How To Record With Cubase SX. Not For Beginners

author: Death-Reaper date: 10/14/2008 category: songwriting & lyrics
rating: 9 / votes: 3 
So you wanna know how to record or edit a song? Well it's not very easy. At first, you'll need a good program for recording, there are many suiting programs, but I'll tell you how to do it with Cubase SX.

Recording Audio

One of the most fundamental functions of Cubase SX is recording audio. You can record multiple Tracks at the same time in CubaseSX with ease. To do so, simply ensure that each Track to be recorded is assigned its own input channel, record enable the Tracks, and press record. Providing the signals have been correctly routed to Cubase SX's inputs, and that the audio levels received are sufficient to be usefully recorded, then you are done. Next chapter... Recording in CubaseSX is usually straightforward. Most of the work required is in the preparation of your set-up; ensuring that it is flexible enough to enable you to record what you want, when you want to without having to re-cable your studio each and every time. So, once you have nailed down the basic functions, take some time-out to consider your set-up.

Audio Set-up: Inputs

Audio inputs are activated and deactivate from the VST Inputs [F5] window. Inputs are routed to Tracks, and their associated Channels, via the in : field in the Inspector, or in the dropdowns at the top of the Channel Strip in the Track Mixer or Channels Settings. An audio Track is always associated with an input (there is no Not Connected option). The VST Inputs window will mirror the ports available on the soundcard you selected on Devices/Device Set-up/VST Multi-Track tab ASIO Driver. Note You can rename input audio ports in the right-hand Label column of VST Inputs [F5]. Be careful when switching off an input port, as CubaseSX will need to re-map any Channels that use the port being switched off. You will be warned should you try to do this.

Levels and Inputs

Incoming signals are recorded at the level they are received. There is no opportunity, while recording, to apply gain or attenuation to the incoming signal within Cubase SX. Setting the input level must be performed outside of Cubase SX, and this is usually achieved via trim controls on a mixing desk, although some soundcards do have level adjustment features in their supplied software. To check an input level, activate the Monitor button for the Track. This switches the visual level indicator from showing the output (playback) level, to showing the input level. Now adjust the level of the incoming source signal to an appropriate level for recording. It is important that the signal does not clip (that is, exceed 0dB FS). When this occurs the result is usually very audible, and very ugly. The only way you can safely check this is to check the numerical value above the fader in the Track Mixer. If this is negative, then you are clipping the input and you should reduce your input level for that channel. Best practice, in general, is to get as strong an input signal to tape as possible. That said, it Is better to get a take that is useable than one that is not, so ensuring a safety margin of a few dB (say-3 to -6dB) is important when recording. (An engineer's worst nightmare is ruining a great take, so make maximum use of the dB you have available). On the other hand, be careful not to record too low a signal level, since when you later have to apply gain, you will raise the noise-floor with it, and you may introduce artefacts into the audio stream that are undesirable.

Recording Set-Up

The process of recording in Cubase SX will create an audio file. The file will be placed in the Audio folder in the Project Folder; a Clip for the audio file will be placed in the Pool; and an Event for the Clip will be created on the Event Display. The format of the recorded file is determined by settings in Project/Project Set-up [SHIFT+S] (Sample Rate, Record Format and Record File Type). Three file types are available: Broadcast Wave, Wave, and AIFF. A note on Broadcast Wave Files Broadcast Wave files contain embedded text information. The most useful of these is that the Origin Time is stored along with the audio. This information is extremely useful when moving files between different systems, and the precise start time is required. Along with Origin Time, the Date and Time of the recording is embedded. In addition text information can be embedded within each recording. These fields (Description, Author, and Reference) can be setup in the Preferences/Audio/Broadcast Wave tab. These data can be viewed by clicking on the Info entry for an audio file in the Pool.

TrueTape

TrueTape applies distortion to the input signal, that Steinberg claim emulates the behavior of a professional analog tape recorder. However, there aren't any alignment controls. Ain't marketing a beautiful thing? TrueTape is an operation that can only be performed when you record. It is a little mystifying why this process can't be done later, but you can't, so you're committed to applying a input effect without the option to remove it later. You switch it on via Devices/TrueTape [No Default], make sure your Project Set-up [SHIFT+S] is set to record 32-bit files, and then record as normal.

