Rack instruments versus Track instruments

Hi everyone :smiley:

So,I know the basics of rack and track instruments. I generally tend to use rack instruments for my Vst’s like Omnisphere 2.6 and Kontakt 6 with multi timberal instruments,and instrument tracks for my other Vst’s

Sometimes I would use midi tracks with instrument tracks ,but find it gets cluttered sometimes.

I would like to know your views for interest.What do you prefer to use in your work? I just hope I am not starting a highly controversial topic of conversation here :laughing:

thank you

you can the midi tracks you use, put inside one folder. me thinks.

i prefer instrument tracks, but they are not multi tembral, sometimes i use multiple outs, and with instrument tracks, it is more clear, for multiple outs…

The instrument rack was a mistake by Steinberg. Other DAWs realized this and offered instrument tracks instead of a rack like Cubase. It’s simply a more efficient way to work. Steinberg then introduced instrument tracks to try to catch up with other DAWs. The problem was it was incomplete and for a long time there were things you could do with instrument racks that you couldn’t do with instrument tracks. Instrument tracks were slowly improved and as of Cubase 9 Steinberg finally got to the point where tracks and racks have reached near feature parity. For example, you can have multi-timbral instrument tracks, just like the rack.

If you’re used to working with instrument racks and prefer that to instrument tracks, don’t worry, the instrument rack will never go away. In order to preserve backward compatibility with old projects, Steinberg cannot eliminate the instrument rack, so you can continue to work that way. But the fact is: it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a situation where the rack works better than a track.

What a funny comment: “the instrument rack was a mistake”. :slight_smile:
I respectfully disagree.
There are other areas where the software design of Cubase is strange in this area: Why do neither vst-return-channels nor instrument tracks have a record button?
And: I would not bet that steinberg will forever continue to have the instrument rack available. The history of Cubase is long and it will be even longer… so nobody knows what will happen.

Thank you for your comments everyone,so far :smiley:

I have also used a instrument track, say with a Kontakt player and then added instruments in that, and then several midi tracks linked to each instrument . And put the whole lot inside a folder,to keep everything tidy.
And found this method much quicker to set up,and more convenient

I have seen other videos where people have used multiple Kontakt players with only one instrument in each one.
Which personally is a waste,and potentially run the risk of taxing your RAM and CPU in the process.

Been using Cubase for just over a year now and gradually getting to grips with everything :slight_smile:

I know it’s counterintuitive, but because of multi-core processors you actually have that backwards for cpu usage, which is usually the more constrained resource compared to memory. There are exceptions of course, but a good rule of thumb is: monotimbral usually leads to better performance.

So what your saying is its fine to have lots of instances of Kontakt with only one instrument ,I was thinking of my library of Forzo by Heavyocity .
I do agree these days having multi core support spreads the load, and of course having much bigger RAM . But was kind of harking back to my first days of using a DAW and having a small processor with only 4GB ram :smiley:
On my now Windwos 7 PC,sadly now more

Things have changed since then :slight_smile:. There are exceptions. For example, there’s a bug in Kontakt that causes problems when you get up to around 200 instances of it in a project. But, let me put it this way: I wrote the instrument mentioned in your first post, Omnisphere, and, unless I’m using it in Live Mode, I run it monotimbrally :slight_smile:.

Not feature parity, but close. There are still Cubase specific features achieved with Instrument Rack that do not work with Instrument Tracks.

And I wouldn’t say it was a "mistake"either. :wink:

I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but I believe you if you say there is something, so I should probably say “near feature parity”. Edited :slight_smile:.

I think I’m being a bit anal because honestly…I’m not sure if very many use the “save selected” and “load selected” feature that is found ONLY with Instrument Rack. Therefore a feature not found with Instrument Tracks. Basically you load a multtimberal instrument as a instrument rack. For example Toontrack EZ drummer Pop Basic, after activating all outputs it has 16 channels. Highlight all 16 channels. Go to functions menu, the upper right triangle drop-down in the mix console, and select “save selected channels.”

Now, if you ever need these in the future, open toontrack, activate all the outputs, focus all outputs, then use “load selected.”

Please don’t ask me what gets loaded. :laughing: Please don’t ask me how this is different than loading multi-track presets. :laughing: And Please don’t ask how this is different than importing track presets. :laughing: I have tried over the years, but based on version changes, continual bug fixes with import, I gave up. I do believe when loading multi-track presets you need to focus the correct number of channels in order for the multi track preset to load.

All of this I think is due to evolution of Cubase over a number of years where today, there is IMO too many options to load and save and not knowing exactly what gets load/saved with any of these options.

Sorry for the tangent, but I think this is one of the few left-out functions of Instrument Tracks.

Advantages of using Instrument tracks.

