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cubase, channels

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cubase, channels

Postby PeterP » Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:48 pm

Hi, new user plodding up the v.steep learning curve of cubase (no help or support from Steinberg - they do like to keep their users in the dark!)
A simple request (?) - could someone tell me in plain english what a channel is? Is it basically a signal path? Are channels in a DAW like cubase generic or are they specialised i.e. they are audio or midi or fx channels?
Essentially a basic overview of channels, what they are, what they do, etc would be so useful, kind regards Pete
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Re: cubase, channels

Postby Matt Houghton » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:51 pm

Hi Pete, and welcome to the wonderful world of Cubase.

Starting any new DAW can be a lot to get your head around, so you're really not alone. Though there is a fairly detailed manual, and they have a lot of getting started videos online too.

Anyway, to answer your question... Well, it's quite a general question, so I can't be sure I'm hitting the right spot with this answer. Feel free to refine the question if I'm wide of the mark.

There are two terms that get used almost interchangeably — 'track' and 'channel'. If you're thinking in terms of mixer 'channels' Cubase generally uses the term 'track', since each of these tracks can have more than one channel (eg, a left and right channel on a stereo track).

Unlike, say, Reaper, which just has generic tracks which can be used for any purpose, each Track in Cubase is a dedicated type, intended for certain purposes. And once chosen, the Track type can't be changed. So if you create an Audio Track, you can't play MIDI on it (well, you can generate MIDI from an audio part, but I digress). And if you create a MIDI track, it can't handle audio... etc.

For playing instruments, you have the choice of creating a dedicated Instrument Track, which combines both the MIDI used to trigger the instrument, and the audio that the instrument plays. Or you can create a MIDI track to trigger the instrument, and use that as the source for a 'Rack Instrument'. The latter is the way Cubase used to do things before Instrument Tracks came along, and some of us still prefer using them... it's akin to how you'd set things up in a hardware studio.

For audio, you must choose when creating the Audio Track whether you want a mono, stereo or surround track. You can't change that after the fact (which is somewhat stoopid IMHO, but it is what it is). Audio Tracks can be routed either directly or via sends to Group Tracks, FX Tracks and/or Outputs (such as the default Stereo Out master bus). In reality there's very little if any difference between Group and FX Tracks... if there is any, I think it's mostly historical and cosmetic (eg you can colour-code the faders of all FX Tracks and Group Tracks differently in the MixConsole).

On all these Tracks, you have a sort of channel strip, akin to what an analogue console would give you. So every Track will have routing options (you select any input source and output destination for the Track ), some sort of insert points for FX, and certain other sections, which depend on the type to Track it is. Eg MIDI Tracks can't offer you VST audio plug-ins, and audio tracks can't use MIDI plug-ins. But an Instrument Track will offer sections for both, since they're both relevant... The easy way to check out what's available is to create every tpe of track in the Project page and use the Inspector panel on the left-hand side to view what's available.

Does that help at all?!
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Re: cubase, channels

Postby PeterP » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:25 am

Thank you Matt, yes that was very helpful. Am I correct then in the assumption that - at least for the moment - I may regard 'Tracks' and 'Channels' as much the same entity?
I am very surprised - given the longevity of Cubase - at the dearth of 3rd party help books - searched fairly widely and found virtually none, do you have any knowledge of such?
Thanks again for the help, kind regards Pete
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Re: cubase, channels

Postby Kwackman » Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:55 am

PeterP wrote:I am very surprised - given the longevity of Cubase - at the dearth of 3rd party help books -

The problem with anyone wanting to sell a book is that by the time it's published there'll probably be a new version, and after a very few years it'll be very out of date.
I had a look on Amazon and searched for Cubase in "books", and there are several there.

As Matt pointed out, there's any amount of video tutorials that might help you though.
For example....
https://www.macprovideo.com/tutorials/c ... pplication
Even here, the latest tutorials are "what's new in this version" type videos, but they do have previous versions with more substantial info.

There's always the Cubase owners manual, which you can download, which might be long, but there's good search features etc.
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Re: cubase, channels

Postby Matt Houghton » Wed Jul 18, 2018 2:00 pm

Yes, I started writing a Cubase book several years back, but by the time I was half way through I had to re-do all the screen captures and accommodate all the new features that neatly fixed the problems to which I'd invented workarounds :headbang: So I parked the idea.

Yes also to using Tracks and Channels interchangeably *most* of the time.

Think of it like tracks on a tape machine or hard disk recorder, and channels on a mixing console.

The only real places you come unstuck are when you're talking about channels within a track. Eg soloing/muting the left channel of a stereo Track. That's very definitely a channel and not a track! Or, say, when you want MIDI Track 1 to filter out all MIDI Channels except 10.

Hence I tend to use the word Track rather than Channel, unless I specifically mean channel...
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