Unsure whether to change to V3, need opinions please

Hi all, been wanting to ask your opinion for a while so here goes. I love v2 of Cantabile and use it live every week. v3 seems very impressive but i really have very simple needs so unsure if v3 is just too complicated for what i want.
I have 2 controller keyboards and the laptop, both have plenty of transports, knobs etc so dont need a midi controller. I dont change things “on the fly” mid song or have different verse and chorus sections etc, really only tweak the main output volume really.
All i want to do is have a list of songs for the gig and select as i go (mostly we do the set in order but sometimes this can change mid gig). I dont need to change anything mid song just want to have a vst assigned to each keyboard for each song, sometimes i will split one or both keyboards in Cantabile and the splits may need different vst patches with different volumes but thats about it.
As i understand it, in v3, i have to create individual racks with all the vsts i use (grouping them as strings, organ etc) and then create an individual rack? for each song with the specific vsts for that song? (ie a string sound on one keyboard from the strings rack, and an organ from the organs rack?), then i can store that as say a song labelled “U2-Beautiful Day” etc?. Thinking as im writing this, could i just create one level of racks for each song?, so that when i call up the song the tailored rack for that song (1 or 2 keyboards used, splits, specific volumes for each vst etc ) can be loaded, that may mean using the same vst sample in multiple racks so not sure if thats ok load wise or not.
Some of the answers ive seen on here are quite overwhelming in complexity so im sorry if i come across a bit naive with my post, but i love Cantabile and if i can keep it reasonably simple i would like to convert, or shall i just stick with v2 ?

EDIT. Re reading my post, Is the correct process, Create Racks - Create States for each song - Save Song?

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You’re pretty close, but not quite there yet :wink:

First: create racks from your plugins - these are the “Instruments” you use in your songs.

Why create racks? Two reasons:

First: racks get re-used across songs and (for pre-loaded set lists) are kept im memory only once, So, if you use the same rack (“Piano Rack”) in 15 songs in your set list, it gets loaded only once. If you put the plugins into your songs directly, all individual instances need to be pre-loaded for each song. Racks keep your setup efficient!

Second: racks encapsulate complexity. My E-Piano Rack contains two vst instruments plus a number of effects like EQ, amp, phaser, flanger, reverb etc. All these are then configured in detail for each rack state - and the whole configuration is saved with the rack state. So, by selecting one rack state, I can recall a very complex configuration of a number of plugins that I don’t really need to worry about when building a song - I simply load a “rack preset” like “Dreamy Wurlitzer”

So, now you create rack states in your racks for every basic sound you may want to use later in your songs. Of course, you can start with a few and add additional states later on.

OK, now you have your racks - your building blocks for your songs.

Now: build songs from your racks

For each song:

  • load the racks you need for this song (PianoRack + StringRack for one, HammondRack and SoloSynthRack for the next…). Select rack states for these songs to set them to the sound you want.
  • Now make connections: create Routes from your keyboards to your Racks’ MIDI inputs, make settings for these Routes to create splits or layers, etc. Also connect your Racks’ outputs to the correct output ports (Main Speakers, Secondary Speakers, …)
  • Next, set volume levels for your racks to tune the sound to taste
  • Last, create bindings to react to controllers (bind volume for a specific rack to a slider, etc.)

Now you have a song with one setup: your keyboards will play the sounds with splits and layers, and you can control some volumes or effects parameters with sliders.

If you don’t want to automate sound / setup changes between song parts (piano in the verse, organ in the chorus), you can stop right here!

If you DO want to automate these changes, you need song states (but only then). Song states allow you to save a certain configuration of your song and recall it later. A configuration essentially consists of

  • Racks being turned on or off
  • Rack states selected (“presets” for your racks)
  • Rack (and Route) volume levels
  • Configuration of your Routes, especially from your keyboards to your racks (change split zones)
  • Configuration of your Bindings (expression pedal may control different things in verse vs. chorus)

So, you configure your Racks, Routes, and Bindings a certain way, then save this to a Song State. Now, with the press of one button, you can change from verse configuration to chorus and back

Of course, there is shedloads of additional stuff that you can do, but this should be enough to get you pretty far. Then come back and ask for more :wink:



@terrybritton: do you think this could be a worth-while first tutorial for your planned video series? I guess it would take care of a lot of entry-level questions…


Thanks for the patient reply Thorsten lol, newbs !!. Where Im getting confused is with"rack states". I don’t need to use rack states to " build" a song, I only need a rack or state to load as a finished preset if you like for both my keyboards for each tune. So, bearing this in mind, would I just make a custom rack for each tune ?

