So Instruments Tracks are... ?

Hi, I’m experimenting and I just want to confirm… instrument tracks are basically MIDI tracks that show up in the MixConsole as Audio channels? Therefore, in the Project Window I can affect / process these tracks with MIDI modifiers and edit them as MIDI data, but in the MixConsole, they are handled as audio so I can process them as any other audio track. So they are kinda like “shape shifters” depending on whether I am editing them in Project Window vs the MixConsole?

Is this accurate?

Wonder if this will help. The Synth, drum machine or instrument is controlled by midi but the sound that it produces (that comes out of the outputs) is audio and can be panned, EQéd or can be effect processed the same as audio.

…ok I think what you wrote confirms my understanding.

and therefore, when programming with VST instruments (synths/samplers/drum machines) it is no longer necessary to create a separate MIDI track? Hmmm, it used to be in older versions of Cubase that one had to manually “connect” a MIDI track with an Instrument track but to my joyful astonishment, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore… which would be awesome.

Looking to confirm from you guys… and maybe tell me when one would possibly have a need for a MIDI track? I just can’t see a need for it… either real instruments are plugged in (audio tracks) or virtual instruments are used (instrument tracks). Yes?

Well basically the instrument track is a midi track nailed onto an audio track. Which means one track rather than in the past there being the necessity for two tracks. However if you are using a multi-timbral instrument like Kontakt you will need to use midi tracks for the different instruments you are using. For instance the original track being midi channel 1 and each successive track being 2-3-4 etc. In the arrange page it works as a midi track and in the mixer as an audio track.

Hmm, funny you should mention that because I’ve spent the last 2 days researching the proper way to set up orchestral templates to use with Kontakt in Cubase and yesterday I built them all using Rack Instruments, and for such a setup I did need to create MIDI tracks in addition to the audio returns that were automatically created by Cubase when I loaded Kontakt into the Rack.

However, today I am trying the alternate approach, which many are using and that is, to use Instrument Tracks instead, and that is when I noticed that this was cutting down the amount of tracks needed because I was no longer required to create MIDI tracks. And that’s when I posted here to confirm my understanding…

Thus I would have to disagree with your statement that “if you are using a multi-timbral instrument like Kontakt you will need to use midi tracks for the different instruments you are using”. This is only the case if you are using Rack Instruments. With Track Instruments, the instrument tracks created will suffice as they will do double duty (MIDI in the Project Window, and Audio in the MixConsole).

But thank you for confirming my understanding of the rest. :slight_smile:

Thus I would have to disagree with your statement that “if you are using a multi-timbral instrument like Kontakt you will need to use midi tracks for the different instruments you are using”. This is only the case if you are using Rack Instruments. With Track Instruments, the instrument tracks created will suffice as they will do double duty (MIDI in the Project Window, and Audio in the MixConsole).

You may have misunderstood what Silhouette is saying.

To use the same instance of Kontakt loaded to an instrument track to play back 3 different instruments (multi-timbrally) you would add the instrument track which has one midi track included but would need to add 2 further midi tracks.

If you are wanting to use separate instances of Kontakt that would be fine. However, if you are using a multi-timbral instance you might find yourself using say a violin(midi1), a cello(midi2) and a double bass(midi3). To play each of these different instruments they will need their own midi track. This applies to the instrument tracks as well as the rack instruments. You will find if you are on the Kontakt track and add a midi track it will add a midi track assigned to midi 2, the next will be assigned to midi 3 and so on. However all these midi tracks will be output through your original Kontakt audio track. It is a matter of taste as to whether you prefer multi-timbral instruments either as an instrument track or a rack instrument.

Yes. I agree. This is what I was doing yesterday with Cinematic Strings 2 as ONE instance of Kontakt but loading up a few patches.

Oh ok I understand what you mean. If I go the Track Instruments route, the moment I load in more than one patch in Kontakt (which makes it now multi-timbral), I will need to a MIDI track to cover this additional channel I’ll be using in this instance, because Cubase only creates a single Instrument track when using Track Instruments. Yes?

I doubt I will do that though. I think that would create a mess and confuse me! Its either I go multi-timbral with Rack Instruments or I go single channel for each instance of Kontakt I create using Track Instruments.

Assuming I have understood now, one question remains:

If I decide to use Track Instruments and load a few instances of Kontakt loaded (using only one channel per instance), is it OK if I leave all tracks at their default MIDI Channel 1?

EXAMPLE: 5 instances of Cinematic Strings are loaded. Each has ONE patch loaded and by default it’s set to MIDI Channel 1. Can I leave them all set to Channel 1 like this or will it create some sort of polyphony / other kinds of problems down the road?

The answer to that is simple. Yes.

It is actually the same in both Instrument Tracks and Rack Tracks. Which is just as well if you have more than 16 instruments on the go. If you create a midi track you can link it to any instrument you have open in the Track Inspector where you can find the list of instruments to connect to. If you have created a midi track unrelated to an instrument the full black slot will say “No VST Instrument”. There you can select the instrument you want this midi track linked to. Also underneath you will see the partial black slot where you can choose the midi track you want and a GUI symbol to bring up the instruments GUI. Each instrument/Rack track you create could in theory have 16 midi tracks

Obviously you will have to decide which way of organising the use if VSTi’s suits you best. I have tended to go with instrument tracks. If I use Kontakt I tend to load the multi-timbral version just in case. More often if I am experimenting and being more informal with stuff I create an audio track with Render in Place. Sometimes if I feel I might want to get back to the point I currently am I will create a new version of the track/CPR - save as + new name.

I haven’t really tested the cpu implications of running a lot of Kontakts together. I do know that I have occasionally had problems with spiking leading to me having to freeze the Kontakts I have had running. Some of the instruments I use like Sample Modelling’s Trumpet or Mr Sax have to be loaded in a single instance and I have long suspected there might be as issue there. Just make sure that you have the Multi-Processor set to off in the Kontakt Options/Engine section. I really wish that Native Instruments would get to grips with this.

This is the whole beauty of modern DAWs, the flexibility that you are given to create new ideas.

While this will certainly work, you don’t absolutely need the additional MIDI Tracks. You can put multiple instrument lines into the same MIDI Part on the Instrument Track. Just make sure that the notes in each instrument’s line is set to its own MIDI Channel (e.g. the top line to Ch. 1, the next down to ch. 2, etc.) and the in the Instrument Track’s Inspector the MIDI Channel is set to ALL (if you set it to a specific channel it will just convert the whole data stream to that channel).

Sometimes working this way can make part writing easier than using multiple Tracks, other times not. But it’s good to know you can do it either way.