Stuck on Cantabile 2 - Why is Cantabile 3 So Great?

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f978a9f0be0> #<Tag:0x00007f978a9f0b18> #<Tag:0x00007f978a9f0a50>

Why would I want to use 3.0 over 2.0? What value does it provide over 2.0?

I bought Cantabile 3, but I’m still happy with 2.0. I don’t see why I’d want to change to the new version because the change in workflow is sooooo radically different and I can’t wrap my head around it. 2.0 works well for me in live gigging. Is there a reason why I’d be happier with 3.0 (I can’t figure out how to WORK that darn thing!)

I play keyboards live. I don’t do a lot of patch changes during the gig. I just load up a handful of patches: an Organ, a Piano, a Synth pad, a String section, a Rhodes, a Clav and a Synth lead. That’s it. I use 3 MIDI boards, an 88-key, a 49-key and a 25-key. The 49 is dedicated to the organ patch & occasional Synth lead. The 88 has the Piano, Clav and Rhodes. The 25 is for the Synth pad and Strings. I mute/unmute patches as needed via a Korg NanoKontrol (ver1), where I also control volumes via the sliders.

The layout / workflow in Cantabile 2.0 works just perfectly for what I’m doing. I can’t even figure out how to do the same thing in 3.0. Is there any reason why I’d want to use 3.0? (BTW, I did purchase the upgrade and I installed it - I just don’t use it because it makes no sense to me).

Thanks for any help you can provide folks.

Hi @CapnRichard

Sorry to hear this. Yes, v3 is different - mostly in the ways audio and MIDI routing is handled, but also in the way racks, songs and set lists are configured. But, I didn’t realize there was anything that radically different.

A couple of things:

  1. Have you seen these videos. In particular the one on Ports and Routes might help get you started with the new routing system.
  2. Can you provide some more details on where you’re getting stuck - I’m curious to understand where the problems are originating.


1 Like

CapnRichard - I think we use Cantabile similarly given your description, and I’ll respectfully disagree with Brad - I think Cantabile 3 is harder to get started on too. I went with Cantabile 2 rather than Brainspawn Forte back in the day because Cantabile 2 just seemed easier - I could get what I needed to do with fewer mouseclicks, and I could intuit what things controlled what more easily.

However, every frustration I’ve had with Cantabile 2 is remedied in Cantabile 3 (save one - variable speed audio playback of media files, but hopefully that too will come out soon). Cantabile 3 is harder to get started on because it is more complex - instead of automatically hardwiring whatever midi device you have to whatever VST you select, you have this intermediate idea of a midi port, for instance, that you have to route correctly or else you get no sound. BUT, now, when a midi controller keyboard goes down and I have to quickly use a different one in its place, all I do is change the one midi port definition, and all 120 of my songs are updated. Awesome!

Another example: in Cantabile 2 there’s no confusion about what the media player is, or where it sits, and it just works as you’d intuitively expect. In Cantabile 3 it could be defined in the background rack, or in a regular rack, or in a song. BUT now when I want to add a mp3 for practice into a song I no longer need to re-bind keys on my controller to start it, stop it, and change volume; because I added the media player to the background rack, the bindings are already there.

Another example: you sound like me, a classic rock covers player. So I have only a limited number of different keyboard setups: EP over AP, Hammond over AP, Brass over AP, etc. I used to have to re-create these for every song we covered so I could get an mp3 associated with each song for my personal practice and for band rehearsal. That meant when, say, Pianoteq came out with an upgrade, I’d have to change every single song. No more - no Cantab 3 has racks so I just change a few rack definitions, and all my songs are instantly updated!’

So I’m glad I’m not just arriving at this party, or I’d probably find the complexity of Cantab 3 off-putting - it will make it more difficult for newbies to engage. But having used the old version for many years, I can see why Brad’s gone the direction he has, and it really is an enormous improvement to help in the maintenace of my of my many songs.

As far as stability or processor efficiency goes, Brad says it is better and I take his word for it, but I had no problems with the previous version. The big plus for me is setlist maintenance and the ability to deal with unexpected hardware changes quickly.

1 Like

Thanks Brad. I have checked out the videos. I am able to get sound from my keyboards (so that’s good!) - but nothing feels intuitive like v2 does and the on-screen layout doesn’t seem to be as useful for me in live gigging situations.

When I play live, I need to see when I have Muted/Unmuted various VSTs and Effects. I can see everything I need to on screen in v2. Not with v3. BUT, I’ll admit I just don’t have many hours clocked on v3 because I default back to v2 every time because of its ease of use / setup and visual layout. I use v2 several times each week in live gigging situations, so I have a LOT of hours clocked on v2.

I’ll make a screenshot later of how I use v2 and let you see what I’m talking about. I use v2 very “simply” - just a handful of VST’s and effects with 3 MIDI keyboards. I don’t change sound patches. Once I have the synth, organ, etc set the way I want - they STAY like that for the entire gig. I don’t trigger audio tracks. Nothing fancy or special.

