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cubase noise problems

 

 



Reasons for noise on Cubase

If you're a complete beginner at cubase, and you're finding that your recordings (such as vocal takes or real guitar audio tracks) are giving you noise such as "clicks" or "pops", please visit this page about cubase asio drivers first.

However, if you know that Cubase plays well with a simple arrangement (e.g. just a few audio recordings and maybe a vst instrument running) but does not do well when your arrangement becomes more complex, then read on.

In Cubase, when we add more VST instruments, audio tracks, and audio effects to the arrangement, we increase the strain placed on the computer processor, and on the RAM that is being used to "memorize" all this information. Once it exceeds a certain threshold, you will start to notice that the sound will either break up, you may hear noise such as "clicks" and "fuzz", and you may also find the computer stops playing the track, or worse still, crashes unexpectedly without you having a chance to save your material! Recent versions of the software will often warn you that this is about to happen and ask you to save the material as a different file name, reporting that the current file has become unstable. Here are some solutions to this problem. You can do just one or some of them, depending on how complex your arrangement is:-

 

1. Increase the amount of RAM in the computer.

I currently have 4 gig of RAM on the motherboard. Not all of this is available to use for Cubase, as the operating system calls on it as well. If you are running with only one or two gigs, I would recommend installing some more RAM. You will need to check your computer specification and see how much RAM can be installed, and what type is required, before buying any. You may also want to see how many free RAM slots you have on your mothterboard before purchasing.

 

2. Freezing down

If you don’t want to part with any cash, or need a quick solution, then  “freezing” your VST plugins will solve most problems. This button is located on the left hand side of the VST instruments window (off devices/VST instruments, or press F11). When you select it, you’ll be presented with a dialogue window asking you if you want to either freeze the instrument, or instrument and channels.

freeze menu

Just choose the first option to begin with. Then hit enter and the computer will process this (it may take a little while depending on how much material there is to work through). Now when you play back your piece, the music should play back more smoothly, without breaking up. If it stills breaks up in places, it may be necessary to repeat the exercise by “freezing down” more VST instruments.

Selecting the second option (Freeze Instrument and channels) will also freeze any pre-fader effects that are applied to the plug in. This can free up a little more memory when applied, if you are using pre-fader effects on the instrument.

The downside – once a track is “frozen”, it can’t be edited in any way (unless you “unfreeze” it by hitting that button again in the VST instruments). This includes a lot of parameters – the notes, the velocities, the aftertouch etc.

The upside – you free up processing resources to carry on creating your work.

 

  1. 3. Bouncing down

  2. This is an ancient trick – it was used long before computers shrank the music studio into a two foot high metal cabinet. In the days of reel-to-reel multi-track recording, engineers would mix down a number of tracks on to two spare tracks on their 16 or 24 track tape machine. Then they erased the material on the old tracks and hey presto! - lots more tracks to record on to. We can do a similar procedure on the computer. Let’s say that you have six backing vocal tracks, and each one in using vocal processing (compressors, limiters, may be delays and reverbs). OK, so now we need to take the “loop” mode and define the start and end points of the vocal material.

  3. backing vocals

    selecting the backing vocals using the loop mode

    Next, “solo” each vocal track that you want to bounce down. Then go to the “Audio Mixdown” menu (this is located off “File/Export”). This dialogue gives us a number of options. You’ll need to make sure that under “import into project" - "pool” is ticked, as well as “Audio” is also ticked. Most of the other options are concerned with what quality of audio recording you would like. As a default, I set mine to "file format"= wave file, sample rate = 44.1, and bit depth of 32 bit. There’s also an option for "real time export" (or computer time record). Unless you want to hear the music play back, you’ll want to leave this option unticked (it’s a bit quicker). Once your happy with these settings, hit "enter". After the computer has processed all this, go to back to the project screen and scroll to the bottom. You should find that Cubase has created a new track for you and a mix of your backing vocals is now there, in the right place, as a stereo audio file. Remember to now mute the old tracks, or place them in a folder (naming it something like “old backing tracks”) and mute the folder. Your material should now play back in a smoother way. If it doesn’t, it may be necessary to do some more bouncing with other audio recordings.

  4. One more thing...when you “bounce”, you may wish to consider switching off the reverb and delay effects on the tracks, and instead adding these to the stereo bounced file. This way you retain more control over the backing vocals (or whatever instrument it is that you’ve “bounced down”) when you come to create the final mix of your work. Dynamic effects like compressors and limiters are best applied “pre-bouncing” as these are usually applied as inserts (see below) and hence are very processor intensive.

Downside: as with “freezing”, less tracks are now editable. You need to be able to get the right “mix” of your subgroups (the backing vocals in this example) before bouncing, as this can’t be changed afterwards, unless you go back to the original backing tracks and remix them.
Upside: frees up the processing power! Sometimes there are advantages to “committing” to certain elements of the mix. For example, deciding on the mix between the backing vocal elements means that you can concentrate on the “bigger picture” e.g. the mix between the instruments and the vocals, or the vocals and percussion etc.

 

4. Teleport Software

Did you know about “Teleport” software? If you have an old PC, or a laptop, you can use this as second “brain” for running VST plugins. The plugins appear on the “slave” computer but play perfectly in time through the host computer. It’s a relatively cheap solution (under $100 at the time of writing). I’ve used it for about four years now and it’s made a big difference to what I’m able to achieve.

The downside: you have to have two machines running which can get a bit noisy. Also you have to remember which songs you need to have two machines switched on for.

The upside: the software expands the processing power of your computer studio, without the need to buy a new machine. It even allows you to chain together several PC’s, giving lots more power! The really helpful thing is that you can keep everything editable without needing to freeze or bounce down (see above). In other words, you can still adjust the notes that have been played (or the way that they were played) instantly. Here's the link to the site:-

FX teleport software



 

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