6 Advanced Tips for Working with VST Instruments in Cubase

Steinberg were behind the original VST format, so it makes sense that Cubase has some nifty features when it comes to working with VST Instruments. Hollin Jones highlights 6 of the them.  

Tip 1: Show Racks

Choosing Devices > VST Instruments still calls up a floating window, but if you click on the show/hide button at the top left of the project window, you can choose to show Racks. Activating this option shows a tabbed section over to the right of the main window that has sections for VST Instruments and also for MediaBay. This can be made slightly narrower or wider, though not by a great amount. Still, it’s nice to have permanently there if you are working with instruments a lot.


Tip 2: I/O selectors

Either of the two views of the VST Instrument window shows you input and output selectors for each instrument. Many are simply stereo but some have multiple outputs that can be activated. In this example, Kontakt 5’s 16-out version can have up to 16 separate channels run into Cubase’s mixer. This is great for processing and mixing different sounds from inside a Kontakt or other instrument individually in Cubase for greater flexibility.


Tip 3: Follow Track Selection

By using the arrow keys in a project you can move up and down between the various tracks. By clicking on the options button at the top right corner of the VST Instrument section you can choose how VSTi tracks respond to this. The most useful options to activate are the second two, to make focus follow track selection. This means that as you move up and down a project the relevant VSTi slot will be selected and its quick controls revealed, meaning less clicking is necessary on your part.


Tip 4: The Plug-In Manager

Select Devices > Plug-In Manager and you can not only set up specific folders of plug-ins but also see the specifications of any installed plug-in by using the Info box at the bottom. This includes information like how many sidechain inputs it has, its I/O capacity and where it actually lives on your hard drive. If you click the settings gear icon at the bottom left you can manage VST plug-in locations: see where your instruments live and also specify other folders for Cubase to search.


Tip 5: A/B settings

At the top of any VST instrument’s floating GUI window are some common controls that Cubase provides for you. A couple that are small but important are just to the right of the automation read/write commands. The AB button lets you flip between two different setups for any plug-in, independently of the plug-in’s own settings. This is great for quickly comparing two different sounds for a track without having to keep loading and replacing sounds. The button next to this is a copy button that lets you quickly copy settings from one slot to another.


Tip 6: Generic Editor

Plug-ins are developed to adhere to a standard: either VST 2.4 or VST3. This means that they must obey certain rules. If you click on the options menu at the top right of any VSTi window you will see a bunch of options to control its setup and behaviour. At the bottom you can choose to switch to a Generic Editor, which does away with the GUI and just shows you the various settings as simple sliders. This can be useful in some circumstances, such as saving space. You can always switch back by selecting Switch to Plug-In Editor.


Learn more Cubase tips and tricks HERE.

Hollin Jones was classically trained as a piano player but found the lure of blues and jazz too much to resist. Graduating from bands to composition then production, he relishes the chance to play anything with keys. A sometime lecturer in videographics, music production and photography post production, Hollin has been a freelance w... Read More


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