  1. Instrument tracks can be disabled. Midi tracks - connected to VST racks cant.

  2. Instrument tracks can be exported and imported (with the VST instrument on). Midi tracks connected to VST racks cant.

  3. Instrument tracks takes less CPU power then several VST instances in the same rack. Its simply easier for Cubase to handle.

  4. The edit channel menu can easily be reached in order to eq, use insert etc. On midi tracks one would have to find the corresponding VST track first.

And I could go on.

The only situation I use midi tracks is when having to connect via rewire to Reason or some of my outboards synths.

Dr Tolle

You can connect a midi track to a VST Instrument Rack and disable it. (see attachment.) You could also export/import that midi track that is connected to the Instrument Rack. However the problem is you can’t export a Instrument Rack together with that midi track. You can’t export a VST in an Instrument Rack.

I agree with Instrument tracks taking less CPU power, but I have also read it depends on your PC and number of cores etc as to the real benefits. I’m not a computer guy, but do note composers for film/video/games who use hundreds or sometimes even thousands of tracks have one instance per track. I have several hundred 1-per instance tracks set up for EW Hollywood Orchestra Gold, and keeping a large template disabled until you need certain instruments seems to work fairly well.

Not only the edit channel as mentioned, but other issues can become a bit more confusing and unorganized with Instrument Rack. With my personal workflow it seems more “clean” to have one instance per track.

This is also why I used the words - you cant import export midi tracks - because the racks are not stored with them and then there (in most cases) no benefit from it. The same with the enable track function. Enable track are in most cases used to save CPU and if the VST instrument is not enabled then the advantage disappears. I am aware that it is possible to disable/enable/import/export these tracks.

Exactly. Thats the same way I am doing it. But I also uses disable/enable tracks a lot because Hollywood orchestra loads so slow. So I am actually seeking other libraries that sounds as good or better than Hollywood to avoid the long loading times. But anyway thats another story. :wink:

I just use Instrument tracks for everything. That way I can easily bounce them down or more recently as computer speeds have increased, I can mix on the instrument tracks. If you need extra outputs, just open the right zone, right click on it an select activate outputs. Then you can use the lanes on the track for extra parts and assign them in the vst to output to extra tracks. Usually though, for drums I just keep everything on the one track and then duplicate it a few times prior to mixing and mute the parts to make separate parts. So for example, I usually play the kick and snare at the same time so when I go to do a mix I just duplicate the instrument track, mute the snare on one and mute the kick on another and I get my kick and snare tracks. Tracks like Hats, Rides and crashes I make a whole new instrument track for. That way they are all ready for mixing. The advantage of this is you can quickly swap the kit and it will only effect the drum you’re on (eg snare) but unlike selecting another snare on the same kit, you get the extra mic positions, tuning and mixing effects swapped too. Maschine however, works fine with this but the hardware freaks out and keeps swapping instances so, maybe not the best workflow for Maschine until you’re done with using Maschine in the production.

I like to mix in the arrange window. Using muti instrument outs and mixing in the arrange window is hard. This is why I duplicate a lot of tracks instead of using muti-outs but depending on your workflow, muti-outs might work better for you. Muti-outs are probably a better idea if you use Maschine in Cubase with the Hardware a lot. I mainly just play drums on it.

I always use the rack. Reasons:

  1. I’m old, so habit
  2. I come from a midi->hardware world, so that’s how my brain’s wired
  3. They make it very easy to switch the output from a VST to a hard instrument (or bw)
  4. Using the same note data on another instrument is logical and easy
  5. Multiple outputs just work
  6. See #1

Otoh, I do realise that I probably should look a bit more closely at ITracks, esp. if they’re actually cycle saving.


That’s interesting,GlennO ,so am I right to say then I could use several instances (duplicates say) of Kontakt without issues?Maybe my mindset is still way back then in the dark ages :laughing:

Thank you very much, CurrentSound for your advice,really appreciated :smiley:
When you say “If you need extra outputs,just open the right lane” are you referring to the instrument track under the Vsti tab? Or the Inspector tab as I have only just seen the symbol for “Activate outputs” :laughing:
Loving this learning stuff
I shall focus on instrument tracks from now on.Hard to find time while working to sit down and have a play,but I shall make it my mission, :smiley:

Thanks a lot everyone for your thoughts and advice so far,really interesting and much appreciated :smiley:

Unless you are in the neighborhood of potentially running out of computing resources (like the huge template folks, or underpowered DAWs) you should:

A) Use what makes it easiest for you to work
B) Not what makes it easier on your computer

At all times 100% of your computer cycles are being consumed - either by doing actual work or by being tossed aside unused. It is a waste of folk’s energy to spend a lot of time & effort trying to convert working cycles into thrown out cycles.