Audio Production Tips & Tricks
This page / blog will contain a collection of tips & tricks for audio production with a strong emphasis on my main tools (Steinberg Cubase/Nuendo, Vienna Ensemble Pro, Steinberg Wavelab and VST instrument and effect plugins). This page is not meant for absolute beginners (there are a lot of other good pages out there that can teach you the basics), but more of a personal account of techniques I use to make my daily life with Cubase & Co. easier. I recently started to post about Cubase tips & tricks on my Twitter account and will continue to tweet there, but this page allows me to archive everything in one spot and also go into more detail. I encourage you to follow my Twitter account and/or subscribe to this page with this handy rss feed.
Cubase (PC Windows) Trick #3: If you want to assign a new output (like a group channel for example) to multiple tracks at the same time, just highlight them together (with Ctrl or Shift, in typical Windows fashion); then hold down shift when selecting a new output in the track inspector. This also works for midi tracks (assigning a different midi output or VST Instrument to multiple tracks).
Did you know that you can split the track list in the main Cubase Arrange Window into 2 horizontal sections? There is a small icon directly left of the timeline that can enable/disable this feature (shown in the screenshot below in the yellow circle).
I use it to place certain tracks in the upper part like a Video track for example (or a Marker track, Time signature track, Tempo track etc.). That way, I can keep them always visible while scrolling through my midi and audio tracks in the lower half.
I usually also move the VSTi and Effect tracks in there, but below the tracks I always want to see – then just drag the divider (green area in screenshot) to your desired position to hide the tracks you don’t need to see.
To move tracks between the 2 sections, select “Toggle Track List” from the track context menu (red area in screenshot).
Cubase Trick #1 Use midi send slots without actually loading a midi plugin to build layered sounds playing up to 5 VSTi’s from one track. Just select a midi output (can be a VSTi or hardware midi out) for any of the 4 slots and enable them. Of course you can load a midi plugin if you want to manipulate the midi (like the “MIDI Modifiers” plugin if you want to transpose the output for example).
Trick #1 addendum: Another way to create layered sounds is to use folder tracks. However there are pros and cons to each option:
A positive for the folder tracks is, that you can have as many tracks as you want and each track has their own track controls (I use transpose often for layered sounds), but it adds a bit of clutter (lot’s of tracks and each one has their own parts recorded, so when you have to edit the notes, you need to edit all parts or create shared copies by hand).
With the other technique (using the midi sends) you only have to deal with one part, so it’s easier to edit and removes clutter, but there is a small bug in Cubase that mutes the sends when using solo, so in solo mode you’ll only hear the main VSTi/midi output.
My favorite keyboard shortcut in the main arrange window is “p”, which sets the left/right locators (cycle) to the current selection. No more fiddling around in the timeline, just select one or a few parts that you want to cycle and press “p” (if you don’t have a part yet, just create one with the pencil tool).
Also, my second favorite keyboard shortcut is “l” (lower case “L”), which locates (the play position) to the beginning of a selection. It’s very easy to hop around in an arrangement that way.