Recording a new Audio Track

This is a list of the minimum you need to do to record a new audio Track. You may well require an audio or MIDI guide-track if this is the first Track of the Project (or use the metronome, of course).
  • Add a new Track via Project/Add Track/Audio [No Default]
  • Choose mono or stereo for the Track
  • Assign the appropriate input port to the Track via the Inspector
  • Activate appropriate monitoring and check the input level
  • Record enable the Track
  • Position the Project Cursor ready for recording (with sufficient lead-in).
  • Start record via Transport [Pad ]
  • Press Stop [Space or Pad 0] when done

    Recording Onto A Track Containing Audio Events

    When you record on a Track that already contains audio Events, then any new Event, that coincides with existing Events, will be placed on top of the existing Event(s). Only the Event on top will be heard on playback. (If you have Auto Fades switched on for the Track, this can be a perfectly adequate, and simple, way of editing Track.) Note that when Events overlap, the overlapping area will be darker. A stack of overlapping Events can be reordered by selecting an Event and using Edit/(Move to) Front [No Default] and Edit/(Move to) Back [No Default]. When you undo a recording the following occurs: the Event is removed from the Event Display; the Clip is moved to the Trash in the Pool, but the audio file on disk is not deleted. You can, however, remove these files at any time via Pool/Empty Trash [No Default]. If these files are still available in the Trash when you close the Project (or Cubase SX) then you will be asked whether you wish to keep or to delete them. (A similar message will also be displayed during a File/Project close [CTRL+W] if you have imported audio files, and not saved the Project since their import.)

    Punch-in And Punch-out

    A punch in, together with its opposite punch out, is the process of dropping in and out of record mode. This process is a fundamental process in analogue tape recording, and the same result can be achieved in other ways in the digital studio (e.g. record to another Track and edit the results). Nevertheless, punching in can still be useful and fast. Remember that when you record on top of an existing Event you are not overwriting the original Event, so you lose nothing by punching in. The three buttons to the left of the Transport are, from left to right:
  • Punch-in [I]
  • Cycle [Pad /]
  • Punch-out [O]
  • The Punch-in button will initiate recording, on any armed Tracks, when the Cursor is in Play mode and crosses the Left Locator. The Punch-in button is automatically switched off when the Transport is stopped provided Preferences/Transport tab Deactivate Punch-in on Stop is checked.
  • The Punch-out button only has affect when in record mode. It will stop recording at the Right Locator. It will also stop playback at the Right Locator provided Preferences/Transport tab Stop after Automatic Punch-out is checked (any Post Roll value that has been set will still take place).
  • Since the Punch-in and Punch-out buttons work in situations where you are not strictly punching in, you might like to think of them as the start recording from Left Locator and stop record at Right Locator buttons. That said, for the former, you could always use Transport/Start Record at Left Locator [No Default] toggle to force this to happen whenever you hit record.

    Punching In: Manually

    To manually punch in:
  • Record enable the appropriate Track
  • Switch off the Punch-in button
  • If you wish, set the Punch-out button and Right Locator
  • Start playback before the desired punch-in point
  • Hit Record at the appropriate point

    Punching In: Automatically

    This is a hands-free punch operation and makes use of the Punch-in and Punchout buttons.
  • Set the Left Locator to the punch-in point
  • Activate Punch In [I]
  • Start playback before the Left Locator.
  • When the Project Cursor reaches the Left Locator, recording is automatically activated.

    Cycle Recording (and Playback)

    For a variety of reasons, loop (or cycle) playback is an extremely useful and much-used feature of sequencers. For instance, looping playback is useful for repeatedly rehearsing a section of a song, while cycle recording is useful for capturing multiple takes of the same section for editing, capturing that perfect take, or building a cache of takes for comp'ing. To loop playback:
  • Set the Left and Right Locators
  • Activate Cycle [Pad /]
  • Position the Cursor at the Left Locator [Pad 1]
  • Start Playback [SPACE or Pad 0] To Record in Cycle mode, the process is essentially the same as for playback. However, note that you can start recording from anywhere before the Right Locator for the loop to have effect. When the Cursor reaches the Right Locator it will seamlessly reappear at the Left Locator and continue recording.

    Results of Cycle Recording: Audio

    Cycle recording in CubaseSX is a powerful tool, and a big time saver, once you are conversant with it. Read on. There are three modes available when recording with Cycle switched on, determined by Preferences/Audio tab Cycle Record Mode. The options are: (a) Create Regions, (b) Create Events, (c) Create Events and Regions.

    Create Regions

    In this mode, as you cycle record, a single continuous audio file is created on disk. While recording, the Event will show which cycle (or take) is currently being recorded.

    Cycle recording

    When playback stops, the last incomplete cycle is discarded as a Region (but can be accessed via the Clip, if required), and the last complete cycle recorded is placed in the Event on the Track. If you examine the Clip in the Pool, you will see the Regions created for each cycle. Note the extra bit of audio in the Clip representing the last incomplete cycle. This portion invariably ends up containing the best ad libs of a session, so it's great that CubaseSX keeps it available.

