Workflow Insight from Fellow Cubase Pro Users..?

**Curious about others workflow after years of doing it one way…**For context I produce “traditional music”, playing everything myself and using real guitar, bass, vocals obviously… I then trigger VST Drums with V-Drums and use Keys for other “traditional” VST Instruments (Piano, Keys, String, etc.) to augment the recorded audio parts.

My question is on others workflow on verses and choruses, bridges, etc. “changes” in a song, as it relates to tracks, group tracks, FX inserts, etc…

- I typically just send Individual Audio Tracks to a Group Tracks and use that throughout the song, (I’ve never really been an automation user, though I’m sure I should…I sometimes ride faders while doing a realtime mix…) I would/do, do individual EQ-ing and Dynamics as needed on individual Audio Tracks and sometimes effects, but typically FX inserts would be on the Group Channel, and the Group Channel stays the same throughout a song. I would increase gain as needed as an Audio Process on the Individual Audio Tracks when a section changed, but thats about all. I also typically find myself using Inserts more than Sends, something about inserts sounds much better to me? And sends alter dynamics, etc…

  • I have also gotten more into “re-amping” or processing an audio track or group after it has been recorded in the last few years as I’ve acquired more outboard gear…I’d also be interested to hear about others workflow with outboard gear… (I’ve developed a pretty good little collection over the last couple of years, but typically only use it as I mentioned for “re-amping” or on a mix or master bus.)

- I’ve started experimenting with different and “better” workflow options. Creating different group tracks for each group of instruments, for each section of a song, with seperate FX inserts, though that gets taxing on what seems an already unstable, crash prone platform, or combinations of platforms (High Sierra + Cubase + Plugins?). I use Cycle Markers and have tried to create separate entire sections for each part of a song, with completely separate entire set of tracks, and everything else hidden. I like that, but again that becomes an issue of too many inserts taxing the system…

I’ve probably answered my own question, that send and automation are the keys.

Though interested to hear others insights on their workflow on traditional songs and editing, organizing, and how they make changes to FX tracks during different sections of song, etc.

Thanks for reading all of this and cheers,

  • Sean Ryder Williams

Tracks into groups, groups into further groups (like drum bus and bass bus go to another common group, similar for different types of guitars, synths, vocals), as much fx channels as needed. I almost always set up mixes like this, a concept rewarding me with plenty of points in the signal chain I can instantly process, send fx from etc.

It’s different from project in its details as well as constantly evolving. Sometimes when I open an older project I have to spend serious time to mentally reconstruct what I could have been thinking while creating that mix :slight_smile: There’s a good amount of interdependencies going on maybe, not obvious the first moment.

However, when you reach the desired result, all is good. If that strains your cpu too much, automation and the classic concept of shared fx (reverbs etc.) can take some burden away compared to inserting ie dedicated reverbs to drum/vocal bus.

This is generally how I do it. Most of my projects are pop, mixture of acoustic and synths.

I would add that for reverb, 90% of the time, the reverb is inserted on the efx track and audio sent to it. Default is UAD Plate 140 because for me that just often works.

Be careful, or at least be aware of compression inserts on group tracks and the audio/instrument tracks being sent to the group with compression inserts and how it affects the corresponding levels. For example, if a bass kick needs more presence, are you going to increase the bass kick track or the group track, or the compressor inserted in the group track?

If you use Waves F6 floating band, (useful in groups sending final vocals to final instruments) and tools like Trackspacer, or Waves vocal/bass rider, I tend to use many more group tracks.

Thanks Gentlemen… The quest for better sounds and workflow is part of the never ending journey.

  • It would be nice if there were better ways to disable FX & inserts while they were not active, other than manually. Cubase?

I like my new workflow, Cubase just dosent. It would be nice to be able to see what resources within cubase are using resources & how much etc… Like Digital Preformer.

  • Sean Ryder Williams

It sounds like you have a good workflow system. The only thing I’d suggest is looking is perhaps automating some level and perhaps other changes.

For example, automating an interesting bit of Mids sweeps on HHats or similar such things.

Welcome to the forums.

Thanks Stephens - No one has really shed a lot of light on their workflow though.

Specifically how they deal with FX inserts on audio instruments during diffierent sections of a song.

  • Sean Ryder Williams

Apologies, but I’m not understanding what you mean by “disable FX & inserts.”.
I don’t think you mean the disable tracks function.
Any FX insert on an instrument audio track can be automated including off/on. The same goes for any send.
You can turn on/off all effects inserts in any given track with a key command.

Perhaps rephrase your question or ask a specific workflow question?

What do you mean “deal with?” Do you mean automate? As you probably know, any parameter including on/off and disable can be automated. That can be typical during different sections of a song.

If a section needs more impact I often leave the tracks/groups as they are but blend a little parallel compression (more punch), drive some virtual preamps hotter (more density), add a tiny bit of modulation and/or short delays (more width). Or the opposite: to make something seem bigger/wider/louder during a refrain anything before/after can be thinned out a little. All with automation, just if it gets very complex I may use a different set of tracks, allowing for more static processing/less confusing myriads of automation lanes.

