[MIDI] Help an old audio guy learn...


This is a very basic question, so pardon the bandwidth here… I’m a long-time Steinberg pro audio user, but my experience with MIDI tracking has never needed to go beyond the essentials.

Is it possible to record a series of takes of a MIDI performance (say, using a VST instrument track) and have each new take appear "on top"of the previous take (or at the bottom when in Lanes view) AND ALSO mute the previous take(s) so only the current take is heard while recording each take? That is, rather than all the previous MIDI takes playing back too?

This is how recording audio has always worked in Cubase/Nuendo/etc, and I’m unclear how to get this to happen with MIDI tracking in C6. I understand that cycle recording (in MIDI) does something like this, but I’m talking about doing a series of full-band live takes (with one performer playing a VST instrument live) - not cycling a bunch of overdubs while looping between locator points. After the band finishes each take of a song, it’s irritating to have to manually go into the VSTi track and mute the previous take before we record the next one. It’s also easy to forget to do that occasionally, which blows the next take for the whole band.

Thanks in advance… I fear I’m missing something simple here.


Transport Panel…bottom left…Click on “Replace/Mix” icon

Under Midi Cycle Record Mode - Select “Stacked”

Switch on Cycle mode [by default, “/” key on Num Pad]

Now each pass of the cycle range will produce a new midi part and the track is “laned”,
ie each new pass stacks the previous recordings, and all but the last take are muted.
However, they are still stored and available for subsequent editing


Thanks Andy, appreciate it. But…

I do understand how cycle recording works - you leave it running and Cubase auto-loops some chosen section of the song over-and-over, and each pass creates a new recorded lane (until you hit stop). I get that. Use it all the time in the audio realm when a soloist or singer wants to try different approaches on a specific part of a song.

But I’m not looking to loop a section over and over. I just want to record the whole song, with the whole band. And then hit stop. And then do another take - of the whole song. And then hit stop, and repeat. Until the band gets a good take. This is a very traditional way of working in the studio (dare I say, the classic approach :slight_smile:). I’d like to be able to do it easily with tracks of MIDI instruments, not just audio tracks.

Anyway - does anyone know how to do this without having to mute each previous MIDI take? Again, C6’s problem with this seemingly most basic of workflows is that all previous MIDI takes play simultaneously when the band does each new take. I’m trying to figure out a way to stop that, short of manually muting the previously played MIDI part every time the band wants to try another take. Which is annoying. And prone to human error.

Hope that makes sense!


Save the first take as a project template. Open a new template for each take. You can drag pieces parts between projects.

Or, create folders called Take 1, Take 2, Take 3 etc Muting all but Take 1 folder… Get the tracks + routing for your recording set up in Take 1, then copy/duplicate that configuration into the Take 2 folder.

Record Take 1…

Now all you have to do is Mute the Take 1 folder. Remember to copy Take 2 tracks to Take 3 before recording the 2nd take. You can also Use the folder to set record/mute to all subtracks.

Sounds complicated, but it’s easy once you get it.

Or, didn’t see this suggestion, record them in one project but just one after the other. That’s probably what I’d go for, or maybe the folder for each take option.


Good point. I’ve actually done it this way. The problem was trying to edit in sections for comping performances. But, if it’s just about capturing the best live performance, then this is the easiest solution by far.

But you can still line them up in lanes afterwards with drag and drop - been there. Line them up using the drummers count-in perhaps? Or if recorded to a click then that’s even easier to line up and comp.


Depends on how complex the track setup was. I found it easier to build out the track configurations into a “template” folder, then copy that structure into other folders and use the mute/record at the folder level. If it’s just a stereo in or two, then sure that works. I guess the point is that there are multiple ways to skin this cat (even if the cat complains).

That’s an impressive and clever set of workarounds! Thanks for all of them.

Some big trade-offs there, as I’m sure you folks are already aware. What if everyone’s tracking to a click to build the track, for example? Down the line, using separate take folders or chaining takes linearly is going require a bunch of moves and clean-up when it comes time to craft a composite performance. And that’s just the kind of busy work we’d all like to avoid, especially while on somebody else’s (i.e. a client’s) timeclock.

No one here’s said as much, but I take it the functionality I’m asking for isn’t in Cubase? I find that really strange! It’s a tool for pros, right?

That probably sounded critical, and I really don’t mean it to. I just wonder: If Herbie Hankock walks into the studio tomorrow and for some reason wants to record a series of piano takes with a MIDI controller, does the engineer have to tell him, “Hang on just a sec… I’ve got to mute what you just played before we can hit record again” after every take?

Surely there’s an actual fix here we’re overlooking. Right? :slight_smile: (Chris?)


I don’t know of any DAW that has a 1 click “Do this again” function.
The examples weren’t work arounds. They were actual real ways to accomplish the task, with some flexible options.

