How to cycle between open windows in Cubase (on a Mac)

I’ve seen a lot of people asking in forums and on other sites how to cycle focus between your open windows in Cubase. Since Cubase will process your keyboard shortcuts in the window that currently has focus, keeping track of where you are in the DAW becomes essential for a fast and smooth workflow.

On a PC you can step through an applications open windows using Alt+Tab, but on Mac its not that simple. So, here’s how I solved it for my setup.

First open up the Keyboard settings.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 20.56.49

Next witch to the Shortcuts tab at the top of the settings window.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 20.57.46

Next find the group called Keyboard, and the setting called ‘Move focus to the next window’.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 20.58.07

I  have it set to Command+=, which at least in my english installation of Yosemite does not collide with any other setting.

Voila! Your all set cycle through your open windows using the keyboard. One less annoyance to slow down your workflow.

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5 Tips for a faster Cubase workflow. Spoiler: its all about the keyboard!

Recently I switched from Logic Pro X to Cubase Pro 8, and immediately saw my productivity cut in half. The reason? The loss of familiar keyboard shortcuts.

After working with Live and Logic for a few years I had gotten really comfortable not using the mouse to click around the UI, but after switching to Cubase suddenly all that convenience was gone.

Here’a a list of 5 immediate shortcut tips that will speed up your workflow if you find yourself in the same situation.

1. Find the key commands for zooming in and out in the project window

In Cubase this means G and H for zooming in and out horizontally and Shift+G, Shift+H for vertical zoom. Also, try Shift+F for setting the zoom to show the entire project. The same shortcuts also work in the MIDI piano roll.

2. Switch editing tools via the keyboard and not through the UI

By default, Cubase Pro 8.5 has the Select, Draw, Erase and so on set to keys 1-8. Only problem is they are not mapped in the order the Tools are shown int he UI toolbar. Using the Key Commands editor in the file menu you can change this to map to the UI.

Another useful tip is that you can hold down the Option key in the MIDI piano roll to momentarily switch to the Draw tool, making it faster to switch between drawing in notes and editing them.

3. Learn the shortcuts for transport commands

IMG_448732073Cubase has play start/stop mapped to the space bar, but there are a ton of other shortcuts to speed up your flow. Some of my favourites include Num1 to set the loop range to the current selection, Num/ to enable or disable loop playback and Num.  to return to 1.1.1.0.

As you can see the transport controls are usually mapped to the Numeric keyboard, so I got a USB 10 key from Goldtouch hooked up as a poor man’s DAW control surface. Highly recommended.

4. Learn to show / hide and switch between windows

In Live you have the Session vs. Arrangement view, in Logic the Mixer and Project windows, but Cubase probably has the most flexible windows management of all the DAWs I’ve tried.

The Media Bay (F5), Mixer (F3) and Transport panel (F2) are all mapped to the function keys, but you should also consider mapping the Key Editor to one of the F Keys.

5. Add, remove and toggle track configurations

You can use the arrow keys to navigate up, down and across the events and tracks in your project. When a track has focus, M and S will mute and solo respectively. Combine with the loop transport controls for easy playback focus and control.

You should also configure shortcuts for adding and deleting tracks, as well as hiding and showing them again. I have + mapped to insert a new Instrument track, and Numeric Clear mapped to removing the selected track.

Hopefully these tips will speed up your workflow and let you navigate Cubase faster. Do you have any other shortcuts that you can’t live without? Share them in the comments!

Problems with the Maschine HW controller display

After upgrading to the MK2 of the Maschine controller about 2 years ago I soon ran into the issue of one of the displays flickering and ultimately ending up much dimmer than the other.

At that time I didn’t think too much about it but sent it back to the store for a replacement right away.

IMG_2935A couple of weeks ago I noticed that my replacement controller also started acting bad. The same problems with the display was happening on this unit.

Since I bought it in another country I figured I was out of luck and would have to simply use it with one display darker than the other.

Then something interesting happened. As I was drumming out a pattern and I hit the pad in the upper right, the display suddenly came back to full brightness.

Now whenever it drops in brightness I just tap the upper row of the pads a couple of times and it comes back up again. Probably there’s a loose connection in there somewhere so I’m going to open it up someday and poke around when I have the time.

