New Track Type: Reference Song Track - That bypasses Stereo Out Inserts

Let’s face it, most people these days are releasing singles and not albums and lots of home studio guys and producers and putting mastering plugins on the stereo outs in the mix so that they can tweak the mix and the master at the same time. There is only one problem with that… you can’t add a reference song to an audio channel without it also going through the stereo outs. You could manually route every track/channel to a bus and master on that bus but isn’t that hugely impractical and a waste of time just to trigger a reference song?

What if you could have a new track type, called Reference Song Track, that still comes out of your monitors like it would if it was going through the stereo outs except it completely bypasses the stereo out channel and inserts?

Improved Workflow

New track type: Reference song track

  • Solo on and off a reference song for mastering just like a normal track/channel. Except, the audio is routed to the stereo outputs but does not go through the stereo out bus. It goes through it’s own channel in the mixer that bypasses the Stereo Out channel and inserts except that the output is routed to the same output used by the stereo output bus.

  • Meaning, whatever monitors are selected for the Stereo Outs, the reference track will send to them.
    It will never play at the same time as the stereo outs.

  • You can only hear it by soloing it.

  • It should have it’s own assignable key command that you can assign a keystroke or midi in generic remote to.

  • It should also appear as a regular solo-able track on Eucon and Mackie control surfaces

  • The song reference song will loop if is longer than the song in the project

  • You can set cue points within the reference song that can also be assigned to key commands to start playing the reference song from different parts when soloed

  • It appears in the Mix Console next to the Stereo Out channel as a sperate channel and uses the same outputs that the Stereo Out channel uses but it does not go through the Stereo Out channel

Suggestion on how to implement it - Do this - It is awesome
The channel in the Mix Console shouldn’t have an insert effects section. Instead in that area, it has a heading called Cue Points or Hot Cues (if you wanna use the industry standard Pioneer DJ terminology) with large buttons with numbers on them 1, 2, 3, 4 and Play From Start and Play In Line with Project Track time. Clicking them will both solo it and play it from that point. If no Cue Point/Hot Cue is set, it will trigger the Play from Start button for the user (illuminate it also) and then whenever you press the Cue Point/Hot Cue, it will lock in that time - Look at the Pioneer CDJ 2000/2000 Nexus for reference or even just the Pioneer DJ software. There should also be a drop down menu - Assign mixer solo button to: and then you can select either a cue point, 1,2,3,4, play from start or play in line with the song. That will allow anyone with a control surface to use their regular solo button to cue from a certain point.

There should also be a MIDI learn button and a MIDI learn Clear button down the bottom of this section. Click any of the buttons and select a midi button or key or whatever to quickly assign to a Hot Cue/Cue Point. Place all of these same buttons and functions onto the physical track in the arrangement window in regions on the track that overlay the clip/event waveform. You should also place these buttons on the channel on the left zone where normally the insert effects, pan and other stuff would go. You don’t need any of the other stuff. Just these buttons now. You should also be able to click on the zones/cue points in the arrangement window in an overlay on the track event/waveform.


  • Add track - Reference Song Track (or Reference Track, whatever you wanna call it)

  • Dialogue pops up asking to Browse Computer or Select from Pool

  • Detects the first hit point of the reference song and aligns it with the first bar closest to the first event in the arrangement window (this will allow syncing if it’s the same tempo)

  • Left zone has hot cue/cue point buttons, play from etc… same as mixer as explained earlier.

  • Solo for now is the same as play in line until reassigned in the drop down menu on the left zone or mixer

  • Clicking a Cue Point/Hot Cue when playing or when stopped (in the arrangement window) will set the cue point from the scrolling play head line thing (regular Cubase play line)

  • User sees the audio file/clip divide into cue point that you can see. These move with the event. Instead of making them like markers I would physically splice the event and put large text over the event (much larger than usual) that says Cue 1, Cue 2 etc… Clicking it will play it from there.

  • There should still be a way to drag/move the audio clip once Cue points are set. Maybe the combined tools/smart tool can be set to drag when selected from the very top but clicking in the center should play from that point.
    Cue Points can also be set from the mixer and operate as described earlier

Present Workflow

Much longer and less ideal…

To do this in Cubase at the moment. You must either bounce the song out and master it separately from the project but then you will often be trying to fix something in the master that should have been fixed in the mix. Plus if a client wants to change anything in the mix after mastering, you must open the project again, bounce it out again, load it back in again only to realize that something else should have been fixed in the mix and do it all over again.

