VST instruments (F11) vs Instrument insert?


I’ve seen alot of producers using the F11 feature of Cubase 7. Which is “VST instruments”.

I struggle alot with this as I think it is kind of messy to have all synths inserted in the VST instruments.
Since it creates 1 MIDI track for the midi notes to be triggered and 1 output track and 1 other track that is connected to this instrument in particular. I find it VERY messy to find the “output” channel of the track to insert effects and such.

What do you guys use and do you have any recommendations of organizing it better? Do you use F11 or just normal “insert software instrument”, for normal synths like massive, sylenth1 etc?

I understand that F11 is very nice for instruments such as Kontakt5 where u can automatically set multiple outputs this way.

Same is with automations, where do you put your automations tracks? do you have it under the track that is automated, or do you put it far up in the project or far down? I find these 2 areas very messy in cubase.

Any tips and tricks is highly appreciated.


The VST Instrument Rack is primarily for multi-timbral instruments, but can be used for stereo as well.

OTOH if you use Instrument Tracks (stereo only) these will appear at a point prior in the tracklist.

I think that the Instrument Rack appeals to people that have done MIDI hardware for a while. F11 basically simulates how this is done.

Instrument Tracks on the other hand, are inherently simple to use. This conclusion may even be drawn from yourself, since you referred to it as “just normal”. :slight_smile:

They both have pros/cons for various reasons, many of which are of personal preference. You should probably stick with what works best for you and makes the most sense to you.

In the end, whatever one person may consider even, might be obviously uneven to another.

Also, like in my setup, you can have your external instruments (Outboard gear) show up as an instrument insert. :nerd:

OK I will then start using it as normal as I did.

I’ve been looking into switching to FL for some time now, the reason is that I think that FL handles automation excellent. With automation tracks.

Eventhough Cubase offers great automation, I still feel like its a tedious process. In FL you see the automation track and the name of that track all the time. How would you guys organize the automations in a larger project? would you have it underneath the track that you’re automating or putting them all on the top of the project or the bottom of the project? How can I easily see what I’m automating without making too many lines of automation visible inside of a project? If you get my point.

This is automation in Cubase:


And this is automation in FL:

It’s just alot easier to see what you’re modulating/automating.

I don’t like the “show hide” type of automation. I would like them to be something like this. Any suggestions? I don’t want to switch from cubase :stuck_out_tongue:


yeah there’s no way around this (ie. you cannot currently ‘detach’ your automation tracks from the tracks they’re assigned to and move them to another place in the arrange; nor can you enlose your automation into clips like you can with ‘audio parts’). i suppose it’s a lot to do with the history of the program and new features piling up onto existing ones whilst not letting go of the old ones (see the F11 vs instrument track dichotomy which to someone who hasn’t used the program for years must look entirely ridiculous and void of logic). i think if i were you i’d give FL studio a go for a while, i find it much more inspirational for some stuff – totally depends on what your priorities are in a DAW and what style you’re trying to create.

Care to present a reasonable argument for such a claim?
I mean, for some of us ridiculous people in this void of logic.

Instrument tracks were introduced as a quick way to put down ideas, not having to go through adding a VSTi and then a MIDI track etc… . It’s future evolvement to multi-out etc…, is due to other DAW’s implementation.

personally it’s become second nature to me because i’ve been using it for so many years. but if you’re new to the daw or daws in general, it will seem very chaotic to you to have these two disctinct ways of dealing with VSTi’s (same with midi CC-automation vs automation in the arrange). it’s the thread topic of many a confused user who’s opened up the program and doesn’t know their way around. it’s just the curse of a program with such long history-- i’m fairly sure if it was designed now, from the ground up, things would have been designed in a better way (well, maybe not, seeing the new mixer). personally it’s not a deal breaker to me but it does give the software a bit of a reputation when people have just been introduced to it, like i’ve seen many times.

Sure you can… if you use the the VST Instrument Rack (F11). In the John Dahlback Future Music “In The Studio With” video he used the Rack for all his VSTs and had his automation neatly arranged in tracks at the top of the arrange page with all his audio and midi tracks arranged at the bottom of the arrange page… very much like FL Studio.

Personally, I almost never use the VST Instrument Rack (F11) even with multi-timbral instruments. Its just too messy and overly complicated to me. I also prefer to have my automation lanes hidden when I’m not using them but thats just me…

I’m the same way and much rather use Instrument Tracks rather than Instrument Channels (F11). Like you, I also use them on drums, even if it means opening up several instances of the same sampler/synth. My computer can handle it without blinking, so why not? I keep my projects neat this way. I hate all the mess Instrument Channels create. It’s so last century, in my view. But I also understand when other people disagree with me about this, thus why it is always best for each person to find their own workflow.

Aloha guys just to chime in.

Being a MIDI guitarist I have over the years become a real MIDIot.
I never thought that I would use ‘Instrument Tracks’.

However now days I NEVER use the MIDI rack and MIDI tracks.
I use MIDI information on Instrument Tracks.

I ‘see’ each track as a separate player in the orchestra with its
own stereo out to the mixer.
This gives me complete control.


This discussion actually cleared up a few things for me about instrument tracks that I had still not yet figured out after 9 years with Cubase, very cool…thanks

What’s this grudge against F11?

If I’m going to use a multi-timbral VSTi, I put it there. Instrument Tracks just aren’t flexible enough.

huh, how would i detach for instance the channel volume automation of a track from the channel it’s operating on, and move it to, say, the opposite part of my split-arrange? (that’s what the OP wanted to know imo.)

I only use instrument tracks for stereo instruments. A limitation is when setting output routing, in that you cannot define outputs from the Inspector in the project page.

Rack based instruments are great for multi-timbral instances of VSTi’s and due to the fact of the outputs being more closely tied to the summing engine of the application, sometimes I have found crackling when navigating the track list or selecting parts (due in large part to the internal computer BIOS).

The above situation of course has changed but not until after I had converted all my tracks to standard MIDI.

Maybe I will start using Instrument Tracks again more but the rack is always reliable.

another ‘legacy’ aspect of the instrument rack is, it isn’t tied to media bay for fast preset recalling. and it’s actually where you’d need to have it if you orchestrate and want to quickly audition and compare how different patches of a certain instrument sound. i’ve pretty much stopped using them for this reason and just open up kontakt upon kontakt via instrument tracks for separate outputs (you can still edit multiple MIDI parts in a single window if one needs to see all the voices for counterpoint, or when programming a drum kit).

Anyone think they will eventually make instrument tracks with multiple outputs?

I really like instrument tracks but the fact that there isn’t a mutli output option kills it for me with drums, etc.

I would love the idea of being able to bring up a drum vst by an instrument preset and already have my outputs set up.


Just to chime in, there’s an option in the automation settings to “Show Data on Tracks” which shows the waveform on the automation track. It’s not the same as having the automation on the track itself, but it’s at least something.

As for instrument VS the VST rack, I use instruments for synths or any time I don’t need the flexibility and the VST rack for drums with one midi track as input.

That would be cool, but the visual placement of channels created from instrument tracks is still restricted. It’s hard to move them around exactly where you want them in the mixer and at the same time, hard to keep the arrangement window clean.

Really it is all 90% of the way there, just needs a little more flexibility with multis and free placement respective of other channels in the mixer/arrangement.