Tutorial: Routing VSTi back into an audio track

I’ve seen this question asked a million times. I have posted a few pictures in other threads, but they are hard to link back to. So, I will show pictures of a step by step method to route the output of VSTi instruments back into audio tracks for real time tracking. You don’t need a multi-out/in audio card to do this.

I don’t know if this works for Artist or other limited capability versions of Cubase though.

Anyhow, first picture to follow

#1: Create some mono and stereo DUMMY VST connections.

The Menu Devices-> VST Connections
This is my default with just the outputs to my audio card.

I use the Add Bus (which should be spelled buss) to add 4 stereo outs and 8 mono outs
Notice the Audio Device is set to NOT CONNECTED. You may need to set that yourself by clicking on the audio device and choosing “NOT CONNECTED”

These are the dummy ports you will use to re-route your audio.

#2: Add a VSTi to the instrument rack (F11)… In this case I chose Mystic, just so everyone will have it.

Pay special attention that when you add a VSTi to the instrument rack it chooses the main outs 1/2 for you. This is what we are going to change. I’ve pointed at it in the mixer, but you can also click on the audio track in the arranger and change it there.

#3: Set the VSTi audio channel OUTPUT to one of the DUMMY VST Connections

This is the part that most people mess up when I help them directly. I’ve got the VST Connections dialog in the background of the mixer so that you can see that I am setting the audio output of Mystic from 1/2 to the Out named “Stereo Out” that I made earlier.

#4: Create Audio Track and route the VSTi output to it

I’ve added a normal stereo audio track and named it Myst-Audio. Then I set it’s INPUT to that DUMMY STEREO OUT that isn’t connected to anything.

#5: Turn on monitoring on the audio track and you can record the output of the VSTi as if it was coming from your audio card.

Many, many, many advantages of doing it this way.

  1. You can have different audio tracks with different FX chains being fed by a single or multiple VSTi.

  2. You can bounce to audio on the fly and disable the VSTi to get CPU headroom back.

  3. You can set your multi-out VSTi like drums so that each pad goes to its own audio track for processing.

  4. Once it’s at the audio track, all of the features of an audio track are available to you in real time for the output of your VSTi.

Hope that helps someone.

Thank you, JMCecil, I am bookmarking for future use.

I don’t use VSTi’s much now, but I’m sure I’ll want to one day … thanks!

By the way, this is exactly what Reaper does. The difference is the Cubase exposes an additional audio track. After using both, I prefer the VST connection method. Much cleaner/easier to keep the routing straight and easier to tell when you are being fancy with Multiple VSTi feeding a single audio input or a single VSTi feeding multiple audio inputs.

I’m always disappointed when I read on KVR or COCKOS forum that someone still thinks it’s some unique feature of Reaper.

JM … Excellent tutorial. I believe that this is also known as ‘internal summing.’

But … a small bone to pick with you about “what Reaper does.”

Yes, it does this … but it additionally permits direct audo track to audio track routing … not just VSTi output to audio track.

Why is this a big deal? Because that, direct audio track to audio track, permits use of VST2 plugins with external sidechain input.

That is something Cubase architecture … absent the tortuous ‘Quadro’ routing … is unable to do simply and intuitively.

IMO VST3 sidechain is no substitute … although it is better than nothing.

Now, if perchance you can show me I am wrong about this and you can demonstrate how to route audio from a track directly to the external sidechain input on a plugin instantiated on another audio track, I will not only be flummoxed, but also eternally grateful!


Oh! And another reason I think you should not begrudge the ‘routing’ excitement Reaper creates for its users:

Whereas while what you have shown is true, if it’s in the Manual, I have never been able to find it! That’s why your excellent tutorial to the “frequently asked question” is needed.

Reaper, on the other hand, makes complex routing an easily learnable aspect of basic track management … accessibly right there in the equivalent of the ‘Inspector.’



Hey Moderators please sticky this!

Interesting. I don’t side chain, but can’t you use the virtual connection to do so? I’ll give it a whirl tonight.

I do believe buss can be spelt either way in this context!

I was being a bit sarcastic :stuck_out_tongue:

you’re either on the buss or off the buss :mrgreen:

great tip thanks!

TY JM … I await with bated breath.

I’ve been thinking through the virtual routing, as used in internal summing, but I still can’t envision how the instantiated plugin on an audio track/ channel can be routed a different audio signal … the sidechain input source … to make the VST2 external sidechaining on a capable plugin operable.


Sorry for the bump, Como asked me to confirm that you still need to use the quadra to drive VST 2.x plugins that use sidechains.

I didn’t have the chance to read the full tutorial, but conceptwise, you’re looking to record the output of a VSTi, right? Isn’t it easier to route its output to a Group track and use that track as an input to an audio track?