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Appendix A. Glossary

Appendix A. Glossary


Steinberg developed ASIO as a cross-platform protocol for transferring multiple channels of audio to and from an audio interface at very low latencies. Always use the ASIO driver for your audio interface when working with Cubase.

Audio Event:

Events are the smallest building block in Cubase. An audio event is a single audio clip or part of a clip that is displayed in the Project window. More than one event can be contained in an audio part, and much confusion about events arises from this fact. An event is the audio itself, the part is a container in Cubase to hold one or more events.

See also [Audio Regions]

Audio Interface:

The hardware used to get audio in and out of the computer is called the audio interface. Audio interfaces can use USB or Firewire to connect to the computer, or they can be PCI cards that install inside the machine.

Audio Part:

See [Part]
Audio Region:

An audio region is a part of an audio clip (event). When an audio file is recorded with Cubase, it creates an audio clip to represent that file for editing and processing. Parts of a clip can be designated as independent audio regions, which can then be easily converted to additional events in the project window, or exported and processed into new discrete audio files. Audio regions are almost always created and edited in the Sample Editor.


Moves and actions performed in the Cubase mixer can be automated. After writing automation, the mixer can reproduce the moves automatically when the project is played.

Bit Depth:

When an analog audio is sampled to create digital audio , each sample can be of greater or lesser resolution. Cubase can record 16, 24, or 32-bit samples. The bit depth for an audio file or project is the resolution of the recorded samples—for example, a CD uses 16-bit samples—therefore it has a bit depth of 16.

See also [sample rate]


When a parameter is displayed graphically, and its setting changes over time, Cubase often will use breakpoints to show a change in direction or value for the parameter. Breakpoints are used extensively for things like setting a fade-in or fade-out curve, or for editing automation data.

CC Data:

See [MIDI Continuous Controller Data]

is taking multiple passes at the same musical part or phrase and selecting the best parts of each to create a new performance. Cubase has extensive tools for creating comps in the Audio Part editor.

Core Audio

is the system-level multimedia toolkit that ships with Mac OS X that includes a driver type and plug-in format. Most Mac Cubase users will use ASIO drivers and VST effects, but other applications (and perhaps Cubase in the future) might use Core Audio.


When two audio parts or events are immediately adjacent to each other or overlap, the transition between them will often sound unpleasant. A crossfade quickly fades one out while fading the other in, smoothing the transition between the parts or events.

Cycle Recording:

It's possible to record in Cubase when looping the project over the same section repeatedly. This is called cycle recording, and can be used to create MIDI and audio by combining the results of more than one pass over the same section of the project.


is the system-level multimedia toolkit that ships with Windows, which includes driver types and a plug-in format. Usually shortened to DX, this kit is used to support system level audio and MIDI transfer. Most Cubase users will rely on ASIO drivers, but many will have some DX plug-ins and perhaps a DX-supported MIDI interface.


Events are the smallest building blocks in Cubase. An event can be a MIDI note or a sound sample or a recorded piece of audio. In the Project window, every event is contained in a part, and parts contain one or many distinct events.

Group Channel:

A group in the Cubase mixer is a specialized channel that is used to mix other channels. A group receives audio from the other channels in the mixer, instead of from an audio track, ReWire channel, or VST instrument.

Insert Effect:

An insert effect processes the entire signal for a channel. The entire audio signal from a channel is fed into the effect, the audio is modified in some way, and the audio output with the effect is fed to the rest of the mixer channel.

Mixer Channel:

Each channel in the mixer controls an audio signal or a MIDI track. The audio signal can be from a VST instrument, a ReWire application, or an audio track in the Project window. MIDI channels control MIDI data from a track in the Project window.


stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. MIDI data most often is note and velocity information from a keyboard or other MIDI instrument. After MIDI has been recorded, the data can be used to trigger samplers, sound modules, and synthesizers.

MIDI Continuous Controller (CC) Data:

Not all MIDI data is about notes. MIDI can also be used to control parameters in synthesizers and effects units. For example, it might be advantageous to record changes made to knobs and buttons on the front panel of a synth. In this case, the changes made on the front panel will be recorded as Continuous Controller data. CC data is edited and can be created manually in Cubase using the Project window, the Key editor, or the List editor.

MIDI Interface:

The hardware used to move MIDI data in and out of the computer is a MIDI interface. Most current MIDI interfaces connect to the computer via USB.

