Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

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Altostratus
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Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by Altostratus »

Now that with Cubase Pro 8 the line is blurring between Instrument Tracks and the Instrument Rack, I’d like to add a suggestion with the hope that a developer at Steinberg might actually read this.

I work almost exclusively with Vienna Ensemble Pro, which holds a very large virtual instruments template. The Instrument Rack in Cubase holds a couple of VEP plugin interfaces which connect to VEP and have many outputs enabled (around 80 per instance). The Cubase template has MIDI tracks set up accordingly, one per VEP instrument.

The signal flow goes like this:

Cubase MIDI track -> VEP Instance 1 on MIDI Channel 1
VEP Instance 1 MIDI Channel 1 -> Virtual Instrument in VEP with Output 1-2
Cubase MIDI track has Output 1-2 selected in the Fader section of its Inspector

Multiply this by around 70.

I switched to Cubase from Logic for two reasons, Expression Maps and the possibility to see, in the Inspector of any MIDI track, the corresponding audio fader and sends/inserts without having to go to the mixer or dig up audio channels. You can also rename the output to match the MIDI track name which is very useful. In my case this works wonders when it comes to workflow, especially when you have a large number of tracks in your template.

However, when set up in the above manner, it’s impossible to edit the automation for the audio output from within the MIDI channel (and MIDI automation doesn’t address the same functions, of course). So it’s still necessary to scroll down to the “VST Instruments” folder and find the corresponding audio output for the MIDI track, of which there are very many (and AFAIK Cubase can't select the output track automatically for you).

A workaround is to move each and every VST Instrument output out of the “VST Instruments” folder, place it below its MIDI track and use Cubase 8’s “hide others” option in the new visibility menu. But this is cumbersome and could be much improved.

Since there’s no problem in a MIDI track knowing where its audio output is going (it’s shown in the Audio Fader section of the Inspector), there should be no real obstacle to editing the audio automation from within the MIDI track itself by clicking a toggle on the MIDI track (“Show audio output automation” or something).

This would finally combine MIDI and audio editing on the same track and would be very, very handy. I’m no developer but seeing how Cubase displays related information of MIDI and audio outputs this doesn’t seem like a great deal to implement.

Just my 2c.
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sonic74
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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by sonic74 »

+1

Please check out and support my post about the similar idea.

http://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtop ... 28&t=70681
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Altostratus
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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by Altostratus »

Added +1 and a cross-link... Your idea is the logical counterpart of mine and both should be part of the same feature. Steinberg seems to be neglecting this for some reason, since we're at version 8 and still no Key Command for the Audio Fader section of the Inspector (AFAIK the only section that doesn't have one).
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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by sonic74 »

Thanks. I agree totally, if there can be such a simple way to use something, that is the way it must be implemented. Already as composers, we are in too much technicality, every workaround or unnecessary click is ruining creativity and taking from our lives.
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Altostratus
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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by Altostratus »

On a side note (this is not really a feature request because it's more of glaring omission), we're on version 8 and the Inspector panels of the audio output corresponding to the MIDI track are *still* not selectable in the Inspector Settings dialog in order to be assigned to a preset.
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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by -syra »

+1!!!!!

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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by studioj »

Sorry didn't notice this post before posting a similar idea, def +1!!

I think your concept could be further simplified by having an instrument track that can have a MIDI destination and an audio input from a DIFFERENT instrument track...

routing would be as follows:

Instrument track 1 - VEP5 - MIDI channel 1 - OUT 1-2 from plug
Instrument track 2 - no plugin - MIDI channel 2 - OUT 3-4 from VEP plug above...

then you really just have a SINGLE audio channel per IO and per MIDI channel going to VEP.

If you are routing several VEP instruments through the same audio output this is less useful and in that case just using MIDI tracks routed to master instrument track would make sense... and then perhaps inclusion of your idea as well where you can edit the automation right on the MIDI track...

anyway, this should be addressed, its the only real cumbersome thing I've come across in Cubase 8.