Perhaps the other v3 users out there (gigging keyboard players) can suggest how they use v3 and how they set it up. I hope so. But at this point, unless there are dramatic latency improvements (or some other great audio tech advance), I have no real reason to migrate to v3 even though it’s installed on my laptop. I’m not griping or complaining - just stating that it doesn’t really seem to work for me (which is a bummer for me - especially if I’m missing out on some new great advancements in v3).

Don’t get me wrong - I’m very glad you’re actively involved and keeping the software updated Brad. And thanks for doing that! But I’d like to see how other gigging keyboard players are setting up and using v3 in live situations, so I can emulate what works well.

Hey Guys,

Thanks so much for this feedback - it really is invaluable and yes, please send through anything that illustrates what you prefer about v2.

As you may know, I’m about to start the next major round of design and development - so I’ll be certainly taking all this kind of feedback into account.


Having used both v2 and v3 live, I find v3 better because of Live mode. I wear contact lenses on stage and have difficulty seeing small print. V3 also lets you scale the UI size and/or some text sizes. I go into Live mode and minimize all panels except the setlist. I set the UI scale to max (385% if I remember) and can read the song names very easily on my Win8.1 2-in-1 laptop/tablet.

For me that’s a game-changer. That being said, the session/song conversion from v2 to Songs in v3 did not go smoothly. After following the recommended (semi)auto conversion process, I basically had to re-build all of my songs from scratch. While that was not difficult to do (very intuitive I thought), it was quite time consuming.

I’d say look at the feature-set of v3 and what has changed from v2. If v2 works for what you need then stay with that.

~ vonnor

1 Like

vonnor - Thanks for the photo of your gear setup! If I was playing live with those 2 keyboards, I’m not sure I’d need to use Cantabile on stage. I played with the Roland FantonX6 and RD300 on stage for years - never used Cantabile then. Switched to lighter MIDI keyboards and VST’s on my laptop for superior sound samples and amp modeling, which required me to begin using Cantabile for live gigs (because Sonar is NOT a live gigging application). Version2 has been perfect for me, but I’d be interested in seeing a screenshot of how you setup Version3 for your live gigging. The standard visual layout in v3 takes up too much screen real estate for me to see what I need to see. So I’d love to see a screenshot of your v3 layout please (if you don’t mind). Thank so much!

Here’s a screenshot of how I setup Cantabile v2 for my live gigging. I use a total of 7 “tracks”, but NEVER all 7 at the same time. I route Piano | Rhodes | Clav to my 88 key MIDI board. I route Organ | Synth lead to my 49 key MIDI/usb keyboard. I route Synth Pads and Strings to my 25 key MIDI/usb keyboard (and usually layer both sounds together). I toggle Amplitube on/off on the Strings track for a phaser effect. I mute the instruments I’m not using.

That’s about it folks. A Simple setup. Nothing fancy but it works for my needs. The layout allows me to see which instruments are muted / unmuted so I can quickly adjust as needed.

IF there’s a better way to do this in version 3 - please show me your screenshots / and list your setup details, if you don’t mind. Thanks everyone!

1 Like

I used version 2 for a couple of years. Very simple set up and I used it mainly as a VST host for individual plug-ins. When I started learning Cantabile 3, it took a couple of months before I was really comfortable with it. But now I am and I use it heavily for creating racks, songs, set lists, switching states within songs as well as live mode song lyrics and notes. I wouldn’t go back to Cantabile 2.

But, the bottom line is that if you’re happy with what you are using, why change? At some point you might want more than what you have, and you can always upgrade at that time.

Hi @CapnRichard,

Just commenting that I’m following along with this discussion and taking your comments under serious consideration. What that exactly means as far as real changes - I’m not sure yet.

I might have further questions as I continue to think about all this.


1 Like

I think Cantabile is great - it solves a problem for live gigging musicians and fulfills a void that DAWs cannot fill. Perhaps there can be a couple of “flavors” of Cantabile? ONE for very simple, live VST & VSTi users and ONE for the more complex users who are triggering events via MIDI and playing samples and video, etc? (I don’t know if that’s a great idea or not - just throwing it out there).

One idea I DO think would be cool: being able to customize what I see on my screen. Perhaps able to drag and drop elements that I want to see on my “dashboard”? Here’s a crude example of what I was thinking about (attached). The idea is that I can click or double-click on the buttons to Mute/Unmute or Activate/Deactivate, as well as route FX.


I forgot to mention jcsquire, that I too, chose Cantabile 2 over Forte because of its ease of use. I’m computer geeky, so I usually don’t mind tweaking with apps, but when it comes to live gigging, I just want to keep it simple because too much complexity interferes with the creative process. Honestly, the ONLY reason I use a laptop & MIDI keyboards is because of the superior sound quality of the VST instruments and VST effects compared to anything you can find on modern “stage” keyboards & workstations

Having gigged for years with old school stage keyboards, the ONE thing that makes stage keyboards great is that they are literally plug and play simple / fast. BUT they are heavy and expensive, whereas my MIDI boards are extremely light and relatively inexpensive to replace if needed. For the price of a new Roland RD-300 stage keyboard, I can have a new laptop and 3 USB MIDI boards ready for gigging with better sounds, FX and configuration capability. Cantabile 2.0 is the truly the CENTER of my live rig because of its easy, fast, stable usability.