Careful - don’t confuse “rack states” and “song states”. You definitely need rack states to build a song (unless all your racks can only make 1 sound each), but you don’t necessarily need song states.

Think of racks as your 19’’ expanders you used to lug around for gigs. You program sounds in them and then you store them as presets / patches / whatever

The same applies to your racks: a rack is essentially an enclosed unit that generates a certain category of sounds. You create patches for this unit by editing inside the rack and storing the result in a rack state. Now you save your rack and forget about all the inside workings. You now have a “black box” that can generate different sounds by calling up different rack states. Most of your racks will have different rack states. E.g. a Piano Rack will have states like “bright piano”, “reverb piano”, “dreamy piano”, “tack piano”, “honky tonk”; a String Rack may have “bright strings”, “full orchestra”, “analog strings”, “warm pad”, …

For each “tune”, as you call them, you create a “song” in Cantabile. So, when you want to play the tune “Beautiful Day”, you load the song file “Beautiful Day.cantabileSong”.

This song file then contains only the racks you need for this song. No need to build an additional rack per song! Simply load all the racks you need for “Beautiful Day” into this song file, and connect them to your keyboards.

You now need to select a rack state for each of the racks you loaded in order to “load the patch” this rack needs to play.

Example: “Beautiful Day”: you load “Strings Rack” and “Organ Rack” into the song “Beautiful Day”. You connect “Strings Rack” to your lower keyboard and “Organ Rack” to your upper keyboard. Now you select “U2 brilliant strings” as the rack state for your “Strings Rack” and “Fat Organ” as the rack state for your “Organ Rack”. Now you connect the Stereo Out for both your racks to “Output - Main Speakers” - all done!

Your upper keyboard now plays the patch “Fat Organ” on your Organ Rack; your lower keyboard plays “U2 brilliant strings” on your String Rack.

All this together is a “song file” - all you need to configure Cantabile for a certain tune. Build a new song file (possibly from totally different racks) for the next tune - how about “Where The Streets Have No Name”?

Hope this helps…


That’s great Torsten, I’ve got the general idea now I think so I’m going off to play about. Thank you so much for your help, I’m definitely going to give v3 a go, and I agree with your suggestion earlier to definitely make a basics video on this particular subject as I’m sure there’s a lot of other people in the same boat. Thanks again, Steve

Just a quick clarification Torsten, a) after setting up and saving my Rack State in my song file titled “beautiful day” next time i select that song the racks and rack states are automatically loaded as previous?, b) the next song i may select after this, i take it that will have its own unique rack state that ive set up dedicated to that song and the racks are already preloaded ?

Careful - need to distinguish two things:

  • Rack states are stored within the rack - and are thus available to all songs using this rack (again, like patches on a hardware synth).
  • Every song stores only a “pointer” to the selected rack state for all the racks it contains (essentially, it only remembers the name of the rack state). This is like a “performance” on multi-timbral synths: they just contain the patch numbers for their individual voices.

So, if - while editing “Song 1” you make a change within the rack “Piano Rack” to the rack state “Piano 1”, this change will be made for EVERY song using this rack and this state.

But if “Song 1” uses “Piano Rack” with rack state “Piano 1” selected, then it will always load “Piano 1” in “Piano Rack” when loaded. “Song 2” then uses "Piano Rack with rack state “Piano 3” selected - Cantabile will automatically switch “Piano Rack” to “Piano 3” when loading “Song 2”.+

So, again: Rack states are tied to racks, not to songs. A song only stores which rack states have been selected. So if you want to build a dedicated rack state for a tune, you will have to do that within the rack. I do this all the time: within my guitar rack, there are numerous rack states (“patches”) that I only use for one specific song. I then name them accordingly (“Still Haven’t Found Clean”, “Jumping Jack Flash Crunch”, “Jumping Jack Flash Solo”, …).



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Just to say, it’s possible to put all the racks or ‘top level’ plugins (not in a rack) into one Song and have the States run your show instead of switching Songs.

