Pro Tools HD to Cubase Pro transition issues

Hi everyone,

newbie here, but you might know me from gearslutz etc. Feel free to move if it’s in the wrong subforum of course)

I haven’t really used Cubase in 17-18 years.
Now I’m considering to switch from PTHD to Cubase 9 Pro in combination with DTouch.

I’ve a huge template and routing system in PTHD though, which I’m trying to replicate in Cubase 9 Pro and Studio One Pro (another candidate to replace PTHD).
There’s a few issues I’m running into in Cubase Pro, maybe some of you power users can offer some help, because I might be simply missing something.

The main things I’m running into at the moment have to do with bussing and side chaining…
I have a group of about twenty paralel channels ( sort of ‘pre stems’). I want to put compressors on there that are keyed from another channel/bus.

In Pro Tools you create a send to a any bus on that one or more channel(s), let’s call it “SideChain” and then in the ganged plugins you select that bus as the key input.

In Cubase, however, it seems to work differently, which is admittedly quite handy for the simple side chaining most people do, but it appears to be a nightmare for my scenario.
When you turn on the sidechain function of a compressor plugin, it automatically creates a unique sidechain bus for that compressor.
You don’t seem to be able to choose an alternative bus for that compressor OR the same bus for all of these processors.

Okay, that sucks in my case. So as a workaround do I need to add twenty sends to a group/bus channel? Not possible!
I’ll need to make a paralel bus channel that listens to the same bus… Also, not possible! Because for some reason, you cannot assign a different input to a bus/group/FX channel in Cubase either. When you create a bus channel it creates a bus with that name. (Again, this is admittedly handy for most users, but does limit flexibility when you get to more advanced things)
So now I need to deal with another bus I need to send the same mix to, just to be able to distribute it to more compressors’ sidechains.
And what if I want to change compressors? Yes… poof, gone are all the sends, I’ll need to make 20 more, manually, they are 20 different sends divided over two channels, there’s no linking to help me there… Each time I want to change compressors, I’ll need to re-create twenty sends. Great…

This is a messy workaround and I so dislike messy workarounds, especially in 2017.
Is there an easier way to go about this that I’m missing? Is there not such a thing as a channel in Cubase?
Can I use Tracks on input listen mode for part of this (in stead of a normal channel)? Will that work in a bounce?
Is there something like a simple channel in Cubase that I’m missing? A channel that allows me to set input and output busses independently?

Here’s what I need to do:

twenty group channels need to each send to a bus, called sidechain.
These twenty group channels each output to a following group channel (so twenty more in total) on which there are ganged compressors (one on each).
All of these compressors need to be keyed from that sidechain bus.
How do I set this up (cleanly and elegantly) in Cubase?

I hope someone can point out that I’m missing something.


I would like to help you, but unfortunately I don’t understand your routing completely. Could you attach a diagram, please? Maybe with smaller setup, like 3 Groups/SideChains? We will then take in account, you have 20 in your mind, so you cannot use 20 Send slots from a track.

Sure, here’s a little diagram. I hope that makes it clear.

The point is that there’s no actual summing of the (consecutive) audio busses going on in this part of the routing.
The “mix” doesn’t exist (yet)in the audio path.
Only in the side chain path they are summed to key all of those compressors from the mix.

I hope it’s clear.

OK, I hope I get it… Would this help?

In the VST Connections > Output, Add a new Output (Mono/Stereo/… what ever you need to). Then you can route the Sends to this Output Bus. Add a new Audio track. Set this Output bus as an Input of the Audio track. Enable Monitor on this Audio track, to pass the signal from its Input to the output. This is your “bridge” bus/track.

Does it work?

Btw: Cubase Pro feature only, this is not in Cubase Artist or lower.

Thanks, that would simplify the routing a little bit.
But, routing though tracks that are set to enable monitor… Does that work during a bounce/mix export?


When you export in real-time, then yes. It is bounced to the file while export. Or you can record it to the track once.

Thanks, that’s what I though.

I print my final mixes and stems, but before that I do bounces. It’ll be nice to be able to do that offline.

Still this doesn’t solve my problem with the side chains.
It really annoys me that both Cubase and Studio One have this ‘dumbed down’ version of side chains (automatically created when sidechain on a plugin is enabled, non user definable).
I can understand that for most users it’s fine, but for a Pro DAW I find this unacceptable.
Does it work like this in Nuendo too? I can’t imagine…

Yes, it works the same way in Nuendo.

Maybe I misunderstood, but if you create group track instead of output channel as your “bridge” bus, set its output as Not Connected, it would eliminate the need for an extra audio track that needs to be monitor enabled. In this case you could use the offline export.

You’re right. The Bus channel vs track on input enable really isn’t the main part of my concern, it is minor.

The side chaining thing is more problematic for me. It is something I could create macros for, but it is disappointing to be honest.

Wouldn’t QuickLink help here instead of Macro?

Not exclusively, because I would need to change All the sends and direct outs of ONE, or TWO tracks.

quick link is handier when you need to change ONE thing over MANY tracks.