Your Orchestral Templates - Workflow - Grouping ?


Im primarily an Engineer, for control purposes im not looking to cut down a large template, just clarify best methods for grouping. I actually find Keyswitching a more confusng route and personally prefer having a channel dedicated to each articulation, partly because I need to see visually the seperate cue points for each track in the arrange window and partly because i want full control on every sspect of the mix. Im more interested in how people group their sections within Cubase.

Cubase’s Problem -

I’ve torn my hair out a few times at Cubase’s inability to allow rearranging of mixer channels. Half way through a new template only to discover i missed out a section which needs to go after X but won’t unless you delete the instruments inbetween. Cubase (7.0.3) alas will not let you slot this forgotten section into its coherent place on the mixer to coincide with the structure in your arrange window. Incredibly annoying!!

I have a pretty powerful daw, 48gb Ram, and this may be wasteful, but to solve the above problem, i preload kontakt into all 64 instances in the Vst Instruments panel before i add anything else (that includes using kontakts multi outs). any synths like Omnisphere or Synlenth can be added as an Instrument channel which will follow all kontakt instruments in the mixer - nice sat at the end of the mixing window because synths will come and go between mixes anyway (i dont usually need multi outs for those sorts of synths either)

So with a full up Vst Instruments Panel (64 - which takes up very little Cpu) i can then begin to structure the template without fear that if i miss something out, im going to have to start all over.

My Current Method

Probably not the best way, i would like different suggestions, and this might all seem a bit much, but Cubase has given me no other option until they allow sortable mixer channels (and i wont switch Daw)

VI slots 1 - 5 - are dedicated to any drums and percussion i may or may not want to use - Even if i only use one (16 multi) instance on slot 1, atleast i have the option later on to put something in on the remaining 2-5 - and they will go after drums in the mixer - not at the end

VI slots 6 - 14 - will be dedicated to things like kontakt Guitar libs/Ethnic Patches/Choirs and Keys etc

VI slots 15 to 54 (roughly off the top of my head) - are purely for LASS or my main String lib and any doublings. Every patch loaded and ‘foldered’ in Articulation groups -

Pitz - Bass/Cell/Vlas/Vln1/Vln 2 + One or two doubling Libs
Spicc - Bass/Cell/Vlas/Vln1/Vln 2 + One or two doubling Libs
Stacs - Bass/Cell/Vlas/Vln1/Vln 2 + One or two doubling Libs
Sords - Bass/Cell/Vlas/Vln1/Vln 2 + One or two doubling Libs
Divs - Bass/Cell/Vlas/Vln1/Vln 2 + One or two doubling Libs
Legs - Bass/Cell/Vlas/Vln1/Vln 2 + One or two doubling Libs
Trems - Bass/Cell/Vlas/Vln1/Vln 2 + One or two doubling Libs

etc etc

VI Slots 55 - 64 - will be divided up between the remaining Woods and Brass sections.

My Problem

Once everything is eventually organised into the mixer in a nice orderly setup its actually really flexible from here on in. The link tracks feature is a game changer and ALMOST makes up for the fact you can’t rearrange mixer channels. Almost…

Here’s where im on the fence as to which best Grouping method to choose. Drums and keys etc have their own group, but how are people doing it with the Orchetra sections?

Buss by Highs Mid Lows,

Buss by Instrument sections - Basses, Celli, Vlas,

Buss by Artuclation sections - Spics, Divs,

Buss by Spacial position ?

Theres more which i cant think of right now. :slight_smile:
How are you guys doing it?


I must be missing something here because any tracks you reorder in the Project Window will follow in the mixer.

In fact, I’ve had this problem in Kontakt when I’m assigning outputs there and forget something.
Contact will not allow you to change the order of it’s outputs (I forget to add a 4th Tom in a very large drum kit, for instance) and I end up adding another output in Kontakt and moving it to the correct position in Cubase instead,


Because of Cubase’s inability to sort VST rack Instruments is the reason why I use Instrument Tracks exclusively. Luckily, Superior Drummer lets me bounce each drum individually outside of Cubase, and then I re-import them into the session. I find this method more efficient for me, but some people may not like it and opt for a multiout workflow instead.

As far as Orchestral instruments go, I make use of VST Expression Maps to sort out all the articulations that belong to a single instrument (I.e. 1st Violins articulations are all loaded into a single PLAY instance). Then I group, and also put into folders, all the Orchestral instruments according to their respective family. All Strings will go into a STRINGS folder/group, all Percussion will go into a PERCUSSION folder/group, etc. From there, all groups output to the Master Bus. I also setup FX channels with instances of QL Spaces and load it up with reverbs corresponding to the instrumental family (I.e. String Verb, Percussion Verb, etc). You can then use sends to send whatever amount of reverb you deem correct for each instrument.

This method works great for me, and it’s what I’ve been using for a while now. YMMV.

Hi Hugh,

Say i have

VI slot 1 using kontakt for Spics
VI slot 2 using Kontakt for Stacs
VI slot 3 using Kontakt for Legs.
VI slot 4 using Kontakt for Sords

Imagine i carry on for hours building my template for another 20/30 VI slots or so. Then i stop and realise i forgot to assign the Pizzicatos a slot next to the Spics and Stacs (for a more coherent order) so they can sit after the stacs in the mixer window. Even if i can move the actual tracks in the project window they won’t follow inside the mixer.

I can’t simply create a new instance on (say VI slot 40) load up the Pitz patch and then have them sit after the Stacs in the mixer window. They will only appear after the Kontakt instances already created (hence me just loading an instance in every slot to begin with).

I could resort to replacing the Legs patch with the Pitz, but then i would have to replace every other Kontakt instance after that, but what if ive created 20/30 more such as in this example… A huuuuuge timewaster :imp:

As jose7822 points out its “Because of Cubase’s inability to sort VST rack Instruments”

Unfortuntely I can’t work with just Instrument tracks because i rely on the multi outs which Instrument tracks don’t allow (AFAIK)

I use Vienna Ensemble Pro to host the libraries and organize busses since I don’t trust the stability of a large template inside Cubase. For the most part, I bus by instrument type and articulation length, then section position. Primarily, my rule of thumb is to group by position / distance, but note length has to come before that if I want more control or need to add some instrument-specific EQ before the reverb.

Example instrument type and articulation via:
French Horn Ensemble (2 players) div A long
French Horn Ensemble (2 players) div A short
French Horn Ensemble (2 players) div B long
French Horn Ensemble (2 players) div B short
Trombone Ensemble (3 players) long
Trombone Ensemble (3 players) short


Each one of those has a send to a specific reverb + spatial plug-in strip set up for that section’s position. E.G.: Horns A and B would have their own specific send, Trombones and the low brass area have their own send, and Trumpets their own, too. Separating the longs and shorts lets me send them to their verbs in different amounts, since shorter articulations can get washed out a bit when used for repetitions. That’s just a thing I watch for now, but it’s not always necessary; I used get by just fine not doing it that way.

I send all those individual channels to Cubase’s mixer and group them up by section position. A “wall of brass” might be divided into groups like this: Trumpets (center), French Horns (left), Trombones & Low Brass (incl. Tuba / Cimbasso, right).

A really good course on mixing orchestral stuff and setting up a template can be found here:

Grab it while it’s cheap!

Whoa, why’re you setting it up like that?
I’d go by library first, then instrument type, and fit as many articulations as necessary for that instrument into that instance of Kontakt, E.G.: “this one’s just for LASS’s Violins Stuff”. If you forget an articulation, you can always just open up Kontakt and rearrange or load stuff in for each instrument that needs it. Also makes life easier when adding more outputs.

You CAN Move the Kontakt instance (#40) to a different position in the project window - and it will follow in the mixer.

In fact, you can pull individual outputs from any instance of Kontakt out of the VSTi folder and and put them anywhere. Including another Kontakt folder.
I used to really confuse myself that way. :confused:

They will stay in the same position in the VSTi rack - but move everywhere else.


Thanks for the Alexpub link, i actually got Visual orch a couple weeks back, Alex is a very good teacher…

Huh?, I have my patches setup like you suggest - each maxing out the multi outs on Kontakt. The example i was giving to Hugh in that last post was just to simplify the problem with Cubase’s VI rack and how you cant reorder something later on.

I have LASS patches seperated like:

Violin Sords
Violin Spics
Violin Stacs
Bass Stacs
Cello Legs

etc etc

I occasionally combine the Bass and Cellos to one patch though to free up Instances.

Double tested to make sure. and no you cant. Unless the problem lies with me having used folders. Im not talking about Instrument tracks btw.

Create two multis on Vst Instruments Slots 1 and 2 using the multi outs. Strings first then Horns second.

Then move the Horns in front of the Strings in the PW. Check the mixer and nothing has moved.

Yeah, it gets real messy in there; that’s why I get it all setup in VEP instead. I use 4 or 5 instances of VEP, so that’s only 4 or 5 of the VEP interface loaded into Cubase’s VI rack, which makes it easier to organize all the ins and outs for articulation-heavy libraries like LASS.

Could put all the strings in one VEP instance, so they all fit where they need to be in Cubase’s mixer.

I’m not sure what you’re doing wrong. You can definately move whole folders and individual outputs. I do it all the time. Just checked (make sure I’m not losing my mind!) and it worked fine. Moved in the project and the mixer.

Perhaps ther is a preference selection for the mixer order to follow the project . . .?

I can create, say, 4 x 8 out instances of Kontakt. Then move any instance of Kontakt to any position (the whole folder). Or if you want to get crazy you can tacke individual outputs and place them anywhere outside of the folder - with your audio tracks . . . next to a MIDI track . . . whatever. And the mixer follows.
Cubase 7.03.

I’m using Rack Kontakt instances also. Very rarely use Instrument Tracks.

Are you grabbing the Kontakt folders on the name (of course, silly, I know)?


Well jose7822 immediately knew the problem i have re: vst Instrument/mixer sorting so im obviously not alone. Perhaps it’s in the preferences but im almost certain the reordering issue has been mentioned quite alot to Steiny. I shall try and make a screencast to show you what i mean.

Maybe I’m not understanding you.

Pic1 the Piano and Kt Unass. . (2 stereoouts) are first in Project and mixer.

Pic2 the Cello is are on top.

2 different Kontakt instances.
Is this what you were talking about?


And here I moved the Piano output out of it’s folder and up between an Audio Track and a MIDI Track.

Mixer follows.

Sorry for all these sloppy pics . .
There’s 3 Kontakts open, etc but it makes the point.


A clearer example:


Thanks for that, i am quite baffled now though because that does not work for me. Can Steinberg chime in and suggest perhaps why not? I will make a screencast soon though to demonstarte it does not work in my daw.

Quoting Helge from a similar discussion

Maybe this is why its not working for me, i use Stereo Out on the right hand zones and usually just disable Input, Midi, and Rewire on Channel types.

Helge please answer :wink: :wink:

Well i didn’t go through all posts in this thread, but just to make sure u do the right thing.
to move “VSTi outputs” channels in the order u want to show up in the mixer , u should move those outputs up or down from project window inside the vsti instruments folder. inside that folder u can move vsti folder up or down or move specific output channels of the vsti in subfolders (those who have the keyboard sign next to them).

** maybe there is an option in preferences to synch mixer and project though, (im not next to cubase right now to check)

Well thankyou Mozizo that was it. Are people putting their tracks in that aswell? Ive always sequenced outside of it, i just used to use that subfolder for outside automation

When making a Vst Instrument instance Cubase asks if you also want it to create a track, i always decline because id rather make it later on.

It seems abit illogical that you cant do the same thing outside of that folder.

Here’s how im usually sequencing.

Yeah, I looked for an option and didn’t find one.

I also never create MIDI tracks when adding an instrument to the rack.
There is an option to turn off that prompt in preferences. I also believe you can have it ALWAYS create a MIDI track.

I, also, lock my output channels (stereo and 5.1) to the right of the mixer.

When Helge talks about locking tracks and hiding them - he just means if you lock them to the right in the mixer they won’t move when you move them in the project window. and if you hide them . . . well . . .you won’t see them at all. But they still are seen and move in the list of available tracks in the mixer.

Also, VSTi outputs do not have to stay in ANY folder. You can put them anywhere.
See my third example above (pic6) where I moved the first output from all three instances of Kontakt to the top of the window - no folder.