Routing Issues ............Over and Over and Over Again

I continually have a problem hooking up MIDI tracks (just MIDI information) to an MIDI Instrument tracks. Cubase software is sooOOOOooo frustrating. I always show the output chain, that is show the “supposedly” receiving instrument track — but half the time you can see it’s not receiving the signal.

WHY… is the routing so flakey. Why doesn’t it work consistently?
If there are specific requirements, such as Rack Instrument can only receive input from one MIDI track - then why doesn’t the software inform you of that, or stop you from making more than one connection, so you can’t mess it up???

There’s not even a REAL connection to the actual MIDI instrument track and the rack instrument. If I change the name of the Rack Instrument inside the Rack [F11]… nothing changes on track

PLEASE… sometimes I import .mid files from orchestration software - so I don’t want to make Instrument tracks, .mid files imports and creates MIDI tracks.

Churned in Charlotte

Two words people…

MIDI Channel

Some of the MIDI Tracks were set to send a signal over something other than MIDI Channel One

QUESTION: If I have say 6 MIDI Tracks I want to connect to 4 MIDI Instruments ---- is it wrong to use MIDI Channel One for all of them???

Is there a good tutorial on MIDI Channels and usage?

No problems here with very complicated MIDI routing (including tons of real time stream transformations and complex remote control mapping).

Midi tracks can send to both rack instruments, or to plugins loaded as part of an instrument track. No problem.

The MIDI information that you lay into Instrument tracks are typically bound to the VSTi associated with them, although it may well be possible to force them to forward their MIDI output to other VSTi plugins. Instrument tracks combine the MIDI lanes with the Audio bus on the Mixing console. From some types of instruments this can be nice, and for others it severely limits the power of the track. Until you understand better…it might be best to just stick with loading a VSTi in ‘rack mode’ and using MIDI tracks pointed to them.

When it comes to a VSTi plugin, you have two basic flavors.

  1. A Multi-timberal or multi channel VSTi, such as Halion SE, Sonic, Halion 5, Groove Agent 4, ARIA, Kontakt, Mach 5, etc. These sorts of instruments will allow you load 16 channels per instance. Some of them also have more than one Virtual ‘port’ as well. I.E. Halion 5 offers four MIDI inputs per instance, and each port can drive up to 16 different instruments or ‘programs’.

  2. A Single-timberal, or single channel VSTi is meant to play just one sound or program at a time. Examples are Retrologue, Padshop, Prologue, Mystic (all by Steinberg), Plogue’s Sforzando, SONiVOX’s Film Score Companion modules, etc. Some of these modules can take data over any channel, but most prefer you use channel 1, and some require it. MPC style drum machines often like channel 10 by default.

In general, you’ll want to load Multi-timberal instruments like Halion as a ‘rack instrument’, and communicate with it using MIDI Tracks. In this case, when you add a new Rack instrument, it gets a dedicated Bus on the mixing console for audio output. Most will default with a single stereo output bus…but you can add more in many plugins if you like (I.E. To process different instruments with VST effect plugins that you load in DAW ‘Mixer Inserts’.

For the Single-timberal instruments, you can set them up as Rack instruments if you like, and point to them with MIDI tracks, or you might prefer to set them up on ‘instrument tracks’. If you set them up as ‘instrument tracks’, the MIDI track and the Audio stream are kind of merged into a single position on your Mixing desk.

To me it is both less confusing, and more flexible to simply load all VSTi plugins as ‘rack instruments’, and point MIDI tracks to them in the track inspector area (far left side of the main Project Window). In this case, your Audio Bus is separate on the mixer from all of your MIDI tracks.

On to routing…
When you are connecting a MIDI track to a VSTi plugin (or an external MIDI tone generator), start with channel 1. Set a sound/patch/program/instrument on the VSTi to work on channel 1.

Set your next instrument on that same VSTi to use channel 2. And so forth.

A Jazz Combo in a single instance of Halion SE

In the DAW I’ve set up 4 MIDI Tracks

Track 1: Alto Sax…Channel 1…MIDI Output: Halion SE 01
Track 2: Piano…Channel 2…MIDI Output: Halion SE 01
Track 3: Bass…Channel 3…MIDI Output: Halion SE 01
Track 4: Drum Kit…Channel 10…MIDI Output: Halion SE 01

Now lets imagine that I’ve decided that I don’t like the Drum Kit in Halion SE, but I’ve found one that I like in Groove Agent SE.

I can open an instance of Groove Agent SE in Rack Mode, and change Track 4 to point to it. Since Groove Agent can work just fine over Channel 10, I’ll leave that alone.
Track 4: Drum Kit…Channel 10…MIDI Output: Groove Agent SE 02

Now lets imagine that I want to add some synth string pads from Retrologue and have them ‘layer’ what is being played on Track 2 of the Piano. First, I’d load Retrologue in the VST Rack and choose the string pad sound.

