What Is The Best Way To Learn Cubase 7?

The title of this thread says it all but before answering I think knowing my background and what I have done so far as well as my experience to date is relevant. So please bear with me.

I’ve been doing studio recording for over 35 years. I started with a Teac A3440 and a Moog Sonic 6.

35 years later, after having put together a $20,000 hard wired recording studio, I am switching over to PC based recording.

Needless to say, this has been major culture shock for me. I knew there was going to be a learning curve here but having extensive understanding or input/processing/output using old fashioned keyboard, sound modules, effects processors, mixers and mastering hardware, I was confident that I’d be able to do basic things relatively quickly.

This is what I have done and discovered so far.

  1. Watched ALL the video tutorials. They are okay but only help so much. The biggest problem being, when they say "Bring up " you really can’t see what they’re doing. The video resolution is just too small. Plus, my memory at age 55 isn’t what it was at age 20. I find I’m going into the software after watching the video and saying to myself “What was that menu option again?” It’s slow and it’s frustrating. I simply can’t learn from the videos. I’ve tried.

  2. Gone through pages and pages of this forum. The problem there is everything is random. And using a search function doesn’t help much if you don’t know what it is you’re searching for to begin with. Plus, many threads have very few responses so are only so helpful regardless of the topic.

  3. Started going through the PDF. I have found that the explanations don’t go into enough detail to make them useful enough. Plus, I’m still not finding them helpful when it comes to just finding where functions are. And with a piece of software this immense, there are hidden functions multiple layers deep. I feel like I’m swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.

I am up to the point where I can create a midi channel and assign a loop to it and play it back. I can’t, however, figure out how to route that loop to a different sound such as CineBrass in the Kontakt player. The loop still plays the default sound that comes with it. I don’t even know if what I want to do is doable.

I keep trying to fall back on what I know but it always comes back to, “Okay, what button do I push to do that? Does that button even exist? If it does, where is it?”

Ironically, through trial and error, I’ve figured out a lot of the processing such as mixing, adding effects and so on. This software is incredibly flexible. It is much more complex than any hardware processor I’ve ever used. My Boss 8 track recorder is like a toy next to this. So I hope everybody understands that I totally recognize the power of this software and know that once I learn it, I’ll be able to do things that I used to only be able to dream of doing.

But how do I get there? What’s the best way? As I said, the videos, going through this forum and even trying to get through the PDF manual have proven to be inadequate and frustrating.

Is there a better way? I’m thinking that the answer to that is to have an expert come to my house and teach me. Unfortunately, that is going to cost me thousands of dollars if I’m lucky and that’s if I can even find somebody in my area who truly understands this software.

One thing is for certain. I can’t keep going about this the way I’ve been. I’m progressing at a snails pace, sometimes only grasping one new concept in 2 or 3 days. As I need this functionality for my new business venture (creating royalty free music) I can’t afford the wasted days. I need every single day to be a productive one. In the past, every single piece of equipment I ever owned took me no more than a day or two to master. With Cubase, I am not even out of nursery school yet.

Any learning tips outside of 1) videos, 2) forums, 3) manual are welcome because those 3 things just don’t work for me.

Thank you for your help.

I don’t know what your learning style is, but are a couple thoughts off the cuff.

Watch the video with Cubase running and switch back and forth between the two. Try to take in smaller bursts of info at a time.

Just focus on one item for a session, like one of the editors, and do a specific task.

And definitely, ask questions. There are a lot of helpful people here, even the grumpy ones want to help out someone who’s made the effort. We have all been there, for sure. (Plus the average age here is, golly, well, Middle.)


Chitown Grumpman

Well, one of my problems is that when Cubase is running I can’t get sound from anything else. None of the videos play with sound. My own Windows Media Player doesn’t play. I have no idea what’s causing this but that is another stumbling block.

If the videos would use the zoom in feature of their screen capturing program more often (some don’t at all) that would be helpful. As I pointed out, I can’t even see where they’re clicking to bring up whatever plugin it is they’re bringing up.

To answer your question about learning style, in the past it’s always been out of the manual. That’s how I learned everything, one function at a time. Hardware manuals just seem to be laid out in a more logical manner than the one that comes with Cubase. Evening using Ctrl-F to try to look up specific things doesn’t help much. And some items come up "Please refer to ".

I feel like I’m navigating through a mine field. lol

I had edited my previous post, but then saw you posted while I was doing that so here it is instead:

I wanted to add- there are many things in Cubase that can be learned by solving- by following some logic. But there are also plenty of details that defy intuition, and must be learned from the manual or by specifically asking.

There are help buttons on some dialogs, that text is good to read, and looking through key commands window can be informative. I would go through that list just to find one that piqued my curiosity, or helped me make connections between other facets of the program, to sort of make a gestalt of Cubase…

So I guess what you’re saying is that this is really at “One step at a time trying to do whatever it is you want to do and if you get stuck, ask” process. If that’s the case, I’m probably going to end up with 10,000 posts here. I mean I can’t even figure out how to assign a loop to my Kontakt player that has Cinebrass loaded and have my Cinebrass sample play instead of the sound that comes with the loop.

