Skip to main content

Synfire Drones and DAW "Track Templates"

Author soundcase

Hi there,

if you want to use Synfire as a midi sequencer, Engines,no Rack saves,
just  Midi Drones and want to host everything in the DAW

this is the way that i am using  for long time,
with Reaper mainly and the FL Studio.
it was  kind a semi hack semi workaround at the first...
but then thanks to Andre now has official support!
called :
Transient Module.

you can create your own Device Description
or you can dowload  "SC_MIDIMASTER000_1.0"  attachment
then put to your ...Config/Devices folder and duplicate as you need
( i have 50 track template... basic midi drone templates )

anyway not much to say
its really simple...  

you can watch / download  the  "swf" video:

or you can download the same video from here.

note that, in the video i try to show basic  usage...
you can go crazy and create complex fx chains
with this very same way!
for example if DAW supports this you can add midi fx after the drones
( transpose, limit range ,arpeggiators are useful with auto chord etc...)
also an empty sampler for example...
or..full with sounds... sampler,sythesiser.

do not get confused about the instrument names
in the Device Decription... Piano, AcBass, on,
they are just a easy access to different  "Pitch Ranges",nothing more
you can give them a different names if you want..
honestly i pick them up from GM bank but i am using
almost only  piano, bass and StringEns , sometimes maybe Viola and FULL one too.

i hope this helps.
Best wishes



Sun, 2014-01-12 - 12:10 Permalink

Hi Soundcase

Are you using a windows computer or a mac ?, because the audiodriver must be used for Synfire and Cubase
First make a startarrangement in Synfire with Vsti , than export the Vsti from Synfire to Cubase and also the midi

What is the compositional workflow?.. export the vsti from Synfire first to Cubase and than compose in Synfire ( latency problems ? )
This workflow seems to me preferred, because you can add in your DAW more compositional tools
So the VSi is exported to the DAW and the composing process is partly in Synfire ( export midi now and then) and partly in Cubase.

Is this your workflow ?  

Sun, 2014-01-12 - 12:52 Permalink

Nice. It took some time until I understood it, especially why you don't save anything in Synfire. But I think now I got it. Ultimately, it is a practical way to outsource large parts of the sound management to the DAW. Once your track templates are set up, it can be a time saver.


Mon, 2014-01-13 - 00:17 Permalink

Hi janamdo,
i am on w7 x64
since i realized this Track Template Save and load easyness, i do not use Engines anymore,
so in this case  "no vst hosting"  in synfire = there is no exported vsti to DAW too.

as i said DAW must has support for Track Template Save , i know Reaper and FL Studio but i have no idea
how this works with Cubase sorry.

Mon, 2014-01-13 - 00:29 Permalink

Hi juergen,
and i do not have to worry  about to save Synfire first then DAW project etc..
because  i never  use/save  Synfire Rack too..
as a side note i almost never open Audio Midi setup 
unless if i want to create new Device Description
or i need to press "Reset" button.. 

"Once your track templates are set up, it can be a time saver."
and plus when you open/load   track template you can reach them from all Synfire windows instantly
...Arrangements , Libraries ,Sketchs...

Mon, 2014-01-13 - 09:25 Permalink

Thanks, this is vital information to understand more about this setup

I try to decipher it further..


Thu, 2014-01-16 - 23:57 Permalink

Well i could get a HALion5 transient drone in Cubase working, but there are some issues here...

1) I needed a asio multiserver driver to get Synfire and Cubase together working.

2) How to get the midi notes from Synfire into in Cubase ?

3) How about latency ?

A midi loopback driver instead of the asio multi driver : what does this mean for the transient drone ? 


Fri, 2014-01-17 - 00:13 Permalink

janamdo, if you re-read the post you will see that the synfire engine isnt used, therefore you dont need to worry about the asio multiserver. To get midi notes into cubase you can use midi drones or virtual midi cables. Midi drones should deliver the midi notes on time as they are rendered ahead of the play point, virtual midi cables may have some latency though.


Fri, 2014-01-17 - 00:41 Permalink

janamdo, if you re-read the post you will see that the synfire engine isnt used, therefore you dont need to worry about the asio multiserver.

When i used the asio multi server then i got a sound

Still a complicated setup, because there is a cognitone drone, but als a midi drone?

So this setup is again troublesome...
Well Blacksun perhaps you must reread the advise of Cognitone that midi drones gives a latency and the midi loopback driver  not  ?