Custom Studio Furniture (Free Sketchup Plan)

Since I moved back to Sweden It’s taken quite a while to get all the gear back up, but now  it’s finally in place and all plugged in. One of my goals was to improve my desk space to get better access to my rack units.

Buying a ready made studio desk is both expensive and boring so I decided to ‘build’ my own instead. This would also provide the most compact solution.

I started with an Ikea desk called Galant. You can go for either the corner or straight type. I choose the straight (160 x 80 cm) for space saving. On top of this I put two custom built 6U racks made in solid oak to match the surface of the desk.

I left just enough space between them to fit my 27″ iMac, which I suspended from a monitor arm. The idea was to fit a slanting shelf in front of it to hold my Maschine and some other handy gadgets. You may notice that the desk is 5-10cm too short to fit both racks and the mac, but that’s ok. Hopefully I can upgrade to a bigger space at some point, or get a Mac Pro and a 24″ monitor… :P

Check out the results below, and download the Sketchup file if you want to build your own rack.

photo 1_1 photo 2_1 photo 3_1 photo 4_1

Dropbox link to Sketchup file: https://www.dropbox.com/s/din4o7j6icwj88k/6USlantedRack.zip

(Disclaimer: I’m not a carpenter so use the Sketchup drawing at your own risk…)

Mavericks and the Mackie 1640i

I’ve been holding off updating the OS of my main studio computer (Mid 2011 27″ iMac) for the last 2.5 years. It came with Lion installed and I saw nothing in Mountain Lion that would motivate the hassle of an update. Also, I’ve been burned several times by incompatible or untimely updates to firmware, hardware and OSs so I know better than to jump on the new shiny thing. The golden rule applies in any digital creative environment, ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!’

Photo-2But! I’ve been an Ableton Live person for the past few years but the release of Logic X really got me thinking about a switch. The notorious MIDI timing problems of Ableton, and the fact that it’s not optimized for the type of linear, timeline based workflow that I prefer made Logic seem like a nice alternative.

After much consideration I decided to shell out the cash and buy the software from the app store, only to find out that you need at least OS X 10.8.

No luck for an old timer like me still stuck on 10.7.5…

Still I decided to go forward and see if my gear would be compatible with an upgrade to Mavericks or not. The only two things that set off an alarm was the Mackie 1640i Mixer (see below) and the Access Virus TI2 Virus Control software.

The mixer board was my biggest fear since loss of its Firewire capabilities would negate its most appealing feature. (I could have passed it via a couple of Fireface 800 or similar but still…). To test it out I connected it via a Firewire to Thunderbolt adapter to my MacBook Pro running Mavericks, and lo and behold it worked perfectly! (Yes, the mixer board is from the 003 serial number series, see below).

Photo-1

Encouraged by this I decided to upgrade my main machine as well and it is now happily chugging along on Mavericks.

So far I see no strange or broken behavior. I have tested Maschine 1.8 with the Komplete plug-ins, Arturia’s Analog Factory and Live 9.1. The Mackie 1640i seems to be 100% functional. I noticed some severe lag and dropped notes when I started out, but that was due to the System Drive being re-indexed for the first hour or so.

This is not to say that all is well in Mavericks land, beware that there can be any number of combinations of Firewire controller cards, serial number series, firmware versions, thunderbolt adapters and so on that could break compatibility, but at least for me it was all a very smooth and seamless upgrade.

Did you upgrade to Mavericks yet? Did you run into any problems? Share your experience or let me know if you have any questions.

My setup:
Mid 2011 iMac 27″ (3.4gHz, 12gb), Mackie 1640i (003xx) connected via a FW 400 to 800 adapter to Firewire port on Mac, also tested via Apple’s Firewire to Thunderbolt adapter.

A note on the Mackie 1640i Serial numbers:
There are series of the Mackei 1640i on the market. You can tell them apart from the start of their serial numbers. The older series starts with 003 and the newer with 204. The older series relied on the CoreAudio drivers on the Mac and the newer has its own fancy driver and control panel. According to the Mackie website the 003 series is not compatible with any OS X version above 10.7 which has caused a lot of confusion amongst users considering an upgrade. In my experience the 003 series works just fine in 10.9, both via a firewire port and via Apple’s thunderbolt to firewire adapter.