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Troubleshooting Instructions for Cubase, Nuendo and Sequel on Windows

The following troubleshooting tips & instructions are basically valid for all Steinberg sequencers running on Windows since Cubase SX 1, Nuendo 1 and Sequel 1.

Overview

 

Updating the eLicenser Control Center

The most common reason for USB-eLicenser (dongle, formerly named Steinberg Key), Soft-eLicenser and/or license related problems is an outdated or corrupted eLicenser Control Center installation.
So if an USB-eLicenser or a specific license on it is not recognized, or you get any license related error messages when starting your Steinberg sequencer, you should download and install the latest eLicenser Control Center at first. In case the installation fails try to install again after you've unplugged the USB-eLicenser.

This knowledgebase article provides further and more detailed assistance in solving dongle and license related issues:
"USB-eLicenser - Details, tips and troubleshooting"

If your Steinberg sequencer is protected by a Soft-eLicenser you will find more information in the "Soft-eLicenser FAQ".


Initialising Preferences

Corrupted program preference files can bring your Steinberg program into all kinds of troubles, particularly after installing an update.
Fortunately, refreshing the preferences is quite easy:

  • Close all programs.
  • Open the "Run" command prompt by pressing the Windows logo key and R on the keyboard simultaneously. The Windows key is located between the keys Ctrl and alt.
    (To open the command prompt on Windows XP select 'Run' from the Start menu.)
  • In the command line of the 'Run' window, enter this path: %appdata%/Steinberg
  • Locate the folder which is named the same as your Steinberg program, for example 'Cubase 8.5'.
  • Rename it (for example, from "Cubase 8.5" to "xCubase 8.5") in order to hide it from the sequencer. The folder will only be hidden safely, if the change will be done before the original folder name.
  • If you find folders of previous versions of your program, make sure to hide or remove them, too.

Next time you start your Steinberg program it will create a new folder with fresh preferences and default settings - which hopefully fixes the problem you've experienced.

Please note: Make sure to hide or remove preferences folders of all installations of your Steinberg program. Otherwise the program would try to comply with them when creating fresh preferences. And exactly this could be the source of errors.

Initialising the program's preferences does not necessarily mean that you lose all settings. For example if you have defined your own set of key commands that you want to keep you can replace the corresponding file (Key Commands.xml) in the freshly created folder by a copy of the same file taken from the folder you've disabled by renaming.

Alternative ways: Instead of renaming it, you also can move the preferences folder of your program from Steinberg's application data folder to another place, for example the Desktop. You even can simply trash it if you are sure that your user settings are not that hard to rebuild. Another approach: Since in many cases the file "Defaults.xml" will be the trouble maker you also could try if renaming or deleting only this particular file already solves the problem.

This Knowledge Base article provides further information on Cubase's preferences and their location: Cubase and Nuendo Program Preferences Files in Detail

Making a backup of the preferences obviously is a good idea, especially when you customize a lot. And it's easy: Simply keep a copy of the preferences folder that you can fall back on whenever you need to reset the preferences to your preferred settings.


Updating the Steinberg Software

Check if your Steinberg software is up-to-date. A current version might include a solution for the problem you are experiencing. Updates are available here: Downloads on www.steinberg.net
The "Version History" document on the same page will tell you which issues have been addressed.


Reinstalling the Steinberg Software

Reinstalling the complete program is only necessary on rare occasions. In general these steps will suffice:

  • Go to "Start menu > (All) Programs > *Your Steinberg Software*, select "Uninstall" and follow the instructions of the uninstaller.
  • Optional: Of course, the uninstaller only deletes files it previously has installed. If you find a remaining program folder under "C:\Program Files\Steinberg" take a look inside and check if it contains files that you want to keep. If not, delete the folder.
  • Optional: Remove (or hide) the preferences folder (see information on "Initialising Preferences" above).
  • Install the sequencer using the original installer you've received on CD/DVD or as download. In case a newer complete installer is available on the download page, it should be preferred. 
  • Install the latest update available on the download page.


Updating Device Drivers

Your Steinberg software is dependent on flawlessly working audio and MIDI interfaces. Many problems are caused by bad device drivers. Check the homepage of your gear's manufacturer for updates. If you have installed drivers from a CD-R that came with an interface you can almost be sure that they are fatally outdated.


Verifying Memory Usage

These symptoms may point out to insufficient memory (RAM):

  • sluggish, unresponsive user interface
  • seemingly random crashes
  • white program or plug-in windows

Use Windows Task Manager to get an overview of the memory usage. In case less than 500 MB free memory are available, the overall performance of the system as well as the stability of single programs might be reduced severely.