And yes, when Herbie Handcock walks into the studio, that’s exactly what happens. Or they just let him continue to play and one of the engineers cuts the track up after he leaves. By the way, using folder and project templates doesn’t take long. We are talking 15 seconds. In a studio with a bands, 15 seconds between performances is not unreasonable.

Yeah, read plenty of stories from the ‘old days’ when they just used to let the tape run and then manually cut and splice the tape to get the perfect performance. Especially with drum fills. The particular one (I think!) recently was Hotel California, as reported by the engineer’s interview in Sound On Sound. I’m pretty sure that’s what they still do but they’d be using ProTools now probably.

But, yes, I agree, it’d be v. useful if Steinberg integrated the midi to fit neatly alongside audio into the multiple takes and grouping strategy.

I personally record midi as both audio and midi, then use the audio for auditioning and the midi later if needed. And nowadays it can actually be easier to edit audio than midi what with polyphonic pitch correction, cut/paste and auto crossfades so I don’t usually need to go back to the midi.


Yes, +1. That’s the take home message here, I believe.

No artist enjoys waiting for the engineer to manually mute their previous take (or line-up previous takes to a click), whether it’s Herbie Hankock or the keyboard player from the bar band down the street. The beauty of DAW work is how quickly it enables us to work. My clients love the speed of Cubase 6, but are the first to comment when I am repeatedly slowed down by repetitive digital “busy work”. Even the least computer savvy clients notice it.

My point, if it’s not already crystal clear: As someone who lives and breathes the audio side of Cubase, I am surprised that something as simple as stacking MIDI takes can only be done while cycle recording. With audio takes, this kind of auto-stacking (where all but the most recent take is muted) has long been Steinberg’s norm. Why wouldn’t it at least be an option for MIDI tracking as well? Surely the “all your MIDI takes play back at once!” feature isn’t the only way to go for pro work.

[Also: when I used the term ‘workarounds’ earlier, I did not mean to offend. I’m sure those other creative approaches - helpfully suggested and useful, thank you! - have their own real-world benefits not related to this particular problem. They just don’t fix the issue I’m bringing up in this thread.]


I wasn’t offended by the “workaround” comment as much as I wanted to point out that figuring out work flows are not work arounds. If that was the case almost every thing that we did with software that wasn’t a 1 click fixes all, would be considered a work around. Silly internet quibbling on my part.

This is interesting though, because I hate the way audio lanes work now. I want audio lanes to go back to how they used to stack and that is pretty much like MIDI behaves now. Go figure.

So, I agree that there is a practical function for the capability you want now that I get what you were after.

No harm, no foul JMCecil. As Steinberg continues development, I think a really good design goal for Cubase/Nuendo - one that will benefit us all - would be to do a better job of recognizing that different users use vastly different workflows, even while using the same tools. Each person’s brain is unique, and individuals will always choose a workflow that’s most efficient for them. The best programs recognize this, and support multiple ways of doing things.

On the other hand, I’d also love to see MIDI and audio operate more alike when possible (particularly in lanes view), or at least be given that option as a user. It’s a bit schizophrenic right now, and moving back between the two can slow sessions down. (Some times it seems like the two functions were designed by different departments who haven’t read each others memos :slight_smile:).

On the subject of making audio behave like MIDI does now - let’s just be glad it’s not identical! Imagine if every audio take/lane on a given track played back simultaneously! What a glorious noise that’d be. Well, it’d be useful for creating vocal or instrumental harmony tracks actually (FR anyone?!)- but certainly not the default approach for most of us, most of the time.

So I can’t imagine why it’s hardwired that MIDI tracks do just that, and there’s no other way provided (aside from cycling or manual muting). Seems daft.


Actually, that’s exactly what I want to happen, and you used to be able to have a cycle mode that did just that. And as you stated, I used to do vocal harmony build ups this way. Also could lay down guitar rhythm tracks rapidly this way. It was extremely efficient. Also, the way you could build and save comps was actually superior to how it is now, if not a bit convoluted. However, you could actually build real, non linear comps and dump them to the pool. It’s pretty much how I worked. It was a real killer for me when the new implementations started rolling in.

by the way, I’ve since come up with a workflow (work around :laughing: ) where I cycle record large sections, then arrow down to the next track with “record on select” option turned on. It’s not quite as fast because I have to fiddle with the new track and make sure the previous track is no longer recording. But, it does work. In practice you end up editing in a very similar way, it’s just the recording process is clumsier.

Ha, that’s great! It just goes to show… different workflows for different folks. As I said, I think the ideal software design would allow both approaches. Put flexibility in the tools, and creativity thrives.

The other thing that really gets me about this little “MIDI stacking” issue is that clearly C6 can do it ALREADY - it works fine when using cycle. I’m no programmer, but that implies that enabling it elsewhere would require relatively minor effort.

(As an option, of course - add it as a choice on the Transport Panel under “Replace/Mix”… it’d make perfect sense there.)