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Welcome to the support section.

Setting up the Motif XF as an EXTERNAL INSTRUMENT in Cubase 6

The External Instrument function is a VST CONNECTIONS feature of Cubase 6 that allows you to route MIDI tracks recorded in Cubase 6 to an external hardware synthesizer, and then create a MIDI Device routing so that the returning audio of that external device can be captured in Cubase. (Of course, this all takes place with Cubase’s advanced delay compensation, automatically). This is covered in the Steinberg documentation - I have include it below updated with specifics to help you setup for the Motif XF. (And although this article and it screen shots show the Motif XF (keyboard), the same can be used to configure the Motif-Rack XS or the Motif XS, using its dedicated Studio Manager Editor).

The source MIDI tracks for the External Instrument must be in CUBASE. That is, if you originally recorded the data in the Motif XF sequencer, you will want to export that data so that the MIDI tracks are in Cubase (Cubase can import Motif XF SONG data from within an ALL data file)… see separate article.

Cubase 6 has the ability to setup your hardware synthesizer as an EXTERNAL INSTRUMENT. This is found in DEVICES > VST CONNECTIONS as one of the tabs. It allows you to create an audio pathway in the DAW so that you can address your external hardware with the same ease and flexibility you do VSTi within the computer environment. This means you can use track automation, Audio Mixdown and the FREEZE function (although it takes place in real time) that until now were just available for VSTi soft-synths created within the computer or by using the Motif XF’s EDITOR VST. Why I, personally, like this External Instrument function is when combined with the FW16E (Firewire option) it gives you the most flexibility when it comes to audio routing. The Motif XF Editor VST allows you to configure the 16 audio bus outputs in eight stereo pairs (only). As you will see in this article, by using the STUDIO MANAGER version of the EDITOR and the EXTERNAL INSTRUMENT function of Cubase 6, we will be able to route PARTS in odd/even stereo pairing but also as individual MONO sends as well. This will facilitate routing individual drums, for example. If I need to route the kick drum to its own track, why route it in stereo. While some sounds will actually benefit from being recorded in stereo (those that are originally stereo), it makes no sense to record some other things in stereo.

Basically, MIDI is going to travel from your Cubase MIDI Tracks to the Motif XF tone generator, the audio created by this MIDI data is then returned to Cubase on multiple VST CONNECTION audio lanes that we will create. There are 16 simultaneous audio buses available to each Motif XF PART (and to each individual Drum within a Drum Kit Voice) on which we can route this returning audio. And unlike the Motif XF VST Editor, you will not be limited to just 8 stereo pairs of RETURNS. You can create various combinations of mono and/or stereo buses, as required by your particular session. If you are going to require individual outputs on drums, you will need to work with this method.

_ First you need to set the Motif XF up as an External Instrument Plug-in (VSTi) within Cubase 6 (this will also work in Cubase SX3.1.1, Cubase 4, Cubase 5 or Nuendo 3.2 (or later) - we will step you through this process. Translation: We are going to setup the MIDI > Tone Generator > AUDIO routing in the same way it works for any soft synth, even though the Motif XF is an external device!

_ Then you can associate it with a “MIDI DEVICE”, in this case: the Studio Manager and the Motif XF Editor V1.4.0 Doing this will allow the re-routing of the MIDI data to the external device. By routing the MIDI track’s data to the Studio Manager Editor we are, in affect, routing it to the Motif XF. The EDITOR is in bi-directional and simultaneous communication with the XF hardware.

_ Then you can route your Cubase MIDI tracks to Motif XF Editor (this is done via the Cubase MIDI Track’s Track Inspector… Instead of routing the MIDI OUT to the normal Motif XF port, you will see another Motif XF (VSTi) port that will represent the External Instrument routing).

_ Finally select the Motif XF Editor as a VSTi (which creates an “audio lane” for each RETURN you create).  When working with any VSTi, you have a Track to contain the MIDI data that you perform, and you have a so-called audio lane for the output of the VSTi.

Note: In the Studio Manager version of the Motif XF Editor, you will want to set the FW MONITOR function to “with PC”. When your routing is setup properly this will allow you to listen to your Motif XF through Cubase and prevent doubling of audio signal.