Usual concepts I guess. Hard to get more specific as every mix is pretty different (though roughly happening in similar routing layouts) - but everytime it all starts with a good arrangement. Easy to create an exciting mix when the arrangement already contains the dramaturgy of the song (i.e. an extra set of rythm guitars during refrain plus a tambourin on the snare plus doubled vocals). Harder but still possible if the arrangement is more static/basic in the first place.

It’s probably a good idea to make the basic mix sound great and convincing first. Then get it moving by applying additive/substractive methods second.

Also consider multing out the chorus, or a specific phrase or even word you want to emphasize with different processing.

Thanks for the advice all, I understand my question was a bit broad, so I understand it makes it difficult to respond with specifics… I’ll posts some screenshots maybe.

I get turning of FX, etc… i’ve been fighting within the limitations of CPU power and plugins, as we all have for a long time.

I suppose at it’s core my question is what is your workflowlow on an audio track/group of tracks when the song transitions from verse to chorus for instance… Let’s just say the vocal for instance. I assume you obviously you have a separate audio vocal track/s, comped that are routed to a new chorus group track “chorus vocal group track”? for instance, with a whole new set of FX inserts on that new group track, or do you automate those changes on the same “vocal group track” you were using for the “verse vocal group”… Or are you doing that via sends?

I understand the different ways of working, and I’m not asking “how does one do something” - because there are obviously different ways of working… I’m asking for folks to share their workflow on this topic.

Hopefully that makes sense…

  • SRW

Thanks for those that left feedback, seems lots read but don’t share? I think at it’s best that’s what these forms should be… Places to share best practices.

My workflow in Cubase is, and again I record audio and am not soley a ITB music maker…

  • Audio Tracks into Folders and Group Channels. I effect for instance a stereo pair of Acoustic Guitars in a Group Track and usually pan them left and right. I eq each one usually pre compression. Sometimes I will flip phase if needed and Waves SSL channel is a usual go to for me on a lot of things.

  • Bass is direct, I record everything else in stereo.

  • FX Inserts - I really prefer inserts to send because they preform consistently. Again I’m an EQ pre Comp guy.

  • I add compression / limiting as needed, as a side chain to duck the X, (vocal, Bass Drum, etc.)

  • Kontakt Piano, Keys, and Vienna Ensemble Strings are run through Vienna Ensemble Pro and slaved or run on the master. Currently master.

  • I use Groove Agent 4 that I play live and trigger with V-Drums and process each drum, cymbal, overheard, room, etc. separately as a separate output.

  • I am currently experimenting with fully separate sets of Tracks, Group Tracks, Insert FX, etc, for each “section” of a song, and using cycle markers so when I jump to verse, chorus, bridge/outro/“part C” - That is all that is on the screen…

  • Sean Ryder Williams

Sent you a PM yesterday, just look :wink:

Here’s my basic pattern:

  1. Evaluate project (number of tracks, arrangement, instrumentation, time allotted to work on it)
  2. Begin with Existing “Production Template”
  3. Add Buses and FX Channels as needed
  4. Set-up any Cue Mixes

Audio Tracks go into Related folders
Assign different colors to Folders/Tracks
Guitar Tracks
Vocal Tracks

Midi Tracks, the same, or placed in folders related to the project part.
Keys - Verse
Keys - Chorus
Keys - Bridge

Midi tracks are often rendered in place and then the MIDI track is deactivated and hidden

Guitar Bus
Vocal Bus
Keys Bus
Drums Bus
Bass Bus

FX - (Sent to Mx Bus or to related Group Track)
Drums Verb goes to Drums Bus; Drums Bus goes to Mix Bus

Mix Bus goes to Master Bus
Master Bus to Stereo Out

I try to avoid “Fader Clutter,” but even my modest projects seem involve dozens of tracks – far fewer than some of the massive orchestral templates, but still “big” and getting bigger.

Chris Selim - Mixdown Online on youtube has been particularly helpful for me. His engineering advice is excellent, but, I’ve learned the most about Cubase from observing his project set-ups. His organization and workflow is, imho, very strong.

What I like about Cubase is how many different ways it can be used to make music. It can be a traditional recording system, a midi projection center, Score editor, it does mix to picture, it time stretches audio, variable tempo, the harmonic tools – chord track, transpose, chord assistant, transpose, custom scales; the tempo and signature tracks, multiple marker tracks, arranger track (and flattening), variable time bases. The more I learn it and use it, the more I like it and find new ways to do things, often based on suggestions and examples in these forums.

Here’s a screen shot of one of my go to project starter templates. Tracks are added depending on the project’s content. Buses (Group Tracks) and FX Tracks are added as needed. I have much more involved templates with complex “big kit” drums and so on, but I like this one because it is spare and uncluttered.

What’s your reasoning on routing Mix Buss > Master Out > Stereo Out?

Maybe I just like to have a belt and suspenders?

Seriously, I do that for a number of reasons: The Mix Bus is what I mix into and the Master can be – my last Brick Wall, place for dithering for MP3s and monitoring plug-ins, a Reference tracks Bus; for Direct Routing where that Master (Group) can be a second Mix Bus.

I just like to have one last stop before Stereo Out.

That’s great for being instantly able to export the unprocessed mix (going to the mastering engineer) as well as a processed mix (checking how the mix would behave at a desired level/reference for artist).

No need to export twice plus you really get the same mix. Two different exports can make different mixes when unsynced modulations and the like are involved.

Great ideas.