So I’ve spent all weekend playing with this and trying to find all of the ways I can make it crash (which is fairly frequent) - sorry for the long post
A bit of background
I’ve been trying to get a reliable VST connect implementation for years (since Jan 2013, looking back at my email history with the devs). I was on the original Beta program (thanks Karl/Micheal). I always seem to be waiting for the “next version” to fix the issues I have. I was hoping this beta would get me there…read on…
My test setup:
Windows 10 latest build - Cubase 10 latest build.
RME raydat on the studio PC
Clients/Peformer a mix of Mac laptop (with built in camera) and Windows (with built in camera)
Tested over LAN (for quickly testing features) and WAN
I created a blank project
No fx/instrument plugs
Talkback is setup in control room and works fine
VST connections (F4) - just a stereo input - no outputs - control room > stereo out and talkback
NO EXISTING VST connect channels as the VST connect “wizard” creates all these
I imported a single audio file, mono 44.1khz 24bit as a guide.
that’s the simplest setup I can devise to test.
I insert VST connect pro using the menu. This inserts the record/input channels as expected and the various plugins into the channels and control room
My experience in use
Of course it’s difficult to get exact repros to the various crashes - but you don’t need to do too much to initiate a crash.
My first issue:
Part of the problem is the way that Cubase saves the current control room setup. It’s not saved as part of the VST connections preset xml file or as part of the Cubase project but as a separate file ControlRoomPresets.pxml. This file is only written on a successful exit of Cubase. As VST Connect causes lots of tiny issues then even though you saved the project and quit successfully you’ve actually had a ‘micro crash’ when closing a project. The control room changes are NOT saved.
This means that the control room isn’t necessarily the same as the project you have just saved, they are out of sync - often missing the VST cue and plugs. Start cubase again and load the project… A ‘repair’ reinstates the missing bits but this leads to another crash on exit. Meaning that the ‘fixed’ control room doesn’t save…and you are in a loop. This is fixable by manually repairing - or repairing when not using the out of sync project but it’s a pain.
Crashing and non crashing bugs
-It seems like the app doesn’t respect the video bandwidth settings - if you monitor the bandwidth being sent between performer it’s doesn’t appreciably change. For example I was seeing peaks of 3Mb/s when set to the lowest ‘quality’ settings. This was a struggle for the connection I was using - so lots of drop outs etc.
I tried restarting both sides to see if those setting are only read on initialisation…but no change. You physically see this as the video image quality doesn’t change. You can also see this on the inbuilt monitor page.
-Video mirror not working on the “studio” app - works ok on performer app. Neither apps respect that setting after a restart. Would be good if it also respected the aspect ratio of the camera 4:3 is so 1990. Also a proper full screen mode would be good too.
-You can’t disable the remote video from the studio side - you can change the setting but it’s not respected (using mac peformer app)
-performer app on PC often has an additional blank area on the LHS bottom of the video window, about the same size as the video send window
-frequent crashes on the studio side, adding extra channels to the mixer
-graphics issue on the studio side, lost the effects setting and the faders where just green blocks - randomly appears
-There are other numerous crashes that I’m trying to pin down such as when adding channels to the mixer
- ID button still disappears - so that bug remains - a restart of the app restores it.
Performer VST plugin showstoppers
Currently there is no sensible way for the studio to hear the performer with reverb on during the take. The performer themselves can have reverb but the studio can’t. This is because you have to monitor through the control room VST connect monitor plugin and you have zero control on that, just a level control in the plug.
Bearing that in mind I thought I’d try to add a reverb via the VST inserts on the performer app but that lead to another source of multiple crashes and bugs
I tried a few different VST3 reverbs on the performer app - the VST2 path didn’t seem to stick after the rescan reboot (bug?) so I settled on VST3
First thing I found It’s very fussy about the plugin. Plugins that work fine on the performer app ‘locally’ (ie before you connect) will not open when you are connected. Attempting opening the gui hangs the performer app. You need to force quit and restart. This is made worse that if you set up your plugins BEFORE connecting then these are automatically unloaded when you actually connect…sigh.
This lead to more crashes however…numerous performer app restarts and reconnects because of the crashed plugin actually crashed Cubase on the studio PC - wasn’t even sat at that computer when it happened (a few times) - just watched it disappear from the screen without warning. It was just sitting there doing nothing.
So after all that, if you do find a plugin that doesn’t crash when you are connected then you hit another bug - you can’t select or change this at the studio end. It has the correct plugin list but selecting it either does nothing or crashes the performer app if you select a “misbehaving” one.
When you eventually get a VST plugin working on the performer end…you still can’t monitor it on the studio end so it was a bit of a waste of time anyway
The documentation is pretty sketchy in my opinion - At it’s heart it’s actually quite a simple concept. I have read everything there is out there but I desperately needs better docs and overview - I’d be more than happy to create some but at this stage it’s very difficult to recommend it.
I’ve deliberately avoided talking about the performance whilst actually recording - and good news, that’s the certainly the best part of it. I’m not saying that you can’t get it working - you can (especially if you totally disable video working over WAN because of the ‘bandwith bug’) - The actual recording side is the most successful part of it… but it’s like dancing on the head of a pin…you need to know how to avoid all of the potential crashes and there are plenty.
I wrote this very long post because I don’t think I’ve EVER had as many crashes with production software (yes I know it’s technically beta!). I have watched cubase boot about 100 times over this weekend.
I really, really want this to work but it’s so fragile. I don’t see how I can use it with a paying performer or session musician at this stage.
Charlie, Micheal, it’s such a shame because it’s so close and yet so far - please give it some more love - waiting for a year for a minor bug fix isn’t going to get this working.