Editing Hitpoints Through Volume
If you’re creating loops in Cubase 6 and are trying to create slices in the style of Dr.Rex, the Sample Editor is where you access the controls for this. Cubase 6 includes a feature that enables you to adjust the sensitivity of the slice detection from the volume of the waveform. To adjust it, select the Hitpoints tab (on the left-hand side of the Sample Editor). Here you will find a slider to adjust the threshold – by sliding this up and down a volume marker will appear over the waveform and the number of slices will increase or decrease at the top of the window. These can, of course, be manually adjusted afterwards to improve the slice accuracy.
Generating A Quantise Map
Cubase 6 can generate a template that can be used to quantise other parts so that they sync musically. This can be done by selecting the relevant part within the Arrange window and opening it in the Sample Editor. Once all the hitpoints have been selected in the manner above, select Create Groove Template from the Hitpoints tab. Back in the Arrange window, from the Quantise options you will see that a template has been added with the same name as the original track. Click on this, select the part you want to follow it and press [Q] to quantise in the normal way. Perfectly sync’ed parts!
Group Editing And Slicing
Cubase 6 introduced the ability to edit and slice groups of tracks as a whole – useful when working with a drum kit, an acoustic guitar or any instrument that includes multiple microphone positions. First, select the tracks that you want to group, right-click/[Ctrl]-click (PC/Mac) and select Move Selected Tracks To A New Folder. You can now cut, move and paste this folder track in the same way as you would anything else. However, by combining it with Quantise Maps you can then split the tracks automatically via hitpoints. When your tracks are in a folder, click on Audio>Hitpoints> Divide Audio At Hitpoints. This breaks the files into chunks for editing.
When you’re working with chunks of audio that have space between them, in some styles this is exactly what you want. However, if you’re working with an acoustic kit or a guitar, chances are that you want the audio to retain its ambience after you have fixed the timing. Cubase 6 introduces some clever algorithms for filling the gaps, one of which uses time-stretching to extend the audio through the space; the other employs crossfades when the files are close enough together. To access this, select the chunks you want to fill and click on Audio>Advanced, then select one of the two Close Gaps options.
Extract MIDI For Drum Replacement
If your drums are just too far beyond repair or not stylistically appropriate, Cubase 6 has the option to extract rhythmic information from the audio file. From within the Sample Editor, select the Hitpoints tab; the bottom option is Create MIDI notes. Having selected this option you are given several variables – you can retain the dynamic variation or have fixed velocity. You can select which MIDI note it outputs the rhythm to – which, if you know which drum you are replacing, saves you moving it later! You then have options to output to different MIDI tracks or the clipboard. Once pasted into the Arrange window you can treat the part in the same ways as any other MIDI track.
If you’re looking for a truly unique sound, LoopMash could be the way to go. Unlike any other instrument I use, it creates rhythms and textures by combining slices of audio into one loop. It does this from a ‘Master’ loop which LoopMash analyses and generates rhythm info from. When you then drag-and-drop further loops to the tracks below it will replace the slices in the Master loop with sounds from the others. As it analyses each new loop, LoopMash chooses sounds that ‘match’ via pitch, length and other parameters. It is, however, wrong most of the time, but this is why we love it – it creates some amazing sounds!
LoopMash To Groove Agent One
If after working with LoopMash you like the sounds but want to be able to create your own rhythms with the samples or need to input breakdowns, fills or anything else to change the pattern, you can. Cubase 6 now includes the ability to drag-and-drop samples from LoopMash straight into Groove Agent One, the included drum sampler. With both windows open on different instrument tracks, simply find the slices you want to use and drag them onto any of the 16 pads in Groove Agent One, which can then be played like any other MIDI instrument. When you have used up the first 16 pads, there are another seven banks to use, which start at C2 and go up to G8.
The biggest addition to the plug-ins in Cubase 6 is the arrival of proper guitar amp and effects modelling, and Steinberg has included a huge number of preset sounds to inspire and use. When I’m recording guitar I often use one of these to get a rough sound first, then either tweak the sounds later, program my own or re-amp. The use of presets in this context improves the flow of creativity and allows you to record and write music rather than spending too much time on the technology before getting creative.