On a 64-bit system, you should make sure to run the 64-bit version of your Steinberg program and additionally installed plug-ins. Otherwise, maximally 4 GB of the installed memory can be used and memory issues might occur, even though the system memory ressources don't seem to be exhausted. Read more...

Apart from the size of the installed memory modules, the amount of free memory depends on the individual way of working and the loaded project. In case your system is short of memory, you have the following options:

  • Quit all redundant programs. For example, an internet browser running in background with some opened tabs can easily consume 1 GB RAM or more. In case of doubt, use Task Manager to get an overview of the memory allocation.
  • Sample-based VST Instruments are the biggest memory consumers within a project. Therefore, you should only use as many VST Instruments as necessary. If possible, do not use multiple instances of the same VST Instrument. Instead, use several MIDI tracks to address a single instance of the same instrument.
  • If you do not want to confine yourself to a memory-saving way of working, you will need to expand the installed memory, which might require a switch from 32-bit to 64-bit.


VST Plug-in Troubles (Cubase and Nuendo only)

If Cubase/Nuendo hangs or quits during the start up or while loading a specific project file it is likely that an installed VST plug-in is causing trouble.
Temporarily hiding installed VST plug-ins from Cubase/Nuendo is an easy and effective way to verify if a specific plug indeed is sabotaging your sequencer.
Of course, for this operation you need to know all VST plug-ins folders Cubase/Nuendo is knowing...

Locating VST Plug-in Folders

  • In Cubase/Nuendo, select "Plug-in Manager" from the "Devices" menu.
    At the bottom left, click on the gear symbol to open the "Plug-in Manager Settings"
     Older Cubase/Nuendo versions:
     Select "Plug-in Information" from the "Devices" menu.
     Make sure the "VST PlugIns" tab is selected and click on "VST 2.x Paths".
  • The VST 2 paths known to Cubase/Nuendo will be listed. Write them down, make a screenshot or simply memorize them.
  • Additionally, consider the VST 3 plug-ins folder: C:\Program Files\Common Files\VST3

Hiding VST Plug-ins

The following steps describe only one possible application of the "hiding strategy". Of course you can have your own approach if you've understood the basic idea.

  • Quit Cubase/Nuendo.
  • Navigate to the first VST plug-in folder (refer to the note or screenshot you've made before, or your memory).
  • Assuming the folder is named "VSTPlugins", rename it to "VSTPlugins_hidden". This will hide it from Cubase/Nuendo.
  • Restart Cubase/Nuendo.
  • If necessary, load the problematic project. In this case Cubase/Nuendo will complain about missing plug-ins. Simply ignore corresponding error messages.

If the problem persists, it obviously is not related to a VST plug-in inside this hidden folder. In this case rename the folder to its original name and repeat the procedure with the next VST plug-ins folder on your list.

If hiding one of the folders actually fixed the problem you still don't know the bad guy but, after all, you know where he is living... In order to identify the problematic plug-in create a new folder next to the hidden one and give him the original name, in this example "VSTPlugins". Now you can move the most suspicious plug from the renamed folder (e.g. "VSTPlugins_hidden") to the new one (e.g. "VSTPlugins"). Restart Cubase/Nuendo and see if it still runs correctly. Repeat moving plug-ins and restarting Cubase/Nuendo until you've finally isolated the trouble maker. In case you have a lot of plug-ins installed moving half of the them at a time might speed up the search.


MIDI Timing Troubles

Don't despair if incoming MIDI data will not be recorded correctly, for example with a constant offset, although you already have updated the MIDI driver. The following instructions will probably fix the problem:

Cubase SE/SL/SX 3.1 and Nuendo 3.1 or later

  • In Cubase/Nuendo, select "Devices Setup..." from the "Devices" menu.
  • In the "Device Setup" window click on "MIDI > MIDI Port Setup".
  • Installed MIDI ports should now be listed in the right part of the window.
  • Enable the option "Use System Timestamp for 'Windows MIDI'." which you find beneath the listed ports. 
Depending on the installed MIDI driver "Use System Timestamp for 'Windows DirectMusic'." might also be available. Enable it, too. 
(If system timestamp already has been used unmark the option. In other words: Change the status of the "Use System Timestamp..." option.)
  • Click on OK in order to close the Device Setup window and enjoy accurate MIDI data recording.

Older Cubase and Nuendo Versions


Further Articles

In these articles you'll find further solutions for problems on your computer:
Optimizing Windows for DAWs
USB-eLicenser - Details, tips and troubleshooting
Soft-eLicenser FAQ

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