Setting up the input devices in Cubase (Part 1)

7 12 2011

Cubase is a complex piece of software. A lot of people have a hard time figuring out how to use it. In this multi-part tutorial I will discuss the ins and outs of the famous sequencer software, and show you how to use it to the fullest!
But before we dive into the secrets, we need to do some basic set up.

First of all, you need to choose the right input device in the respective Cubase dialog. I don’t remember it’s name at the moment, but I’m sure you can find it yourself. When recording it is very important to take the initiative and not wait for somebody to come along and do everything for you. Just look through the menus, and you will find it. Don’t rush it, take your time and stay committed. It is important to be focused on your task. Don’t fool around while you search for the dialog.
Once you have found it, it is time to put your mouse over the drop-down list and choose an input device.
A lot of people, especially beginners, choose the wrong input device, or, even worse, in fact choose no input device at all. For a seasoned pro like me it is absolutely not surprising, that these people are not getting very far in the music industry. Because without an input device, all the instruments you want to record are not getting into Cubase. Therefore, no matter how hard you play, or how hard the person plays, which you want to record, all the effort will result in an empty audio track.

Cubase Input Device

Cubase input device -where is it?

If you double-click the newly recorded track, it will open in Cubases built in audio editor. Normally you would see the waveform of the audio you just recorded. Or if you had recorded at some other point in time, for example yesterday, it would show up here as well. If there is no visible waveform in the audio editor, you know something went wrong. This is illustrated in the following example.

Your buddy Hank calls you and and after a while the dialogue shifts towards the topic of audio recording. It turns out, Hank actually owns a bass guitar. You ask him if he had ever considered recording his bass guitar, to which he replies that in fact, no, he had never thought about that. But now that you mention it, he sure would be prepared to try it out. You tell him that you own a copy of the sequencer software Cubase and invite him to come over for a little recording session. You remind him to bring his bass guitar, too.
When Hank finally comes over, you unpack the bass guitar and Hank get’s ready for some action. He warms himself up with funky licks. His licks get faster and faster. Like a whirlwind he rushes through your home, until finally he comes to a halt.
You take a cable and connect the bass guitar to your DAW. It’s time to fire up Cubase..
You create a new project, which you call ‘Buddy Hank Bass Recording’ and insert a new mono track. Ready to Rock’n roll!
Hank plays his favorite lick and it sounds really great. He hits all the notes and  does not miss a single one! That is going to be an awesome recording, you think to yourself.
Then after he has finished playing, you are both eager to listen to the track and maybe fine-tune the sound a bit.
You hit the playback-button and the position marker starts to move. After a minute or two, you start to worry…why is there no sound? Everything seemed OK. Hanks lick sounded good and your DAW and Cubase are running, too. Upon further investigation, it turns out that you had forgotten to choose an input device.

This should make it absolutely clear how vital it is to chose an input device in Cubase, if you plan on recording a guitar, a keyboard, a voice, or any other signal source, and want it to be audible. There is, however, yet another problem that can raise it’s ugly head. In part 2 we take an in-depth look at that …