I only mention this to highlight that each individual Song can be tremendously versatile and can, in theory, be all you need.
States show up in the Live mode with lovely big letters across the screen. It’s varying levels of power at your disposal, and you may not need to harness all of it to get a total result. :slight_smile:

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Ok thanks guys, will keep playing :smiley:

Torsten’s reply is up to his usual superb standards!! However, I’d just like to add that if you really just need something super-simple, and don’t mind waiting a few seconds between songs, you don’t even need to use racks at all in V3 - they’re primarily there to allow you to pre-load everything for a gig, so switching between songs is instant. But if you’re only loading a couple of plugins per song, maybe it’s not such a big deal for you, if you want to dip your toes in the water with V3. You can just add a plugin, add a MIDI route from your keyboard to the plugin, and a stereo route from the plugin to your audio output, repeat for your other keyboard, save song and you’re done.

However, the recommended way to get the best out of V3’s amazing potential is to follow the comments from Torsten and others above.



Thanks Neil, to be honest I spent most of yesterday following Torsten’s steps but it was pretty daunting the amount of setting up that was involved and I gave up, v2 is still super stable at gigs so was going to stay with it. That suggestion sounds much better so will give it a final go tonight, thanks

I resisted for many months changing from v2 to v3. Once I took some quiet time with Brad’s videos and then started experimenting, I actually found v3 to be easier than v2 (even though it has a lot more features). The routing system is very logical and so flexible. It’s like having a room full of synths with patch chords everywhere, and someone comes in and makes them nice and neat for you, labels them, and color codes them so you can find everything.

  • Paul
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Yes, definitely! I will use this as the outline for my first one.


To me, it’s more like having your keyboard in one room, and all the equipment from a large music store in the next room. When you select a song, just the bits of gear you need get wheeled through and wired into your keyboard, automatically, ready to go. So for any song, you just have everything you need, and no more. You want a Rhodes, that’s all you get, and no clutter. If you want a 10-keyboard '70s prog rock rig with a stack of effects for another song, that’s what you’ll get.

With V2 I found that once I had a few dozen songs set up in my rather large session, I started to get worried that if I change something for one song, it’ll mess up something else in another song without me realising. V3 gives you more clarity, and more isolation between songs by just giving you what you need.



This is what I posted in another thread:

I wanted so much for V2 to work for me, but the stability wasn’t there. It would crash on many of my prime plugs. I used other programs, and finally settled on Live Professor. Though it was a slow load, it was there when I needed it. But, if I tried to complicate the setup past two plugins, it would get a little unreliable, and would require a reboot. Since I play live, this was unacceptable. I searched for a long time and tried many different VST hosts and wound up using a some DAWs , but most of them were slow and added an additional load. I finally went to Ableton, using information from the many church musicians on Youtube who used it for Sunday morning services for a handfull of songs, and lighting, etc. It worked very well except for the fact that a song setup and related switching was very tedious. Since I have nearly 500 songs I have to load between several groups I perform with, I do not have the time to dedicate to song “surgery”. Then…I saw where Brad created V3 with a new engine. Hmmmmm?! I tried it. Once I got past the initial learning curve, I was elated! The stability was amazing, the setup was easy, and all my plugins worked. Then…when I discovered the power of this new version, and the possibilities under the hood, I became a V3 junkie and my performances changed from gear fumbling to actually interacting with the band and audience. This past weekend V3 worked flawlessly, and I received many compliments mainly because I was able to spend my time on stage performing, and my breaks in the crowd visiting, instead of correcting problems. Yeah, I’ll take V3 over V2 or anything else I’ve tried!


Hi guys, thanks for all the great responses. My personal journey from v2 to v3 has not been easy I must admit, I have now, with Torsten’s , and especially Neil Durant’s patient coaching, got to a stage where I have created a few “songs” and I’m really enjoying v3. It is a big change to v3 , but the look and feel of it is so much better than v2 so I’m pleased to have finally understood it. Initially it looked way too overcomplicated compared to v2 and I think that was my problem as I still only really needed a quite basic vst host, I understand that a lot of you guys really enjoy all the other options v3 brings but it probably could scare quite a few people off (nearly myself as well). The Cantabile tutorial vids are good but blew my mind a bit as they tried to cover everything in one go, what I, and maybe others could have done with is a more project based tutorial ? running through each step on a basic one or two keyboard setup showing rack creation, then song creation connecting the racks to the keyboards and saving in a song format with rack states for that song ?. Anyway thanks again everyone for your input, I’m still a v3 newb so expect more questions in the forum in the coming weeks. Steve