Create One Rack or Many Specific Racks - Best Practice

If I want to load up all of my synths and presents and the beginning of a set, is it best to have one large rack with all of my synths loaded. And then have the song reference an appropriate rack state.

Or for organizational purposes is it good to have many racks and rack states, and then I HOPE/ ASSUME, that a set list will see all of the Racks that the set list references and will automatically load all of the needed racks??? FYI - My computer has 16GB of ram, and a 512GB SSD.

Hi John,

It really comes down to a personal preference and what works best in your particular situation.

To be clear though - if you use many racks and you turn on set list pre-loading (Tools -> Preload Setlist) it will load all the referenced racks. You don’t need to hope/assume :slight_smile:



Perfect answer, now I just have to figure out what works best for my needs. However here is a question that might apply, based upon how C3 works under the hood.

Is the one rack method more computer efficient with less overhead… Let me explain

If I have specific racks for each songs and Song 1 loads plugins A&B loads, while Song 2 loads plugins B&C, and song 3 loads plugins A&C, would this be more overhead than just one rack which loads plugins A,B & C and switches them on and off using different Rack States. While the individual Racks Method is loading each Plugin twice.

Thanks John

Hi John,

There is a little overhead with using racks as there’s an extra input/output audio mixer but in general it should be negligible compare to the contained plugins. I’d suggest going with whatever organisational method works best for you and then perhaps address it if/when it becomes a problem.

ie: avoid premature optimization because it’s the root of all evil apparently.


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Just one attempt at a “real life” practice (no claim to “best practice” :smile: ):

I tend to create purpose-focused racks, some just with one main instrument plus maybe an EQ, some with several parallel instruments to choose from:

  • Piano rack (with Addictive Keys plus Pianoteq)
  • E-Piano rack (Lounge Lizard plus another Pianoteq, plus a number of FX like trem or distortion)
  • Pad synth rack (M1 and Wavestation)
  • Organ rack (VB3 plus some additional FX)
  • Main Synth rack (all-purpose synth sounds, Hive for analog + M1 for digital)
  • Solo Synth rack (all my solo sounds, Hive for analog, M1 + Wavestation for digital)
  • Guitar rack (Scuffham S-Gear + some pedal VSTs)

For any one song, I just mix and match from my individual racks. This keeps things nice and tidy, easy to assign keyboard splits and controllers/pedals to individual racks.

The only purpose where I build more complex all-purpose-racks is when using a two-keyboard-setup and a “universal” song, e.g. for jam sessions. In this case, I want to separate switching sounds for my main keyboard and for the secondary one. Song states don’t work here (they always switch everything, at least until @brad gets to realizing a “state switch protect” attribute for racks). So I construct my standard sounds for each keyboard within one rack per keyboard and switch their states via program changes from the keyboards.

Hope this helps!




Torsten, do you create multiple racks for a particular instrument? For example, a VB3 rack for “rock organ”, and another for “sweet organ”? or do you manage the different sounds needs using just one organ rack? … now that I’ve reread your post, it looks like you using one rack but activating different organ sounds by changing the rack states. Is that correct?

Exactly! Rack = instrument; rack state = preset

My Organ rack has states like “Rock Organ”, “Blues Organ”, “Soul Organ”, “Jazz Organ”, “Distorted Solo”, … All created from different settings of my VB3 plus adapted EQ settings and sometimes a bit of post-distortion.

BTW: I use two different approaches to effects like reverb and delay:

  • I have one global FX rack with one global reverb and delay (different presets per song) and Routes from my racks as FX sends. These are the all-purpose effects to create an overall mix
  • in addition, some racks (e.g. Solo Synth Rack) contain individual reverbs or delays - where the effect is an integral part of the sound (e.g. a timed delay solo sound or a pad awash in a specific reverb)



Torsten, What is your approach with two keyboards. Example. One of my main setups is Piano on my lower 88 weighted and VB3 (Organ) on my upper 61 synth / waterfall keybed.

Would you suggest one Rack to cover both Plugins or would you load up two separate racks?

Do the Input devices (keyboards) get referenced at the song level, or at the rack level?

Previously I have just kept everything on Midi Channel 1 (with Forte), do you use different midi channels for different boards.

Thanks, John

Hi John,

definitely two racks - makes things far easier to route and to select songs. You can reference input devices at the rack level, but I think the better approach is to generally use Rack MIDI In as the source within the rack and then create routes at the song level. This way you are absolutely free to play your piano on your lower keyboard and organ above in one song and then your organ on the lower keyboard with a lead sound on the upper one in the next song.

I don’t use different MIDI channels in my setups, keep everything on channel 1 / Omni. I treat my masterkeyboard just as a dumb controller and concentrate all the routing logic in Cantabile.

Different boards just get attached to different input devices (“Main keyboard”, “upper keyboard”) and then routed to wherever I need them to create noise.

BTW: I also filter controllers out of the main MIDI stream(s) and create separate routes for them. So I can easily route the expression pedal on my lower keyboard to control the lead sound that I am playing on the upper keyboard.



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Torsten & Brad,

Thanks for all of the clarification. It certainly helps to understand the basics of the program before spending hours building out my songs and setlists…

Let me see if I have this right. Coming from Brainspawn Forte, a Rack was a Rack and Song was a Song, never to be confused. A “Forte Scene” was like a Cantabile “Rack State”.

But in C3 it seems like a Rack and a Song are almost the same. But using program language a “Rack” functions like a “Sub Routine” within the “Song”. And for those programmers we know that any recurring task that will be used over and over, it is good to build as a “Sub Routine”.

Is this a good way to look at a Song / Rack relationship ? (Program / Subroutine)


Yep, that’s a reasonable way to think about it.