Using Cubase Pro 11 with the Yamaha PSR-SX900 keyboard

I would like to ask a question about using a Yamaha PSR-SX900 keyboard directly with Cubase Pro 11. Transferring the midi data into Cubase works well, but, after that, few standard Cubase manipulations seem to work. For example, once I have got a track as I want it (and editing, amending is so much easier in Cubase than on the Yamaha keyboard) , I can’t render it in place as an audio track and therefore add processing or control it in the mix in the usual way.

I am pretty new to all of this and although I have found your online tutorials extremely helpful, it seems as though few people like to play/compose music as a rough multi-track “performance” on a keyboard, as I do, and then drop it into Cubase for (in my case, a lot of) tidying-up, individual track processing, mixing and mastering.
The voices on the Yamaha really are something special, so that’s I am particularly keen to do things this way. Pre-sales advice from Yamaha indicates a complete synergy between Cubase and Yamaha (I understand Steinberg and Yamaha work closely together) but, as it stands, it’s not working for me; and I suspect this is because of lack of knowledge on my part.

I have, of course approached Yamaha about this several times, but they tell me to “Talk to” Steinberg!

Any help or pointers anyone could give me would be very much appreciated. Thanks.


Do you use the PSR as the sound generator? Do you send the MIDI data from Cubase to PSR? If yes, how is the Audio rooted from PSR to Cubase, please?

Hi, Martin.

Thanks for getting back to me. I’m fairly new to all of this so I hope I describe things properly.

The way I work is that I record the multi-track session (containing my many mistakes) on the SX900 and transfer the whole “song” onto a USB stick and then import that data as a MIDI file into Cubase (Pro 11). Cubase recognises all the data, track by track. Looking in the List Editor it shows the numeric code for the Yamaha voice for each track and then all relevant MIDI data. I set each track to carry input and output data to/from my external Focusrite interface and all the voices from the Yamaha keyboard are reproduced just as they were recorded on the keyboard. So far, so good.

My concern is that Cubase may well have the same MIDI data as the keyboard, but it doesn’t have any of the track voices on board; so Cubase is, essentially, just “playing” the SX900, which has to be switched on to hear anything, of course.

Correcting the note information for each part in Cubase seems to work in exactly the same way as for, for example, a VST (HALion Sonic) instrument, but it appears that Cubase is just acting as a remote keyboard controller; so I’m just altering the MIDI date which is still controlling the voices on the PSR remotely, rather than in Cubase itself. And I’m guessing that’s the reason I can’t render the Yamaha tracks into audio, group them, add most effects, etc. – all the stuff I can easily do in Cubase with audio and instrument tracks.

And there doesn’t appear to be any way to manipulate the audio with any basics, like compression, limiting, EQ, etc. and the only way to master seems to be to play the mix in real time and record it into another bit of audio software.

Thanks for any advice you can give.



Sorry, I’m still not sure, if you are using Instrument Tracks (HALion Sonic SE) or MIDI Tracks, routed to the PSR SX900.

If you want to use PSR SX900 sounds, you would need to use the PSR SX900 also as an Audio Device, to be able to render the sound of PSR SX900. Or you would need to connect PSR SX900 outputs to the Focusrite inputs and record the audio in real time.

Hi, Martin.

Sorry, I should have been clearer. I start by building up a multi-track recording, part by part, in the PSR-SX900 (up to 16 channels) - mistakes and all. This sometimes includes some “accompaniment” tracks auto-generated by the SX-900 (which are often helpful, but I only use sparingly!). So I have up to 16 tracks of MIDI information that is imported direct into Cubase (the only way to do that is via USB memory stick). These (up to 16 tracks) appear as individual MIDI tracks and that MIDI data includes the coding that triggers the correct voice from the PSR-SX900 when playing back in Cubase. So playing-back and editing is fine as I can correct my playing mistakes and adjust note pitch, length and velocity. That’s all fine and, essentially, behave just as if I were cdoing the same with a HALion Sonic SE instrument track.

