Why Can't Steinberg FIX The Longstanding Midi Files Import Mess?

WELCOMED: Fellow user feedback - and if at all possible, from someone at Steinberg who could and should fix this. It’s one of the few DAWs that doesn’t seem to be able to pull this off, though a brilliant DAW in many other respects.

I’m also not the ranting type, I live by “Netiquette”. But I’ve been using Cubase since SX1, so I feel some frustration is allowed… :sunglasses:

The above are files from ProductionTools for an orchestral piece.

Even when I had to use an evaluation copy of Reaper to import and then export them as a Type 1 into Cubase as suggested by @Mark_Hill at his post Import multiple MIDI files at once, Cubase still makes a mess of things.

That Type 1 midi file turned into the below; compare the names of the separate instrument names and what Cubase turns them into both as files and tracks.

Some midi tracks (few) use the actual name of the instruments in original Type 1, others are named as “Kontact” (probably because if have a NI Suburst Deluxe Guitar VSTi track?)

It’s way worse trying to import those files directly into Cubase - though still does the same ad hoc naming of the files - and adds separate, useless SysEx tracks. AND unlike Reaper, one can’t select and import more than ONE midi file at a time.

This overall mess has been described by others here at this forum where it affects some VSTi drag-and-drop, but not others. But it should be consistent.

AND when one drags in a .mid to a specific track (MIDI or VSTi), it should go there - not create and add a track at the bottom of a project which happens more times than not in my experience.

Single midi files import, that I can handle though still a nuisance to have to either rename a track and its file. I don’t want to have to buy Reaper just to do such imports - and even that workaround didn’t fix the incorrect renaming of both files and tracks.

If someone has a more affordable - and efficient - way to do this kind of thing, please share. And/or some in-Cubase solution - but I doubt that there is one so far as I know. But I’m happy to be proven wrong.


Cubase displays the track names, that are stored within the file. Maybe Reaper gives everything the track name Kontakt (as per your screenshot). A way to find out is to import the file into Reaper again.

The file name of the midi file does not get shown anywhere in Cubase at all. To show the name of the file is not part of the SMF specification.


Well, you’re in part right. As you suggested, I went back to the Reaper project I made for this.

As shown in screenshot of my import of the same instrument MIDI files in Reaper, the same so called" Kontakt" file names are in there - but - followed by the actual instrument names.

When importing out of Reaper into Cubase, Cubase shortens the names and all the ones that had “Kontact” as seen in Reaper just have that, no instrument file name.

My guess is that most of the original files were probably made with a Kontakt VSTi. As far as I can tell, the creator of these sets mostly uses Logic, and maybe Logic assigns the “Kontact” part on MIDI export.

As to the difference between file-by-file import and the Reaper conversion to Type 1 import, the track and file naming issue described above, the result in Cubase is exactly the same.

But also adds a SysEx track in between all of them too.

It could well be that there actually IS a track with SysEx data on it in the file and Reaper simply filters it out or puts SysEx data elsewhere. I don’t know Reaper well enough. Cubase doesn’t just create tracks for fun.

You could make a feature request with the following three items:

  1. Display the string of “Instrument” of the meta/SMF event FF 04 in Cubase in the part names
  2. Allow import of several SMF (standard midi files) into the same project underneath each other in one go
  3. Allow a single midi channel SMF to be placed on an MIDI/Instrument existing track in Cubase
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@Johnny_Moneto - So as to illustrate, I just recreated the file-by-file import of the same .mid files showing the Sysex tracks created as seen above here.

This does NOT occur with the Reaper Type 1 import. For comparison, here is a copy of the opening screenshot in my OP showing that import (no SysEx tracks created):

As to your feature request, fair enough, I may just do that, but this frustration and issue has been mentioned at this forum before - one example being the thread linked in the OP.

It’s not just my quirky personal pet peeve… :sunglasses:

Put another way, it seems to me that a simple binary technology (MIDI) that predated modern DAWs by decades should not have such discrepancies between DAWs.

Steinberg’s later invention of VST got a pretty uniform integration among all of them, be it on x86/Windows or Mac platforms.

To indulge in some cynicism or just realism, maybe that’s because it and creators of VST/VSTi make big money with VST tech. MIDI is a very tiny market - little if at all lucrative.

Even though a fairly large part of VST’s backbone is MIDI data itself.

Awesome. Have you looked into one of the SysEx parts with the List Editor to see what is inside?
And again, maybe Reaper handles SysEx data differently. I don’t know but it could be.

