MIDI automation of sends in Cubase


I think this ends my series of reference posts about Cubase, VSTi's and automation. This time the goal is to automate the level control of a send (or FX channel track).

I'm going to be generating the CC messages from software, but it's the same if using a knob in a control surfarce. Also, this procedure can be used to automate many other things besides the send level (track faders, panning... I'm guessing pretty much any control in Cubase).

Here's the step-by-step:

  1. In the menubar, choose "Devices > Device setup...". This will open the "Device setup" window.
  2. In the left panel, select "Remote Devices".
  3. Click the + button above this panel, to add a new device. Choose "Generic remote" in the drop down list.
  4. On the right panel you'll see the assignments in this new device. Here we have to do a few things:
    • Select the MIDI port you'll be receiving from in the "MIDI input" dropdown (leave the MIDI output as "Not connected").
    • In the first pane you'll select the controller you're going to be using. First, give it a descriptive name in the first column. Then you can use the "Learn" checkbox on the right and trigger the CC, or you can enter the values manually. If you do it manually, you'll typically use a Controller (CC) in the "MIDI status" column, set the appropriate "MIDI channel", and the CC number in the "Address column". Note that by default lots of assignments are already made: you can choose the right one for you (if you're doing something standard), change them at will, remove the ones you don't need or add new ones.
    • In the second pane you'll select the element in Cubase that you want to affect:
      • Control name: this will automatically change to the name you selected in the first pane, once you click on it.
      • Device: you can choose what type of control in Cubase you want to automate. I've only used "VST mixer", but you might want to explore other options.
      • Channel/Category: this will depend on what you choose for "Device". If you've chosen "VST mixer", you'll be able to pick from a list of all the VST channels in your mixer.
      • Value/Action: here you'll choose the actual control for that channel that you want to automate. In my case I select "Sends 1 level", but you'll see there's plenty of different things you can automate.
      • Flags: I dont' use this, but I guess this is to have button controls, either as on/off or as push buttons (or hold buttons).
    • Repeat the above two steps for all the CC assignments you want to make.
    • VERY IMPORTANT: export the remote! This is really poor UI design from Steinber: you have to export the remote in order to save it. In other words, exporting will also save it, but forgetting to export will mean you'll loose your changes on the next restart of Cubase!! Also, once you've saved it, it will be stored for future projects (I also think it sucks that you can't have per-project Remote Devices, btw).

Just a few notes to end:

  • You can export a set of MIDI controller assignments for later re-use. This is for example very handy for me: I have MIDI coming from many different virtual ports, and I want the same assignments for all of them. So I can set them up for the first port, export it, and then import it as many times as virtual ports I have (I do have to adjust the "Channel/Category" column, but all the rest stays the same). Still, don't forget to export the Remote in the end, or you'll loose your changes!
  • If you're doing this to use a controller surface, you might be able to find it in step 2, instead of "Generic remote", saving you a bit of time.


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