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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by StrangeDaysOnEarth »

Yes! I'd really like to see only one system of handling virtual instruments, not two. MIDI & audio automation need to be on the same track for sure (as it now is for instrument tracks, but obviously these need to be multi-timbral). How about the best of both worlds, instead of two slightly crippled ones?
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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by srdmusic »

You guys are on the right track. I am a beta tester for Steinberg's Cubase 8 and Nuendo. I've brought up this concept several times since I have also left Logic to work in Cubase and see the benefit of the Cubase's audio engine controlling volume dynamics rather than Kontakt or any other instrument. Kontakt in particular has a horrible gain structure. After extensive research and even an intense generic remote set up I found a work around in VEP. Anything over 64inputs from VEP back into cubase starts to multiply the CPU usage by a lot so I have paired down tracks to food groups like (Violins I Long, Violins I Short, Violas Long ect). I have 2 x12 cores and 1 x 8 core with 64 outputs coming into cubase via VEP so that I don't run into CPU spikes like you do if you start to go over the 64 input mark. In VEP in the instrument options of Kontakt you can tell Kontakt to not listen to CC7 or CC10 (Volume and Pan). I shut off Volume and pan for each instrument. In VEP every output of Kontakt gets it's own Aux buss where each instrument can be assingned. 16 instruments = 16 Auxes in VEP. I then go into the automation map of VEP and learn cc7 and cc10 to each aux channel. This makes VEP the controller of volume and pan instead of Kontact. Then each aux gets bussed down to their appropriate bus category (example: Electronic Perc Hi, Electronic Perc Mid, ect.). VEP has a 32bit float mix bus just like Logic and Cubase. Kontakt has a 24bit mix engine so if you hit the red on Kontakt you hear a clip where as in Vienna's volume automation you can go to about +6db before hearing a clip. Low volumes also sound more clear in vienna than in Kontakt. VEP's mix bus sounds very similar to Cubase's Must a German thing. On additional note: You'll have to set the volume to max in Kontakt as you won't be able to control it's volume anymore. I do this by triggering a huge chord as velocity 127. I usually set the instrument volume to something that will never clip. At least 3db lower then clipping. This gives you room to move the fader up or down in VEP. Some instruments have a CC modifer written into the instrument. In group options select all samples and delete the cc7 modifier. Cinestrings seems to the the only instruments that do this internal CC modifier so don't worry about that step if you're not using cinestrings. Write with it this way and let me know how you guys get on.

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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by davidmolina »

Yes! I just purchased VEPro this week. I haven't even started a project with it yet and I already noticed this. And my template is far smaller than most, about 70 tracks. But even with so few tracks I find it irritating not to be able to access the audio track (just like an instrument track) from within the corresponding midi track. I really hope they add this soon.

Ableton does it great. You only have audio or midi tracks. In a midi track you insert a "External Instrument" plugin. In that plugin you set the midi out and audio in and there you go, all in the same track. No having to add separate input.

Please Steinberg!

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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by Atardecer »

+1

I feel your pain. For large template users its a massive workflow killer.
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Altostratus
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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by Altostratus »

Original post was over a year ago. Any input from Steinberg on this workflow enhancement would be much appreciated.
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Minimalist
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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by Minimalist »

+1 Great ideas

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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by SavingPrincess »

If anyone is interested, I can show you how to setup VEP with multitimbral instruments to show audio faders in the mixer through proper VEP routing and track visibility configurations in C8.5's mixer view.

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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by Altostratus »

SavingPrincess wrote:I can show you how to setup VEP with multitimbral instruments to show audio faders in the mixer
I'm not sure I understand how this is related to my suggestion to combine MIDI tracks with Audio Output. VEP channels are already displayed in the MixConsole by default. The problem is the weak leak, from a GUI point of view, to the MIDI tracks that play them.
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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by keyman_sam »

I'm also a VE Pro user and this is the exact thing I'm looking for! I have a faderport which makes automation easier but there's no shortcut to view the output channel? Is this possible with a macro?
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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by shomynik »

+1

Although I have slightly less trouble with this, studioj posted something about it... I use instrument tracks along with midi tracks, and all audio outs for that vep instance are listed when I show automation lanes for that instrument track. So, for example, cinebrass is in one folder, and the first track (in my template is "TrumpSolo TrueLeg") is instrument track with cinebrass vep instance, below are a lot of midi tracks for other cinebrass instruments.

I don't often automate cubase sliders, I use cc11, or cc7 for instruments without expression (although I will reconsider this after reading srdmusic's post), but if I needed audio lanes in project window I can just open the lanes on the first, instrument track. Am I missing something?
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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by Minimalist »

Altostratus wrote: I switched to Cubase from Logic for two reasons, Expression Maps and the possibility to see, in the Inspector of any MIDI track,

It's horrible that the number of Expression Map lanes are limited by the size and resolution of your monitor. There needs to be a scroll bar. They know this is an issue with VSL but they refuse to fix it. I am very angry about this.

