Getting Started with Cubase

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Getting Started with Cubase

Postby Navron » 27 Jan 2012 10:30

I often see people say Cubase is hard to learn, and compared to other DAWs, it does seem to stick out as being radically different in its organization. For that reason, here's some very basics of Cubase that will hopefully get some people off on the right foot, as I pretty much taught myself Cubase before any other DAW.

The following tutorial is based off Cubase 5, but can apply to other versions as well, with some slight differences.

New Project and Organization
In its default state, Cubase features a large project window, which is fine at first, but as you will soon learn, ends up becoming more of an annoyance, especially with the PC bug in which the project window doesn't stay maximized when opening other windows such as the channel, mixer, and even some VST instruments. For that reason, I've arranged my workspace like this:
Let's talk about a few of these things.

Project Window:
1 To the left of the timeline, you have a gray section. This is where your tracks will go.
1.1 To add a track, simply right click on this gray area and choose what track you want to create.
1.1.1 To add a VST instrument, you can either add an Instrument Track, or host a VST instrument by going to Devices>>>VST Instruments

2 At the top of your timeline, you have 2 triangular locators (although only one is shown).
2.1 These locators set the start and end of your preview loop (when the little arrow left of the stop button is selected).
2.2 They also set the window of your exported audio, so make sure you set it to the length of your song with some extra at the end for long releases before you export your finished track.

3 To the right of the "mini-transport bar," you have all your manual tools, such as cutting, gluing/splicing, the draw pencil, and other shapes that come into use later.

4 To the right of your tools, you have the snap-to-grid, and to the right of that, your snap-to-grid options.
4.1 You can select to have your snap-to-grid based on either measures, bars, or your selected quantize.
4.1.2 If you have your quantize set to 1/16, your snap-to-grid will be based off 16th notes.

Transport Bar:
1 This is where you track controls are, along with selecting to loop your selection, turning on/off your metronome, and your tempo settings.
2 You can also turn on a virtual keyboard, set a universal tempo, and monitor your outputs for clipping.
*Picture shows a an active looping of bars 1-4.

1 Not much to say about here. It's a quick way to see the outputs of all your channels, make faster changes, and monitor your master output. Simply put, it makes your workflow faster.

*The tempo track can be accessed through Project>>>Tempo Track, and allows you to set tempo changes at various parts of the song, whether it's an instant jump (as shown), or a ramping change.
*You can also edit your time signature here.

Adding Instruments
Within Cubase, you can add a multitude of different channels. Audio, Instrument, FX, Group, MIDI, etc, by right clicking on the gray area to the left of the project timeline, or through the context menu at the top.

For this tutorial I've added a default Cubase 5 synth called Spector.
Let's look at some of the options available once you load a VST instrument.

Edit Instrument:
1 Most instruments come with a default sound, but obviously we don't want that.
2 You can bring up the instrument itself by clicking the button highlighted above called, "edit instrument."

Channel Settings:
1 Below the edit instrument button, you have a series of sub-menus, with different functions, such as inserts (inserted effects), sends (where your sound is going to), MIDI inserts (effects for MIDI information), and your channel (gain, read/write automation, etc.)

From this you can begin shaping your sounds how you want them to, through the instrument itself, various inserts, and automation.

Understanding Automation
Automation in its simplest definition, is basically telling a parameter what it's doing, and when. For example, the default automation line is volume (shown below.) You can access the automation by right clicking on the channel and selecting, "Show Automation."


To edit automation, you need to ensure you select read (R).


The green segment represent basic automation editing with the cursor that shows a fade in. The blue segment represents a more advanced form of automation editing, utilizing the sine wave draw tool. The latter is based upon your quantize settings. If you draw a sine wave segment over your automation with a quantize of 1/16, then you will have 16 waves within a single measure. On my picture, the quantize is at 1/4, so there are 8 waves over 2 measures.

Automation tracks can be attached to nearly any insert or parameter. You can edit a low pass filter in a bass synth to create a wub effect, or add an EQ and automate certain frequencies to create a sweeping effect.

To add an automation track, hover the mouse over the darker gray bar on the automation track until a + button appears. Note that clicking the - will only hide that automation. If you want to delete it, you need to select the automation track you want to delete and press delete on your keyboard.

Last edited by Navron on 14 Aug 2012 00:01, edited 3 times in total.
DAW: Cubase 6.5, Ableton Live 8
Preferred Genre: Industrial/Trance
Hardware: Schecter Diamond Series Bass, Yamaha Acoustic Guitar, BP355 Effects Pedal, Keystudio 49K Keyboard, Akai APC40, Korg nanoKEY2 25k Keyboard
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Re: Getting Started with Cubase

Postby LeafRunner » 27 Jan 2012 15:04

Awesome, looking forward to more of these. Cubase LE5 came with my Tascam interface, so I've been learning it with the little bit of time I have to use it.
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