Yep, true.
I would like to emphasize that I don’t mean to be offensive to anybody before continuing.
The creator of the linked thread used a lot of words to describe a feature request that I summarized in two sentences (point 2 and 3) above. It is good to explain the use case for the request, too. You did that with your screenshot of the folder showing the midi pack files. This is a use case of SMF that is quite alien to me, to put each single midi sequence in its own SMF.
Cubase used to be able to save midi parts in their own file format but that feature died with the old Cubase code at the turn of the century.

Anyway, seems like nowadays SMF might get used in a different way than 30 to 40 years ago and Steinberg must decide whether they want to support the “new” style (I know it is not new anymore) or just the old style.
Like with some other features: Are they going to cater the needs of a younger audience or will they just grow old with their existing customer base?

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There is no unified standard on how to display midi files. There is quite range of decisions that DAW makers can make. Apparently Steinberg made the decision to ignore any Instrument string within an SMF. Reaper on the other hand seems to have made the decision to leave SysEx data out or hide it elsewhere.

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First, thanks your to follow up responses to my last one. I learned some stuff.

As to younger-vs.-existing (incl. older 69 y.o. farts like me) market, it reminds me of the whole “New and Improved!” modality in essentially all industries, but in this case particularly with anything computer-based.

New is IMO not always improved. Yes, when I decided to try the import thing using my still-installed Cubase 6, it was a bit shocking (in good way) how there have been definite improvement, even just just as GUI/workspace accessibility and functions.

But… the import thing acted exactly the same in v.6.

@Johnny_Moneto - Well, I did create a slightly different titled bug report/feature suggestion thread topic on all of this which includes your succinct what-should-be-done to do this.

Whether it will go anywhere, who knows.
But perhaps you provided a vital key to it all.


Cubase is correctly showing the track name. What you want is actually the addition of the instrument name which is stored in the mid file as well.
So for example in Bass Burst.mid (I did download this free lib just to have a quick check) the track name is actually Kontakt, while the instrument name is Big Burst.

I guess this could be a feature request, i.e. to allow the import of the instrument name added to the track name or even select between these two. Should be quite easy to implement.

And then again, allowing simultaneous import of midi files (of type 0, i.e. single tracks) would be a good feature request too, if not already requested. However, there are already tools for this, even online as this one here: Merge MIDI files, Combine MIDI files into one midi file | Bear File Converter - Online & Free

@m.c - Hmmm, OK, I’ll definitely check that out. But have to wrap my aging head around the offered options. :upside_down_face:

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I would not restrict it to type 0. Some midi pack files might have a single track but are saved as type 1.
Hmmm… maybe you could check the header of the file you downloaded? Do you know the spec and what to look for? Should be byte 10 of the header chunk.

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Hi Johnny, sure, it’s a set of two bytes (basically the one of these two) that defines whether we are in 0 or 1 type. EDIT: The files I downloaded are of type 0 as expected (?)

Yeah, probably true!

@m.c & @Johnny_Moneto - Well, I tried the Bear merger, and it worked, but Reaper still adds “Kontakt” to most of the files/tracks, and so Cubase will just mimic that if I export them as Type 1 out of Reaper.

As to the header thing, I understand that in terms of viewing email headers, but how is one to view and/or correct or alter that part of a .mid? For audio and video files, I use the free MediaInfo which is useful and detailed.

But it doesn’t provide much or any of the info you mentioned.

----- Original Version (Reaper Export) -----

Complete name : C:\Users.…\ORCHESTRAL ALL IN ONE.mid
Format : MIDI
Format/Info : RIFF Musical Instrument Digital Interface
File size : 9.85 KiB

Format : MIDI
Format/Info : RIFF Musical Instrument Digital Interface

The Bear conversion version info of same initial instrument files is just as sparse.

These are basic command line MIDI-to-ASCII conversion tools, which are useful for analysis.

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Hi @Newsoniclight ,

Thank you for your invitation to this party. :wink:

Would you mind to share some (maybe 3?) MIDI files, you are referring to, please? You can share them via Private Message, if you don’t want to share them publically.

I would really like to have a look into the MIDI file, what is really written.

Aby kind of MIDI-to-ASCII conversion tool, mentioned by @MrSoundman (thank you!) is very helpful.

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@Martin.Jirsak - I’ll send you the exact same files used in my screenshots as a .zip file. As to Midi>Ascii conversion, that one @MrSoundman linked to isn’t available - looks like a really old HTML era page. I’ve done some Googling, but the online ones I find fail in conversion.

This is where the Steinberg team should be the ones to look into such files for I’m sure they have all the skills and tools necessary, unlike dumb users like me. :sunglasses: