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TUTORIAL: Cubase LE #2: How to set up, and record the audio from, a VST instrument using MIDI.

Ok, so you have a session open and are ready to use MIDI instruments. What do you do first? Well, let’s first undertsand how MIDI and virtual instruments interact.


The Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) is a standardized code that deals with communication between 2 or more musical devices. For our purposes, it is the data that generates notes. MIDI is handled in Cubase on MIDI tracks (Project > Add Track > MIDI). If you do not have a MIDI controller (such as a keyboard), you can still use it in Cubase. MIDI tracks contain a subwindow called the Key Editor, in which you are able to manually draw notes, and one called the Score Editor, in which you can draw in notes as on a musical staff. Please see chapter 19 in the Operation manual for more information.


Virtual Studio Technology instruments (VSTi’s) are software-based programs that convert MIDI information into audio. They come in a wide variety of styles, sizes, shapes, and complexity. VSTi’s primarily work by either using sample playback to generate audio, or synthesizing audio directly. For our purposes, it really doesn’t matter; we just want to hear it!

Setting up a VSTi

1. Create a MIDI track (explained above).
2. Insert a VSTi. Go to Devices > VST Instruments. Click on any one of the boxes that says “No VST Instrument.” A list of your VSTi’s will pop up.
3. Select a VSTi. You will now see the name of the VSTi where “NO VST Instrument” used to be, as well as some additional buttons. The cicular button with a line in it activates and deactivates the instrument. The “e” button opens the instrument’s editing window.
4. Open the instrument and select a sound (or a smaple, patch, program, etc.). Each instrument will be different; consult the help files associate with it for more information.

Getting Sound.

1. With a sound loaded, go to your MIDI track. Set the output to your VSTi (it will only appear as an option after the instrument is loaded). Make sure the channel is the same as on your VSTi. If you are not sure, channel 1 is a safe bet; if this doesn’t work, try “ANY.”
2. If you are using a keyboard to input MIDI data, make sure your MIDI track is record-enabled. At this point, you should be able to play your keyboard and hear your VSTi.
3. If you are using the Key or Score Editor to manually draw notes, go back to the Project window and press play. You should be able to hear your VSTi.

Recording to Audio

In the current configuration, there is no way to directly record the audio from your VSTi. What you actually need to do is export a mixdown of the MIDI rack. Here’s how:

1. Select the pencil tool from the toolbar.
2. Click once in the ruler above your tracks. A white triangle should appear. Click and drag the left half of the triangle to the beginning of what you want to export. Click and drag the right half of the triangle to the end of what you want to export. This sets the left and right margins. Your project should now be highlighted in blue.
3. Go to the “File” menu > “Export” > “Audio Mixdown…”
4. Choose a location to save you file (“Look in:”) and give it a name.
5. The other settings in the window will default to your current project settings. See page 58 of the operation manual for more information.
6. Make sure that you check the box next to “Audio Track” under the “Import to” section. Press Save when you are ready.
7. The audio will process, and you will see an additional track be created that has you audio mixdown on it.

Congratulations! Your MIDI has now become audio!

NOTICE: This tutorial is provided as a supplement to the operation manual. It contains consensed information to get you started immediately. It is NOT intended as a substitute for the manual.