When to use VSTi Instruments, When to use VSTi racks?

I never really read into this, and always presumed that racks were meant for Multiple MIDI Channel/Multi-Output Instruments, whereas Instrument Tracks are meant more for one to one relationship… ie, One Instrument/Sound source, One Track.


Track =
-a monophonic synth



Does anyone ignore this apparent philosophy and just always stick to instrument tracks? if so why so?

Of course not :wink:

I would say it depends… there doesn’t apply a general rule to this.
If you need automation for an instrument you should use an instrument track, otherwise you have to do all automation with MIDI data… If I remember correctly the track automation is more precise than the MIDI data with 128 steps…

But this is just a… feeling?


Originally Instrument tracks were not multi-timbral. So if you wanted use multiple channels and use multiple patches of the instrument, you were forced to use Rack Instrument. So the Instrument Tracks were useful for the simple use case: one instrument, with one sound, where you don’t have to see one MIDI Track and one Audio Return Channel. Both of them are combined to one track.

Since Cubase 8 (or 9) Instrument tracks can also handle the multi-timbral scenario. So you can add an Instrument track and then route MIDI Track’s Outputs to this instrument track too. The Instrument track also works as the main Audio Return of the Instrument. If you want to use multiple Audio Returns, these are present as Automation Tracks of the Instrument Track. The only one missing piece of the Instrument track are MIDI Sends.

1 Like

@Martin.Jirsak @st10ss

Yeah, now that I’m really exploring it and setting up a template… It seems like the whole protocol/design is a bit convoluted.

As you say Martin, there are no MIDI sends for the instrument track.

The other inconsistency is the ‘Channel Editor’ window. You can only access the Audio Channel Editor window and not the MIDI Channel Editor window…

And in the example of say HalionSE, and utilizing all 16 slots… It’s sort of weird to have one instrument track, and then 15 MIDI channels but then there’s this strange differential of functionality whereby the MIDI channels are straight up MIDI, and the Instrument Track is this weird MIDI/Audio cross,.

It would almost make more sense to just have 16 separate HalionSEs loaded in as Instrument Tracks.

Especially because, as @st10ss pointed, there’s a lack of smart integration functionality between the 15 MIDI tracks compared to the one main instrument track.

This is kind of silly no?

Instrument Tracks should just be fully self-contained if they are to be multi-timbral.

But I guess the way they’ve done the whole protocol is a hack, because the VSTi instruments 16 slots are really just one instrument receiving multiple MIDI channels in which it can have multiple-outputs - but - adding multiple outputs doesn’t translate to the program ‘multiple instruments’ so there’s no way for the DAW to know there’s 16 instruments because multiple outputs doesn’t necessarily mean multiple instruments.

It’s kind of annoying though,
it’s left me indecisive on setting up my mother of a templates template.

it’s annoying having that one first channel be different than all the rest.


You can set it up this way. Only one Instrument track with the MIDI Channel set to Any. Then you can send the MIDI data from only one track to all 16 MIDI Channels of the Instrument Track.

No I mean, there should be 16 MIDI tracks contained within an Instrument Track, but I’ve come up with a strategy I think, I will post latet

I put them in a folder, just to keep my sanity.
But I agree Instrument tracks feel like something ehhh that could be improved on.