Start with an EMPTY Project. When learning about how to set this up, it is always best to understand the routing of one item before you tackle many.
FILE > New Project > EMPTY

The following is taken from the detailed descriptions for the External Instrument features in the Cubase documentation PDFs and has been updated (by me) for use with a Motif XF with (FW16E) Firewire.

Setting up External Instruments
1. Open the “VST Connections” window from the Devices menu.

2. Open the External Instrument tab and click “Add External Instrument”.

3. In the dialog that appears, specify the number of required mono and/or stereo returns.  (You need not create a NAME, it will be named automatically)

A specific number of mono and/or stereo return channels is required. You will have to determine how many mono and/or stereo returns you want to have from your Motif XF. You can create a simple stereo mix or you can get elaborate and route individual MIDI tracks each on their own path - this allows you to process each audio path with Cubase automation, and VST Effects, etc.

If you have an optional FW16E installed, you can have any combination you require (my setup, for example has 14 mono, 7 stereo, could be a mix of mono and stereo as required, or simply just a stereo return). This is up to you… and is customizable on a per Project basis. For example, there is hardly ever a need to record every audio track as stereo, or for that matter, there is hardly ever a cause to record each track as mono, so I find that I have several setups that I store as Favorites and I adjust this as necessary on a per Project basis. Once you understand it, it is, like everything, fairly easy and straightforward to customize.

Say you may want to record everything to a single stereo mix.
You would setup the VST CONNECTIONS > External Instrument tabs as follows:


For example, this would be if you have pre-mixed your Motif XF tracks and only require a stereo mix of the entire Motif XF. In this case, all PARTS of your MIX would be set to OUTPUT SELECT = L&R. The point is you can do a simple stereo mix, or you can create an audio path for each track… this is up to you.

4. Click OK. This adds a new external instrument bus.

5. Click in the Device Port column for the Return Bus “Left” and “Right” ports and select the inputs on your audio hardware to which you connected the external instrument.

Here you are assigning the appropriate AUDIO DEVICE and DEVICE PORTS to accommodate your particular setup. If, for example, you have just the Motif XF going through via FW before going to the DAW… you would set the Returns to “Device Ports” ... as necessary. You can set as many audio Returns as you require: For example, a simple mix could be just a stereo L&R pair – or you can get very elaborate and create an audio path for each track in turn. (Note: If you have installed the “Yamaha Motif XF Extensions v1.0.0” the Motif XF ports will be conveniently identified by name). If you are using the Yamaha Steinberg FW Driver the AUDIO DEVICE would be identified as “Yamaha Steinberg FW”.

6. If you like, make additional settings for the bus.
These are found in the columns to the right. Note however that you can adjust these while actually using the external instrument – which may be easier as you can hear the result.

In the column called “MIDI Device” where it currently says “NO LINK” - set it to open STUDIO MANAGER > Motif XF

If you have not previously configured Studio Manager with the Motif XF do so now.
Here you would *add* the Motif XF Editor… to your Workspace
Setup your Workspace for this Project (include all your hardware that has an associated Editor for this project) Studio Manager can handle Editors for all your various studio devices: Digital mixers, effect processors, keyboard and rack mount synths. It will “manage” all of the MIDI IN/OUT ports of the various devices be they USB or FW or a combination.

When you ADD the Motif XF Editor to your Workspace, check the SET DEFAULT option, Click APPLY, then OK. The Motif XF icon will appear in the Studio Manager launch pad.
Double click the Motif XF icon to launch the Editor. This action should allow you to LINK the EXTERNAL INSTRUMENT to STUDIO MANAGER > Motif XF (as the MIDI DEVICE)

7. When you are done, close the VST Connections window.

If a port is unavailable for assignment (that is, it does not appear on your list), this is because you are using it somewhere else in your setup. Check the VST INPUT tab and release it (i.e., set it to Not Connected), if you require it for your External Instrument. This is an important point to understand: If you setup to use a VST CONNECTION INPUT within the External Instrument, it will no logner appear as available on the VST CONNECTIONS INPUT tab, and vice versa. When you setup a VST CONNECTION INPUT on that screen it will be unavailable to the External Instrument.