But perhaps Cantabile 3 has a target audience that is much different than what I use it for. ???

Just want to say that the new Cantabile 3 paradigm is much more useful for me than Cantabile 2 was. It takes a while to get used to it, but C3 is definitely the way forward in my opinion.

I do agree with CapnRichard’s concept/mockup, that dockable, configurable views would be a huge productivity booster - particularly a plugins view.

1 Like

Thanks ultracb. I will dedicate some time to wrapping my head around v3 this weekend and see if I can replace my v2 setup with v3 in a LIVE setting.

I’ve been using Cantabile 2 live for a few years now, but have now fully migrated over to Cantabile 3, and for me it’s a huge step forwards. There are many reasons, but probably the main one is the way you can create re-usable racks, which hide however much complexity inside that you require, and you can drop the rack into a song and use it like a plugin, just selecting a state from the dropdown. Any fiddly stuff you need to do can be hidden and forgotten about, leaving you to focus on building your songs. For example, I have a church organ rack, which contains two instances of Kontakt, and two instances of XPand2, along with a couple of different reverb plugins and a volume fader plugin. I blend the four different instrument plugins differently for different sounds, and zone them across the keyboard differently, providing sounds from a gentle organ from a small chapel through to a huge cathedral organ with all the stops open, and with varying reverbs. The volume fader plugin responds to expression pedal control, so I can fade up/down the whole thing, or morph between two different organ sounds. It took quite a bit of setting up, but now it’s done, I can throw my church organ rack into a song, dial up the sound I need, and it’ll just work, and sound far better than any single church organ plugin.

The other big win for Cantabile 3 for me is the routing. With Cantabile 2, the plugins are fixed into a fairly rigid routing system via busses, which is great for most stuff, but Cantabile 3 allows different rack/song states to route audio and MIDI differently. The plugin “wiring” can actually change for different parts of songs, switching in extra effects, or whatever. The downside of this wiring is that there are a few more mouse clicks to do before you can get a sound, which a few people have complained about, but for me the extra second or two in setup is definitely worth the huge gain in flexibility.

The other big win I’d like to mention is the way you can make a setlist for a show, and Cantabile can pre-load all the racks required for that show, allowing you to switch songs instantly. It’s a lot harder to achieve this speed of song switching in Cantabile 2.

One thing I love about Cantabile in general (2 or 3), over other plugin hosts…It’s incredibly powerful, but once you’ve set everything up, it gets out of the way and hides the clutter. It can act like an “appliance”, responding to program changes to select songs and song states/parts, without any interaction in the user interface. Contrary to some people’s preferences, I actually like that the plugin user interfaces are hidden - I don’t need to use half my display for a graphical picture of a piano or a synth front panel; any parameters I need to tweak can be neatly connected to my MIDI controller via bindings. This is important for me because most of the songs my band plays have 10 or more plugins running for the different layers/sections.

And lastly…check out the load readout for one of my songs in the image below, using Ivory II, two instances of M-Tron Pro II, two instances of VB3, 6 instances of Kontakt, two instances of XPand, Wavestation, and a variety of reverb, chorus, delay and fader plugins (most of these are hidden within my racks). 35%, with peaks below 40%. My box is barely breaking into a sweat. I never had that level of load stability with Cantabile 2.



Wow Neil_Durant - that was an extremely helpful post! Thanks for the insight as to how you setup and use v3. THAT is helpful to me … and I’ll bet a whole bunch of other users as well. Maybe we should have a section on the community forum where we share our setups and screenshots to help others with ideas on how best to customize / utilize Cantabile for our needs. I would want a sub-section dedicated to LIVE gigging keyboard players, because that’s pertinent for me. I’m sure there are guitarists & vocalists (and others) who use Cantabile live with varying other needs. It’s a great app, and apparently, with v3 I haven’t even scratched the surface. (Still takes some time for me to adjust my thinking to how v3 compares to v2). Again - thanks Neil_Durant for the insightful / helpful post.


I loved version 2 - probably because it was so intuitive.

It was a hard move to version 3 (for reasons already mentioned by others above) but now that I have - there’s no going back.

I agree v3 is not quite as intuitive to learn. But once you “get it” - you’ll find the way it handles what you want to do is far more intuitive than v2. The huge amount of versatility and “customizability” comes at the cost of a steeper learning curve.

(Oh - and it works a treat on a Surface Pro!)


Will this include the ‘preset randomization’ function? It seems to be missing from v3.


Hi @Bigassdroids

Morph and Randomize haven’t been implemented yet. They’re logged here but haven’t reached the top of the priority list yet and aren’t considered critical to live performance (which is Cantabile’s main focus).

(I also want to redesign the whole feature to make it automatable)


Cool, thank you Brad. As I stated elsewhere, I have used Cantabile since it came out for my preset design, in particular, the “save sequential” feature, was/is a life saver, time/flow wise. Glad to hear it wasn’t dropped. I’ll wait to update when it comes out, as I don’t do live performance, purely sample libs, and presets. All the best.