New External FX Plugin

This was discussed a bit in the General forum, but the External FX process would benefit from an overhaul IMO. The current process only works well if the number of External FX you have doesn’t exceed the number of outputs. If you have a limited number of outputs, a patchbay, or link hardware processors together in the analog domain via a patchbay, the limited External FX process in the current Cubase requires constant attention/tweaking.

What I’d like to see instead:

  1. A generic “External FX” plugin
  2. This plugin should include the ability to set any input and output directly from the interface (except perhaps those outputs linked to the master out/control room)
  3. Adjustable Send and Return gain
  4. A polarity flip control
  5. Mix knob (how cool would it be to blend a latency compensated dry signal with the wet signal?)
  6. Bypass button
  7. Display the [compensated] latency in samples
  8. Input and Output metering
  9. A way to see the incoming waveform to make sure you’re not clipping the converter somewhere along the way
  10. Should detect whether the plugin is on a mono or stereo channel and adjust the input/output list accordingly
  11. The ability to save presets

The idea would be to use the generic External FX plugins as many times as needed in the mix, and just configure each instance as required. Once you had a setup you know you’d use again, or if you just wanted to mimic the current process, you could save a preset for use in the future.

If you’re familiar with Studio One, this is very similar to how Pipeline works



There are also some limitations regarding the use of External FX/Instruments which should be removed. For example, Cubase forces us to export in realtime if it detects that we have an External FX/Instrument instantiated in the track, even when we are not using it at all or have muted it. IMHO, it should be enough with a warning message (“if you continue, the audio from the external tracks won’t be included”), instead of the current behavior (“sorry, you have to switch to realtime export to continue”).



Audio Connection needs an overhaul, with External FX being priority. More flexibility between stereo and mono ins/outs without having to change anything would be godsend.

It would be better to have an option to “Ignore/Disregard External FX”

It’s weird, even more specifically than your example, that when doing batch export of SPECIFIC channels, that DON’T have the external plugin FX inserted - it still forces you… and by this time, I’ve sometimes forgot where I even have that friggin thing inserted because it was so long ago in the project that I used it… It’s probably on some track that is hidden visibility.

I would add:

12./1. Variable phase - useful for permanently installed mics in rooms or on cabs. Maybe this could be a right click option on the regular 180phase button which would switch it to a variable pot, or a bar slider or something.
13. Pictures like Track Pictures but for External FX.
14. A mechanism for smart-auto phase alignment.

I was also playing around with the idea, that External FX should actually get their own track type. You’d get both options. External FX track, or External FX plugin.

+1 on this

Just a small point of correction: the 180 phase button, actually just inverts the polarity. Having it turn into a slider or knob to adjust the phase wouldn’t make sense in that context. Whoever first called it a phase flip has forever been confusing people about what it does. Sure, if the polarity is inverted it will adversely impact phase, but the phase can be way off even if the polarity is correct and that’s where they’re very different things. You mention having mics up on a room or cab, but non-phase aligned microphones is a whole separate deal from External FX and should be handled elsewhere in Cubase IMO. See my response to #14 for what I think could be done in Cubase via a separate FR.

A polarity flip button makes sense in an External FX plugin because some gear just ends up being wired with an inverted polarity (I have an LA-2A clone that’s wired backwards and I’m not at all handy with a soldering iron). An incorrectly wired cable will due that as well. It’s a prominent enough issue that the Studio One folks were wise enough to include a polarity flip in Pipeline.

That’d be nice indeed.

Again, I think built-in phase alignment is a great idea for a DAW, particularly one with ARA which could be useful for syncing up the tracks. Basically, just build something into Cubase that works like Waves InPhase (which is great BTW), but done at the DAW level. It’d be sort of like the auto-alignment features they added, but much, much simpler actually because it only needs to offset tracks, not time stretch. It would be very useful to have built into the DAW. But again, I’d see that as a separate request.

What would be the difference between this, and having an FX track with External FX on it? Seems to me like they’d be the same thing and we wouldn’t need a whole new track type. If you have a good idea in mind that I’m just not picking up on, please add more detail about why. I’m certainly open to anything that will improve Cubase.

Why wouldn’t a re-amping hardware device be considered an external FX and used as so?

Huh? You were talking about having the External FX plugin do phase alignment of microphones weren’t you? That’s a whole editing process unto itself and should be outside of the scope of an External FX plugin IMO.

Why if you have permanent installs? you set once, and then you want it global for every project you start from then on.

Because how far apart your microphones are [your phase issue] has nothing to do with External FX at all? In fact, Cubase already allows you to offset your audio in ms. If you really never ever move your microphones, figure out the offset amount once, set that Time Delay in the inspector, then save it as a Track Archive.

External Effects are apples. Your phasing issues due to microphone distance are oranges. One has nothing to do with the other.

If you want to create a new Feature Request for “Automatic Phase Alignment in Cubase” I’ll definitely +1 it. But it’s not relevant to External FX.

There’s more to phase than this, you can intentionally put something out of face. The point is, you could setup your microphones to be nearly perfectly in phase, but if you flip a filter on one mic, you might want to adjust the phase differently for those new prominent frequencies and you may also be mixing it with a dry line signal. it would be useful to have it at this stage in the chain.

I get it. It just has nothing to do with an external FX plug-in. Check out the Waves Plug-in InPhase for what you want.

Huh? where am I? I thought this was a thread about a New External FX Plugin…

Me too. An External FX plugin routes audio out of the outputs of the DAW, and back in. That’s its function. It doesn’t phase align signals. It doesn’t compare one signal to another to do a phase alignment. It’s not going to do anything to solve for your use-case scenario of “I threw some mics up, didn’t feel like getting them aligned, don’t want to move them, and would somehow like a new External FX plugin to compare one signal that isn’t phase aligned to another and fix that for me.” In fact, if you’re using something like that Radial reamp box to reamp a guitar amp, mic it up, then that new mic signal should really be a new channel in your DAW. It’s not the same thing as taking a pre-recorded guitar track and routing it an external compressor plugin and back into the DAW. Again, different processes. What you’re asking for is outside of the scope what an External FX plugin does.

Phase aligning one microphones signal to another has nothing to do with a Pipeline Style external FX plugin and is an entirely separate audio process. So you’re asking for something that doesn’t make sense in the context of this thread.

I have one Idea to add:

Allow to add an uneven number of I/Os for sidechain input of hardware FX. With this, you can make a sidechain send for external gear. Rightnow, i have to do this with an individual output from my soundcard. I’ve alot of hardware comps which have this sidechain option. With this, i can filter and automate the sidechain feed to prevent the comps from plopping when a crashhit happen, e.g. The problem with the present inplementation is, that if you export a song, the audio of the external hardware is taken into acount because the external plugin is in the singnal flow, but not the sidechain output. These remain silent while exporting because Cubase does not know that they are a part of the external FX. Rightnow, i have to record the stereo out to have the sidechain working and can’t use the export in real time feature.


It is so clunky the way it’s handled now, the competition is running in circles around Steinberg at this point.
C’mon it’s 2019!

I could‘t agree more! Would be amazing with an External FX Plugin. Without a doubt my biggest hope for a cubase update, and my biggest incentive to change DAW.