Newbie Question Regarding External Midi Synth Setup

I’ve read through the manual and watched a few videos on this, so I know I have the procedure right, I am just trying to understand a “Why”

I have four external synths - a Roland FA08, Roland Integra 7, Nord A1R, and a Moog Slim Phatty. As I understand, there are two main “options” to set these up:

Option 1: Add the device as Midi device under Midi Device Manager, then under “Audio Connections” Input tab, set up each device as a bus, and setup the stereo pair outputs (mono on the Moog) on the Device Port column. Doing so seems to allow me to record audio from those devices.

Option 2: Add the device as a Midi device under Midi Device Manager, Do NOT set these synths up under the Audio Connections input tab, but set them up instead on the External Instruments tab. Doing so allows the device to be seen as a VST instrument, but not as an audio track. (One cannot seem to set them up on both tabs).

Do I have this right, or am I totally confused? Is there a benefit of one way or the other? I’m new to Cubase, and home recording in general, so if someone could explain the methodology or benefits (assuming I have it correct), I would appreciate it.

Yes there are basically 2 ways to set this up but I prefer this with Cubase Pro:

Create a new connection (F4) under external instruments. In this process you can also choose an existing midi device from the list of templates or create a new one from scratch. It’s easy to create a new basic instrument that just communicates with the right midi out port. But for more advanced options it is not very straightforward and certainly not easily explained here. The most important thing is that you make sure that the connection communicates with the correct midi out port to which the synth is connected. A ‘midi device’ can basically mean 3 things in Cubase. A) Just a midi out that communicates with the rights port. B) Additionally be able to send patch/program/bank changes to the synth. C) Additionally also control parameters like envelopes, filters and whatever that can be controlled via midi cc or system exclusive messages. Those are called the ‘device panels’ and take a little more knowledge to create.

So, you can also set up separate midi devices and separate audio inputs but personally I do not prefer this. This means you have to create a midi track and separate audio track(s) to be able to use the synth in Cubase. Not very convenient.

With the first you can just create a rack/track instrument. You can choose the VST just as any other VST instrument. In the instrument configuration you can enable or disable additional audio channels and apply effects, EQ or any other. Just as with any other audio track. If you have an instrument with 8 stereo outputs you can create the instrument with 8 sets of outputs. However, to be able to use them simultaneously you of course also need the physical inputs on you audio interface. If you want you can always add more midi tracks that output to the same VST but on other midi channels in case of a multitimbral instrument like Halion SE for instance.

Thank you for responding Nickel. I guess I just need to play around with both methods to determine the best one. At first blush, it would seem that the better way would be to set them up as external instruments, that way one would not need to set up a separate audio track. Not sure what the downside would be.

Again, thank you.