Cubase #01: The Cubase Interface

Last few weeks I have not gotten around to actually recording and experimenting much, but lets try to pick it up again this week and hopefully we can hear some recording in some time from now. In the meantime, we will have a look at the Cubase User Interface. We’ll go through some of the basic windows and concepts of the program for basic recording and mixing.

So let’s open up Cubase!

Let’s have a look at a dual monitor view of Cubase, where we’ve got the main window and mixer open.

Main and Mixer
Main and Mixer

On the left we see the main window and on the right we see the mixer. In the main window, we see the following stuff:

Menus: Cubase Menus and Controls

The main menu contains all the settings, controls and options like you would see in many other computer programs. Ranging from file operations (save, export, etc) to MIDI, Transport and Devices setup and even more. We will not go too in depth this time, but we will pick some of those items later on to cover more on. There are also several buttons just below the top menu. There are buttons for channel controls (mute, solo, record & write automation), transport control (markers, cycle, stop, play, record), selection (select, split, cut, playback, etc), grid options and quantization (I still have to dive into quantization to see what it is actually used for).

Tracks:Cubase Tracks

Here we can see some tracks that have been added to this project. At the left, you haveseveral controls per track (depending on the type of track, MIDI tracks have some different controls): mute, solo, record, monitor, channel settings, mono/stereo indication, read/wrte automation. The monitor option is a very useful mode, where you can hear the input from your track over your transport. In this case, we would be able to hear the guitar over the monitor speakers when we click the monitor button. The sound that you will hear includes all the effects and post processing, so this is great to checkout some effects before you start recording. Also, it is useful to know if there is any sound coming in at all ;). Apart from the controls, you can also rename the tracks and pick a color for them.

Inspector: Cubase Inspector

The inspector is used to directly give you control and insight on a track. It gives you the basic track settings like volume, pan and time delay. Also, you can see the input and output busses here. Busses in Cubase are used to create inputs and outputs to route signals to or from. In this case, my FastTrack audio interface input 1 is used for the Mic 1 input bus. This input bus is selected for the Guitar Bridge track, so the input of my audio interface is now routed to this channel, where I can record the input and apply effects to it. The output bus is a stereo output bus connected to my stereo output on the audio interface, which are in turn connected to my 2 monitor speakers. Now we have the full loop from microphone to speakers available!

Music Controls: Cubase Music ControlsThe last thing that we will discuss in the main window is the music control window. It is actually a separate window which you can drag around to any place you like, but I like it where it is now. This window has everything you need with regards to music control and information. Starting from the left we see some recording settings: what happens when you press the record button, what happens when you keep recording when the cycle is turned on and the MIDI recording settings. Then you have the left and right controls. If you look back to the Tracks section of the main window, you can see that a section is highlighted from 6 to 18. Currently, the Cycle (purple button) mode is on, so when the playback or recording reaches the right indicator (18) it starts automatically loops to the left indicator (6). The center sections give you current cursor location (where your playback is at the moment) and some playback and record controls. The last control section contains metronome, tempo and sync settings. The last few empty bars show you the MIDI and output audio levels.

MixConsole: Cubase MixConsole

Last but not least, we have the MixConsole. This is a separate window which I like to have on my second monitor so I have one big overview of all my tracks and mixer at the same time. The mixer is used for setting the volume of both individual tracks and the output. Volume control is important to make sure you do not clip your signal. Essentially this means that you configure the input not to be too loud, because it will destort and disform if you do so. You can also configure FX channels and sends in this window.

So, I hope this post has been somewhat readable and informative on how Cubase looks like and some basic controls. This piece of software is so big, that there will definitely be more to come!

Stay in tune!

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