question about the tempo in Cubase 7 (always quarter notes?)


I am getting a bit confused with setting the tempo and time signature in Cubase.
I set the time sig. to 7/8 which set thew 8th note as the unit that is the beat.
But when I set the tempo to the desired BPM, it seems Cubase uses quarter notes as beat units regardless of my 7/8 time signature:
If I want a tempo of 180BPM I have to set the tempo to 90BPM to get 180 8th note-beat per minute.

Is this just the way it is or am I missing something or doing something wrong?
If this is the way it is, I think it should be fixed.


i’ll give this a try but the question is confusing.

on the transport bar you can setup the time signature.
In your case you have chosen to have 7 times an 8th note to be 1 measure.
So cubase shows every 7 times an 8th note as one measure in the ruler on top of the project window.
that signature is independent from any BPM and the same thing counts for the ruler

so it doesn’t matter how you set up things but it is important for things like the metronome
on 7/8 you get 7 beeps before you go to the next measure
on 14/16 you get 14 beeps on the same tempo.

7/8 is thus the same as 14/16
This can look like it is tempo related but it isn’t.
it is just the way you want your project to be presented on the main window.

BPM stands for beats per minute. standard you get 120 beats per minute, regardless of what time signature you use.
Metronomewise the BPM counts each half second (bpm 120) as a “beep” also regardless of the time signature.
the higher the bpm the faster the beeps go, but they allways count following your timesignature.

so the tempo is used for adapting to your needs/feeling on how to play something and not on what time signature you want to do this.

The only thing where the signature and tempo are important is when you start modifying things f.e. with quantisation.
there you define how you want to correct your recorded data to your choise of “grid”.

you should spend some time in getting used to the basics of recording data on a daw.
it isn’t that difficult and it is very logical.
do some trial and get used to the feel of it.
and probably you will get a feel for it.

hope this helps,

kind regards,

Thanks for the explanation, I do know what BPM means and what it is. I also do know about time signatures and all that.
My question was simply with regard to what is used as the unit for the beat, and in my opinion the unit I choose in the signature (in this case 8th notes) should be the unit of the beat. thus a temp of 120 BPM should be 120 eighth notes per minute.
But Cubase seems to use the quarter note as the unit for the beats regardless of my time signature indicating that 8th notes are the beat. This in my opinion is wrong.

Let me give an example: let’s say I choose 6/8 as my time signature and 60 BPM as tempo. Then I program a drum beat where a hi-hat is hit on every 8th note, then, when I play back, the hi-hat should be exactly as fast as time-seconds, but it’s not, it will be twice as fast, as Cubase counts in quarter notes as beats, thus 60 quarter notes per minute=120 8th notes per minute.

Maybe I am doing something wrong and this can be changed in settings, but I would not know where?

This is what it should be like, but it actually is not.
If I change from 7/8 at say 120BPM to 14/16 at 120 BPM the metronome click will beep twice as fast, while it should be at the same tempo, in my opinion.
See what I’m trying to say?

Interesting… The problem really is that the units of BPM isn’t the whole story, for example, when it turns up at the top of sheet music it usually has the note value that it applies to, e.g. crotchet = 120bpm. This is what I’d call ‘the full’ specification of the BPM, i.e. to include the note type/length.

But in any case, the metronome is well overdue for an overhaul, and really hope that Steinberg put this sort of thing in. We need to be able to define the note length of the BPM tick, and particularly we need to be able to specify compound time correctly, e.g. 9/8 with a beat tick of a dotted crotchet. And 12/8 is a nightmare in score because its grouped into 3x4 instead of 4x3… But that’s another story!


i think i understand what you mean and i also see that i was inacurate with my reply.
when i said 14/16 i actually changed the definition to 16th notes.
The second part of the time signature is the definition of what you call the beat.
14/16 is 14 times a 16th for a bar/measure.
7/8 is 7 times a 8th for a bar/measure
the bpm is not related to this.

I’m not at my music environment for the moment, so i didn’t double check it.
But you’re right, the metronome doubles its clicks, and that is due to the fact i changed the basis from 8th notes to 16th notes.

Thanks both of you!

I was just thinking there should be at least an option to define what note determines the beat. In my understanding the value of the time signature should be that note (ie quarter note being the beat in a 3/4 time sig. and 8th note being the beat in a 6/8 sig.).