    Regions in Browser

    When using Regions, if you do Audio/Events to Part [No Default] on the result then you will be asked whether you want to Create part using regions? If you select No, then the Part will only contain a single Event of the most recent take. If you select Regions, then Events are created for each take, and each one is placed on a separate Lane in the Part editor. (Note that if you have an Event outside the Cycle resulting from the recording, then you must deselect this before doing Audio/Events to Part [No Default].)

    Using the Regions from Cycle Record

    This next bit is quite clever,so pay attention, okay? Selecting a Region for an Event If you now right-click on the Event, you will find, right at the top of the quickmenu, the Set to Region sub-menu, which allows you to select a Region for the Event. This gives you quick and easy access to all the takes right after recording. Create Events In exactly the same way as for Create Regions, when using Create Events during cycle record, a single continuous audio file is created on disk. While recording, the Event will show which cycle (or take) is currently being recorded. When playback stops, you will find that all the completed cycles are stacked one on top of the other as a pile of Events, with the most recent cycle on top. If you examine the Clip in the Pool, you will see the simple single entry of the recorded audio file. Using the Events from Cycle Record If you right-click on the Event you will find a sub-menu allowing you to quickly select an Event and bring it to the front. This gives you quick access to all the takes after completing recording. Moving an Event to the Front. Create Events+Regions As you would expect, you get both of the above. This is useful, since it allows you to immediately work on all the Events, which you may wish to do when combining them into a Part for comp'ing (see page 183), but it also allows you to recreate the original takes at a later date (from the Regions), should you need to.

    The Audio Part Editor

    Audio Parts are containers for audio Events. (The term Parts will be used for the remainder of this section, since the difference with MIDI Parts should be apparent.) A Part is a collection of Events. However, rather than simply being a collection of Events end-to-end (perhaps with crossfades in between) the Events can be managed in Lanes (where the bottommost Lane will always be the one heard for the Track). Event manipulation available elsewhere in Cubase SX, is also available in the Part Editor; double-clicking an Event will open the Sample Editor; rightclicking an Event will open the quick menu, etc. The Tools and controls are very similar to those available in the Event Display, although Glue and Draw tools are absent. Zooming, and Event selection are very similar to those in the Event Display. You can open multiple Parts. The Parts can be on the same Track, or on different Tracks, or both. All Parts will appear in the same Part Editor window. In fact, even if there is an Event between two Parts, the Part Editor will recognize this, and leave a gap where the intervening Event lies. Clever stuff. Not so clever, is the fact that each Event will retain its Lane from its Part. Thus, when opening Parts on multiple Tracks, you often end up with lot of Events all on one Lane. This may, or may not, affect you depending on how you work. The Part Editor has independent Auto-scroll, Snap, Snap mode, Quantize, and Ruler settings. A major use of Parts is for comp'ing (most commonly vocals) when combined with Cycle Recording. There are features available to Parts that make them ideal for this purpose. These features make Parts extremely useful for manipulating and editing a potentially complex audio Track, or section of a Track.

    Playback in the Part Editor

    The Project Cursor is unaffected by the Play and Loop operations, which snaps back to its original location when play stops. If the Project Cursor is outside the bounds of the Part, then play will start at the beginning of the Part. The Part Editor includes a Solo button to isolate playback to the Track on which the Part is located. The Play button will playback selected Events (or Range Selection). If no Event (or Range Selection) is selected, then either the whole Part is played, or play starts from the position of the Project Cursor depending on the location of the Project Cursor. The Speaker and Scrub tools can also be used for auditioning. (Speaker tool output is routed to the Master Bus.) The Speaker Tool plays the Event underneath it. It plays from the point selected, except when CTRL is held, when it plays from the start of the Event under the icon. Muted Events will play.

    Creating a Part

    The simplest way to create a Part is to select one or more Events on a Track and perform Audio/Events to Part [No Default]. The Part will be selected after this action, so by hitting ENTER you will open the Part Editor. You can also create a Part in the following ways:
  • Use the Draw tool on an audio Track (or ALT+Select tool)
  • Use the Glue tool on two or more Events (or two Parts)
  • Double-click between the locators on an audio Track

    Editing a Part

    It is possible to slip the contents of a Part without opening the Part Editor (in the same way that you can slip the content of an audio Event). This is done by holding CTRL+ALT and dragging the contents of the Part on the Event Display. The Part will retain its location, and all Events in all Lanes will be shifted by the same amount. Snap, if active, is ignored. Increasing the offset will move Events later in the Part, and vice versa. This method can be used to precisely locate audio Events that have already been aligned with each other. This only applies to a single Track. You can slide multiple Parts, and Parts on different Tracks. Take care when making multiple selections, if you include an Event in the selection, then its Snap Point will be moved. When slipping, it is permissible to slip Events right out of the Part; in which case they will no longer be audible and you will have to resize the Part to hear them. Events can be added to a Part simply by dragging them into the Part Editor from the Pool (a shared copy is created), Browser or Event Display. Remove Events by selecting them and using DEL.

