Quick Controls under the hood?

How do Quick Controls work? I know how to set them up. I mean how is the communication achieved? I don’t see any midi activity in the midi monitor when using QC. Is there some other magic protocol at work? Maybe there are specific midi CC controls picked up and acted on by the Cubase application outside any midi channels seen in the mixer?

I guess I’m wondering how to control more than eight parameters on VST(i)s which probably requires a different approach such as custom templates which tend to defeat me.


The communication is done internally in Cubase. You cannot hack it. You can use only 8 Track Quick Controls + 8 Focus Quick Controls + 8 VST Quick Controls.

Or you can use MIDI Remote and make a custom making.

Thanks Martin. Especially for clarifying the three types of QC. They’re scattered about in the operations manual and separate in the index. I was actually only aware of the first two and thought the last two were the same thing. Options to look into.

Still curious though, even if I won’t hack it. The communication protocol between controller and Cubase. Must be midi, mustn’t it? There is only a midi driver available. Are certain cc’s reserved for it or what?


No, it must not. But it is in 99%. For example Avid (formally EuCon) wrote its own component for Cubase, which is using Ethernet and own communication protocol. But most of the Remote Devices is using MIDI as the communication protocol. Then they are either using Mackie Control protocol/standard or another standard, or own component. Today, the easiest way for a user is to use MIDI Remote.

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This is what I was wondering. Seems weird that you install what calls itself a midi driver on your computer and find there are other things on it too. Maybe they’re all parts of the midi 2.0 spec.


Sorry, I don’t know, what do you mean?

Controllers mostly have a USB port labelled MIDI. It’s recognised by the computer and displayed as a MIDI port. But there’s a load of stuff that I don’t recognise as conventional MIDI. Mackie and QC for example. As I said, I think it must fall under the MIDI (whether 1 or 2) specification, extended in ways I don’t know about, which is what I’m trying to understand.
It wouldn’t be right to piggy back non-MIDI signalling through the connection without telling the user.

Some VSTs have internal ways of midi learning. This is the one way to go about it.

Then, there is what was described by Martin. VSTs (again some, not all of them because it’s not obligatory) expose parameters to whichever wrapper they are active, be it a DAW or a live performance module etc. Now, it’s up to the DAW to help users take advantage of controlling these parameters. And there are plenty of ways of doing it, but basically DAW lets users map their own MIDI messages to these exposed parameters. There’s no magic to it, and normal midi drivers have nothing to do with it. They’re just sending messages, DAW receives, and it’s up to the user to decide what they will be assigned to.


Mackie Control is a protocol that is using the MIDI standard.
QC (Quick Control) is a feature in Cubase that allows you to control VST parameters using MIDI devices. (Cubase is translating the MIDI messages to VST parameters for easy control and automation.)


Thanks, yes but the only pipe between controller and DAW is MIDI so the messages sent must be MIDI of some sort. Starting to see how it works.

Thanks, I figured it’s the only way.

Same for QC. I noticed when using QC on a VSTi with a MIDI monitor inserted in the channel no MIDI data shows up. I guess the Cubase picks up anything on the controller cc’s that are assigned to QC and routes it through a back door.
Don’t quite know how Cubase knows which pots I’m using for QC without learning but, hey ho, it works.


Not really. As I mentioned, Avid (EuCon) is not using MIDI.

OK, I see. It’s a proprietary protocol. So when you said 99% use MIDI earlier it’s probably more like 99.99%. For my purposes it’s all MIDI which I thought had to be the case but couldn’t see how it worked.