Should I create template using Track or Rack Instruments?

I’m really confused about the difference between Instrument Tracks and Instrument Racks in Cubase Pro 8.

Say, for example, I load 1 x instance of Kontakt 5 as a Rack Instrument and have 16 patches all going to 16 assigned Midi channels, what is the difference of creating an Instrument Track (Kontakt 5), with 16 patches all being assigned to Midi channels?

I can’t figure out what the difference between them is. Surely I am missing something?

I want to create a template using Sample Libraries and VSTIs and want to know what the best way (most CPU and RAM efficient) of doing so is? Surely either way will use the same amount of computer resources? I am eventually going to build a couple of PCs and slave them because I’ve recently learnt of Vienna Ensemble Pro 5’s existence and it looks like a very good way for creating huge templates.

Having every articulation etc all loaded up is (in my opinion) essential to not lose the flow of creativity when writing!

Thanks to anyone that can explain what the difference between Racks and Instrument Tracks are!


FWIW, damn odd to me too … suspect this is mostly a legacy issue (i.e., older users will scream if certain features are missing /changed). For me & composition, Cubase is the fastest thing going re VIs:

To new track, Rrght click & create new Instrument track & at the same time select which one;
Select a patch and record.
From the inspector, select as many as independent OPs as needed.
Fast, brilliant. Loving Cubase for this alone.

In the case of a multitimbral VI, this works better with multiple MIDI tracks alongside the VI in a folder. Still easy routing, tho’ I nearly ways use the method above, and for other instruments, simply run another instance.

Racks vs Tracks? Who knows, I never use that terminology or access route. Just right click and go.

Indeed. Well, I’m glad its not just me who hasn’t got a clue about the differences. Haha!

cubase 6 (yamaha) used instrument tracks as opposed to (f11) vst intruments + midi tracks… so it’s probably to be backwards compatible… I also believe (could be wrong) instrument tracks handle automation a bit differently then midi tracks…

Hi i dont have Vienna however, i’m using EWQLSO Kontakt Version. i believe it should be the same during set up.

initially i was also confused big time however, after banging my head around, there is a specific workflow. i’ll try to help as i too am learning as i am a very recent Cubase convert.

the difference as mentioned above is attributed to legacy compatibility as far as Instruments Racks are concerned; thats as much as i could get from everywhere i was reading from.

here’s what i did to set up EWQLSO:

  1. insert a Instrument Track > right click > select Kontakt
  2. load (for example) 5 instruments into Kontakt from the GUI - setup all the necessary, MIDI chs and Audio Outs (1 to 5)
  3. here’s the catch, the main Kontakt St1 cannot be changed or removed so generally i ignore that. I continue to enable an additional 5 Stereo Outs from the Instrument Panel. (St2 to St6) and assign them to the previously loaded Kontakt Instruments.
  4. Once done, Cubase assigns the respective Audio Tracks into the Mixer Window. The names are as follows. You can rename as you wish.
  5. Next i create 5 MIDI tracks and assign them to the individual Instruments inside Kontakt.
  6. Test to see if all is well. Clicking on the midi tracks and playing will sound off the instruments. Check that all corresponding meters are correctly bouncing.
  7. Finally select all the 5 MIDI Tracks, 6 Kontakt Audio Tracks and the Kontakt Instrument Track (Cubase Instrument Track), do a right-click and Save as Instrument Track. Name this correctly or it will be confusing. Lets call this Strings.
  8. In you next project, you may simply right-click to select Instrument from Instrument Track and select Strings. Cubase will load up 1 instance of Kontakt, all the 5 instruments, all MIDI and Audio Assignments and finally the 5 MIDI tracks.
  9. If you have renamed the Kontakt Audio Outs (Cubase not Kontakt mixer) you will also see that they are now renamed in the Cubase Instrument Panel.
  10. all is well :slight_smile:

hope this helps…

Thank you! I shall give it a go!

Instrument Tracks offer the convenience of the audio and midi being integrated.

While the MIDI Track/Rack combo is a bit more memory efficient (don’t know about CPU).

Excellent and thank you for doing that test! I shall use 1 instance of Kontakt in a Rack then! Sorted! :smiley:


The trade off in CPU will be that the single Kontakt instance will use only one thread for all the instruments loaded in it. You can put Kontakt in multi-processor mode for VST in its preferences but that will generally cause audio problems as it will compete with Cubase multi-processing.

I find it best to use one Kontakt instance per instrument track since RAM is cheap and plentiful and the load is better balanced. If RAM becomes an issue then you can always shuffle some of the more lightly loaded Kontakt instances into a single instance.



Excellent point. You could also render/export the parts too.

Thanks for the advice. So what you are saying is to load an Instrument Track and then run one instance of Kontakt (with 15 midi channels assigned to 15 patches - bearing in mind the Instrument Track counts as the first midi track) or One Instrument Track with one instance of Kontakt and only 1 patch? Seems like the latter would get rather ridiculous?!