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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by Altostratus »

Minimalist wrote:I am very angry about this.
Let's try to keep this thread on topic. Mixing different issues in the same thread isn't going to help anyone. There are threads about the Expression Maps problems, including this one which I've started (more that a year ago, *sigh*).
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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by MoreTritones »

+1

It's amazing and frustrating how Cubase can be so multi-out friendly and unfriendly at the same time. I was a long time Digital Performer user for years and I made the switch to Cubase because it was vastly more efficient as far as maintaining and creating VST multi-out configurations. It's great being able to record enable a midi track and see its corresponding audio output right in the inspector. That being said, you're right. It's extremely UN-efficient to constantly be going back into the instrument VST Audio-Output folder to find the track that you want to automate.

My biggest frustration comes from the fact it doesn't seem possible (or is it?) to control the the Audio Output's send on/off info or send level parameters with a Generic Remote from the midi track. The Generic Remote works if you select the Audio Output track but in my opinion that defeats the whole purpose of having the Audio Out visible in the inspector. Sure, you can assign specific track names in the Device Setup for the Generic Remote to use but then your controller is stuck only using tracks with that name.

This kind of falls in line with what you're saying that the midi and corresponding audio output track should be self contained. Conceptually, this is very straight forward so unless it's extremely difficult to code I don't understand why this hasn't happened yet.

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Re: Combine MIDI track with Audio Output

Post by shomynik »

srdmusic wrote:You guys are on the right track. I am a beta tester for Steinberg's Cubase 8 and Nuendo. I've brought up this concept several times since I have also left Logic to work in Cubase and see the benefit of the Cubase's audio engine controlling volume dynamics rather than Kontakt or any other instrument. Kontakt in particular has a horrible gain structure. After extensive research and even an intense generic remote set up I found a work around in VEP. Anything over 64inputs from VEP back into cubase starts to multiply the CPU usage by a lot so I have paired down tracks to food groups like (Violins I Long, Violins I Short, Violas Long ect). I have 2 x12 cores and 1 x 8 core with 64 outputs coming into cubase via VEP so that I don't run into CPU spikes like you do if you start to go over the 64 input mark. In VEP in the instrument options of Kontakt you can tell Kontakt to not listen to CC7 or CC10 (Volume and Pan). I shut off Volume and pan for each instrument. In VEP every output of Kontakt gets it's own Aux buss where each instrument can be assingned. 16 instruments = 16 Auxes in VEP. I then go into the automation map of VEP and learn cc7 and cc10 to each aux channel. This makes VEP the controller of volume and pan instead of Kontact. Then each aux gets bussed down to their appropriate bus category (example: Electronic Perc Hi, Electronic Perc Mid, ect.). VEP has a 32bit float mix bus just like Logic and Cubase. Kontakt has a 24bit mix engine so if you hit the red on Kontakt you hear a clip where as in Vienna's volume automation you can go to about +6db before hearing a clip. Low volumes also sound more clear in vienna than in Kontakt. VEP's mix bus sounds very similar to Cubase's Must a German thing. On additional note: You'll have to set the volume to max in Kontakt as you won't be able to control it's volume anymore. I do this by triggering a huge chord as velocity 127. I usually set the instrument volume to something that will never clip. At least 3db lower then clipping. This gives you room to move the fader up or down in VEP. Some instruments have a CC modifer written into the instrument. In group options select all samples and delete the cc7 modifier. Cinestrings seems to the the only instruments that do this internal CC modifier so don't worry about that step if you're not using cinestrings. Write with it this way and let me know how you guys get on.
Hey srdmusic,

I started rethinking your suggestions and I am really eager to try those. Just a few questions if I may...

I see an instant benefit of controlling volume/gains with the faders and not with the cc11/cc7 midi automations as you get more than 127 steps, so changes are smoother...but you are not using that, right? You still use midi cc (cc7) and not automation lanes which are supposed to provide greater "resolution". So, are you saying that there are some other differences than that?

Any digital fader is lowering the gain by lowering bit depth, as far as I know...correct me please if I am wrong. Are you saying that VEP's and Cubase's 32bit audio engine are both lowering gains "more successfully" than Kontakt's 24bit engine? And result is , among others, clearer low level sound?
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