That is my knowledge of this setup. but perhaps it is not correct?


I made a cognitone drone and assigned a miditrack to it, because Cubase asks for it,  but there is another approach  ...try that one.

It is trial and  error..( for me ;) )


Fri, 2014-01-17 - 12:54 Permalink

Using HAlion5 as a multi timbral synth drone in Cubase like in Synfire with the audioengine

For this i cannot use a midi drone with a Vsti instrument track in Cubase ( not  multi timbral )..i must use a mididrone and Cubase assigsn a midi track for it and now i can use the drone as a multitimbral synth ?

With a template in Cubase you get a transient drone, but it must be multitimbral ( i load only one instance of HALion5 in Cubase and can add there tracks ). 


Ok, i am now able to setup a transient mididrone multitimbral in Cubase a template project
i can assign sounds/channels in Cubase itself and choose these from HAlion5

Only  2 problems still..

- how to get the midi from Synfire into Cubase?

- the vsti disappear in Cubase when i start recording in Synfire --> can this mididrone with the Vsti in Cubase be a panel ? ( like for the library is done too )


Ok i could grab the midi and drag this in Cubase, but for the multitimbral setup it ..all midi tracks from Synfire are used
Can i choose one midi track in Synfire and drag this in Cubase from the multtitimbral synth ?

After dragging the midi from Synfire into Cubase it seems disconnected from Cubase ? : once dragged the midi from Synfire to Cubase this setup in Synfire becomes useless ?  --> how to reuse it again ?

So i removed the dragged midi from Cubase and want start over again, but the setup is there a point in the setup in Synfire and Cubase to store this as a template ? after dragging the midi from synfire into Cubase and finish this song in Cubase to start again with a template setup.





Fri, 2014-01-17 - 14:41 Permalink

The midi export is not working with the transient drone used as a multitimbral synth in Cubase

There is no export knob lit ...cannot find a working setup.

Fri, 2014-01-17 - 19:46 Permalink

Are there other users who use HAlion 5 or HAlion Sonic and want to use a midi drone with a multitimbral setup?

Please let me know if you get this working as template setup
The idea that you can choose your sounds from Halion5/Sonic in the DAW must make a transient global rack in Synfire to be able to connect Synfire and the DAW.
I am lost with this setup ...:)

Tue, 2014-05-20 - 11:37 Permalink

i try a new attempt..also the "drones"handling in Synfire comes in play... this can be  messy ..because you need to know exactly the intented use of the drone in some setups
The drones can be used on 2 ways and both in conjunction with a DAW

  • (Export drone) :Composing is done in Synfire and the VSti in Synfire becomes drones , when they are exported from Synfire to a DAW ( relocate ) and there is no connection (stand alone) between Synfire and DAW anymore.
    Endresult is that the midi and Vsti from Synfire are transferred to a DAW for further finishing mixing/composing
  • (Transient drone) :  Composing is also done in Synfire, but the Vsti in DAW are connected with Synfire ( no audioengine from Synfire) used.
    Now you can use a internal VSTi from a DAW too, by a using a midi drone in  DAW ( see videotut juergen )

For both setups you must be able to use a midi input with a keyboard and be able to record phrases 
Also controllers from Synfire can used to control Vsti 

Mon, 2014-06-09 - 20:08 Permalink

I just want to thank you again, soundcase, for this great sound setup method with transient drones. I do this now only in this way too.


Wed, 2014-06-11 - 17:31 Permalink

Hi Juergen did you get a HALion sonic working as a transient module   : General midi or fixed setup in Cubase ? 

Wed, 2014-06-11 - 18:35 Permalink

I use the transient drones only as MIDI drones and route the output to the VSTs within Cubase. Very similar to that what soundcase demonstrated in his video with Reaper.


Thu, 2014-06-12 - 13:41 Permalink

Thanks i try this again this transient setup for Cubase ..for the diehards ..still a nasty setup 

Ok it is working, but no guarantee i can repeat this out my top of my head ( especially when i drink a beer ;) )

There is no 64 bit multi client audio driver for using the synfire library and cubase at the same time
For 32 bit it seems to be possible a multi client asio audio driver , but the numbers of racks is limited..but left is how to get the midi from synfire to cubase ?
Has Cubase 7.5 a multi client audio driver ?  

