Quantization - Soft Quantize gets blocked by Safe Range

I set the Safe Range to 20 ticks.
I set Soft Quantize Strength to 50% and switch it on.

Expected result: When I quantize the note D3 should get moved by 19.5 ticks (rounded 20 ticks) to the grid.
Current result: It doesn’t move at all.

I am not sure whether this is a bug, an unexpected behaviour, or by design. It is not documented in the manual that the Safe Range value has an impact on Soft Quantize for note events which are outside of the safe range.

PC, Cubase Pro 12.0.40

On your image, it looks like the events are within 20 ticks to the quantize position, so they are excluded from quantize. This is shown on the quantize Grid Display by the red lines.

Safe Range
Creates a safe zone before and after the quantize positions. If you specify a distance in ticks (120 ticks = one 16th note), events within this zone are not quantized. As a result, slight variations are kept.

Kindly note that D3 is 39 ticks away from the closest grid position and safe range is set to 20 ticks.
If I change the position of D3 by one tick to 40 ticks the soft quantize works setting the note event to

Wait I’m gonna test this.

…and it is 81 ticks away from the
I don’t understand what you see in my screenshot.

Alright, I got it. It’s simply because Soft Quantize would cause the note to be placed in the Safe Range, hence it doesn’t move.
If your note starts on tick 40, it will move because it would end outside the Safe Zone at tick 21.

Edit : This statement isn’t true, see my post below.

…and since this behaviour is not documented it might be a bug. It certainly surprised me today.

Oh wait, just found something else. When you increase Soft Quantize, the note will actually move, but then it ends in the Safe Zone, so my previous statement is wrong ! In fact I believe that when Soft Quantize is enabled, the Safe Range is based on the distance the notes would travel from their starting position.

This can be proven with the following experiment :
Try with the same setup with note starting at tick 39, Soft Quantize 50% and Safe Zone 20 ticks.
If we increase Soft Quantize to 52%, the note will move to tick 18 due to rounding, which is effectively 21 ticks, and outside the Safe Range value.

So now there’s no way to know exactly if this is the intended behavior, as this isn’t documented in the manual, or if this is a buggy interaction.
Personally, I think this is intended because there seems to be some logic behind this, it doesn’t look like a random bug, it works fine, but not the same as with the Safe Range used alone.
In fact, this would serve to prevent the notes that are intentionally off-beat from getting quantized, in other words, only move the notes if the displacement is more than the set value.

Only someone from Steinberg might have a definitive answer.

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There is definetely something wrong.
I tried now with these settings:
Note event: 40 ticks right of grid
Soft Quantize: 10%
Safe Range: 5 ticks
Note doesn’t get quantized.

Change Safe Range to 4 ticks → Note event moves to 36 ticks. Soft-quantize again => nothing happens. Change safe range to 3 ticks => you can soft-quantize 2 times… and so on.

Safe Range should only protect note events inside its range, not also on its outside. So, this is a bug in my book.

Just to make those who don’t use MIDI so much understand what this is about:
If you have a human performance recorded on e.g. an Instrument track it is usually not perfectly on the grid. Some timing imperfections can be desireable as they give the “human feeling”. If some of the notes are too out of time you can use the combination of Safe Range and Soft Quantize in order to tame the excessive notes but keep the human feeling overall.

Yes that is simple math, pressing quantize repeatedly will work until the displacement fall under the threshold set by Safe Range.

I have explained that in my post above, that’s not just the “outside”, when Soft Quantize is enabled at the same time it’s based on the current note position instead, and not the quantize grid.

Safe Range is the range around the grid positions, not the note on events. There is no indication that it is suppossed to get altered when switching the mode from hard to soft quantize.
In my last example the note on event is initially 35 ticks away from the safe range. And this should be the only criteria to have Cubase decide whether a note event gets affected by quantize or not.

Edit: The above is not correct. Please see below.

I am not mixing anything up. Please read my post again. Safe Range doesn’t work the same when Soft Quantize is enabled at the same time. This is a simple fact, I have even done the experiment to come to that conclusion.
If that’s the problem, then it should have an additional note on the Manual for this specific interaction.

Says who? Certainly not the manual. And why should it? I cannot imagine any case where this behaviour is desireable.

Edit: Actually the manual might say just that. “…before and after the quantize position.”

As I said, only a Steinberg developer could bring the answer.

I guess the real question is why Safe Range should be able to create a threshhold area around the current note on event position with its value, which the soft quantize value has to overcome.
Or in other words:
Quantize IF Ticks to be moved > SafeRange.Value

Works for hard quantize, it is actually very elegant. Instead of creating a safe range around the grid positions you create a safe range around the note event position. Only two lines of code.
However, in my opinion it screws up the result for soft quantize.
“Ticks to be moved” should be exchanged with “Ticks distance to grid point” if Soft Quantize is enabled.

Note: I edited some of my previous posts as I started to understand what Louis_R tried to tell me. Thanks. I agree with him but not with Cubase’s behaviour.

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