How to use the External Instrument
Once you have set up the External Instrument in the VST Connections window, you can use it as a VST Instrument.

Open the VST Instruments window and click on an empty instrument slot. This is found under DEVICES > VST INSTRUMENT (F11)

In the instrument pop-up menu, your external instrument is listed on the External Instruments
submenu: X-External Plug-ins “Motif XF”

You will be asked if you want to create a MIDI track assgined to the device you are creating. Create that MIDI track. Now when you setup a Cubase MIDI Track, the Track Inspector will be setup with the normal MIDI IN = “ALL MIDI INPUT”, but the MIDI OUT will be routed to new “Motif XF(Motif XF Main)” device --- which is now listed where your VST instruments would be listed. Make sure each track you create for this devices is assigned the MIDI OUT to this new External VSTi listing of the “Motif XF(Motif XF Main)” for each MIDI OUT Track.

You are sending the MIDI OUT from the track to the Studio Manager > Motif XF Editor, the Editor is controlling the Motif XF.

All of this will be saved in your .CPR or .NPR file when save your Cubase/Nuendo Project. When you re-open the session, you will be asked if you want to RECALL this setup (see Studio Connections RECALL article for details on this).

Shown below (the External Instrument screen) is an example with 7 stereo returns and 14 mono returns coming from the Motif XS. This covers every possible configuration possible from a Motif XF with an FW16E installed. I use this because I can configure whatever possibility I need to accomplish my goal per Project. The setup will remain as part of my Cubase6 setup. The External Instrument “Motif XF” is linked to the Motif XF Editor (“MIDI Device).

This can be stored as a setup and recalled and reconfigured as necessary, for any Project. You will discover that on different projects you may need a particular number of stereo bus returns, and a particular number of mono bus returns. With this setup I can assign “Yamaha Steinberg FW” as the Audio Device, and then assign the Motif XF Port number, as necessary. Shown is, Return Bus 1 is set to receive audio via “FW1&2” from the Motif XF.


The individual OUTPUT SELECT assignments are made in the Motif XF. When you assign a PART to FW1&2 you are assign it to audio output buses “Motif XF 1” and “Motif XF 2”
Actually assigning XF PARTS to output buses can be carried out with the Motif XF Editor “OUTPUT SELECT” or from the front panel of the XF itself, where it is a PART Edit parameter.
Set the OUTPUT SELECT, as necessary.
Press [MIXING]
Press [EDIT]
Press Track Select [1]-[16]
Press [F1] VOICE
Press [SF2] OUTPUT
OUTPUT SELECT = L&R (main outs), FW1&2 - FW13&14 (stereo pairs), FW1 - FW14 (individual mono), drum (from DrumVoice setup).

You can route individual drums from within a Drum Kit Voice to various assignable outputs. This can be accomplished via the Motif XF Editor without leaving the MIXING mode. Routing individual drums can be very powerful for those sessions where you are going all out. The kick to its own MONO track, the snare to its own MONO track, etc. This is accommodated from within a single kit by setting the PART containing the DRUM KIT so that OUTPUT SELECT = “drum”. This allows the XF to route each individual drum instrument to its own output bus. Very Cool!

You can route any PART as a stereo or mono output, as you require to accomplish your goal. Multiple outputs can be used simultaneously and mulitple PARTS can be routed to the same bus. On the VST INSTRUMENT tab you can activate any combination of Returns, as necessary. Just to the right of the “e” (edit) icon is the output icon: [-->.


Click here and the ACTIVATE OUTPUT combination that you need.

You can now use the Audio Mixdown function in Cubase 6. The Motif XF is being treated like any multi-timbral VSTi at this point. The MIDI is routed OUT to the XF, and the audio RETURN path has been established. Because the XF is a Hardware synthesizer and external to the computer, you will notice that rendering will be processed in real time. You can have Cubase 6 add the stereo mixdown to the Audio Pool and as an Audio Track within the Project.

See Cubase 6 documentation for all the new Export Audio Mixdown options available via the Channel Batch Export feature!!!

Hope that helps.