When doing an audio export, innumerable user errors are possible: mute/solo track states improperly set, invalid selection range, FX tails prematurely cut off, etc. So, it’s wise to immediately verify that the export was what one expected. There seem to currently be three ways to do this: 1) check the exported audio in some program that’s not Cubase, 2) import the exported audio into a new project, and 3) import the exported audio into the current Cubase project.
The weakness with the first two options is that should problems be found, you are not in your Cubase project where they can be fixed (or in some cases even easily located). The third option does not have that deficiency, but there are other pitfalls. First, you need to name the imported audio and include it in the pool, even if you merely want to just give it a quick listen and have no further use for it thereafter. Needing to delete it from disk and the pool is tedious. If you leave it in the project, you run the risk of forgetting to mute it before doing your next export (trust me – that can happen all too easily). Plus, that next export will require a unique name (or the aforementioned deletion from the pool).
I want to suggest a better mechanism for verifying that an audio export captured what was intended.
A Proposed Enhancement (Short Version):
My suggestion is that a new track type be established: an Export Verification Track (EVT hereafter for brevity). This would be a type of audio track that has few capabilities and many restrictions.
Creation on an EVT would be requested in the export dialog. Such a request would be mutually exclusive with an import-into-current-project request.
EVTs would be temporary and anonymous – they would not need a name and would never require manual cleanup from the pool or disk. There would never be more than one EVT in a project, and an export would remove an existing EVT, as would exiting Cubase.
The EVT could not be modified, could not accept automation, would have no inserts or channel strip, etc.
The EVT would have just two controls: a solo button (which would be an exclusive solo overriding any existing track solo settings) and a level control. You could only listen to it by itself and it could never be accidentally combined with other tracks in any capacity.
That’s the short version. More details follow for anyone sufficiently interested.
A Proposed Enhancement (More Details):
This is just a collection of suggested ideas. There are probably many alternative ways to do this sort of thing that would accomplish the primary goal of making verification of exported audio an easy and efficient procedure. I’m just throwing these out there as a possible starting point.
First, this feature only makes sense when doing exports of the master bus. Audio exports that produce multiple tracks would not allow creation of an EVT. Likewise, compressed format exports would probably put EVTs off-limits.
The EVT track need not (and probably should not) have a corresponding slot in the mixer. Just make the track visible in the project view, with an extremely limited set of functions in the inspector (actually I can’t think of anything other than a level/volume control).
The EVT would be aligned with the content used to create it. The EVT track could not be moved within the track, cut into multiple clips or lengthened/shortened.
Although mentioned above, just to be clear: The track header for an EVT would have only a solo button. When soloed, the EVT would be exclusively soloed. Under no circumstances would it be possible to have the EVT audio mixed with any other track content. It would respond to normal transport controls, however.
The EVT audio would be routed to the standard audio output during playback. This would be via the control room pathway should that be in use.
The EVT would remain present in the project until 1) a new export is requested, 2) the user explicitly deletes it with remove-selected-tracks, or 3) Cubase terminates (normally or abnormally). In other words, the user would never under any circumstance need to do cleanup.
The EVT could be inserted into the project window at a predictable track position, probably after the last track as exported-imported tracks now are. Other options might be worth considering.
That’s pretty much all I can think of now, but other nuances might have been overlooked here.