But, because these imported tracks are MIDI tracks and not instrument tracks, I can’t do anything with them in terms of adding processing, etc. And they can’t, of course, be routed to fadeable groups, etc, making mixing and mastering difficult. When I’ve finished correcting mistakes, etc., it would be helpful if I could then render them in place as an audio track for adding EQ, reverb, compression, etc and go on to mix and balance in the usual way; but I can’t seem to do that. And that’s my problem.

I need Cubase to make all the necessary corrections and amendments (it’s really not practical in the SX-900, although it can be done), but I then need to be able to use those edited tracks in Cubase as if they were instrument or audio tracks for processing, mixing and mastering. But that doesn’t seem possible.

The only solution I can see is that once I’ve got the notes right in an imported Yamaha MIDI track, I then recording each one as an audio track into other software and then pull those audio tracks back into Cubase for processing, mixing and mastering. But I would need to do each one of the (potentially) 16 tracks individually and that could take a while. And then if I spotted something wrong at the mastering stage, I would need to go back and edit the MIDI track, record it again as an audio file and then re-master.

In case you were wondering, I have asked Yamaha whether they sell their seriously impressive instrument voices just as software - but they don’t!



Unfortunately you didn’t attach the screenshots…

In the Preferences > MIDI > MIDI File > Import, you can set Cubase so it will import the MIDI data to Instrument tracks. Then you can use all Audio effects, Inserts, Sends, Groups…

Other way is to send the MIDI data from Cubase to PSR SX900. Just connect it via USB and the MIDI ports appear. Then you can either render the audio when using PSR SX900 as an Audio Device, or connect the Line Out from PSR SX900 to the Focusrite and record the audio

BTW, you don’t have to record the first draft to the PSR SX900 sequencer, you can record it to Cubase. It’s easier.

Hi, Martin.

I’m extremely grateful for these suggestions. I changed the import option for MIDI files in Preferences for the ‘Destination’ to Instrument Tracks, as you suggested (it was on “HALion Sonic SE multi-timbral”). I then tried importing a MIDI file I had used previously. It imported the raw MIDI as individual tracks, just as it should and each track showed as an instrumental, rather than a MIDI track, as previously - which was great! BUT it can’t pick up the Yamaha voices for each track; the data is all there, just not the voices. I tried various options in the track Inspector, but no joy. The Yamaha SX900 is not shown there, neither is the Focusrite that’s connected to it, so I guess it can’t use those voices, let alone import them.

This is similar to the problem I found a while back when I tried to play all the various keyboard tracks simultaneously (drums, right 1, right 2, auto accompaniment tracks together) from the Yamaha into Cubase, using a USB lead, as you mentioned. I then ‘dissolved’ that single recorded MIDI file into its component tracks. Again, all the data was there, but there were no settings in the track Inspector that enabled me to pick up the individual Yamaha track voices.

This is the crux of the problem, I can’t access the Yamaha keyboard voices within Cubase; I can only use Cubase to import the MIDI data from the keyboard so it can “play” the voices inside the keyboard remotely from Cubase. And that denies me any ability to process, mix and master in the usual way as i could with an instrument or audio track. Sorry, I’m just repeating myself now!

Thank you again for your helpful suggestions, but I think I am out of my depth here. I can’t get help from Yamaha because they don’t support anything outside the keyboard and consider all editing, etc is best done within the keyboard and not in external software, despite promoting Cubase heavily as a partner software for editing, etc. I fact it was that combination of using the SX900 with Cubase that made me buy the keyboard in the first place!

Oh, well.


To be able to get help on this please describe the following:
(1) How is your Yamaha connected to Cubase? Through a USB cable?
(2) Do you use the Yamaha as a midi controller on Cubase?

