While modern synthesizers and midi keyboards can be connected via USB, the standard way of connecting most keyboard and synthesizers is via MIDI. The acronym M.I.D.I stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. To setup your synthesizer to communicate with your Sequencer (Cubase) and your VST (Virtual Studio Technology) instruments so you can record what you play, you will need these things:

A) A keyboard midi controller – Your keyboard or synthesizer, whatever make, will need to have a midi output socket ( MIDI OUT)

B) An audio interface such as a sound card, that has a midi input socket (MIDI IN)

C) A MIDI to MIDI cable

D) A version of Cubase DAW software ( Sx3 + )

Before starting, make sure you have the latest drivers and firmware updates for your audio interface installed!

Step 1:

Plug in your midi cable to your keyboard controller’s MIDI OUT socket and your sound card’s MIDI IN socket. If you have an external audio interface, power it up after connecting the cable.

Step 2:

Run Cubase

Step 3:

Go to tab Devices > and select “Devices setup…” (It’s usually the last option on the list)

Step 4:

Select “VST Audio System” from the list under Devices (located to the left)

Step 5:

Now, click on the drop-down menu labelled ASIO Driver (to the right) and select the driver corresponding to your audio interface. Click Apply. If your sound card does not have ASIO drivers you can download and install ASIO4ALL a free to download ASIO driver that enables the vast majority of soundcards to use ASIO.

Step 6:

For your keyboard to send information as quickly as you press a key you really need the lowest latency you can achieve. This can be different for many configurations because decreasing the latency too much can result in processing errors such as peaks and spikes in the sound and sometimes software crashes. To decrease your latency go to the control panel of your card and decrease buffer size. Good input latency is around 10 – 5 ms and everything under 5ms is optimal.

Step 7:

Go to tab File > “Create a new project” (or press ctrl-N). Select “empty”.

Step 8:

Go to tab Devices again. Select the option VST instruments (or press F11). Click on the dark colored area “no instrument” and select the VST instrument of your choice from the list. Cubase version 5 and up will ask you if you want a track to be created automatically that is connected to the VST you chose. If you hit cancel you can manually create and setup your tracks by adding “midi tracks” in your project.

Step 9:

After you have created a midi track, select it. To the left of the selected track are two symbols, an arrow entering a square (INPUT) and underneath it an arrow exiting a square(OUTPUT). Click next to the INPUT symbol and a drop down menu appears. If you have only one MIDI input the option “All Midi Inputs” is usually the default option. If it is not the default option or you have more than one midi input connected then select the option corresponding to your keyboard/soundcard (usually contains the name of your hardware)

Step 10:

Click next to the OUTPUT symbol (arrow coming out of the square) and select the VST instrument you have loaded earlier.

Step 11:

Because many VSTi’s have the ability to load more than one sound into another “channel” you might need to change the channel number of the VSTi corresponding to your track. If for example you load a flute on channel 1 and a clarinet on channel 2 in your VSTi, then you will need two separate midi tracks to record each sound separately. To select which channel your midi track corresponds to look for a Symbol of 9 small squares with a number next to it. Click on the number and select the matching channel number.

Step 12:

Select the tracks you want to record with. Under the label of your track is a big circle shaped Button(“Record Enable”) . You should make sure it is selected (becomes red).

Step 13:

When you have selected which tracks you want to record with, and enabled the recording button, press record (red circle) on your transport panel.

Step 14:

Record your music.

Step 15:

Have fun.

by Michael Margaritis