With the release of their series of Cubase 6 tutorial packages getting closer and closer, tutorial experts Ask Video have kindly shared some tips with us on how to get the best out of Steinberg’s new Cubase 6 software. We’d like to say a big thank you to Ask Video for doing this article and we hope you find it useful.
Tip One – Get to know your new best friend.
Cubase 6 has been re-tooled and improved with a focus on improving workflow. Things that used to take multiple steps are now only a few clicks away. From advanced drum editing features, to simpler track comping strategies, Cubase 6 has definitely succeeded in speeding things up.
The button indicated by the arrow is the new “Window Layout Setup” Button. Clicking on this button darkens the screen and reveals the selections available for what you want to see in this particular window. These used to be individual buttons on the main screen in Cubase, but now there is less clutter with less visible buttons to distract you. This button is your new best friend. As a general rule, if there is anything that you are looking for in any given window that you used to see in your old Cubase version, look for this button. It’s everywhere throughout Cubase 6 and it’s there to help you keep things organized.
Tip Two – Not the best at Playing Keyboards?
For instant inspiration, try the new trigger pads in HALion Sonic SE.
Simply right click on any pad, choose “Snapshot Chord” and tap in a few notes with the virtual keyboard. Click on the pad when you’re done, and all of the notes you just tapped in will play simultaneously!
If you’re not happy with the resulting sound, right click on the pad, choose “clear chord” and try again. You can choose what note will trigger each pad by right clicking on it and selecting “learn trigger note.”
This pad function enables you to play full chord sequences even if you’re not comfortable with keyboards, or just don’t have the dexterity to pull off some crazy chords.
Tip Three – Be alert with Track Edit Groups
Track Edit Groups save you time editing the same take over and over, because of multiple microphones placed on a single source. Most commonly this would be for recording a guitar cabinet with a couple of microphones and a DI box. You can edit the length, fade in, fade out, volume levels, just about anything and it will be cloned on the other tracks. But you have to be careful not to forget about the status of your Track Edit Group. When the highlighted equal sign (=) is orange, every move gets copied.
While this is a great feature, you need to remember to turn it off for setting part colours and part specific volume settings. Get in the habit of toggling this on or off so you don’t accidentally adjust the wrong track, and spend the rest of the day trying to figure out what went wrong.
Tip Four – Unsure about which Amp and Cabinet to choose?
Even the most seasoned guitar player can be intimidated by the incredible amount of Amp and Cabinet combinations available in the new Amp Rack system. If you don’t know which combination to choose, simply click the “Link Amplifier & Cabinet Choice” button to quickly browse through the classic pairings, as they were intended to be. The nice thing about the new Amp Rack is that no changes are permanent.
If you’re confused at all about the positional diagram on the Microphone Position page, The red dot represents where both mics would be at the same time, completeley in phase with each other. The “MIX” dial lets you set a balance between the condenser and the dynamic microphone.
Tip Five – If you plan on making more than one song in your life, get organized now!
Since the dawn of recording multi-track music, people have been confused with which track is what instrument on the mixer and how to get there quickly when changes need to be made. Any hesitation between you and the mixer would slow down your work, and block the creative flow. On analogue mixers you would often see a “Scribble Strip” to quickly guide the engineer.
One of the best lessons I ever learned from a veteran audio engineer was to follow some sort of naming convention and standard order for the tracks: Guitars are on the right side of the mixer, Drums are on the left, Vocals are always labeled VOX, Top Snare would be labeled TSN Etc. But equally important, was to organize the subgroups from left to right on the mixer, and always the same way: KICK / TSN / BSN / HATS / TOM1 / TOM2 / FTOM / OHL / OHR….etc…..
This way, no matter what project you were working on, or where you were doing it, you would be familiar with your surroundings, and be able to proceed quickly with decisions.
The same rules still apply today. With the higher track counts of modern mixes and endless mixer possibilities, it’s now more important than ever to get some sort of system going so you don’t find yourself constantly scrambling all over the screen to find a simple parameter. A great modern example of the need to keep things organized is in the new Drum Editing Deluxe feature.
Notice how the above example is way easier to look at? And it actually makes sense in the new Quantize Panel, compared to the example below…
An organized studio will never go out of style. Cubase 6 is definitely faster and easier, but even the best recording software on the best day can still benefit from good old-fashioned organizational skills.
Tip Six – To Err is Human…..To Express is Divine!
Cubase 6 has broken new ground with a feature that most of us long time MIDI users could only have dreamt about before. The all-new MIDI expression feature. You can finally apply individual controls to individual notes in a flash. You can easily apply pitch bend to single notes in a chord, or any other controller information. This feature excels with Steinberg’s HALion Symphonic Orchestra, which is available in a free demo version with Cubase 6. This is an example of a modulation event on a single note in a brass ensemble.
Notice the off time notes? they can be real gems in a Virtual Orchestra.
While Perfection is the ultimater goal of any musician, sometimes we get carried away with the incredible power we have in the modern world to correct a performance. If every part in a virtual orchestra was hard quantised, the result, no matter how amazing the sounds are, will come across as fake or robotic sounding. Leaving a few subtle timing errors gives a humanity to the performance and makes it seem like more people are playing, not just one robot.
If you want to see multiple note expressions at once, just “Shift Select” the desired parts and double click. You can now apply a change that will affect all of the selected expressions.
If you’re new to Note Expression and are worried about making a change and forgetting about if, where and when it was made, the expressions are also represented on the arranger page as classic Cubase MIDI controller data.
This article could go on forever explaining the amazing new features in Cubase 6, but that would put me out of a job. Stay tuned to ASK Video for the latest installment in the Cubase Tutorial Series. Until then, Keep Tracking! -JP