Customise The Toolbar
The area at the top of Cubase’s Project window can be customised to show whatever sets of controls you prefer. Right-click in an empty area and, from the resulting list, choose what is visible or hidden. To show or hide multiple elements at once, choose Setup and create a group of controls quickly as well as setting the order in which they appear. Use the disk icon at the bottom left to store presets so you can toggle between sets of controls with ease.
Play MIDI Without Hardware
Go to the Devices menu and choose Virtual Keyboard. A keyboard will appear in the Transport panel; this acts as a MIDI input for any virtual instrument selected when you click the mouse on its keys. Clicking along its base will shift the selection up or down by several octaves and you can set the velocity of the notes via a slider. Click on the tiny dot at the bottom right and you switch to computer keyboard input. Click and hold on a note, then drag the mouse up or down to affect pitch bend.
The Control Room features, accessible from the Devices menu, enable you to set up advanced monitoring and talkback setups (as long as you are using audio hardware with sufficient physical inputs and outputs, of course). You first need to go into the VST Connections window and set up your speakers and I/O busses for the control room, then go to the Control Room Overview to see how things such as click tracks, talkback and monitor selection are assigned. Use the Control Room Mixer panel to use these features in everyday operation.
Show All Inspector Panels
The Inspector panel to the left of the Project window has a number of tabs containing the properties and tools associated with any selected track. Clicking on the title bar of one of these sections will expand it, but if you want to expand all the sections at once, you can hold the [Alt] (PC/Mac) key and single-click on any of them. This is particularly useful if you have a large screen. To minimise them all at the same time, repeat the action.
Sample Editor Shortcuts
In the Sample Editor, if you right-click anywhere in the waveform display you can call up a small popup toolbox that is different from the one available in the Project window. Hover the mouse over one of the tools and left-click to select it. The tools available include Range Selection, Zoom, Pen, Draw, Play, Scrub and Timewarp. These tools are also available from the Sample Editor’s toolbar at the top of its window but it’s quicker to access them via a right-click.
In the mixer, you can link channels of the same type so that moving one will move all linked channels by the same amount, regardless of their start position. Select the relevant audio channels, right-click on one and select Link Channels. The same applies to MIDI and Instrument tracks. This is useful, for example, when you have the relative levels of several tracks all set perfectly but need them all to be quieter or louder by exactly the same amount. You can achieve the same by using Group tracks, but this way the tracks don’t need to be routed to a single audio output so you retain more flexibility. They can be just as easily unlinked.
VST Instrument Outputs
The VST Instruments Rack enables you to manage which instruments are loaded, activated or frozen. You can even choose a preset from within each instrument’s section by clicking the space under its name, without having to open the instrument. Some instruments (such as Loopmash and a fair few third-party models) have more than two outputs. By default, it may be that only the first two are activated in the mixer. To enable more – or indeed all of an instrument’s outputs – click on the tiny arrow to the right of the ‘e’ button in the VST Instruments window. You will then see a list of available outputs and be able to choose which to activate.
Create Blank Parts
On any audio or MIDI track in a project you can instantly draw in an empty part by holding down the [Alt] (PC/Mac) key to temporarily toggle the Pointer tool to the Pen tool, then click and drag for the required length of the part on the desired track. The part that is created will obey the current snap settings. In the case of MIDI this is useful as you can double-click on the part and, using the Key Editor, manually draw in MIDI notes. On an audio track it’s actually an audio part that is created rather than an audio file, but you can drag other audio files into the new part.
Zoom In And Out Quickly
Most users know that you can use the zoom sliders to zoom in/out in the Project window, but you can also multiple-select tracks, hover the mouse over the border between two of the tracks and drag up or down to zoom. Interestingly, this works for all selected tracks, so even if you select one track then another elsewhere in the project (but not the tracks between) only the selected tracks will be zoomed, leaving all others at their existing zoom level. This is useful for getting to specific tracks without having to do too much scrolling.
Use Mouse Wheel For Scrolling
In the Preferences window, go to the Editing>Audio section. Here you can activate the option to enable the mouse wheel (if your mouse has one) to be used for setting the volume of Events in the timeline as well as for setting the volume of fades. This offers a very quick way to set the volume of an Event independently of the volume of the track itself – and without having to click and drag the envelope handles inside the clip itself. It works in set divisions of volume, so each click of the wheel represents a specific change in volume.
If you open a MIDI part in the Key Editor and choose some MIDI notes or select an entire MIDI clip in the Project window, you can go to the MIDI>Functions menu to find some interesting tools that can be applied. These range from simple things such as reversing a MIDI part to adding or removing a relative amount of velocity from all selected items, deleting specific notes that match certain criteria or restricting the polyphony to a certain number of voices.
Automation can get quite unwieldy if you use it a lot across a single project, expanding and hiding automation subtracks to get at the data. Instead, bring up the global Automation Panel using the Project menu. From here you can perform multiple actions that apply to all automation data in a project, including suspending read and write of specific types of automation globally, showing or hiding the same types of data en masse, or filling a selected area with a certain automation parameter, which is quicker than drawing it in by hand.