It’s a strange process you are describing. If you have a DAW like Cubase and then the Yamaha, why do you need to import anything to Cubase using a USB stick? It basically is counterintuitive. You are using a very long and arduous process which obviously isnt working. Please use the following procedure:
(1) Make sure your Yamaha is connected to the Cubase using a USB cable;
(2) Download and install the Yamaha Steinberg USB Driver
(3) Check the YAMAHA SX900 manual for a guide on how to connect to a DAW How to setup USB MIDI on Yamaha Keyboard and Cubase 10.5 LE - complete MIDI tutorial and midi looper - YouTube
(4) Create a midi track on Cubase and check to see if in the inspector, Yamaha SX900 inputs and outputs are indicated/recognized.
(5) Click on the monitor/speaker icon on the track and press any of the keys on the keyboard for sound.
(6) If sound is noticed, record-arm the track and play a couple of bars.
(7) You might not be able to bounce the midi track to audio like any VST instrument within the DAW. You might need to create and audio track underneath the midi track, record-arm the audio track and hit the space bar to record. The data on the midi track is recorded to the audio track.

I own Yamaha MOXF8 and that’s how I use it for now. I have posted an extensive guide on the various ways of connecting the MOXF8 and using it in Cubase. This might apply to you as well. [An Amateur Guide To Connecting And Using the Moxf8 in your Daw - Cubase - Steinberg Forums](


I would suggest once you are done with editing MIDI record all the tracks to audio. Solo one midi track at a time and let it play from start to finish while recording the output of your keyboard to a new track in Cubase . It is a bit cumbersome but you will have each track as a separate audio track and then you can further process it with audio plugins…

Yes, that’s the only solution I could think of. As you say, it’s a bit cumbersome and I need to make sure I’ve got each track properly tidied-up as a MIDI file before recording it to audio, but it would achieve the desired end-result. In fact, the only problem I really have is that it’s not possible to “render in place” on a MIDI track controlling the external Yamaha keyboard, as it is on an instrument track. If that were possible (and I can see how it wouldn’t be) … then happy days! Many thanks for your thoughts on this.

Many thanks for this. There’s a lot for me to get my head around here - and I’m very grateful for that! But, for now, just to answer your two direct questions:
(1) The Yamaha PSR-SX900 is connected in two ways to the PC and Cubase: firstly through the usual dual IN/OUT MIDI leads to an external Focusrite Scarlet 18i20 rack-mounted interface and, also, with a direct USB to USB lead. This offers me (amongst others) the following output routing options in Inspector for a MIDI track: ‘Focusrite USB MIDI’, ‘Digital Keyboard-1’ and ‘Digital Keyboard-2’. And it’s by selecting ‘Focusrite USB MIDI’ that I can get the true Yamaha voices for each track.
(2) Sorry, I’m not sure of the answer to this. I am presuming that the MIDI data within a track is remotely controlling the Yamaha SX900.
I will now try to find and install the Yamaha Steinberg USB Driver and go in search of the YouTube tutorial you mention.
Finally, you ask why I would want to import anything into Cubase using a USB stick. That, says Yamaha, is the only way to do it - apparently. They offer first-rate support on anything to with the keyboard itself; but I get the impression they regard external connectivity not within their remit. And they probably regard it as largely unnecessary because you can, in theory, do so much within the keyboard using its touch screen and many editing/amending options. But, for me at least, the keyboard may be fantastic for performance (which is why I base all my composition around trying to play it all in one go - errors and all - and not build it up track by track), but Cubase is just brilliant for all post-prod editing, processing, etc. through to mastering. That’s why I work the way I do.
Thanks again; this is all really helpful.

You can record the midi directly to Cubase.

I would set up the Cubase project with midi tracks first and record the performance as midi directly to Cubase. After editing the midi performance I would record the individual audio tracks and mute the midi tracks. If at any point you need to change the arrangement just unmute and edit the midi tracks and re-record audio.

However if you prefer to start with the keyboard only and then transfer the midi via usb stick… that’s also perfectly fine. It’s just about finding which workflow is best for you.


It is possible to use Render in Place with MIDI tracks.


This is not necessary. The USB connection can handle everything.

The question was the other way around. If you control Cubase by using SX900.