Or you can create a Group track, and go to every track in the entire mix which could easily be 100 for a pop song or hundreds for an orchestral score or flim and individual set each output to the group track. This gets particularly confusing if you have group tracks already in the song as you have to be careful to send the output of the group tracks not the output of the tracks going to the group tracks. This takes a very long time when all you want to do is have a reference song that doesn’t go through the stereo outs.

Then… if you want to reference a part of the reference song to a part of the your song/mix, you have to keep dragging the reference song around. Then there is the issue of flicking it on and off all the time. Since you can’t assign a key command to solo the reference track on and off you have to either keep tracking the channel up and down in the project so you can solo it with the mouse or, you can do the smarter way of triggering it from a control surface but that might involve stretching to a far away channel or moving your chair to that channel (if you have a large control surface) which puts you out of the sweet spot where you would ideally be when doing something as critical as mastering.

All you really need is just a special track type in Cubase to put a reference song on that bypasses the stereo out insert effects and a quick way to trigger soloing it and ideally also trigger soloing it from a certain part (cue point) in the song.

This feature request has been bought to you by Tom at Current Sound (Cubase user since the late 90s) The same guy who suggested on the forums the ideas for SnapShots, Import Tracks/Settings and pushed the idea of the Mixer Undo Button. When can I become an official consultant to give you more ideas? I gave you a very detailed way of how to implement it this time as I feel like my other ideas that you did could have been implemented better. This however, is now a large amount of text and people are less likely to read it which is why I didn’t do it on my other ideas as much. If you decide to do it, it would be nice if you could please give it to me to test out this time so I can find any flaws/bugs and offer suggestions/feedback. You can contact me via Thanks

I create a mixbus called “main”, I route all my groups and channels to this bus, do all my final processing here and route it to the Stereo Out, which only has analysing tools.

I then create a normal stereo track called “reference” and route it directly to the Stereo Out, bypassing all “main” processing.
When I need to A/B, I just use markers or locate directly from the ruler bar.

It’s not as sophisticated as the reference feature, for example in Izotope Ozone, but it gets the job done. If you use track templates or the Q-Link feature on the mixer and take a few extra seconds routing as you add channels, you can get used to it without suffering too much or wasting too much time.

I know, I do the same. It’s just very time consuming when you have 100 or more tracks. Imagine these film scoring guys that have 600+ tracks to all route to another group. And when you’re routing groups you have to be careful not to route any channels that are going to that group to the ‘mastering bus’ and to only route the group but it’s easy to forget and get confused when you have a lot going on and complex routing as you sometimes already have one group going to another group and pretty much you can only route the last group to the bus which means constantly soloing stuff so see where it’s going.

It’s just a pain in ass for something as simple as wanting to have a track that bypasses the inserts on the stereo outs for a reference track/channel.

Not to mention the way I suggested it would allow assigning of a certain part of the reference track to be trigged and play no matter where you are in the song/project. Something you can’t do right now without constantly dragging the reference track around or cutting it up and editing it. Often you’ll want to reference a certain section of a song. For example, I don’t see the EDM guys wanting to reference a breakdown when playing back their drop.

This idea basically just streamlines the entire process of turning on and off a reference track at any point in the song in a very quick and easy way and is very user friendly to people new to Cubase and mixing but not only that, it’s a big time saver for professionals and an massive huge time saver for professional film composers and post production studios that have super high track counts. It also makes instantly cuing the reference track possible without a control surface.

I use Sample Magic AB Plugin
Great plugin but it is discontinued
The alternative is
Metric AB

Which is insanely expensive for what it does.

Wow. I never heard of these. Thanks. Too bad it’s $200 though but might still be worth it for me. I still like the idea of a Reference Song Track in Cubase but even if they decide to do it, it’s not gonna be out for a year or more. Thanks for the tip :slight_smile:

No problem :slight_smile:

Just looked at a demo of Metric AB. They also have my 4 cue points ideas. It looks pretty cool and to be honest does most of my ideas. Other than being expensive ($200) it lacks one major thing that I suggested which was actually my favorite part/idea…

I can’t trigger it via midi or key command.

Which if you saw my studio, you would see why this is annoying. Directly in front of me in Maschine Studio in MIDI mode, next to a stream deck in midi mode and next to two avid artist mixers in Eucon… and underneath that is a midi keyboard, all which can’t trigger anything in Metric AB. I have 16 pads right in front of me. How awesome it would be to be able to press one and hear a certain part of a reference track play at a certain cue point and press another one and hear another part of the reference track play and tap it again to stop it from playing and hear my mix. I guess it would also be cool to set it to play just that cue point when you hold your finger on the pad (cue on on note on, cue off on note off).

Yeah that would be great :slight_smile: