Revisiting Instrument Racks

I know this has been brought up many times before, but I’d like some extra advice.

When using a virtual instrument with multiple outputs, it makes sense to use a Rack Instrument.

However, this can cause some organizational problems. Having a separate MIDI and Audio channels for every output in a Rack can quickly clutter your workspace. Not only this, but every Track Instrument needs only a single channel - meaning that there are some instruments in my project that only use 1 channel (any Track Instrument), and there are some that use two (any Rack Instrument).

This causes confusion and slows my workflow. So I’d like some advice to get around this - please, offer any organizational advice you can! Here are some things I have considered, some of which I haven’t had time to try yet:

  • Hiding certain channels. Which channel would I hide? I have yet to try this, but I suppose I would hide the audio channel in the channel section and the MIDI channel in the mixing console (if it’s possible to hide channels independently between the channel section and the mixing console). And then I would change my workflow to always add my inserts and sends while working from the mixer, instead of using the left section.
  • Place the MIDI channel and the Audio channel right next to each other. However, this still has the problem that Track Instruments are only on one channel, and this is disorganized in nature. So if I used this method, I would EITHER have to use Track Instruments or Rack Instruments - not both.
  • Only use Track Instruments. This is my plan for now, until I learn a better method to organize my project. I have a pretty powerful desktop computer, and my projects are never tremendous, so the extra instances of a virtual instrument really aren’t going to make a substantial difference to me. I just figured I’d develop good habits now, so that if I ever get to bigger projects years down the line, I won’t have to change my workflow.
  • Arguably the most important point: Why isn’t there an option when creating a Rack Instrument to have the output channels contain both the audio and the MIDI? This way, you’re still only using one instance of the virtual instrument, but people that don’t want separate MIDI and Audio channels now have this feature. What are the major advantages to having the MIDI and Audio channels be separate, anyways?

I have nothing but love for Steinberg, so don’t perceive this as if I have any ill feelings!

I just use instrument tracks - creates far less clutter and you can route to multiple outs it’s not a problem.

Multiple midi tracks can be routed to instruments.

Using multiple instruments tracks of Kontakt / PLAY ensures that multiple cores are being used in your computer.

So to be clear, you create an instance using an Instrument Track, but then use that instance to route to multiple channels? Or you just create separate instances for each channel? I remember trying Activating outputs from a Track Instrument, but if I remember correctly it wasn’t much different than just using a Rack.

I’ll probably just use a separate instance of Kontakt (or instruments like it) for every channel, for now at least.

Thanks a lot! :smiley:

That really is the best way to go. A lot of folks have looked at this and tested different variations.

The general consensus is that the overall resources used by:
A) 16 Instrument Tracks each with a single Kontakt Instrument on it
B) 16 MIDI Track/Rack Instruments combos
C) 1 Instrument Track with one instance of Kontakt which has 16 instruments (ea. w/ its own output)
Are all roughly the same.

But that doesn’t mean they behave the same. In scenario C all the instruments will be running on a single core. So it’s possible for that core to max out while the other cores are sitting around doing nothing. But for both A & B the work will get spread out across all your cores.

If you compare A & B, they behave pretty much the same. But A is generally easier to setup and use so it is usually the best choice.

That said, while 90+% of the time I use single-instrument Instrument Tracks, there are times when other options are useful. For example I’ll load multiple instruments in Kontakt for something like a 4 voice string part - because it is nice to have all the voices in the same MIDI Part. Or MIDI Tracks are great for sending the same controller data to several Instrument Tracks (via MIDI Sends).

But the bottom line really is to make these choices based on what simplifies your life and is easiest to use rather than which may or may not use marginally more (or less) of your computer resources.

Fantastic, Raino! Everything you said helps immensely. No more Racks for me - what a relief! :smiley: