How to manage your soundlibrary

I’ve been using Cantabile for a while now and really enjoy it, the flexibility to setup and attach everything with each other: great!. Still there are some challenges I have and I’m curious how you manage them.
I’m using Cantabile live with various VST’s for synth, organ & orchestral sounds. For every song I’m searching and tweaking new sounds, this takes a lot of time. I haven’t come up which some structure in Cantabile to setup a soundlibrary to easily store and search different sounds to reuse within songs with Midi CC controls. What is your approach?
The second part is to master and mix the sounds. My experience that the sounds from the VST’s not directly usable in a live setup and therefor I’ve made a rack containing compressor and saturation effects. How do you master your sounds?

Hi Joel and Welcome to the Forum! :slight_smile:

Cantabile is very flexible in this respect so there is more than one way to set up what you want. Also it depends on the version you are running because there are more features that aid recall able sounds. If you could please post the version you are using ( Basic, Solo, Performer) it will help us here give more targeted advice.

The search engine on the forum can uncover a lot of topics already covered as well and might prove helpful.

In general though I can outline how I do it and hope others will share their methods or reference older posts that might help.

  • Organize sound patches in linked racks and either use the the VST slot preset system or Rack states to save them

  • Change the rack state or patch using Song states for reusing patches in the same song

  • For Mastering you can create a Master Output linked rack and route your audio from the VST racks to it. On the inside of it you arrange your mastering chain VSTs. I put my EQ and Limiter here. You have the output of this rack go to the Main Speaker outs. You include this mastering rack in every song. You can (and I do) have a separate master FX rack (I put reverb and FX here) that you can use as a FX buss that you also send to the master rack.

Having the master racks allows you to use the rack states of those racks to have different effects for different song states or for whole songs. Also, if you want to use your own final stage limiter you can turn off the built in one in Options, no need for 2 of them. I do it that way and have a brick wall setup on the out to prevent overload cracking. Note also that I use Performer and gave advise on how I set it up.

So that is the rough idea of how I do it. I hope it helps get you started and expect others will pitch in some thoughts.




Hi Dave,
Thanks for your response. I’m using the performer version, so I’ve got al the features.

Making separate racks to make up a sound library seems to me the best options. If I make separate racks for each VST and make states for the different sounds, can a rack have multiple instances within a song?

Thanks for pointing the direction with creating a Mastering Output linked rack and reuse them in each song.

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No, a rack can be used only once within a song.

There is a funky little workaround for this using hard links to the rack file with a different name (Triton Rack --> Triton Rack 2), so you can use the same rack twice, but this needs to be handled with care: if you make conflicting edits to the two instances in a song (referring to the same file on disk), this can mess things up royally.

I tend to make actual copies of rack files when I need a rack twice. These copies may drift apart (different “presets” for these two racks), but that’s more acceptable to me than having to watch for competing edits all the time… Makes more sense to me - these are actually two different loaded instances in memory - like having two physical synths in a setup…




I use VST host since the Native B4 hit the market about 20 years ago and to this day, I still find that the main weakness about using VST rigs for live gig is that mixing them properly without extensive pre-prod is almost impossible. For live gig I rely on a very limited VSTs that I know very well and that had been used many times. At the opposite, somethin like a Roland Fantom can be used with almost no preparation but selecting the “right sound”. So, how I do I master virtual instruments? By long pre-prod and extensive tweaks until it blends well and is still flexible enough so I will be comfortable in any given situation. This way I can play live with SWAM brass and Winds, Halion Orchestra, AAS Lounge Lizard with ease, as long as it’s not a pick up gig.

I’ve got to say, I use all my vst’s live with hardly any processing on them at all. Even take the reverb off most of them unless I’m needing it for a special, over the top effect. I get sound men asking me to take it off in more cases than not. I do of course not count things like chorus n phasers and things like that that form a part of the character of the sound. And I’ll eq a little, within the racks, just to remove a bit of low mid mud and bottom end for the sounds that really don’t need it. Other than that, pretty much straight out of the plugs. And I get lots of comments from noise boys that everything sounds great.

YMMV of course


kx3, You are indeed putting your finger on a sore spot. Working with VSTs is very flexible and allows you to add your own ‘colour’ to the sound, but it requires a lot of pre-production.
An out-of-the-box keyboard will have its sounds ready to go, but the sounds are ‘colored’ by the supplier.
Personally I have a Roland RD-2000 for the piano sounds and use a Korg NanoControl to mix the volumes live of the VST’s to layer it all.

I’ve been using VST rigs live for years now, and I don’t see the need for EXTENSIVE pre-prod, TBH.

I use two simple elements to create a cohesive sound:

  • an EQ at the output of every rack (I use FabFilter Pro-Q 3 - nice to have the option for some bands of dynamic EQ)
  • turning off individual reverbs on instrument racks and using a common “send” reverb rack across my instruments (maybe different for “main” and “lead” part; reverb time and send levels adapted to song tempo)

I tend to equalize my instruments with a “mix-ready” ear (e.g. reduce low end of organs, pianos and e-pianos) - my hammonds sound nothing like a “real” Leslie, but they work well in a mix…

That’s pretty much it - I have a pretty good mental “producer’s” picture of how I want things to sound; with these two elements, I get all my VST instruments massaged towards that target sound.



What I sometimes do is to use “Embedded rack from file”, so use my linked rack as an embedded rack, which is essentially a copy that’s just local to that song. That allows me to use 2 or more instances of the same rack in a song. The only thing is that any changes to the embedded rack(s) won’t be reflected in the linked rack.



And the other thing is that this embedded rack will consume additional memory when pre-loading. Doesn’t hurt when you duplicate a rack in only one song (then the resource footprint stays the same), but once you start creating local embedded copies of the same rack in multiple songs, it makes sense to consider creating a copy of the linked rack or using the hard-link “hack”.

But an interesting technique for just the occasional duplicate - makes tons of sense…