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Cubase VST Plug-in Management
Getting started with Cubase plug-ins
In this guide, we will show you how to work with VST plug-ins and virtual instruments within Cubase. You’ll learn how to scan VST plug-ins in Cubase, as well as loading it onto a track. We’ll also provide you with some tips and tricks along the way. Follow each of the sections below to get started with your Cubase plugins.
- Scanning new VST plug-ins
- Sorting and creating Cubase plug-in collections
- Loading Cubase plug-ins on a track
- Troubleshooting plug-in issues
How to scan VST plug-ins in Cubase
When you launch Cubase, it will scan any installed VST plug-ins from its default VST plug-in paths. If you installed a plug-in or virtual instrument to a custom folder, however, you first need to add that path within the VST Plug-in Manager for it to be scanned. Follow these steps to add a plug-in for use within Cubase.
- Navigate to the Studio menu and click VST Plug-in Manager.
- Click the cog icon located on the bottom left of the window, and then click the + icon.
- Select the folder where the plug-in(s) are installed, and click Select Folder.
- Click the Refresh icon located next to the Search bar to begin scanning.
- Depending on how many Cubase plug-ins are being added, it may take some time for the plug-ins to be scanned.
Sorting and creating Cubase plugin collections
Sorting and creating Cubase plugin collections are all done through the VST Plug-in Manager. You can sort VST plugins by vendor or category (EQ’s, delays, etc.) and also create custom collections, which is particularly useful when you only use certain plugins for different projects. Follow these steps to sort Cubase plugins.
Sort by vendor or category
- Navigate to the Studio menu and click VST Plug-in Manager.
- Click the Down arrow on the right side of the window, and select either Sort by Category or Sort by Vendor. The changes will automatically update within your project.
Create a plug-in collection
- In VST Plug-in Manager, click the + sign on the right side of the window, select Empty, and then name the collection. Alternatively, click the Down arrow, navigate to New Collection, and select Empty.
- Drag the plugins you wish to add from the VST Effects or VST Instruments list to the collection.
- To switch between collections, click the Down arrow and click the name of the collection.
How to Manage Plug-ins in Steinberg Cubase
Loading Cubase plug-ins on a track
Loading a Cubase plugin on a track is straightforward. Each audio and instrument track can have 16 plugins each. You cannot insert plugins on MIDI tracks, however. Remember that the signal flows from top to bottom, so the order you choose will have a direct impact on the processed signal.
- Open the Mix Console window, and select the track you want to add a plugin on.
- Click the Inserts bar to expand it, click an empty slot, and then select the plugin.
- You can also load plugins via the Track Inspector by selecting the track, and clicking Insert.
Pre-fader and post-fader inserts
With the Inserts section expanded within the Track Inspector, Any VST plug-in above the green line will be pre-fader, and anything after will be post-fader. You can change the number of Cubase VST plug-ins that are pre and post-fader by dragging the bright green line. Placing time-based effects such as reverb or delay, as well as frequency analyzers or dithering in the post-fader slot is preferred as the level of the audio won’t affect the level of the plug-in.
Loading a plug-in onto a track.
Arranging Cubase plug-ins
Since the order of plug-ins will affect the processed signal, you may need to rearrange them to ensure you get the best sound. In order to rearrange Cubase plug-ins, all you need to do is click and drag the VST plug-in to the preferred slot, and it will automatically move while retaining the same settings. You can also drag a Cubase VST plug-in to another track, or if you hold the Alt key on your keyboard and drag the Cubase plug-in, it will create a copy.
FX Chain presets
FX Chain presets allow you to save and load a custom group of VST plug-ins on the fly. This is very useful in situations where you need to recall plug-ins from one session and add them to another without having to add every plug-in individually again. The factory presets are a great starting point, but you can also create custom presets tailored for your mixing workflow. Follow these steps to create an FX Chain preset in Cubase.
- Add Cubase VST plug-ins you wish to use on your track in the Mix Console window.
- Hover over the Inserts tab, and click the box icon that appears.
- Select Load Preset, Save Preset, or From Track Preset.
Troubleshooting Cubase plug-in issues
There may be a time where you run into an error when launching Cubase, or when you attempt to use a Cubase VST plug-in on a track. It could be due to a number of reasons, from incompatibility, an iLok not being plugged in, or even running an outdated version. Here are a few troubleshooting steps you can take to get Cubase plug-ins working again.
Check the performance meter
If you hear pops, clicks, or poor audio quality, the latency may be too low. Check the Channel Latency meter to see how much processing power the plug-in is using in real-time. Remember, inserting more plug-ins will use up more CPU.
- In MixConsole, the Setup Window Layout icon on the top right of the screen, and click Channel Latency. A new bar will appear above the faders.
- Take note of the channel’s ms (Milliseconds), and then bypass the plug-in.
Optimizing plug-in performance
While it may be tempting to load a lot of Cubase plug-ins onto each track, that can bog down your system and slow down your workflow. Here are a few optimization tips that can help you along the way:
- If you’re using the same effect on multiple tracks, such as reverb on multiple drum tracks, Create a Group track and add one instance of the Cubase VST plug-in.
- Use the Direct Offline Processing feature if working with clips. This keeps the input channel free of plug-ins and doesn’t destroy the source audio.
- If there are multiple virtual instruments being used, temporarily freeze them. It renders the instrument to an audio file and disables the virtual instrument. While an instrument track is frozen, you will not be able to edit any MIDI controls, however.
How to Do Offline Processing in Cubase
Most VST2 and all 32bit plug-ins are no longer compatible with the latest version of Cubase, so the first place to check if Cubase plug-in isn’t showing up is the VST Blacklist. This tab shows any Cubase VST plug-in that has been scanned and removed from the VST Effects and Instruments lists. You can remove them from the Blacklist, however, they may cause crashes or performance issues.
- Go to Studio and then click VST Plug-in Manager.
- Click the Blacklist tab, and see if your VST plug-in is listed. If so, select the plug-in and then click Reactivate in the Plug-in Information box.
iLok licensed plug-ins
VST plug-ins whose licenses reside on an iLok USB key will get sent to the VST Blacklist if the key wasn’t plugged in and the initial activation window was skipped.
Launch Safe Start mode
If you’re receiving an error or if Cubase is crashing, it may be caused by a VST plug-in. To fix this, you’ll want to enter Safe Start mode which refreshes Cubase preferences. Depending on which mode you select, it will temporarily or permanently bring Cubase back to its factory settings.
- Hold Ctrl+Shift+Alt (PC) or Cmd+Shift+Alt (PC) and launch Cubase.
- Click Disable program preferences to temporarily reset the Cubase preferences or Delete program preferences to reset them completely.
Automation for Third-Party VST Plug-ins
What is a Send Effect and How to Use It
Remembering What Plug-ins You Have
How to Record Audio and MIDI from VST Instruments in Cubase
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