What is the best strategy working with outboard gear where the routing has to frequently change?

I have a couple nice outboard channel strips which can be used as a mic pre or DI, complete with EQ and compression sections. However, they are quite nice to use after the fact for processing a track as an insert. In a few cases I have channel strip pairs, where they can be linked together in stereo, or used separately as mono.

I’ve found, however, that setting up the routing in the “External FX” tab in the Studio>Audio Connections menu to be very strict of routing selections - in other words, you can only use a particular hardware input or output one time, in one place.

This makes it very hard to set up the dual units in either stereo or mono modes (to have the option on the fly). It’s either one or the other.

This also makes it impossible to use my mic pres which are set up for use as an external effect. In order to free up those hardware inputs (which the mic pres are routed to), I have to first disconnect the external effect.

However, maybe later when I’m mixing, I might want to use those same units as an insert – I then have to remember to go reconnect the external effect.

Not to mention maybe I want to insert one channel on a mono vocal track, and the other channel on a mono bass track. But then in a different session, I wish to use those same hardware units as a stereo pair on the drum bus. I basically have to disconnect and reconnect manually every time - leading to confusion when I open other sessions or start a new session, and the routing is different. Or I just forget to reconnect something.

Is that really the only way? Is there any possibility Steinberg might ever address this to be more adaptable and frictionless? (Perhaps the routing only gets “locked up” when in use, otherwise when not in use, any preset option for routing is available.)

Wondering what anyone in a similar boat currently does, if maybe I’m missing something or there’s a hot trick out there. Thanks!

You can set presets but I find it a bit finicky.

I have most of my stuff routed through a small mixing desk that has mains + two group aux + mono. It’s less frustrating to reach over and send two of the channels to a different aux output bus when I’m using external gear. And if you want to send one of the outputs to audio you can just pick the the desk as input in the inspector and disable monitoring on the other track.

PatchBay , is your answer , you can setup preset’s in Cubase but i prefer to leave alone what’s not broken (lol) and use external patch bays . C13 seems to be a lot more stable and easier to setup and the delay PING works very well , going through 5 hardware rack units i’ve had the latency ping of 6ms

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Yeah, actually everything I have is routed through 2 TT patchbays, so it’s not a problem. I just feel like it would be easier and faster to A/B ideas quickly if done in software. It’s not a huge deal, but it would be nice if mono and stereo channels could be separate, and isolated on a case-by-case basis. I’ll stick with my patchbays for now!

I’m going to give a third vote to the patchbays as an answer. This may not be a simplified in your workflow and the ability to ad-hoc switch how you’re using channels, but it does make you more intentional when you move from Tracking to Mixing.