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Cubase 12: Sampler Track

Steinberg Cubase Tips & Techniques By John Walden
Published January 2023

It’s worth spending some time refining the loop region if you want a natural end result from a vocal sample.It’s worth spending some time refining the loop region if you want a natural end result from a vocal sample.

Cubase’s Sampler Track is capable of making surprisingly playable backing vocals.

Not everyone can afford top‑flight vocal sample libraries, and if you all you need are some basic vowel‑style vocals parts then the Sampler Track, included in the Pro, Artist and Elements versions of Cubase 12, offers a way to roll your own. The steps involved are pretty straightforward too, so it’s easy to explore the idea, even if the parts you create will only be used as placeholders to be replaced with a singer later on.

Vowel Play

In order to create a playable vowel‑based vocal instrument, we obviously need a sample as a starting point and, to make the subsequent steps easy, two key things are worth considering when selecting or recording a suitable sample. First, ensure that you know (or can work out) the pitch of the original sample. Second, consider whether the performance you wish to create requires sustained sounds or shorter, staccato sounds (for example ‘ooooh’ and ‘oh’, respectively). If possible, pick or create a source sample that matches this style — while the Sampler Track does let you create a sustained sound from a shorter sample, for vocal samples in particular it’s not always possible to make the necessary looping sound completely seamless.

Drag & Drop

Execute the Project / Add Track / Sampler command to create a new Sampler Track. By default, this opens the (initially empty) Sampler control panel in the Project window’s Lower Zone. Then, simply drag and drop your sample into this panel. Hey presto! You now have an instrument, made of that single sample mapped across the full MIDI note range.

To get the best from it some tweaks are needed, and the first screenshot shows the settings I used for my working example; a sustained ‘dooo’ vocal sample. I’ll focus on the key settings I adjusted, but don’t let that stop you from experimenting with the other controls if you wish! I’ve also created some audio examples so you can hear what’s going on, and you can find these on the SOS website (https://sosm.ag/cubase-0123).

Within the waveform display, the first task is to adjust the sample’s start and end points, by dragging the small ‘S’ markers. If there’s a lot of unneeded material, the Toolbar’s ‘[ ]’ button can also be used to trim the sample. For smoother playback, it’s worth applying a short fade‑in/out by dragging the solid white squares associated with both S markers. Next, in the bottom‑most mini‑keyboard display, we need to check that the root note of the original sample (highlighted in blue) is set correctly to ensure the most natural‑sounding playback; you can simply drag and reposition as required.

To Loop Or Not To...

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