Within Cubase, bounced audio does not match VSTi playback

Having a problem when exporting an Instrument Track to audio and subsequently finding the sound of the exported audio is vastly different to the VSTi’s playback (comparing directly within Cubase).

I have an Instrument Track with 12 bars of MIDI playing through Xfer Serum, on which I’ve designed a patch. I have nothing else loaded into the Instrument Track, have not touched the faders, used nothing on the native channel strip, etc: nothing but Serum. I’ve then bounced to audio as 44.1kHz 32bit float (matches my project settings), then imported the file generated onto a new Audio Track (again, having loaded nothing else, touched no faders, etc) and compared: unfortunately my smooth electronic piano now sounds like a Wild West saloon pianny. It’s not clipping or anything, just a completely different timbre.

Initially I thought I’d done a Mono Downmix, but no, that box isn’t checked, and the audio track shows a nice stereo waveform. I don’t seem to have checked any other untoward boxes. I’ve tried null testing between the VSTi and bounced audio (by phase inverting the audio) and I’m still hearing the vast majority of both outputs (i.e. no difference on null test). I’ve tried exporting the audio several times in slightly different ways (e.g. straight from the Instrument Track’s output; from the Stereo Outs) and I get the exact same result every time. The consistency of result reinforces my impression that this is far more than just a slight discrepancy from variation in modulation phases, etc from within the synth.

I was initially confident I’d made some silly ‘checked box’ mistake, but I don’t seem to have. I’ll admit to not having my head around the ‘tech’ stuff like I do the music and sound stuff, so could this perhaps be a hardware/driver issue? I’ve been using my computer’s low latency ASIO driver that’s always served me fine before, but I could try via my Tascam interface? Or could it relate to buffer settings (I’ve only got a rudimentary understanding there)?

Or is there something else I’m missing?


  • The easiest way in Cubase is “Bounce-in-place” to immediately create an Audio track from MIDI. Maybe you should try this first instead of using the export function.
  • If you use the audio export function (which you need if you use side chaining in your track) make sure the project settings frequency is the same as your export settings. Project setting may be 96000kHz while your export is 44100kHz.
  • Check if “music mode” (warping) is on/off for the audio clip and if music mode is on, check if the BPM settings of the clip are correct.