So why don’t we begin there? Is that something that can be done or is a loop always going to play the default sound that is assigned to it? At least that way I’ll stop trying to do something that can’t be done.

I think Cubase can’t share audio devices with other programs on Windows. In the Cubase Device Setup>VST Audio System is there another asio driver available to switch to? (Alternatively in the Windows Controls panels you can select a different audio driver for Windows M. Player)

Are you talking about midi loops from the Loop Browser or Media Bay? If so, you drag one onto the project window a part will be created with the loop’s contents and you can move it to any midi or instrument track. Thereby having it played by any sound.

Yes, loop browser. Tried what you said, worked like a charm. Thought I’d done that but obviously I didn’t. Your one tip just opened up a whole new world for me. All of a sudden I realized a number of things I can now do.

Thanks. I guess asking questions works. :wink:

Also, in Cubase, go to Devices>Device Setup…>VST Audio System. Under the drop down menu there is a box labelled ‘Release Driver when Application is in Background’. Check that.

Media Player/Youtube should play through your interface.

Even better would be to use a laptop for the videos while you have Cubase open. But then there is the screen size thing…

Actually, I just tested on my system, and Media Player plays whether or not box is checked. Hmm. I didn’t think that was possible. Though I am now running two Steinberg interfaces. Maybe that changes things a bit.

Also my internal sound card is disabled from BIOS, and the interface is set as default in Windows. Not sure which of these makes this happen.

Hey wagtunes,

Just wishing you good luck. It could help to list some of the equipment your connected to. You have a good advantage just knowing the terminology. Just like Steve said, lots of very helpful people. You may find just experimenting, you’ll find some great stuff. As for the intuitive portion…I’ve gotten beat up that way as several times, it just does not work that way

My MOTU is my default device in windows 7 and I am running 3 monitors…if I switch the active window, YouTube audio works while Cubase is up

@Jimmy and Knuckle.

Thanks for the audio tip. Yeah, that did it. I can now play YouTube videos while Cubase is open.

As for equipment, I’m not completely set up yet because I have to get my PC upgraded. I purchased some heavy duty VSTs (ESQL Hollywood Strings, Choir and Symphony Orchestra) and I’m running bare bones here at 3 gig mem. I’m upgrading to 16 gig as soon as my tech gets around to it. I don’t even have a keyboard yet because the studio keyboards I have are too big for my PC area. So I’m going to purchase an M-Audio 49 key that I can plug into the USB port. My other keyboards aren’t even USB compatible and I don’t have MIDI ports in this thing.

My biggest obstacle is going to be having to convert from orchestrating (I use Finale 2012) to playing live. A lot of the VSTs don’t transport well from Finale because of the keyswitching problems between Finale and CineBrass.

Fortunately, I don’t plan on writing anymore piano concertos or symphonies as the royalty free music biz deals with mostly very short pieces, especially for those looking for stings.

With all my frustration right now, I’m really excited and looking forward to diving into this full force. I remember trying to program old synthesizers back in the late 70s. I guess if I can do that I can eventually get the hang of this stuff.

We certainly have come a long way.

Cubase is a deep program with a long learning curve. Although the .pdf manuals are indispensable for comprehensive coverage of features, it’s hard to get the big picture, and hard to become efficiently hands-on merely by hours of reading.

MacProVideo has published a large range of Cubase instructional videos ranging from entry-level instruction to demonstrations of more complicated features. They’re reasonably priced, thorough and clear. Although I’ve read and re-read (at least parts of) the .pdf manuals over the years, I think the fundamental information is more easily understood on screen. Check out the videos at http://www.macprovideo.com/tutorials/cubase-application - there are a few samples which may help you decide.

Another commercial video tutorial series, though not as comprehensive is available from Groove 3 - http://www.groove3.com/str/search.php?mode=search&page=1

Also check out any videos by Greg Ondo on YouTube.

Good luck.

That’s not entirely correct. It depends on your audio interface driver. RME drivers, for example, allow multiple audio devices sharing on Windows (7/8, not XP, as far as I know.) I could, for example, run Cubase while at the same time watching a youtube video and listening to the music through the computer’s built-in audio. I’ve heard that this is becoming more common with the newer interfaces.

Thanks for the info.

I’ve been using Cubase since '92 on an Atari. A lot of the current MIDI editors/tools existed then. When the audio version came out I’d had been doing non-linear recording on the Synclavier system so that helped.

Eventually more powerful computers allowed better VSTi and 3rd party plugins and things got more complex.

Where I’m going with this is that I built my knowledge over a long period of time, step by step. I skipped several versions before 7 so I had some new features to catch up on there.

Here would be my advice to some one totally new to Cubase. There’s so much information involved, you can’t take it in and retain what you’ve read/watched in marathon study sessions. The good news is that you probably don’t need many of the functions in Cubase. So why start off learning about things you don’t even know whether you need?

Pick a composition or song you know well. Start getting it into Cubase the fastest way you can. Don’t get tangled up in the details just yet. Learn how to copy parts, transpose parts, delete notes, correct notes, size notes, quantize.

Next, understand the Audio pool, where your files are disk. How to delete audio you don’t need. How to back up and archive.

