VCA Peak not working anymore

Hello Steinberg team, please note that in Cubase 13.0.20 the peak indicators of the VCA channels don’t work anymore (only infinite sign!). It would be nice if this severe bug could be fixed ASAP. Thanks!


What exactly do you mean, please? I don’t see any peak indicator in Cubase 12.0.70 neither.

VCA tracks carry no audio data. So what do you like to show on these?

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As you can see on the screenshot: no 4 is the VCA peak meter that displays the summed up level of all channel meters in the link group. Below this (marked in yellow) you can see on the left hand side the volume and on the right the summed up peak level. But this peak level indication always shows the infinity sign instead of the max peak level… - this is a very important value which was indicated in Cubase 12 - but I am not sure if it’s only a problem of Cubase 13.0.20 or in all Cubase 13 versions.


On my side, it shows -oo in Cubase 12.0.70, same as it is in Cubase 13.

It simply doesn’t make sense to have a field with peak meter indication which does not work… :frowning:

As it is extremely helpful to have a visual VCA group level meter it is yet more important to have a working peak indication for a VCA group (e.g. Drums, Bass, Arps, Pads, Leads, Vocals…) as well as we have it for the “normal” instrument tracks.

I guess the salient point is that a VCA is not a summing amplifier like a group channel.

A VCA will offset each of the individual fader values of all faders it is to control, but knows nothing of their individual amplitudes, let alone their sum amplitude. Now, since we are discussing a daw and not hardware, it would be possible to do what you suggest, but this is not likely in a hardware console.

If you absolutely must see the sum amplitude of a group of channels, either direct route or ‘send’ them to a group channel. The group channel obviates the need for a VCA, but if you still want to use your VCA you can have the output of the group disconnected.

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I completely agree with you: VCA faders are, simply put, just remote controls for the volume of multiple tracks without their own audio signal. So far, so good.

But as you said, in a DAW like Cubase, each volume fader has a display that shows the dynamic volume changes in dB (scale on the right!) of all tracks contained in the VCA group. In short: this display has a visible volume range with a visible minimum and maximum level. It should therefore be very easy to capture this maximum level and display it in the peak level field (instead of the pointless “eternity symbol”).

Redirecting to group channels (without additional insert effects) could be a possible solution, but it is more of a “stopgap” or “workaround” for a simple solution. So the real point of group channels is the use of the same insert FX for multiple tracks and not the use as a volume control - for this task VCA channels were invented exactly…

This isn’t correct. Groups have a fader, for volume control.
The intention of groups is to sum some signals and make the volume of the combined signal adjustable in one go.

Sorry, but I don’t agree completely with you.
→ The primarily intention of gruops is to apply the same effects and EQ of the summed up signal to all included tracks

→ The primarily intention of VCA faders is to apply the same relative volume to all included tracks

For sure with a group track you can control the volume of the included tracks as well, but this task should better be done with the VCA faders.

We’re getting off-topic, but ‘no’, you’re not right about that. In post for example there are several good reasons for why you would use groups to adjust levels rather than the source tracks (directly or via a VCA).

In the early days with groups, there was no EQ or FX available on them. Just summing or routing.

The primary intention of VCA’s was to get the summing amplifier in the groups out of the equation. There were technical reasons to do so.

But maybe this is too long ago.


In my opinion, there is no “right” or “wrong” use of VCAs versus group channels. It simply depends on the circumstances and the type of control you need.

If you only need to control the volume, then a VCA channel is the perfect solution. On the other hand, if you need to process the summed signal, you should use a subgroup bus. And of course you can also use both together.

What I actually meant is that technically in a DAW it would be absolutely no problem to display the peak level of a VCA. Although there is no sum signal with VCAs, Cubase shows a dynamic level on the VCA meter. So it seems to calculate the (theoretical) sum from the individual track levels - and if you have a dynamic level, then you also have a peak level that you could display to further optimise the balance between the different VCA tracks.

IMHO, the presence of a VCA in the context of a DAW application is a sop or appeasement for those folks used to using them in a more traditional (i.e. hardware console) sense. That’s fine, software can do that, so why not?

As another poster in this thread noted, the true purpose of the VCA, it’s raison d’être was to remove the summing amplifier out of the volume equation, yet still be able to control a ‘group’ of channels. Why would they want to do this? Well, the more analog amplifier channels a signal travel through, the more noise added to that signal, and at some point, that noise becomes an issue. The VCA was a genius solution to a pernicious problem.

Today’s DAWs, of course don’t have an issue with noise in a ‘summing’ context. A summing operation is dirt cheap, computation wise, and noise less. It’s completely sterile, so much so that that the plugin industry sells plugins just to deliberately add back some of that noise and crosstalk that we’ve gotten used to over time.

This all means that routing several channels to a ‘group’ summing channel works without adding any noise to the group signal, eliminating the need for a VCA in the first place.

So, as first pointed out, the purpose of a VCA in the context of a DAW is basically an extra feature, maybe for those with intractable muscle-memory. That’s ok, but it’s not a five-alarm fire of a feature that would seem to warrant much beyond working like a true hardware console VCA, for the vast majority of folks.

Nobody said something about right or wrong. We were saying that the intention in the beginning was different.

Yes and no. You can use the group too. Or just using volume automation.

Yes, it’s technically no problem, but to do so, you need to use an internal summing bus for every VCA you create. Otherwise, you can’t calculate the correct values.
The level meter is just an approximation.

So the initial question remains: if the level display of a VCA is “only an approximation”, why is there no peak value display that could also be “only an approximation”. This would at least be better than the meaningless eternity sign…

There were also processing possible on those group channels on analog channels either directly or by using inserts. So as long as that processing reacts to input levels the differentiation remains significant, meaning either you’re adjusting levels pre-dynamics (VCA) or after.

Additionally today we have the ability to edit automation in the DAW and it’s infinitely more convenient to edit the automation of one VCA track than multiple ‘linked’ tracks.

On top of that you have the “nesting” effect with regards to automation. In other words I can automate individual tracks and the automate the offset on the VCA. I can then adjust either independently of one another.

And lastly that all makes for a much more easy to adjust situation if you need level changes to ‘move’. In the case of post-production for example I’ve had cases where I’ve hounded production for delivery requirements and they’re dragging their feet, but I still have a deadline to meet. Well, I can automate one VCA that controls the individual music and SFX groups and then easily move that automation line over to either the M&E group (summed signal of the previous two) or to the two music and effects VCAs that control those tracks (assuming no dynamics on the groups). So again, had that automation all been done on individual tracks feeding a group it’d have been much ‘worse’.

Bonus: Control. Solo. Spill in Pro Tools or “show tracks connected to first selected” in Cubendo. Etc.

There’s a bit more to it than only what you bring up I think. It’s just that most people haven’t seen the need to incorporate VCA into their workflows and might not see that.

There’s a bit more to it than only what you bring up I think. It’s just that most people haven’t seen the need to incorporate VCA into their workflows and might not see that.

Yes, there’s way more to it than my more pointed description, as you’ve noted. Those that are already aware of those uses and distinctions you point out aren’t really the ones that comment was directed to - they know what I’m getting at.