    Lanes

    One of the major benefits of using audio Parts is the Lanes feature. You create a new Lane by dragging an Event, or Range Selection, into the available empty space. Horizontal movement can be restricted when moving (or creating) an Event by holding CTRL, and a shared copy created by holding ALT. The up and down cursor keys will move a selected Event between Lanes while retaining its start position. The left and right cursor keys will move the selection between Events from the same Part, although the order is not always obvious. The bottommost Event has playback priority, irrespective of which Lane it is on. (If Events are stacked on top of each other in a Lane then the topmost Event has priority on that Lane.) When a Part has multiple Lanes where Events overlap, it is likely that you will need to apply crossfades across Lanes. This can be achieved by using the Auto Fades. However, once you have settled on a Part's final set-up, you may well wish to apply crossfades manually, and this can be achieved by selecting all Events requiring a crossfade and using Audio/Crossfade [X].

    Comp'ing

    Comp'ing is the process of compiling a section of audio from a number of takes. It is frequently used on vocal Tracks. This is often accomplished in tandem with cycle recording of the particular take, so that there are a number of versions of the-same-audio-but-different to work with. The intention is to create a composite take that is better than any of the individual takes. Let's not get into the artistic or creative merits of this, or indeed the issues regarding performance when applying this process. Here's how to go about comp'ing in SX. It is not a requirement to use Cycle Record for comp'ing, it is simply another tool in the armory that can be used to assist. The Part to be comp'd can be compiled from any audio Events. (It is technically possible to comp using Events stacked on top of each other, but this is quite fiddly; it is also easier to disturb the Events when left on the Event Display. By comp'ing within a Part, the Events are securely tucked away.) Upgrade to CubaseSX2 Complete 184 Chapter 14 Audio: Recording and Editing When you record in Cycle mode you must make the choice between creating a Region, an Event, or both a Region and an Event for each completed cycle (or loop). This choice is set in Preferences/Audio tab Cycle Record Mode. The result of Cycle recording will depend on the above selection. In all cases, however, a single Clip will be placed in the Pool.
  • Create Regions: The Clip will contain one Region for each completed cycle. A single Event is placed on the Event Display. The Event will contain the last complete cycle recorded.
  • Create Events: An Event is created for each cycle. The Events are stacked one on top of the other. The topmost Event will be the last complete cycle recorded.
  • Create Events + Regions: An Event is created for each cycle. The Events are stacked one on top of the other. The topmost Event will be the last complete cycle recorded. The Clip will contain a Region for each completed cycle. To create a Part from Cycle Record Events After a Cycle Record that creates Events (including Events and Regions), you are presented with a stack of Events. Select the whole stack of Events with the Select tool by lassoing them. You will see the text Multiple Objects Selected in the Info Line. If you simply click on the Event, then only the top Event will be selected, so you must lasso them. Now select Audio/Events to Part [No Default] to create the Part. When you open the Part Editor, the Events will be neatly arranged in Lanes ready to be comp'd. Fig. 14.2: A comp'd vocal Part Future Music Computer Music Chapter 14 Audio: Recording and Editing 185 To create a Part from Cycle Record Regions. In this case, Cycle Record will create a single Event. So, select the Event and perform Audio/Events to Part. The window shown will open. If you click Create Part from Regions, then for each Region, an Event is created in the new Part. If you click No, then a Part will be created for the single Event. It is well worth creating Regions during Cycle Record, as they can be used to recreate the cycles in the take long after you might have edited or deleted the related Events. Also, it is easy to create Events from the Regions (just drag them onto the Event Display), so you lose nothing by creating Regions. Once you have brought the audio that you wish to comp into a Part, proceed by splitting all the Events at the same point in the timeline at the same time location. The choice of where you split will, clearly, be unique in each situation. There are two basic ways in which to perform the split, in both cases select all the Events first:
  • Use the Scissors tool: You can select Events with the Scissors tool providing you start lassoing in white space in the Part. The Scissors tool displays a faint vertical line to assist precise location of the split point.
  • Use the Split Commands: The most useful split command here is Split at Cursor [ALT+X], but Split Loop [No Default] and Split Range [SHIFT+X] should not be forgotten. You will end up with a grid of Events in the Part, the bottom line of which will sound when played back. To make your selections, start by muting and unmuting individual Events until you find the perfect combination. You can either use the Mute tool (which works well here), or Mute [SHIFT+M] and Unmute [SHIFT+U], or Mute toggle [ALT+M]. You may well wish to apply Auto Fades to the Track to smooth the transitions between Events; especially, but not exclusively, if you decide to extend the Events boundaries so that they overlap. Using this feature of the Part editor provides for very rapid comp'ing.
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