Make Your Own Guitar Preset
When you have a guitar recorded and want to create the correct signal chain for your recording it is very easy to do. There is a preset at the top of the list labelled ‘!Empty’ which removes everything. The tabs at the top of the plug-in window are in the order of the signal chain and can be auditioned quickly. Start by adding an amplifier and then linking the amplifier and cabinet choice. After this add some pre-effects, including delay and modulation. Other settings are adjustable, but this should get you most of the guitar tones that are in your head.
When you needed to adjust a plug-in setting in previous versions of Cubase you had to go back via the Track Inspector into the plug-in window and make the changes there. However, in Cubase 6 a new dropdown menu has appeared in the Track Inspector in the Arrange window. This is called Quick Controls, and gives you access to frequently adjusted parameters. If you find yourself regularly adjusting thresholds and ratios in compressors and wet/dry mixes in delays you can adjust them very quickly without leaving the Arrange window. Simply right-click/[Ctrl]-click on any plug-in control and select ‘Add “x” to Quick Controls’.
The biggest headline in the publicity for Cubase 6 was the addition of controller information on a note-by-note basis – essentially, individual notes within chords can have different settings assigned to them. This can be used to create string bends on a guitar while keeping the other strings static, or placing a filter sweep on one keyboard note. To adjust this click on any note in the Piano Roll window and draw in automation as normal using the Pencil, then select from the list of CC data to the left of the window. If you move a note the CC data moves with it.
Have you ever thought when messing around on your keyboard or other MIDI input device while working out ideas the you wish you’d recorded it? In Cubase 6 that can be a reality: Retrospective Record uses information stored in the buffer to save MIDI information that has come into the computer even when in Stop mode. To activate it simply click on Transport>Retrospective Record; it then places the MIDI data onto the relevant track. A word of warning: it doesn’t work without a track being armed, so it won’t record every piece of MIDI coming in.
Extract MIDI To Add Expression To Parts
It is more and more common to double up an audio recording with a MIDI part, either to fill out the sound or to replace the original audio. Cubase 6 has expanded the functionality for this from version 5 and now includes the option to copy articulation and VST3 Note Expression data. From the VariAudio tab in the Sample Editor click on Extract MIDI and select the option to include Note Expression; when completed it includes all the dynamic variation of the original recording that can be used in a MIDI re-creation.
Add Musical Dynamics To MIDI
For those of us who spend the day playing ‘real’ instruments as well as playing with technology, it is nice to see that Cubase 6 now includes the option to allow the Piano Roll to respond to traditional musical dynamics as well as the more usual vertical blocks in the controller lane. To access this click in the controller lane dropdown menu, select Articulations/Dynamics and you can draw in dynamics at the relevant points in the music. The default setting is mf; at the top of each dynamic block there is a down arrow for selecting other dynamics markings. The settings to adjust the ratio of dynamics marking to volume data can be adjusted via the Dynamics Mapping option.
Cubase 6 has taken a huge leap forward, now including a large number of very useful MIDI plug-ins. These can be accessed from the Track Inspector on the left-hand side of the Arrange window and in the MIDI Inserts tab. Some of these are labelled a bit cryptically, but they include a very flexible arpeggiator and chord generator. These can be put to use for creating weird and wonderful musical effects. Some of the effects are of a more practical nature, such as the Quantizer, which corrects the timing of notes as they are input to tidy up timing as it happens.
When recording multiple takes of the same piece of audio, gone are the days of multiple tracks for each take – Cubase 6 enables you to keep all of the takes in one track. By setting the left and right markers and enabling Cycle playback, Cubase will save all your takes until you’re happy with the recording. To audition different takes click on Show Lanes in the track header and click on the individual takes to hear them. You can choose between different sections of the takes by using the Scissors to cut up the files and then selecting different sections from the various takes by clicking on the chunks you want.
