Standard A4 is 440Hz, A4 in Cubase is 880Hz???

This was pointed out in a comment on one of my YouTube videos. I’ve never noticed but this person pointed out that even though standard tuning A4 is 440Hz, Cubase labels A4 as being one octave higher, at 880Hz. This is true for all EQ/channel windows, EQ plugins, and all VST instruments.

I later discovered that other VST companies also refer to A4 as being 880Hz.

Is this an error, a typo of sorts? Is there anything else that explains the discrepancy?

I’ve done a bit of research and found that Standard MIDI Note Number 69 corresponds to the 49th note on a keyboard, labelled “A4 concert pitch” (German note name: a’ Kammerton), and the frequency always described or referred to 440.00Hz. I would think that Steinberg (the inventors of VST no?) and all other companies would adhere very strictly to the standard MIDI protocol/MIDI note number.

Am I missing something here?

One of the Dorico team talked about this in their blog a while back (linked below). Essentially it’s due to treating the first C as 0 instead of 1 when counting, so the 1st C for humans is better represented as the 0th C for computers. In your case you’re treating A4 as 440, whereas other companies, including Yamaha, treat A3 as 440 (and in the below example Sonar treat A5 as 440).

"Briefly, the reasons for Middle C changing like this seem to be:

On a standard 88-key keyboard/piano middle C is the 4th C when counting from the left, therefore C4 (explosive!). The first A key on a piano is, therefore, MIDI note number 21.
Yamaha (and some others) start counting their C’s (in a digital way) from 0 instead of 1, therefore the first C is C0 and middle C becomes C3.
Sonar started counting digitally too, but also aligned C0 to MIDI note 0, which then makes C5 middle C."

Hope that helps!


Very good stuff. I’m going to have a good read of this when I have some free time. I figured there was a rational explanation for it, but I couldn’t find the answer. Cheers!