Thu, 2014-06-12 - 16:49 Permalink

if you follow this workflow you dont need the engine


how to get the midi from synfire to cubase

2 ways i can think of...drag the midi from the header of the midi drone, drop on a cubase midi track


arm the track for recording in cubase and start synfire playing. Cubase should then record the output of the midi drone.


as to questions about cubase that are nothing to do with synfire, best ask in the cubase forum, there are a lot more cubase experts there than here I should think.



Thu, 2014-06-12 - 18:44 Permalink

I try to get the library working in Synfire when i use Cubase with the transient module 
Indeed cubase 7.5 is side information.. 

Cubase has a function: Release Driver when application.. i try this getting working with synfire , but got a message about two audio engines
This function "Release... in Cubase gives the audiodriver to another application ( the library.. ) if the Vst is not running
But no sound to hear yet.
Thanks for the tips about the midi ! 


Thu, 2014-06-12 - 20:56 Permalink

Hi jan,

one thing, you need to ensure the global rack you use for preview of libraries and metronome, etc are all setup to use midi drones matched to suitable instruments. Otherwise you will need an engine for the sounds in the global rack Which will mean more than one app trying to use the sound driver.



Thu, 2014-06-12 - 21:38 Permalink


A ofcourse good idea yours Blacksun, is indeed to route the library and metronome to a general midi drone rack in Cubase itself
My thinking was foccussed on Synfire , but the VST are outside!
A relief to spend not anymore time on this.  

Fri, 2014-06-13 - 12:25 Permalink

Hi Juergen did you get the GM library working as a transient module in Cubase
It seems that the standard GM rack and the GM transient device descriptions both the library sounds assigning?

Solution for this is to remove (bypass) the GM rack or disable the audio engine..but is not working yet

I disable the audioengine but the racks will still loaded(with the device descriptions) .. that is not what i want

Sat, 2014-06-14 - 11:00 Permalink

It is a mess the soundassigning.. the demoarrangement i don't get it this working too anymore with the the GM sounds
Is the new update for Synfire responsible for this ?

Tue, 2014-08-26 - 00:19 Permalink

I finally got round to having a go with this today, and I think I've cracked it ... almost!  Thanks very nuch for this workflow soundcase, I think I'll be using it a lot from now on :)

I followed the video step-by-step, but I should just mention that there are a couple of extra things I needed to do to get it to work.

First, you have to set it not to load the engine and also, the new option with the latest version, to always ask before save so that you don't overwrite your empty rack with your drones (I assume these options are rack-specific and not global?).

You also have to load a Rewire transport in your DAW, and in Synfire tick the Rewire Transport Sync button in Playback >> External Synchronization >> Transport

This was the only problem I had really.  I got some crashes when trying to do the Sync (crash reports submitted), and at one point it told me there was no DAW transport to sync with (even though there was).  But it seemed to work eventually, not quite sure how!

If you use Cubase rather than Reaper, the only difference is that you save as a Project Template rather than a track template.

Tue, 2014-08-26 - 21:17 Permalink

Hi petearch,
i glad you like it,
it might be more efficient  to building Project Template..
things can get  more faster with ready to go project,

btw. Reaper has Project Template function too  :)

Tue, 2014-08-26 - 23:18 Permalink

Yes and Cubase also has a track template, but when I tried it, it didn't reload the drone.  I probably did something wrong as I've not used track templates before.  But no matter, I'm happy enough with a project template :)

Sun, 2015-02-08 - 01:52 Permalink

hello soundcase

it is possible to have the same solution in ableton9?

because i just receive it and i want use it with synfire like reaper

and i use your configuration.

let me know please

i cant sleep anymore

Mon, 2015-02-09 - 00:55 Permalink

no probeme Soundcase

my Ableton Live dont see they Drones, somebody know why?

maybe i have to put the drone.dll in live but where?

thanks for the help

Tue, 2015-07-28 - 04:58 Permalink

I have been dealing with this since the advent of drones. I work in Live 9 and have many templates. Usually out of frustration i just reload the drones and route the output to the desired VST. I think what we need isa way to "Release" the drones kind of like the rebuild rack setting. where SFP just looks for the drones and reloads them. Hey Andre any help would be great. Thx.

Sun, 2015-12-27 - 22:15 Permalink

I'm new to SP, and still trying to work out how Im going to use it. At first I was determined to use SP standalone, but now I'm looking at the idea of rewiring with Ableton Live. Has there been any movement on this 'drone release' thing? Thanks