Override MIDI-Controller Limitation of 128 steps

I’ve been searching the forum to see whether this has been discussed before, but I haven’t found anything that fits my wish.

Knowing well that MIDI is a standard, it appears to be outdated in some ways these days. What really annoys me is the fact that it comes with the limitation of 128 steps for any kind of value except for the Pitch Bend. What I have in mind is that since Cubase (and any other DAW by Steinberg) should actually be easily capable of overriding this limitation when it comes to internal processing. That said, it should be possible that all plug-ins can make use of a much, much, much smoother stepping so that controller movements do no longer cause audible steps (i.e. filter cutoff, where it is probably noticable the most, volume, panning etc.).

You may think this can be a problem when it comes to MIDI-compatibility, but I suppose that it should be possible to implement this with a switch. Or even by adding some “flattening technology” through interpolation.

I’d really like to see Steinberg get their focus on this for the next version of Cubase (and any other DAW they make) and make it a standard for all plug-ins, their own and 3rd party developers both.

I am aware that hardware controllers are still coming with this limitation and as far as my knowledge goes there’s no controller yet that offers a higher controller data resolution for their faders and knobs. But within the DAW we have the ability to edit things after recording and we should make use of that extended potential. Since most controllers are connected through USB these days, it should also be possible to make hardware become compliant with more precise controller values. Someone has to start improving things and I think it has to start in the center where things are about to happen which is everyone’s favourite DAW. Steinberg and Yamaha have the potential to create a new standard that will finally replace MIDI.


Lots of parameters (including Volume and Pan) are much smoother than 128 steps on the Audio and Instrument tracks.

For example the panner is from L100 (-100) to R100 (+100), it means 200 steps.

Internally all parameters are handled from 0 to 1. So it can have huge number of steps. 0.0001, 0.002, etc.

Hi Martin,

Thanks for responding so quickly.

You are right. But how do we get this translated to the plug-ins where VCF Cutoff automations have audible “stepping artefacts” as they are offering only a mere of 100 steps (from 0.0 to 10.0)? Is there a way to override this limitation?

Lots of parameters however are still not all parameters. Could you somehow get your hands on this in future versions?

Let me add one note. You are referring to Volume and Panner on the Channel itself. But I am talking about the plug-ins. For example when you want to control the VCO volume. My problem is not that the Channels themselves are not smooth enough. They are. It’s the controllers that control the plug-in’s features.

If you’re talking about plugins, that depends very much on the plugin itself and its internal implementation, there’s not much Cubase can do about it. Automation can already be sample accurate with VST3 and plugin parameters, but most plugins don’t make use of that, and it is not always useful nor necessary, as it can be very compute intensive.
For MIDI controllers, it is of course possible to apply an averaging function to the incoming events to make it smoother, has been since MIDI was invented theoretically, but that should be the responsibility of the synth engine, too.
Apart from that, Yamaha has actually been doing what you requested, as a member of the MMA (MIDI manufacturer’s Association) who has been responsible for the development of MIDI 2.0, which will eventually replace/extend MIDI 1.0 and apart from many other improvements, increases the precision of controller data to 32bit.

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Thank you fese,

I was assuming that it is in the developer’s responsibility. I was wondering if that could be overridden by the DAW. But as it appears that the synth engine is not capable of accepting more precise values, we apparently can only hope that the developers of our most beloved plug-ins realise that hearing any stepping in the sound is not very pleasing to the ears and are going to change that. As computers become more powerful this should be addressed with high priority.
Thank you for the information about MIDI 2.0 which I was not aware of until now. I hope they push this forward quickly. I am getting old already.

Steinberg has already surpassed the limit of MIDI resolution decades ago by introducing VST. Many people think only about plugins when hearing VST but it is actually also the underlying system, which includes automation, faders on the console, etc. The 128 steps limitation of MIDI does not apply here, the resolution is much, much higher.
What happens in Cubase when you send a MIDI CC to a VST plugin: the midi message is transformed into a VST event (and enters the realm of higher resolution). This VST event is then passed on to the plugin. The plugin itself may chose whether to remain in high resolution of VST or whether to convert such values back to MIDI resolution (think of 32 bit to 7 bit conversion).

Using automation instead of MIDI CC might help you already, depending on the plugin that you use.

MIDI 2.0 has been defined, as far as I can see fully. I don’t know whether we shall expect MIDI 2.0 implementation already for Cubase 13 (is that one of the reasons we don’t see Cubase 12.5?) but I would expect it latest for Cubase 14.
To me, this implementation looks like quite a big project for the developers. But I guess it might become also quite demanding for us customers, having to learn new ways.

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