Possible in Cubase? (Live-style warping for transcription)

I am re-recording a number of my old songs. I don’t have my original MIDI projects in any usable form, so I’m importing the songs into my DAW and rebuilding them one synth part at a time.

This is extremely easy to do in Ableton Live. I simply import my old MP3 into an audio track, and Live analyzes the track to determine BPM and locks the imported file to the project tempo. I can then independently set the DAW’s tempo to whatever speed I like while I work re-create the instrumental parts. (I can also set locators exactly at the point where different song sections begin, to make navigation easier- and they always start right at the beginning of a bar.)

In Cubase, when I import one of my songs, it’s imported as-is (no warping), but I am unable to get the DAW tempo to match the imported file. I can make it good for 6 or 7 bars, but it always slips one way or the other. Is there an easy-ish way to get Cubase to lock the audio file to DAW tempo like I can in Live? I’m a lot more familiar with Cubase for MIDI and audio mixing/routing, but I’ve never done warping or slicing of any kind in it. I’ve heard about tempo tracks in Cubase… is this a possibility? (Like, what happens when I’m done with the original audio material? Can I just delete the tempo track so I have a consistent tempo for my DAW project?)


Answering my own question again (someone on another forum suggested “Musical Mode”):

Experimented with this a bit last night.

The Musical Mode option does tighten things up pretty well, but it’s very dependent on what Cubase perceives as the correct tempo and length of the song- and in the tracks I experimented with, Cubase’s tempo analysis was really off (by up to 30 BPM), even though the tracks I used all had consistent and fixed MIDI tempos.

I found that if I analyzed the audio in Native Instruments Traktor to get the true BPM, and confirmed the track length in Ableton Live that I could get Cubase pretty close to consistent timing with Musical Mode enabled.

Live’s timing was still tighter, and so far has required zero tweaking or analysis to get it (other than positioning the audio track on the timeline to start right on the beat), but the extra Traktor/Live steps only take a couple minutes, so I don’t mind. I still prefer working in Cubase.

There are many ways, and my personal opinion is that Cubase isn’t the best at divining the tempo from an audio track, I guess they’ve put more effort into composition aspects.

My usual method is to tap tempo to get a rough tempo, then line the first beat of the audio clip. Then if the song’s at a constant tempo I use Warp Tempo to move the last beat of the song to match across the whole song. If it’s not at a constant tempo then I play through the track and use Warp Tempo to move the bars as the song plays (takes a little practice to get quick enough at it!). This then gives me the whole song tempo mapped in one song pass, job done.

There’s also a function to create a tempo map straight from an audio event. I’ve tried using it but I never got it to work accurately enough for me. One tip though for when it gets the tempo wrong is to slice the event at the point where the problem occurs and then re-analyse the right hand part, so doing until you reach the end.

So, then having got the tempo mapped somehow, you can also ‘fix’ this to the audio clip, and once you’ve done this you can then delete the tempo map and the audio will warp itself to the new tempo (map). There are very good articles on this in SoundOnSound Dec/Jan issues.


I agree Cubase’s detection is quite varied in its results.

If your short of a decent bpm analyser app, here is a way you can use math to get a reasonable idea.

use Cubase (or another wave editor) and select 64 of your beats and then trim… so that’s all you have.

Then figure out how you can analyse the file, for now many samples the entire wave form has.

then do this math :

(Total Number of Samples) Divided By (Sample Rate) = Time

60 Divided By (Time) times (Total Number Of Beats) = BPM

Example (using 8 beats)

176427 / 44100 = 4.000612244897959

60 / 4.000612244897959 = 14.99770443299495

14.99770443299495 * 8 = 119.9816354639596

I did that with a kick, at 120 bpm. The more Beats you have the more accurate the system is… ie reduced error.

With that you should be able to experiment and get the right bpm from a source file. This method assumes your source file does not drift in tempo or have swing enabled, though it will tolerate minor swing if you increase the number of beats.

Good Luck. :smiley:

Great tips from both of you, thanks!

Assuming your songs are recorded at a fixed tempo I suggest you use the Beat Calculator for this purpose. It’s described on page 618 in the Cubase 7 manual.


  1. Slice a portion of your audio matching excactly 2 bars in length. Be careful for better resault. Highlight the 2 bar clip.
  2. Open the Beat Calculator from the menu and enter the number of beats (8 if using a 2 bar clip and if your song is in 4/4).
  3. The audio file’s BPM is now displayed in the calculator.
  4. Check that the BPM is matching through out the song.
  5. If it does you are almost done, use Ctrl+Z to undo the slicing.
  6. Go into the Pool and enter the tempo of your song and check the box Musical Mode next to your audio file.
  7. Now your song will follow the tempo of the sequencer.

Depending on which version of Cubase you have there are other ways of doing this, which I think is described in some tutorial videos on youtube.