Cubase 6 includes as part of its plug-in suite a brand-new reverb unit. This is the first time Cubase has included a full convolution reverb as a plug-in, and in my opinion some of the sounds are excellent. This can be found in Inserts>Reverb>REVerence. I have used a number of expensive reverb units and some of the sounds in REVerence are easily as good. It also includes a large number of weird and wonderful impulses, which are excellent for sound design, sound effects or giving your music a different twist.
This Hertz A Bit
Cubase 6 has increased the resolution at which it can operate, now handling audio up to 192kHz. So, if you’re doing some seriously high-end audio recording of birdsong or similar, Cubase can now handle the audio files you present to it. To access this panel click on Project>Project Setup and select the sample rate that you want. It also now processes audio at 32-bits (floating point) for increased headroom while rendering effects.
Lock/Unlock Record Mode
Have you ever been in the middle of a perfect take and then discovered that you have accidentally knocked the Stop command and lost all your work? Cubase 6 has a hidden command that you can access to prevent this from happening – it’s called Lock Record, and it enables you to assign a series of keys to prevent accidental key presses. It’s accessed from File>Key Commands: search for Lock Record, choose your desired key combination and click OK. Repeat the process for Unlock Record (they can’t be the same combination). When linked with macros (which links chains of commands together) it offers very powerful automated workflow.
For those of you who don’t know, a macro is a series of commands that are automated together to speed up processes and make workflow quicker (I have one set up to automatically lock recording and a second to unlock recording before stopping). To create a macro, click on File>Key Commands and select the Show Macros tab at the bottom. Click on New Macro and give it a name. Find the processes from the window above or use the search box, then press the Add Command button. You need to do this in the order that it should take place. Once completed the finished macros can be found and run from Edit>Macros.
Increase Grid Options
This doesn’t sound like much but Cubase 6 has increased the number of options available for the Grid in the Arrange window. The classic Bar & Beat options are there, but there’s a Use Quantize function, too. This includes assorted dotted rhythms and triplet rhythms. Used in conjunction with the creation of Groove templates (Tip No.2) it means that you can create your own quantize maps and snap the cursor to the rhythm and groove of your project.
Updates To Utilities
Cubase 6 sees Steinberg casting its eye over some of the older and lesser-known VST plug-ins in its arsenal. Some of the plug-ins that have undergone an overhaul include the Test Signal Generator, which now includes an updated skin to match the rest of Cubase plus several waveforms, noise generators and controls for them. This is great when testing rooms for acoustic treatment. The SMPTEGenerator, Tuner and the Surround Tools have all been brought into line with the house style and have had tweaks under the bonnet. A lot of users don’t fully explore these tools, but they can be enormously useful in various contexts.
In previous versions of Cubase, the MediaBay window represented an excellent way of coordinating your presets, MIDI loops and audio loops from within the software. In version 6 there has been a tweak to the indexing system, which now keeps track of additional sounds on your machine, with particular focus on working with portable drives for transferring sounds between several machines and projects. Portable discs will appear on the left of MediaBay under File System>Removable Media. Once found, press Rescan and Cubase will store the indexing information for the drive every time it’s plugged in.
Notepad Data Export
If you regularly use the Notepad feature in Cubase you will know how useful it is – it provides a place to make notes about individual tracks along with details about recording, mixing or anything you like (a digital equivalent of channel strip information on an analogue desk). In Cubase 6, Steinberg has added the option to export this data as a text file, which lists the track it came from and the Notepad data. This is useful for people collaborating on projects using different DAW software, so that mix information can quickly be shared along with the raw audio files.
Compatibility Between Versions
Cubase 6 is the first version to support compatibility between all the different editions of the software. So, if you’re collaborating with someone who is running the entry-level version of the software (Elements) your projects should work together. Obviously, the features that you have in the full version of the software won’t be available in the ‘lighter’ versions, but the majority of the project will be there. Simply save your project as normal; when it’s opened in Elements or Artist editions you will be presented with a warning message regarding any plug-ins that are missing – there’s now no need for complicated export routes like there is with some other software manufacturers.
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