Akai Pro Advance Series and VIP - Setup with Steinberg Cubase
Akai Professional's Advance Keyboards are like nothing else you've ever played. Along with the VIP software, the Advance series gives you unprecedented playability and unrestricted manipulation of any virtual instrument with an exclusive, interactive, full-color display, complemented by performance-friendly hardware controls. This article walks through integrating the Advance Keyboard with Steinberg Cubase.
- Synchronizing the Advance's Arpeggiator/NoteRepeat with Cubase
- Mapping the Advance's Transport Controls and Knobs/Buttons using the Cubase Generic Remote
- Controlling Multiple Instances of VIP
- Using Multi-Out VST Instruments with VIP
- Further Support
The Advance keyboards have a built-in arpeggiator and Note Repeat feature which runs off a tempo set on the Advance keyboard. However, you can also synchronize the arpeggiator with the tempo of Cubase. Here's how!
- On the Advance keyboard, enter the Global menu by pressing the SHIFT and BROWSER buttons together.
- Use the left/right directional arrows right below the display to navigate to page 3 of the Global menu.
- Change the Clock Source to External. This tells the Advance to wait for a MIDI Clock signal from Cubase, instead of using the tempo built into the Advance. Keep in mind that now the Advance arpeggiator or note repeat features will not function unless the Advance is receiving MIDI Clock from another source (Cubase in this case).
- In Cubase, select Transport > Project Synchronization Setup from the top menu bar.
- Make sure the Timecode Source section is set to Internal Timecode.
- In the MIDI Clock Destinations section, check the box for ADVANCE USB PORT 1.
- Click OK.
- Cubase will now send MIDI Clock to the Advance when it is playing and the arpeggiator and note repeat functions will follow the Cubase tempo.
Cubase allows you to create, export, and import custom MIDI mappings for any MIDI controller. You can use this Generic Remote feature to map the Advance transport controls as well as the rotary knobs and buttons. While the VIP software will take care of mapping the knobs and buttons to your VST Instruments automatically, you can still program the Advance to control any Cubase parameter you'd like (volume faders, pan, track zoom, etc...).
When VIP is not open, the Advance will be controlling Cubase in what is called MIDI Mode. When the Advance is controlling an open instance of VIP, is it called Control Mode. While controlling VIP, you can quickly switch to MIDI Mode by pressing SHIFT+CONTROL on the Advance. This way you can quickly switch back and forth between VIP and Cubase control.
Finally, individual knobs and buttons in the VIP software presets can be assigned to the VST Parameter (by default), or to a MIDI CC value by clicking the parameter below each control:
Hybrid Mode in the VIP plugin window
Here is a walkthrough of mapping MIDI controls with Cubase's Generic Remote menu:
- From the top menu bar of Cubase, select Devices > Device Setup.
- Under the Remote Devices folder, select Generic Remote.
- In the Generic Remote section to the right, select the ADVANCE USB PORT 1 as the MIDI Input.
- To the right of the top window, press the Delete button to remove any existing listings until your window looks like the picture below.
- Put simply, the top section of the Generic Remote learns the controls coming from your MIDI controller, and the bottom section determines what they are assigned to. We'll start by mapping the Transport Controls.
- On the Advance keyboard, change to the Cubase preset (press the MAIN button and select Cubase - or if VIP is open, press SHIFT+MAIN and select Cubase).
- Also on the Advance, enter the GLOBAL mode change the Transport Format setting to CC.
- Back in the Cubase Generic Remote menu, click the Add button from the top menu to add four new listings.
- Change the Control Name of each listing to the various transport control names (Play, Record, Stop, Loop), as shown in the picture below:
- Check the Learn box.
- Select the Play listing you've just created in the top section.
- Press the Play button on the Advance controller. You will see the Play listing's MIDI Channel and Address listings change in response to learning the Advance control.
- Follow the same steps for Record, Stop, and Loop.
- Uncheck the Learn box.
- Make sure the Receive and Transmit flags are checked for each listing (R, T). See the picture below:
- Now that Cubase has learned the Transport buttons from your Advance, they can be assigned to the Cubase transport control in the lower section. Change the settings in the lower section as shown in the picture below:
- Click Apply. The Transport Controls are now set! You can use this same process to configure other buttons on the Advance to any commands in Cubase.
- The same process is used for assigning the Advance's rotary knobs. Remember, you can assign your Advance knobs to anything you want in Cubase. In this example we will set them to control the volume of the first eight Cubase tracks.
- In the top section, add eight new entries. Cubase will default to copy the previous control parameters when you add new ones. Simply rename appropriately, like they are named Fader 1-8 in the picture below:
- Check the Learn box.
- Click on the Fader 1 listing.
- Move the first rotary knob on the Advance to learn the assignment.
- Follow the same steps for the remaining. It should now look like the below:
- Uncheck the Learn box.
- You should now be getting the hang of this process. Like before, pick your assignments in the lower section. In this particular example, you'll want to make sure you have at least 8 audio tracks added to your Cubase session. The picture below shows proper settings for assigning to the volume faders in the Cubase mixer:
- You may also want to assign the eight buttons on the Advance keyboard to mute, solo, or whatever other buttons you please. Again, follow the same learning and assignment process as above.
- When you're finished creating your custom mapping, click the Export button to save it. That's it!
You can open as many instances of VIP within Cubase that your computer processor and memory can handle. The Advance Keyboard will control one VIP instance at a time, but you can then quickly change which VIP instance the Advance Keyboard is controlling.
Note: DAW Control mode will change which VIP instance the Advance keyboard is focused on for preset browsing/organization, and controlling plugin parameters via the 8 rotary knobs and buttons. However, MIDI note messages from the keyboard and pads are still routed through Cubase, so you'll still select which VIP instance you'd like to perform on by highlighting or arming the track in Cubase.
- Press the MAIN button and then press the left or right directional arrow, just below the display, once. You will see the DAW Control menu come up with all of the VIP instances and their current presets listed, similar to the picture below:
- Use the Data Dial on the Advance Keyboard to scroll through the available VIP instances, and push in the Data Dial to select it.
- Alternatively, this can be done from the VIP software interface as well. Open the VIP instance you'd like to control and click the Highlight to Connect to Hardware icon, which is located at the top right corner of VIP as shown in the picture below:
Many VST instruments can send multiple separate channels of audio to a DAW like Cubase. Consult your VST instrument's user guide for more information. VIP will recognize and open these multi-out plugin versions. Here are the steps to route these separate audio tracks within Cubase. The steps and pictures below are from Cubase 8, but the same basic steps apply to most modern full versions of Cubase. Cubase LE or other light versions may not have this multiple VST output feature.
- Open the Devices > VST Instruments window in Cubase (F11).
- Add a new VST Instrument by clicking the button at the top left corner.
- Select VIP from the Instrument list and click Add Track.
- Click the Activate Outputs button - the arrow to the right off the VST name.
- Click the All Outputs option to highlight and enable all of VIP's eight stereo outputs.
- On the VIP software instrument track, click the Show/Hide Automation button to reveal the individual output tracks.
- In VIP, any scanned VST Instruments that have multi-out versions will be listed separately. Load one of the multi-out versions.
- Route the audio outputs within your VST Instrument as instructed in the program's user guide. The individual audio tracks in Cubase will receive these separated audio channels. That's it!
Whether you are a customer or dealer, if you already own a Akai Professional product, or if you just have pre-sales questions, the Akai Professional technical support team is available to help!
Visit the link below to connect with any of the following support options: online community support, phone support, email support.
Several other helpful guides for the Advance keyboards and VIP software are available on the Akai Pro Knowledgebase as well.