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Auditioning With Play and Scrub Tools

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Read Time: 5 min

There are times when you will have to locate certain parts in the audio for a quick reference or you want to find a certain point in the song where the notes change or the chords change. Rather than listening to the whole song and finding out the location of in the slowest way possible, you can use certain auditioning tools provided by Cubase.

Before you start working with the tools, you must know that when you are auditioning the audio, it will be sent to the Control Room. Therefore, if you want to adjust the volume of the Scrub or the Play playback, you must adjust the volume in the Control Room Mixer. You can view the Control Room Mixer by select it from the Devices menu. 

Remember that if the If the Control Room is disabled, the Control Room Mixer will not be available. If the Control Room is not available, the audio will be routed through the default audio output. 

The Play Tool

The Play tool can be used to listen to certain areas in the song by just clicking on the track. You do not have to click on the Play button or the Spacebar to activate the playback. 

It is useful in situations where you want to make the performer listen to a small piece of the music in a track but don’t want to go through the ordeal of muting the other tracks or soloing the specific track. Using the Play tool all you have to do is to click on the track and playback will be automatically activated.

The Play tool can be found in the second last position in the tool buttons list. If the tool buttons list is not activated by default, you can right click the tool bar and select the Tools Buttons option.

In order to use the Play tool, select the tool and click on any part of the audio that you want to play back. Keep the mouse button pressed and the playback will start from the location that you clicked the mouse. To stop the playback, release the mouse button and the playback will stop.

The Scrub Tool

The Scrub tool can be found in the same place as the Play tool. In case you do not find the Scrub tool, click on the Play tool in the Tool Buttons and then select the Scrub tool from the drop down menu. The Scrub tool can be used to listen to audio, and locate audio, by playing back at any speed. You can also play it forwards or backwards.

To use the Scrub tool, click on any part of the audio, the project cursor will be positioned to the place that you clicked. 

Move the cursor to the left to play the audio backwards and move the cursor to the right to play the audio forwards. The speed of the playback will be determined by the speed that you move the cursor.

There are a few settings that you can change for the Scrub function which will improve the playback and will reduce the load on the system. You can find these settings in the Preferences page in Cubase. You can access the page from the File menu. The settings for the Scrub tool can be found under the Transport section.

Here you can adjust the Scrub Response, the Scrub Volume and activate the CPU Saving Scrub Mode.

The Scrub Response can be used to adjust the speed of the scrub process. The more fast you keep the response time, the faster the playback will start. The lesser you keep the value of the response, the responsiveness also will be affected the same way. 

Rather than adjusting the Control Room Mixer volume level, you can change the level of the Scrub Volume in this page. The volume level is of the audio that will be played back as you scrub through the track, not the level of the overall project or the track.

Sometimes in very large projects, such as movies or orchestral performances, the sound may start to crack and may slow down the audio performance. Situations where too much runtime audio processing or heavy plugins and VST effects are used on a track, the audio can become messy and can increase the load on the system. 

In this situation, you can activate the CPU Saving Scrub Mode where all the effects on the track are disabled and the resampling quality is also lower. This will reduce the load on the system and will give you smoother playback.

Scrubbing can also be used to resize the tracks like you normally use the cursor. In order to resize any event or a track, select the Scrub tool and click on the ends of the track and drag it towards the left or right to trim the length of the audio. The only difference between using the Scrub tool and the other trimming tools is that you will be able to hear the audio while adjusting the size with the Scrub tool.


These tools are really helpful in the recording phase as well as the editing phase of the audio. You can easily control the playback and listen to the audio without having to click on the Transport Panel or any other playback buttons. This will help you to easily segregate the track that you want to listen to, rather than manually soloing or muting the channels. Only the track on which you have clicked will be played back, all the other channels will be automatically muted.

The shortcut key 9, on the keyboard, will toggle between the Play tool and the Scrub tool. According to your convenience, you can set a different shortcut key for both the tools by selecting the Key Commands from the File menu. The Jog Wheel on the Transport Panel also can be used to scrub through the project easily. To learn more about the Transport Panel and the Jog Wheel, refer to the Master The Transport Panel in Cubase: Part 1 tutorial.

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