You can use a Tempo track to alter the speed and time signature of a project as it plays back. Cubase also has a feature called Process Tempo, which can be used to define a specific length or end time for a set range; the Tempo track automatically sets a tempo that fits the range in the specified time. Using this tool you can select a period of time in bars or time values and have Cubase calculate the exact duration and speed necessary to fit the existing time to the new time. This saves you having to do it manually by trial and error.
Process Audio With A Plug-In
If you want to process an audio event through a plug-in but leave the events to either side of it on the same track untouched, you could add an effect as an insert to the track then bounce the audio to a new track. A better way, though, is to open the Sample Editor by double-clicking on the clip and choosing Process>Select Plug-in then choosing an effect. If the effect has a tail, say a reverb or delay, click More and add some tail to the processed file so the effect is not truncated. Hit Process and the file is rendered.
Dissolve MIDI Parts
If you have a MIDI event that is complex and you want to separate its contents for reassignment to new sources or simply to delete some groups of notes, you could do it manually. A much quicker way, however, is to choose MIDI>Dissolve part with the event selected. Each note can be split off to a separate event or split by channel. An example of how to use this might be to extract the hi-hat or kick drum part from a MIDI drum clip then drag it to a new MIDI track to be played by a different instrument.
For any given track, click on the Track Presets button in the Inspector and you’ll see a window appear. From here you can choose a preset by searching using attributes such as Category or Style. If you click on the button marked ‘Logical’, however, you can use specific search terms to find items, such as whether a file type includes or omits a word or was recorded in a specific date range. This works whenever you use this browser, though some search terms apply only to certain file types.
The VST Connections window is from where you manage all your audio I/O as it relates to the different sections of Cubase that you are using. You may be familiar with audio inputs and outputs, perhaps even Group/FX channels. But there is also the option to set up busses for external effects and instruments, routing hardware in and out of Cubase and associating a MIDI device with it. These can be added to projects just like plug-ins – so you could make your beloved outboard reverb unit, compressor or synth an integral part of your Cubase setup.
The click track is a vital tool for getting your timing right. If you go into Transport>Metronome Setup you can alter the way it works. As well as specifying if it is present during recording, playback or both, you can set the note and velocity used by the MIDI click or specify audio files to be used as the metronome sounds. This is handy if you prefer, say, a wood block noise to the default beeps.
Cubase supports a video track and you can import video files and compose music along to them. The Tempo track comes in very handy here, as it enables you to mix and match multiple tempos within a single project. The video display window can be freely resized, and if you right-click on it you can select preset sizes, a specific aspect ratio and toggle video playback quality down slightly so that compressed formats play back more smoothly and leave more CPU power for audio processing.
The Info Line can be really helpful in everyday workflow and can be brought up by clicking on the Set Up Window Layout button at the top left of the Project window. For any event in the project you can manually enter values to set things such as name, fades, volume, transpose, fine-tune and other characteristics. You can also easily lock a clip based on its size and position to prevent accidental editing. The Info Line is a quick way to set things such as Root Key and Global Transpose values for one or more events at the same time.
Skip Between Tracks
If you open the VST Audio Channel Settings window for an audio track you will see an overview of its inserts, EQs and sends as well as a fader and channel strip. Locate the arrow directly beneath the display of the track’s name and you will be able to click and choose any other track in your project. Using this trick you can quickly move between multiple tracks and see their settings without having to keep returning to the Project window.
By adding a Group channel to a project and routing two or more other audio outputs from other tracks through it you can gain control over the volumes of multiple channels from a single channel. A good example of this might be to group strings, horns or backing vocals together and submix them before they are fed to the Group channel. Then you could automate the Group channel fader to being them all up or down at once, saving you a lot of work.
Use Quick Controls
Every channel in the Project window has an associated Quick Controls section, located at the bottom of the list of tabs in the Inspector panel. For each type of track you can assign parameters to each of the eight slots and these can ‘reach into’ a project – perhaps altering the cutoff on a synth or the wet/dry amount on an effect – without you having to open the plug-ins. These can be used to instantly control almost any parameter within Cubase.
Drag And Drop Effects
In the Mixer window you can drag and drop effects between insert slots with ease. Drag an effect from any slot to any slot regardless of the channel and it will be moved. Hold down the [Alt] key while doing so and the effect will be duplicated rather than moved. This is a great way to apply an effect complete with identical settings to different channels very quickly.
If a plug-in is causing you problems – slowing you down or, worse, crashing your project – you could try moving it out of the VST folder to temporarily disable it. Another method is to go to Devices>Plug-In Information and uncheck any plug-in that is being difficult and may be causing crashes. This window will also show you the location of every plug-in on your system, its version number and whether it is sidechain-compatible.
Tags: Cubase, Customise, Music Mastering, Music Mixing, Music Production, Software, Software Workshops, Tutorials