi-track I activate an automation-track for the parameter “midi-insert 1 active” and set the parameter to “on”. Now I add points for each automation-track in my song-folder corresponding to the arranger event to deactivate the transformer (inserted as midi-insert 1) at the start-point of the arranger event, and activate it again at the next arranger event.
Let’s say I have “Skyfall” in my setlist, then I have a folder track called “Skyfall” containing two midi-tracks. I also have an arranger event at bar 8 (for example) called “Skyfall”. The “midi-insert 1 active” parameter is set to “on” from the beginning of the project until bar 8. There it is set to “off” until bar 10, where my next arranger event (=song) sits.

At least I add a tempo track changing the tempo at every arranger-event according to the particular song. This allows for tempo-synced effects like delays and so on.

I add an arranger sequence according to my setlist. It is quite easy to reorder the songs if the setlist changes. (Repeating the same song - or an equal sound-set - is also very easy)

At the beginning of the show I switch on monitoring for all midi-tracks in my project. That’s where the folder track comes in handy: I only need to click on each “song” track and monitoring is set on for all the subordinate midi-tracks.

One of the two keyboards I use has buttons which can be set to send midi-events. So I set up an generic controller that uses “mute button 1” and “2” to receive the events sent from my two buttons and set their action to “next arranger-event” and “previous arranger-event”.
During the show I use this two buttons to navigate through my arranger events.

The only downside I detected so far are “hanging” midi-notes when holding down some keys and switching from arranger-event to arranger-event. As the transformer is set to “on” killing all midi-events the vst-instrument never wil receive the “note-off” event. Maybe a more complex filter could be built to kill all midi-events except note-offs.

And yes, this is a complex approach. But it works and I didn’t find and easier way!

If one is interested I can post my experiences after the shows in november.

This sounds interesting… I’ve played using PT on a laptop on stage before, it performed very well but was difficult to program and navigate. Never used Cubase live yet. I know a band that was using Cubase and after many embarrassing system crashes and upgradings involving big fans and new cases etc they finally threw in the towel and went for a couple of Korg Kronos keyboards! The stresses of on-stage power fluctuations, lighting interference, heat dissipation is one thing that keyboards have been designed for.

But I like the ideas that you’ve put forward for controlling everything, it sounds like a reasonable workable solution. I’ve been leaning towards going with MainStage because it’s dedicated to live playing and it’s easy to set everything up and navigate during the gig. The thing I find the most important is tweaking everything during a rehearsal, because there’s several other musicians waiting for me to finish ‘playing space invaders’ during each different section of each song!! The quicker I can tweak everything the happier they are :wink:

Maybe to solve your hanging notes problem you could let all the note-off messages go through somehow? I don’t think this is actually possible with Cubase though because it amalgamates note-on with note-off everywhere, but theoretically if you could allow note-offs to get through all the time then no harm would come when they don’t match note-ons, and hanging notes would be stopped.


I do something very similar to this. The only problem I run into is you have to remember to release the sustain pedal if you are switching sounds. To bad there is not a “sustain off” function in preferences much like the note off function.

Any possible way you could upload an example or template?

I think I figured it out … I couldn’t get what you were doing with the Transformer but I think I got it now. You left off that at the bottom you change “Function” to “Delete” … now activating and deactivating the Transformer seems to turn on and off the midi signal. Is that correct?

Yes Mark, you are absolutely right. Function has to be set to delete. And this cuts off any midi-message.

An other solution would be to automate the mute-parameter of the instrument itself. But I guess this woul lead to decreased performance as all instuments would continue to receive every midi-message.

But I’ll try to create a filter that cuts off all midi-messages except for note-offs und sustain-releases as soon as I find the time. Will have to monitor if that influences performance.

I assigned an easy to reach hot key to MIDI-reset and it takes me a second to deal with hanging notes.

Great idea.

Sadly I have to report, that my setup didn’t work as expected. The many transformers killing incoming midi-events on all tracks except for the dedicated ones for a particular song seem to cause problems: when I was playing full chords in a faster tempo the midi-events got some sort of buffered and were routed to the vstis at a later time. But then they were sent very rapidly.
I made a quick work-around: only enabling the monitor-button for the tracks I needed for a particular song worked well.
Now I’m looking for a solution where I can switch this monitor-buttons from keyboard using it as generig-remote control.
Has anyone experience with this?

Thanks in advance


Ok, so I found a working solution:

I made to Macros. One sending “Monitor”, “down”, “Monitor”, to move forward through my setlist, and one for the opposite direction. I added a generic controller connected to the midi-ports of one of my keyboards (an Evolution MK461C). Two buttons on that keyboard now fire my two Macros for scrolling through my setlist.

Each song in my setlist consists of one folder-track, containing as many midi- or instrument-tracks as the song requires. I use midi-parameters if I have to split any of my keyboards.

All my folder-tracks are collapsed. And one of them is selected with monitor enabled. This enables monitor on all underlying tracks. Using the assigned buttons on my keyboard I now can move through my folder tracks enabling monitor only for the current one.

This is a very interesting thread. I will look into it when I get home from work. I use Cubse live as well but I think I’m doing it slightly different than you do. I use the arranger track to select songs, I have 3-4 tracks each with one vst instrument, and then I have presets changes and tempo track changes coupled with automated mute/unmute on eachs song’s position. I’ll explain it closer tonight when I’m home. But great thread!


Really nice thread. I set up a Cubase session based on this thread and it’s killer!
All the sounds with the flexibility of tweaking the sounds inside Halion/Plugin Menu/with VST Pugin effects.
So a big thank you here!

Only thing I miss and haven’t figured out how to do is creating a panic button. A Macro perhaps linked to a control of my Midi Keyboard so I can kill all notes if something gets stuck. This function is mandatory for live playing.

Any thoughts on that and how to solve it?



Never mind. Fount the Function MIDI => Reset which I assigned to a Macro I control with a knob/pedal. It kills all MIDI including sustain and such.