How would this work with Vienna Ensemble Pro 5? Something similar but just hosting on linked computers and outside of the DAW?

Thanks for all your help!


I’m saying:
One Instrument Track with one instance of Kontakt and only 1 patch

The overhead is only memory, which according the earlier linked post might be 33 megs per instance. Memory is cheap and plentiful, realtime load balancing across CPU’s is not.

You can use more than one patch per Kontakt instance but you may find that a single Kontakt instance runs out of CPU capacity and pops/clicks because as a VSTi it should be single threaded, allowing Cubase to manage thread assignment across all plugins. (This is the default for Kontakt as a VSTi).

Let me illustrate with a recent example. I’ll do this as a narrative which will hopefully be clear around the options available to you and why I made my choices. It doesn’t matter if you use a track or rack instrument configuration for this. Apologies for it being a bit long.

Starting point:
Multiple tracks, single Kontakt instance with 6 patches - Violin ensemble, Viola Ensemble, Cello Ensemble, Double Bass Ensemble, Evolve Patch, Alicia Keys patch

Result: In a busy orchestral section Kontakt runs out of CPU capacity and we get drop outs
Solution 1:

  • Enable Kontakt VST multi-processing

– Worked fine for a while until I started tracking with the video playback then drop outs, sputtery video playback. Not fun.

Solution 2:

  • Separate out the String sections into 4 separate Kontakt instances with one patch each. It was pretty obvious from the CPU usage monitors in Kontakt that these patches were loading up the CPU and wanted a thread each.
  • Kept the other instruments grouped (cause I am lazy)
  • Turn off Kontakt VST multi-processing (now knowing why this is the default )

– No more problem, slightly more memory used - but I still had 12 Gigs free so who cares!

Solution 3:

  • Separate out the last of the patches into own instances - why? Cubase can load balance better, consistency in use. I also believe some other feature of Track Instruments, freezing etc will work better. Now I only use multiple patches in a single Kontakt instrument if I am playing them as a single instrument (e.g. all same midi channel) and I don’t have a CPU issue on that instance.

It’s only memory after all and I have two more slots on the motherboard should I need them.

In summary:

  1. You can group patches into a single instance if you want to save RAM and none are to demanding on the CPU thread
  2. You can split them out if you want better load balancing across threads.
  3. Don’t enable VSTi multi-processing in Kontakt. :wink:

As for VEP5, I’ve only read the manual on that, I don’t use it. From what I can tell it simply does a better job of the load balancing (even across multiple computers). I’m not entirely certain why it doesn’t interfere with Cubase multi-processing in quite the same way I’ve experienced with Kontakt. Perhaps Cubase and VEP come to an agreement about how much resources each get to use. That is entirely possible (processor affinity can be set) but I’ve no idea if it is done. Personally I like the idea of getting VEP and using it with multiple computers, but can’t see a need on one just at the moment.

Hope that helps.


Amazing help. Thank you! I shall try out an Instrument track for each single patch and see how it goes! :slight_smile:

I’m also assuming that using Vienna Ensemble Pro 5 means that every VI is loaded up once and I could then open and close many Cubase Project files without having to reload all the Instruments again? If this is the case then buying it (plus being able to hook up multiple Computers etc) is just a no brainer!

Here goes to trying one Instrument Track per patch then. Its going to be a long night…

Thanks guys for the info on this thread… will experiment with multiple instances of single instrument Kontakt

cheers all :slight_smile:

Ok, I have got to 98 Instrument Tracks, each with 1 instance of Kontakt 5 (Stereo Out) and each with one Patch. My CPU isn’t even breaking into a sweat. I will continue adding more when I get up (might as well try and get some sleep). I am unsure of how much RAM has been used as I don’t know how to check without adding each Kontakt up (I don’t have time to do that).

The two things that are making me think about doing this through Instrument RACKS instead of Tracks is down to a)It takes a long time to load the Template and b) Even pressing Save takes a long time to save compared to using a Template I have made using Rack Instruments (I can only imagine what it would be like at 500 Channels or more). As my CPU isn’t even breaking into a sweat yet I think (for me) using RACKS is a better way. I am definitely buying VE Pro 5. It seems perfect for this.

Right. Didn’t know you were going for almost a hundred tracks! LOL

I’ve never come close that track count, so, if you do see a real improvement with the Rack, then that’s the way to go.

Haha! Well, might as well not do things by halves huh! :wink:

Yes! Sorry, I didn’t specify what the template is for but hey, its all good either way testing this kind of thing out.

I don’t think I could bear waiting so long for Projects to Save and for the template to actually Load. Its seems rather pedantic but when switching back and forth between different songs/Pieces etc, its way too much time waiting about. I shall continue making a Template but with Racks (perhaps a combination of both)…

No, no. Not pedantic at all! Anything that breaks The Flow is bad.

Try Windows task manager, whenever I need to know what’s going on, I check there. :nerd:
I hope I didn’t suggest something stupid…