I can hold ctrl (holding ctrl while clicking here keeps all the other tabs from folding) and click the ‘MIDI Sends’ tab in the track inspector of Track 2, and point it (with no MIDI effects at this point) to my new Instance of Retrologue. In this case, Retrologue is a Single-timberal instrument, so I’ll set that MIDI Channel to 1. This actually causes Track 2 to send over TWO independent MIDI outputs, on two different ports and channels at once.

Next, I clicked the record button on my Piano track to ‘arm the track’, and played a bit on my keyboard to make sure both my piano sound in SE, and my string pad in Retrologue are playing together. Yay! It works…I’m now triggering two different synth engines with the same track.

(Side note: One of the many reasons I prefer working with MIDI tracks over Instrument tracks…is because they have ‘AUX MIDI sends’. Tracks set up as ‘instrument tracks’ do not have a ‘MIDI Send’ tab like this.)

So Far I’ve got something that looks like this:

To hear what is connected to a given track at any time I can ‘arm’ it.
Click the record button on a track, or in the track’s inspector.

At this point should be able to play on your MIDI controller (Keyboard or MPC pads) if you have one.
If you don’t have an external MIDI controller, then tap alt-k on your keyboard and Cubase will give you a tiny keyboard layout that you can play across the qwerty keys as part of the ‘transport bar’. To get that out of way when you’re done with it just tap alt-k again.

You can arm as many tracks as you like, and even record to more than one at a time.

You can also arm with the ‘monitor’ icon (touch the little speaker so it turns yellow). This lets you hear a track, but will not record on it.

I hope this helps some…
The gist of it is:

If it’s a multi-timberal plugin, then the MIDI channel is very important.

If it’s a single-voiced plugin, then you usually want to go back to channel 1 (though many drum machines like channel 10).

Personally, I would just load VSTi instruments in rack mode and work with MIDI tracks for now. Once you’re more comfortable with connecting tracks to this, and seeing how MIDI is a bit separate from the ‘audio’ streams of the VSTi, it’ll be time to try some things on Instrument tracks with ‘single voice’ instruments like Myst or Prologue (Where the MIDI data track and Audio bus are merged to the same fader on the Mixing Desk).

This is all I have time for right now, but feel free to fire back any questions you have so far.

Happy Sequencing, and may the Music Be With You!

Thank you so much for this detailed explanation. It explains how rack instruments can take advantage of receiving signals on different MIDI channels. I will give it a try for sure…as opposed to adding the same VSTi in my rack multiple times, setting up different instruments for each separate instance.

Actually… what I thought (and I thought wrong), the rack was for was this - I thought if you put multiple instruments in one single instance of a rack instance, it created a new sound, by adding each instrument in the rack onto the one above it. So, if I had a piano on top in my rack, a sax in the middle and drums in the middle - it would create some strange combination of the three.

So again - Thank You for the Instructions Here!!

I found an issue with your methodology. Let’s take your example, which very nicely illustrated having ONE instance of a VSTi in the Rack, but within that one rack instance there are multiple instruments, each set to receive on a different MIDI channel from a different MIDI Track.

Track 1: Alto Sax…Channel 1…MIDI Output: Halion SE 01
Track 2: Piano…Channel 2…MIDI Output: Halion SE 01
Track 3: Bass…Channel 3…MIDI Output: Halion SE 01
Track 4: Drum Kit…Channel 10…MIDI Output: Halion SE 01

NOW… Suppose I want to create TWO separate Fx Channels. I want to have an ambient reverb for the piano, and deep chorus and reverb for the Sax.

I always use Fx Channels for MIDI VSTi’s as these are much more real, and more controllable than trying to add in effects either inside the actual VSTi (in the rack), or using the MIDI Fx in the MIDI track.

The PROBLEM: All four MIDI tracks are routed to the single MIDI Instrument track, each with it’s own MIDI Channel, and the single MIDI instrument track uses the different MIDI Channels to call the different instruments within the single instance of the VSTi Rack Instrument. … since there’s only ONE MIDI instrument track, I can not use the track SEND to send the MIDI Channel 1 signal to one Fx Channel and MIDI Channel 2 signal to a different Fx Channel.

So using a single MIDI Instrument track routed to a single instance of a Rack VSTi, with multiple instruments inside, doesn’t let you route different MIDI Channels to different Fx Channels.

Any Thoughts???

First, I’d check to see if the VSTi plugin doesn’t have the effect I want built in somewhere already. Things like Halion SE and ARIA have some really nice EQ, verbs, chorus, compressors, harmonizors, filters, etc…already built right in. While SE doesn’t give you as much power over this as it’s big brother Halion 5 (where you can have as many FX as you like nested any way you like in the patch-program itself)…it still does give you 4 AUX busses built in, and a slew of built in FX that you can set up on them.