But apparently Cubase sets the quarter note as the note defining the beat in the BPM setting, in ANY case and regardless of time signature…

You can set the metronome to whatever single beat using “Use Count Base” in Metronome setup. (though this will not be reflected on the grid)

e.g., if you want the beat to be dotted quarter, set it to 3/8.

It seemed to me upon reading the OP that Sanutuzzo had was set to 1/4, which would have given approximately the effect of being at half tempo.

I strongly agree by the way, here’s feature request I made for it

Yes, I do know that, but my problem is what note value determines the beat in BPM.
Well, it’s an easy thing to work around, but I would still prefer if the beat in BPM would be determined by the time signature rather than being at quarter notes by default at any time signature.

It is. The click always plays at the whatever the denominator (lower number) of the time sig unless the options in the metronome setup are modified.

Yes, you are right, but I am talking about the tempo of that click. So, if I set BPM at 60 and time sig is 6/8, the click will beep in 8th notes at 120 BPM rather than 60 BPM. THAT is what bothers me.

It’s not supposed to work like that.

Are you using the Time sig track? If not, check it, and set the sig there. The click will follow that regardless of the Tempo Track on/off setting. (not obvious at all…)

another example:

in a 6/8 measure you usually count the dottet quater notes.
So if I want a 6/8 in the tempo of 76 dotted quarter notes per minute, I have to set Cubase to
76 x 3 / 2 = 114
which equals quarter notes.
To get the clicktrack play the dottet quarter notes, you have to set the click notelength to 3/8 in the metronome settings menu.

This is the workaround, but it certainly isn´t thought out very well, let alone thoretically correct.

r.u.sirius– it certainly keeps one limber. But I thought the OP was hearing the click play quarters instead of eighths, with nothing set in Count Base.

This also buggers up SMF exports!!!

This is tremendously aggravating for a million reasons if you use Cubase for MIDI but interact with real live musicians on projects that involve your CB data.

As the posts mention, when your project is in compound time (x/8), in order to have the CB metronome behave as a normal musician’s metronome (that is, pulsing dotted quarters), you need to do some complex and completely arbitrary math to derive the correct duple time and THEN tell CB that you want the click to beep on 3 multiples of 8.

That is, if you were in 6/8 (or 12/8 or 9/8 etc), and you wanted to record a piece of WRITTEN music where the tempo was specified dotted quarter equals 80, you would need to:

  • Set your time signature to 6/8
  • Multiply 80 x 3 and then divide by 2 to know that Cubase thinks this tempo should be stated as 120
  • Go to the Metronome Setup dialog box and specify that the click should follow the specified count base of 3/8

Huge pain if you’ve got players sitting in front of you waiting for a count off…

This is just a PITA workflow buster but NOT the real problem. The REAL problem comes AFTER you’ve spent your time making an orchestral track with these players and you need to EXPORT the time signature and tempo data for another DAW user to import. (Say, a Pro Tools scoring session in another city.)

So you might save all your audio and send over the audio and a midi file for tempo and time sig data. Simple, right? (Let’s not even talk about the OMF problems.)

In an annoying “feature”, once you do a standard MIDI export, CB removes your 6/8, 9/8 and 12/8 measures and replaces them with x/4 measures, and assumes that it’s all mathematically the same, since two 6/8 measures can equal one 12/8, which is just another way of saying 6/4, right?

Enormous and expensive pain if your print project (generated by a different orchestrator) uses the score that you recorded at the beginning of this example - with compound meter like 12/8, 6/8 etc. For Cubase to arbitrarily respell those measures as multiples of simple meter (two eighths per pulse) and combine measures (two 6/8s becoming one 6/4) really screws up the recording session.

You’d have audio that sounded fine, but PT wouldn’t have the same measure numbers as the players, which gets expensive, if the engineer has to keep searching for the correct measure to keep up with the conductor.

In a perfect world, the solution would be to allow CB to base tempos on simple or compound meters, and then export your time signature data EXACTLY as spelled in the time signature track. Sort of like the way written sheet music has done it for the last 200 years or so.
9/8, dotted quarter = 72

Not 9/8, quarter = 108, but tap your foot every three eighths.

Well, what’s clear is the metronome in Cubase of little use in compound time sigs. So you have to make your own click track.

As far as this:

I just tried exporting an SMF with a few different time sigs and then imported it into Finale, and of course, the time sigs were there.