As I already mentioned, you can record the MIDI data directly to Cubase and it would be much easier.

Unfortunately, unless I am missing something, ‘Render in Place’ doesn’t work with imported MIDI tracks from the Yamaha keyboard.
Case in point: I am currently working on a piece which is a mix of imported MIDI tracks from the Yamaha and an equal number of instrument tracks from HALion Sonic SE. All the HALion-sourced voices will render in place, just as they should; but I have found that attempting the same with any of the Yamaha MIDI tracks does nothing - absolutely nothing - Cubase just doesn’t respond. In all cases (for MIDI and instrument tracks), I selected Render (with current settings).

I only do this in order to use the Yamaha keyboard to directly play voices in, for example, HALion Sonic SE.

It’s becoming clear that the problem must lie with me and my lack of knowledge about how this all works, not the kit.
I can record direct into Cubase from the the Yamaha keyboard, as you suggest. But, to give a simple example, let’s say I am playing three voices simultaneously on the Yamaha and each of those voices is (obviously) a Yamaha voice. You suggested setting up 3 separate MIDI tracks in Cubase (track 1: piano; track 2: strings; track 3: synthetic backing vocals). If I do that, all three of those tracks records the same thing as I am hearing out of the on-board Yamaha speakers - all three voices roughly mixed together. So I don’t have each of the three voices in its own track in Cubase.
However, I can then dissolve that composite track and separate it out into the three component voices. And, as I understand it, in that case, each track’s MIDI data is looking back (through the Focusrite interface or the USB connection) and controlling the Yamaha keyboard to play the correct voice. And that all works, except it’s not easy to find the correct Yamaha voices again; whereas, as Yamaha suggests, importing tracks data individually via a USB memory stick always works well. And that’s what I have been doing up until now.
However the voices are not imported on the USB memory stick, only the MIDI data to control those voices remotely on the Yamaha keyboard from Cubase.
And, as I see it, that explains why I can’t render any of those three MIDI tracks into audio, because the voices are not in Cubase, they are only in the Yamaha keyboard; so Cubase has no “sound” to render - it only has the MIDI data. It’s not an Instrument track using MIDI data to control the on-board HALion Sonic SE voices, which are in Cubase and can therefore be rendered.
That’s where I have always seen the key to my problem. But, as I say, I am fairly new to this.

Try this:

Create an empty Cubase project with 3 midi tracks. Set the input of midi tracks to All midi inputs or your keyboard, it doesn’t matter. Set the output of the midi tracks to your keyboard and channel 1, 2 and 3.

Turn the “Local” of on your keyboard. Pick any voices for the first 3 channels on your keyboard.

Now select any of the midi tracks in Cubase so that it is record-armed. Do not turn the monitor on (yellow speaker icon). You don’t need this. Play the keyboard. You should hear the voice for selected midi channel play back.
This way you can record your performance to a separate midi tracks. Each voice has its own midi track with a specific midi channel.


No I didn’t, not in this case. In this case record all data to one track and then Dissolve Part by MIDI Channel.

You either have to send the MIDI data (Program Change and Bank Select MSB & LSB, CC00 & CC32) from SX900 or set the data in Inspector. Or use the SX900 Patcher to see the names in the Inspector and select the instrument by name.

Sorry, I misunderstood. That is what I am doing; but, as mentioned, I can’t pick up the Yamaha voices that way.

Yes, thanks, that is what I am doing in the List Editor, but it’s a bit involved and, again, it controls the Yamaha just fine, but won’t allow me to render the track in place.

I am intrigued: what is the the ‘SX900 Patcher’? Selecting the instrument by name would be much easier! That, I think, is what I am missing. And, incidentally, I can’t find or get hold of a suitable Steinberg Yamaha driver that will install. Would that help? Most of the ones I can find on their web site are for Macs and none mentions the SX900 or any Yamaha product, as far as I can see. Again, I think this is exposing huge gaps in my knowledge of what to find where.
Many thanks for your help.


You can find the Patch script here.