Recording VSTi's

newb stuff, I know, but help appreciated

I was trying to record Reason’s output rewired to N-track a while back, and was only able to do it with a hardware patch-back (Reason’s audio sent out 7-8 out and then patched directly back into 7-8 in on my MOTU 828).

I had what I thought was a stupid epiphany and realised it would be much easier to use a VSTi for what I wanted to do (eDrums played live with a midi controller). So, got it all set up, but it seems to me that I’m faced with the same hardware patch-back in order to record the VSTi.

Am I wrong?

I would imagine the normal situation would be to either more likely sequence, or possibly record the midi data and then N reads this midi info and renders the VSTi’s audio when you do a mixdown. Yes? No? (never done it, don’t work with midi very much).

What I want to do is just record the VSTi’s audio directly. Is this possible without patching the separate output back into another input?

I know that I could record my midi controller input, but I don’t have a midi controller yet and have been using the VSTi’s built in sequencer (Sonic Charge’s MicroTonic drumsynth), tweaking the sounds and patterns as we jam to it. Call me stubborn, but I’d prefer to be able to just record the audio directly without the midi-dle man :slight_smile:

I hate having to do this through hardware though, as it uses up my preciously few inputs. (Few inputs on an 828? Yes… when you multitrack a whole band live…)

I hate asking stupid questions but I’d always assumed DAW software worked differently, so I don’t know if this is standard for the field or specific to N.

I truly appreciate any help. Thanks


Read this thread.

Simple answer: try “offline mixdown” and import the results. Then mute and minimize the MIDI track.

Thanks guys,

I guess I’m just stubborn. So it looks like I was right about everything. No I can’t record the audio of the VSTi without a hardware patch. Yes, I need to record the midi data from my controller (when I get it) and then render the VSTi’s audio from that midi file or try and sequence it (eww).

Cool. Question answered. I still have a small disappointment in that what I was doing (“playing” MicroTonic by tweaking it’s settings and step-sequencer patterns on the fly) did not involve using a midi controller and thus I have no midi info to record (unless MicroTonic ouputs midi from its own actions…?). So it looks like hardware patching untill I get that sweet Korg MicroKontrol…

Thanks again.

Yeah. if you want to record the sound of a vsti live, and don’t want to hardwire patch it as an audio sound, you need some sort of midi control. this can either be a controler, a premade midi (which doesn’t work with live playing/recording), or a virtual controler. You might be able to find a virtual control of some sort that sends a midi signal. Then send the signal through a vsti with the live button hit. record the midi notes, and they should be there later. Just like you would with a control, but this is midi. There should be plenty of cheap/free programs that are “virtual pianos”.


Oh, can you not set your record options to record “wav/midi”? you should be able to record it that way as audio w/o a patch, right? or is this not possible with those “better” soundcards? (Of course, this does not let you tweek missed notes later…)

n-Track will record the changes you make to the VSTi on the fly, if the VSTi supports it. For example, that works with Native Instruments B4; any control changes I make on its GUI get recorded as MIDI events. One thing that’s nice is that you can do these on a second pass.

BTW, note that (at least, for me, with NI B4), whenever I save to disk the VSTi gets reset back to original settings. So I make sure to leave some time at the beginning, and set up the controls while recording.

Recording MIDI and rendering later works great for me, because I make mistakes or change my mind, and it’s easy to edit the MIDI data in the piano roll to get just what I want.

Quote (butttruck @ Sep. 21 2004,16:40)
I guess I'm just stubborn. So it looks like I was right about everything. No I can't record the audio of the VSTi without a hardware patch.

I may not be understanding what you mean, but you're worng from a render standpoint. You can very easily create a wav file from a VSTi with no hardware required. I assume you want to convert the VSTi to a wav file track, right? Please reread the thread I linked to above. It tells you how to do it. Heck, forget it, I'll just paste it here from AudioMinds.:

"Teledork, maybe the answer I gave above was too short. It is very very very simple to create a wav file from a VSTi and you are working too hard. Solo the MIDI track you want to make into a wav file. Click the mix down icon in the tool bar. Choose a file name and bit depth and be sure to do an offline mixdown. If N prompts you for anything, answer no. (Otherwise you go into that wizard which is worthless for VSTis and is designed to work with hardware synths.) Once the mix down is complete, remove the solo from the MIDI track and then mute the track that was just soloed. Now import the wav file you just made. That is all there is to it. No sound card mixer involved, no recording in real time, its easy."

There is no hardware or patching required anywhere in this process. It is all done in n-track adn has nothing to do with what sound card you have. Like our friend above, you're working too hard.

No bubba, wait. What he is doing (from what I understand) is recording his entire band playing live. While he is doing that, he is playing the vsti to go along with it, and probobly using it as the basis for tempo, etc., and everyone else is playing off of him. So he is wanting to record his VSTi while playing it live. Sort of recoding live improvisational playing, or something, perhaps. Make sense? At least that is what it seems to me that he is doing. I could be wrong, of course.


Well, hopefully we have covered all the bases what ever the need is. VSTis aren’t ideal for playing live while recording a band. Usually what I do in that case is have a keyboard and record the MIDI and the band hears the built in keybaord sounds. Then I take the MIDI track and render it from the VSTi after the fact. There are 100 ways to do it.

well, this thread just helped me…

and thanks for the audiominds link bubba.



Wow, you guys kept going without me.

Thanks for all the help.

Just to clarify…Yes I am tweaking the VSTi live as the band jams, and yes it is all fully improvisational. No I’m not trying to render the VSTi to a wave. And no, I can’t really record the midi from a keyboard while the band jams to the keyboard sounds because a) I don’t have keyboard, and b) I’d need a keyboard with really cool percussion sounds :)

It’s not integral to our band that I use these electronic sounds (it was just an experiment), so I have resigned to wait till I get a controller of some sort to play with that stuff. btw…thanks fish for the virtual controller recomendation, but I’d tried that already and playing beats on the computer keyboard just didn’t feel right.

Anyways, you guys are great. Thanks again.


Have you tried recording MIDI when you fiddle with the VSTi while playing? It should work: you should be able to play back the MIDI track and get the same results. If that works, then you render it to wave afterwards, and use the wave track for mixing. That frees up two audio input channels, if nothing else.

Also, there’s a VST plugin that saves what it sees on disk, and that would do just what you want. You’d plug that VST into the FX chain on the VSTi instrument channel. I don’t remember what it’s called, but if you’re interested, you can post a question asking about it and maybe someone on the board remembers.