MIDI Part:

See [Part]
MIDI Sysex Data:

Sysex stands for System Exclusive. The MIDI specification defines certain commonly used parameters to particular CC numbers, and leaves many CC channels undefined to apply as users and manufacturers see fit. Even this flexibility, however, is not always enough, and sysex data fills the gaps where MIDI is deficient. A manufacturer can use sysex to control any parameters they can dream up, essentially allowing proprietary uses of the open MIDI spec. Sysex is often used to back up and restore the entire state of a synth, effect unit, or studio.


Listening to the playback of a project is called monitoring. The best way to monitor in Cubase will depend on how your audio hardware is configured and what you are doing with Cubase.


A synth (hardware or software) is said to be multitimbral if it can play different sounds when triggered by different MIDI channels. MIDI channel 1 might trigger a synth bass sound, while MIDI channel 10 triggers drums.


A track, part, event, note, or mixer channel can be muted. Once muted, it is silenced and will not play back in the project.


A part in the Project window can contain MIDI or audio events. Parts are containers for events, and make it easier to work with more than one event.


Plug-ins are used to process audio and MIDI in the Cubase mixer. Cubase includes some plug-ins and additional, third party plug-ins can be added to the program. A plug-in lets you add sonic options to your palette without having to learn a whole new application.


A synth is called polyphonic if it can play more than one note at a time. Many of the classic analog synths of the '70s were monophonic, meaning they could play only one note at a time.

Project Tempo:

Each Cubase project has an assigned tempo, expressed as beats per minute (BPM). The higher the BPM, the faster the tempo of the project. Cubase has a special track, called the tempo track, for creating and editing changes in project tempo.

Punch Recording:

Cubase can automatically start and stop recording at any point in a project. The points where Cubase starts and stops recording (called punching in and punching out) are set in the project window before starting playback, hence the term punch recording.


Quantizing modifies the timing of a MIDI note or notes, usually to bring the MIDI notes closer to a tempo grid. Most often quantizing is applied after creating a MIDI part to tighten the timing of the performance.

Record Enable:

When the red Record Enable button is pressed, a track is ready to record. When the Record button on the Transport is activated, whether manually or automatically, all tracks with the Record Enable buttons selected will start recording.


Steinberg and Propellerheads jointly developed ReWire, a protocol that allows multiple applications to transfer audio, MIDI, and tempo data. ReWire is used to slave one piece of software to another on the same computer.


Western music divides each octave into twelve notes that are all pretty much the same distance from each other. A semitone is the distance in pitch from one note to the adjacent note above or below it. An easy way to visualize a semitone is the piano keyboard: each key is a semitone apart from the next key.

Sample Rate:

Digital audio is created by taking a specific number of snapshots (or samples) of an analog audio signal over time. The number of times the analog signal is sampled is called the sample rate. Common sample rates supported by Cubase include 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, and 96 kHz. At 44.1 kHz (the sample rate for CDs) the signal is sampled 44,100 times each second.

Send Effect:

A send effect is an effect that runs parallel to the main path of the audio channel. When using a send effect, a copy of the original signal is split off and sent to the effect, leaving the rest of the audio path for the channel untouched. The audio processed by the send effect is mixed back with the non-effects signal, usually at the master fader.


When the Solo button is clicked, only that track will be played back. More than one track can be soloed to hear only a few tracks.


See [MIDI Sysex Data]

A Cubase template is a project that can be opened with the File > New command. You can create customized projects for your various needs, and save them as templates.

Tempo Track:

The tempo track is an audible, but usually invisible, track in every Cubase project. The tempo of the project will be governed by the tempo track if the Master button on the transport is clicked on. The tempo track can be graphically edited in the Tempo Track editor.


Cubase tracks are where MIDI and audio data are placed in the Project window. Think of each track like a clothesline: audio and MIDI parts and events are hung on the clothesline as they are recorded, and are rearranged when audio and MIDI are edited.


The initial part of a sound, particularly on an instrument that is plucked or struck, is called the transient. The transient is the short, loud, initial onset of the sound.


Every MIDI note comes with data to represent how hard the MIDI controller was struck. This parameter is called velocity, and usually controls the overall output that results from the MIDI note.


VSTi is short for VST (virtual) instrument, and is the general term for software-based sound generators. Most VSTis are synthesizers or samplers that generate sounds when triggered by MIDI.

Word Length:

The sample taken when creating digital audio can be of varying resolution. Often the samples are referred to as “words” and the resolution of the sample is called the word length. A project might be recorded with a sample rate of 96 kHz with a word length of 24 bits.

See also [sample rate]



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