Sam­pling in Cubase


It’s fair to say that, un­like some other pop­u­lar DAWs, sam­pling func­tion­al­ity came quite late to the Cubase sys­tem. In some re­spects it re­mains some­what un­der­de­vel­oped. This may be as a way of pro­tect­ing sales of HALion, Stein­berg’s flag­ship sam­pler, though the Cubase fo­rums still buzz with the hope that a sim­ple all-pur­pose sam­pler might be in­cluded at some point.

How­ever, there are some ways of map­ping, ma­nip­u­lat­ing and play­ing your own sam­ples with­out re­sort­ing to third-party ap­pli­ca­tions or plug-ins in Cubase. HALion Sonic SE, de­spite some in­ter­est­ing tweak­ing and pro­cess­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties is aimed at the play­back of ready-rolled pre­sets. Luck­ily Groove Agent SE, though laden with a plen­ti­ful sup­ply of fac­tory kits, is also able to host user-cre­ated sam­ples. As the name sug­gests, its work­flow is largely ded­i­cated to beat cre­ation, though it can be pressed into ser­vice for more all-round and MPC-like func­tion­al­ity.

Though of­ten over­looked, Pad­shop Pro, Stein­berg’s gran­u­lar syn­the­sizer also al­lows au­dio to be im­ported (and it only costs £7 to up­grade from the Ba­sic ver­sion in­cluded with Cubase 8). This can then be used for both straight­for­ward play­back or more ne­far­i­ous sound de­sign util­is­ing grains and co­pi­ous mod­u­la­tion pos­si­bil­i­ties to cre­ate some­thing com­pletely new (and of­ten un­recog­nis­able from the source).

De­spite its de­fi­cien­cies, Cubase has in­cluded a Sam­ple Ed­i­tor since au­dio was first in­te­grated into its work­flow. The Sam­ple Ed­i­tor is ac­cessed by dou­ble-click­ing any au­dio event in the project win­dow (or bun­dled in­side an Au­dio Part). Be­sides of­fer­ing a host of pro­cess­ing op­tions, this win­dow is home to Au­dioWarp and Var­iAu­dio (for tim­ing and pitch-cor­rec­tion).

Of more in­ter­est to sam­plists – es­pe­cially those into cus­tom beat cre­ation – is the Hit­points tab. Be­sides be­ing able to au­to­mat­i­cally de­tect tran­sients, this also has a but­ton for cre­at­ing mul­ti­ple Slices (in­di­vid­ual Au­dio Events start­ing at each hit­point). These can then be used as raw ma­te­rial for Groove Agent SE – fa­cil­i­tated through a sim­ple drag-and-drop onto its grid of drum pads.

Groove Agent SE

Groove Agent SE is func­tion­ally deep, and though its use is hin­dered at times by a plethora of small icons and mul­ti­ple win­dows, the re­sults can be worth­while given a lit­tle for­ward-plan­ning. Al­ready bun­dled with a load of pre­sets split be­tween it’s two guises, Beat Agent and Acoustic Agent, it is best at play­ing and cre­at­ing drum parts. Kits con­sist of sam­ples as­signed to pads (In­stru­ment but­tons), which are gen­er­ally trig­gered by a sin­gle in­com­ing MIDI note. How­ever a sec­ond set of pads (Trig­ger notes) can be used to play com­plete pat­terns, which in turn are mapped to other MIDI notes.

To com­pli­cate things fur­ther, the pads may be used to trig­ger in­di­vid­ual hits in a Sliced Loop Kit, which can then be played back via the MIDI Phrase but­tons. Slic­ing can be done in-situ, or im­ported via the Cubase Sam­ple Ed­i­tor (see Us­ing

Sam­ples with Groove Agent SE for more). Pat­terns and Phrases can also be ex­ported to MIDI tracks in Cubase for more de­tailed tweak­ing.

Edit­ing is best ap­proached from the per­spec­tive of in­di­vid­ual pads. Each pad can trig­ger the play­back of up to eight sam­ples – lay­ered, ve­loc­ity switched, round robin or ran­domised. It’s also pos­si­ble, much like NI’s Bat­tery, to choose a Vin­tage play­back en­gine that emu­lates the lim­ited sam­ple rate and bit-depth of cer­tain clas­sic hard­ware sam­plers. In ad­di­tion, you will find a se­ries of win­dows for ad­just­ing pitch, fil­ter and amp en­velopes. The built-in sam­ple ed­i­tor al­lows fine-tun­ing of sam­ple start, end and loop points and even real-time Au­diowarp (time-stretch). Of more im­me­di­ate use, there is also the op­tion to re­verse play­back and se­lect one-shot mode (mainly used for drums, by ig­nor­ing note-off mes­sages and play­ing sam­ples in full re­gard­less of note length). The slic­ing fea­tures of GA SE are fid­dly given the small win­dows size, es­pe­cially as Cubase it­self does such a good job.

See the tu­to­ri­als on these pages for a more de­tailed look at work­ing with sam­ples us­ing these tools.

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