Learn how to trim your audio parts to get rid of unwanted noise. A few functions in the audio editor will be handy…silence, fade in or out. Cut pieces of audio for simple time correction. Bounce your edits to new files.

Get a handle on the mixer. Setting up send effects, inserts.

Finally, learn how to create mixdown files.

As you’re doing this song, look up the functions you need in the PDFs but don’t get bogged down. Poke around, see if you can figure out what you’re trying do. Make this a song/performance you don’t care about screwing up in some way or losing. Do incremental saves so you can go back a version or have as backup.

Only worry about learning the things you need for this song. You don’t have to know every possible function of Cubase to create a piece of music. You’ll never remember the info you read then don’t use.

You’ll learn more and more quickly with this approach than watching hours of videos. Cubase is a complex program but you can get up and running pretty quickly. But it’ll take years to fully explore.

I’ve been using Cubase since it was called Cubit. :slight_smile: I believe it was 1989.

I totally see what you mean. We “old folks” take a lot for granted, simply because we grew up with MIDI, sequencers etc. and we’ve learned gradually, as things started to get more and more complex. So we assume that everyone readily understands the basic concepts when, in fact, most people don’t even know the difference between an audio and a MIDI cable. Of course, the latter is quickly becoming an antique…, but in the “virtual” world, MIDI still exists in every DAW and now that it’s no longer physical, it confuses the heck out of newbies.

Also consider that modern DAW’s are very much virtual metaphors for devices that we’re very familiar with because we used them (multi-track recorders, master recorders etc., mixers etc.), but a young newbie wouldn’t even know what magnetic tape is…

Once in a while, I’ve tutored some kids (pro-bono), and I’ve found that they only way they can understand everything is if I give them a rather comprehensive history of music technology, starting from the 1950’s, when magnetic tape recorders hit the market. You simply can’t understand what MIDI is if you don’t know how it worked when it was invented, with DIN ports, daisy-chains, hubs, cables, serial interfaces etc. Same thing with multi-track recording. You have to go back to how we did it 20-30 years ago, laying physical tracks on a tape recorder. Any attempt to edit the material would actually involve cutting and splicing tape. Which is exactly what we still do today, in the “virtual” world of DAW’s.

My problem isn’t understanding what all these things are. As I said, I started composing and recording on a Teac A3440 reel to reel and a Moog Sonic 6 monophonic, two oscillator synthesizer back in the late 70s. Flash forward 30 something years and I’m now working with Korg’s Triton Rack and the Boss 8 track Digital Recorder. I can use all this equipment in my sleep. Again, understanding the technology is not my problem.

My problem is that when I want to do “X” I don’t know where “X” is even located or if it’s even doable in Cubase. If I create a blank MIDI track, I assume I should be able to go into that track and place whatever notes I want into it just as I did with my hardware sequencer. But it seems that the only way I can bring up the actual MIDI notes for a track is if there is already something in it.

My frustration is with the interface and it’s capabilities and/or limitations. I simply don’t know what it can and can’t do, how to do it and, if it can, where the function knobs, sliders, drop downs, etc., are to do it. With hardware it’s all pretty straight forward just by reading the manual, probably because, unlike Cubase, the hardware was very limited in what it could do. Even the most complex synthesizers and recording modules were relatively simple to use. Cubase, not so much.

But I’m making progress. And yes, today I’m going to work on composing a song in Finale, exporting it to Cubase and then reassigning sounds, adding effects, mixing, and so on. I’m not going to be concerned about how the song sounds but more with getting a feel for working with the software in a practical application that will probably be the norm for my purposes. If I hit a road block and try to do something I can’t do, I assure you I’ll come here and ask questions. Hopefully, they will be few.

Welcome to Cubase, your gonna love it and hate it all at the same time lol but it’s well worth persevering with, you’ll end up loving it more than hating it, that’s for sure!

You can edit and enter notes quite easily, just create an instrument track, use the transport bar to create an eight bar loop then just double click in the workspace for that instrument track to create and empty midi part. Double clicking on that will then take you to the key editor where you can draw in notes and other information (using the pencil tool) when you get to understand a bit more.

There’s some really helpful videos and other stuff at:


Good luck, you WILL have lots of fun!

Wishing you the best of luck. The learning curve is initially somewhat steep but evens out a bit as you progress.
When watching the videos and tutorials, make notes of key points of interest. The tutorials can be watched over and over (perhaps get a tablet PC and you can watch in the john while also having the Op.Manual open :wink: :laughing: )
Speaking of tutorial, Steinberg offers a complete set in their online store http://www.steinberg.net/en/shop/accessories/tutorials.html which might be worth checking out.
Many of us “older folk” come from a classical, analog studio background, and it can take a bit of effort embracing methods and techniques that break free of the old paradigms.
So as others have said, the best advice is bit by bit, a bit at a time, and you’ll see the bits will get bigger. :slight_smile:

In Cubase you have to create a “Part” on a track, then you can insert notes. Also you can record on a track and a part will be created.

u can also create empty midi part with the pencil tool , just draw on midi track the length u need,then u can open the key/drum editor and draw notes