Support For MIDI Polyphonic Expression

Now that the MIDI Manufacturers Association has ratified MIDI-CI and MIDI Polyphonic Expression MPE, I would like to see Steinberg do the following:

  1. Incorporate full support into Cubase ASAP.

  2. Phase out Note Expression, substituting MPE (after all, Halion is probably the only product that supports Note Expression, right?)

First of all, +1.

I have always been curious as to how note expression was implemented. I assume (but have never done research) that it does not use MIDI to retain the control information. So, is it something akin to automation? Anyone know how it works under the covers?

Note Expression works great for MPE though.
Or do you mean that their synths should use MPE instead? Note Expression is probably more flexible as there are more available parameters no?

I believe that MIDI-CI is something that hardware manufacturers have to implement first.

“Profiles are defined sets of rules for how a MIDI device sends or responds to specific MIDI messages to achieve a specific purpose or suit a specific application. Profiles make products easier to configure and provide better interoperability. Profile auto configuration of complex controller mappings is like MIDI Learn on steroids.”

I want is for Note Expression to be -replaced- by MPE. I see ads where soft synths are supporting MPE. However, AFAIK, Halion is the only softsynth that ever supported Note Expression.

If Cubase supported MPE, that would open up a lot more possibilities.


I think the midi controller you are using needs to support it, and if it does, turning on Channel Rotation in the Key Editor Note Exp tab should work. I can’t test it out since I don’t have such a controller, so I read up on it.

Here’s a forum post about it:

here’s some info about MPE/Channel Rotation:

Scroll down to the Steinberg section here, the LinnStrument MPE supported program list:

Cubase already supports MPE. In fact, it’s probably the most commonly recommended DAW for using this type of controller.

Cubase can translate Note Expression into MIDI, but it’s not MIDI data. It’s closer to a per-note modulation source or automation.

In Halion 6 and Halion Sonic 3, Note Expression can modulate any modulatable internal parameter or group of parameters. In Cubase, these parameters are intelligently shown only by the relevant MIDI channels and using the custom names you set while programing/editing the preset.

MPE and Note Expression sound similar, but they’re not quite the same thing. Note Expression is smarter and more convenient.

Where is this documented?

I came across this video: which I’ve definitely got to study when I can get to my DAW.

This article by Roli also explains how to set things up:

My concern is with the receiver (ie the SoftSynth) more than the sender (the controller). My understanding is that the SoftSynth needs to support not only VST3 but also Note Expression (VST 3.5) in order to ‘receive’ individual note information–which is what MPE also provides for.

It seems as though a number of Softsynths are announcing support for MPE, ie. it is becoming a real standard, so wouldn’t it make sense for Cubase to directly support MPE in the Key Editor rather than Note Expression which seems limited to Halion?

You can already edit this data using the Note Expression editor (as explained by the Roli article and the video you linked) and the Key Editor’s Info Line (to change the MIDI channel of individual notes). It works with any MPE compatible instrument, or any VST instrument or hardware that allows you to load the same sound into multiple MIDI channels.

Also, like I said, Cubase automatically converts Note Expression data into MIDI when using instruments that don’t support NE.

MPE is no black magic, technically even Cubase SX 1 (from 2002) supports it, but the way the Note Expression editor and the Info Line work makes recent versions of Cubase perfect for people using MPE controllers, and you can take advantage of these features even if you don’t have one.

Yeah. Cubase is one of the best daws I’ve ever used for MPE. It already handles it really well, using the Note Expression functions.

What Synths are you using it with?

  1. What synths support MPE or Note Expression?

  2. Where is MPE documented in Cubase?

It’s not documented in the Cubase manual, like the the midi standard and the VST standard aren’t in there.

It’s discussed in the links above, especially the ROLI ones. Their synth does “support” it. But if you don’t have a controller that does this, it’s not of any use. You can do what you have always done, load a few instances of a VST into the plugin and use Note Expression to set channels and CCs/PB etc, of individual notes.

It’s the controller that has to support it, and it’s meaningless without such a controller. The whole point is that in MPE mode the controller automatically changes the channel for each note, and can be marketed as a miracle cure.

You know what synths support Note Expression, I’m sure this has been discussed here. It’s mainly Steinberg multi-timbral VSTs, and I think VSL.

Just tossing in this link about MPE.

VSL does not support Note Expression. In fact, Note Expression is pretty much Steinberg only tech… which stinks.

You’re all thinking of this from a controller standpoint. I’m thinking of it from a sound standpoint. If VSL -did- support Note Expressions (I’ve asked them for years) I would use it -occasionally- during string writing for divisis. I would play in my parts, then go back and hand tweak my Note Expression (or MPE).

MPE is a standard. It’s supported by a bunch of manufacturers and looks to be supported by many more in the near future. Note Expression will never go anywhere. So I think it’s fair to have MPE support mentioned in the docs… just as Note Expression is. And I think MPE should probably supplant NE, simply because it =is= prevalent.

In any case, MPE should be mentioned in the manual.


I’ll say it again. MPE already works beautifully in Cubase. No need for Note Expression to go anywhere, as it works great for MPE.

That video you found gives a good runs though of how to use MPE with Cubase. It was a help to me for sure:

And this is a great resources for MPE synths:

I will say that MPE can be an amazing tool, even without a controller, if you’re willing to enter data by hand.

You can say it again and again… but it should be mentioned IN THE FRICKIN’ MANUAL.