As you can see above, SE already has a basic reverb on AUX 1, and a chorus on AUX 3. It’s already set up where you can manipulate the aux send reverb with MIDI CC 91 events, and chorus with CC 93. It’s easy to tweak and change these FX to suit your needs, and you can even have the program ‘learn’ to listen for any MIDI CC events to change anything about the FX you like in ‘real time’. The general ‘send levels’ are typically done with CC 91 - 94, but you can set them up to use any MIDI messages you like.

One of the many reasons it’s good to use the built in stuff and work your way ‘out’ to secondary plugins…is because next time you want to replicate that sound in a new project or song…you can just pull up your old SE preset, and not have to attempt replicating the intricate spider web of external FX that might otherwise be involved. Also, you’ll find that Stienberg FX in their instruments are based on the same engine as the basic Steinberg VST FX plugins…so many of your ‘presets’ can be shared among the stuff in Halion, and Steinberg FX VST plugins. In short…the UI for the FX inside Halion might be simplistic and seem like a different set of effects, but it’s the same engine and controls found in the Stienberg VST plugins…just minus the fancy looking macro screens. So when it comes to the Stienberg instruments…don’t underestimate their built in effects :slight_smile: Later, you’ll learn that it’s even possible to import convolution reverb models and the whole nine yards with the big brother VST plugin…but then have access to it in Halion via the presets.

If you can’t do it in the VSTi itself…

This is when you setup a new ‘Audio Output’ on your VSTi if it allows. Naturally, if you want more complex FX arrangements using VST plugins, or work in surround sound, you’re going to want 4 to 8 audio outputs.

Halion will let you create more, and direct each of the loaded 16 programs to the bus that you desire, where you can apply VST effects on the mixing console inserts, or use AUX sends to dedicated FX channels, etc.

Some Plugins, LIke ARIA Player (Used by Garritan Libraries, AKAI Wind Jammer software, and probably others) provide more than one version of the plugin…a plain Stereo version, and a ‘Multi-Output’ version that allows you to create and use more audio outputs.

When you select an output other than the Mains…you’ll notice that CuBase creates another bus in you track list, and on your mixing console. You can rename these buses right on the track list if that helps you keep things better organized. You can also move them around in the track list if you want the sliders on your mixing console to show up in a different order.

I.E. I like to give the tracks a color scheme so it’s easy to see things at a glance. Then I grab and drag the entire VST Instrument folder to the bottom of my track list so the ‘MIDI tracks’ show up at the left, then Instrument Tracks somewhere in the middle, ‘audio busses’ show up at the far right, and finally FX tracks at the far right of my Mixing Desk window. Of course there are times when I want to move things around so it’s easier to watch things relative to each other…so the point is…you can move them around and change how they show on your Mixing desk :slight_smile: Here’s a screen shot me working on a Pink Floyd style Progressive Rock track with a bit of weird wind band stuff, and all sorts of ambient ‘casino world noises’ going on in the background.

If you have a plugin that does NOT provide a way to create a new audio output, and you can’t find an alternate version in your plugin list that has it (Usually marked as Multiple Output in the plugin’s name), then you would need to start a new instance if you need another bus for independent VST FX processing. These are the sorts of plugins where using the instrument mode might come in handy…but again that can depend on a number of factors in your workflow, and how prefer to automate things and keep up with automation data.

CuBase can get crazy complex with many options when it comes to keeping up with automation data. You can go full blown VST3 and keep it all in ‘automation lanes’ that are attached to DAW tracks, or you can stay old school and keep it in MIDI tracks inside the ‘parts’ living on your tracks. The tools are there to bounce information back and forth between VST3 and MIDI protocols.

Keep practicing and asking questions…
There is a LOT to learn about CuBase…it’s quite powerful, and the imagination and ingenuity of individual users is constantly coming up with new methods and tactics, and proving yet more and more ‘alternative’ work-flows WAY beyond the scope of the ‘Operator Manual’, which just gives basic lists and descriptions of tools and features.

So it all boils down to practice, and collaboration with other CuBase users :slight_smile:

Hi , I used an old version of Reason 4 ??? i think it was years ago , it had a virtual Mixer Pix, which had , a tab switching Mixer Pix to the to the back side of the inputs, which had Virtual cables , u could route to sends , returns , inputs , out puts , all colored n marked , n it wouldn’t allow a wrong connection to be made , a long long time back i requested for this GUI feature , SB looked away , A DAW should be easy n configurable for every one , not all , including me , grasp intricate routing , I played live n Understand FOH connections better , and this would help a lot of People here , i should think ??? the good part , @least U dont get zappers with these Virtual Mixers , if not proper grounded … I got many :frowning: ws