Cubase has received a new update today so I thought I’d write up some notes whilst waiting for it to download. I think Steinberg’s servers are under heavy demand!
This update takes Cubase up to v7.5 but beware it is a paid upgrade (49€/49$). If you happened to have upgraded to version 7 since October 15th then you can get this update for free but for other users of v7 there is that fee. Although I always look forward to a Cubase .5 release, some people complain bitterly about these halfway house paid upgrades – i.e It is expected that you’d pay for a major v6 to v7 type upgrade but to pay for an intermediate step? I think this is Steinberg’s business model now as evinced by the same strategy when v6. came out with a similar fee. It could be argued that this is a way to ensure that Steinberg manages to get a yearly revenue from it’s customers with a major version dropping every two to three years and a half version in between. Well, what does this update offer and is it worth paying for or should users just simply hold out for the next big update which will include all these intermediate features anyway?
Well I guess the headline features are:
- TrackVersions: Playlists for creating, renaming and managing parallel variations of tracks
This looks highly interesting to me for a bunch of reasons. I think sometimes its nice to come back to a song and have a fresh crack at say the vocals but rather than creating a new track, you can simply create a new track version which flows through all the same processing and automation. You can then simply toggle between your two versions. Both versions of which could contain lots of comping. The great thing with track versions is that it applies to most of the track types and this is especially interesting with the chord track. If you have your midi tracks (and monophonic audio tracks) set to follow the chord track, changing a chord will mean that all the tracks will change their note contents to follow suit. This could mean that if you wrote a song within a minor key you could create a track version in a major key and then toggle the version and have the whole song change. This has huge repercussions for composers who want to try out different keys for singers, different moods for film makers etc
- Track visibility: Shows only the tracks you want to see in the Project window
This is another very nice and a “why didn’t they think of that before?” feature. This lets you select any tracks on the arrangement page and make them the only visible ones. You have been able to do this with the mixer as of v7 so it’s nice to see it be part of the arrangement page. You can also link the arrangement page and the mixer now so they both look the same. Examples of this could be just showing the drums tracks. You can conveniently save track view presets so viewing and editing large and complex projects will become significantly easier.
- Instrument (t)rack 2.0: Supports multi-outputs and multi-inputs, and merges instrument tracks with the Instrument Rack
Again a sensible streamlining of workflow. Prior to the invention of instrument tracks, to host a VST plugin, one had to put the plugin in the rack, and then create a midi track and assign it to that. Instrument tracks sped up the process by just creating an instrument track and midi track combined but lost the ability to have a single VST instrument output multiple audio outputs, this new combining of both approaches is definitely welcome. Put an instrument in the rack and it instantly creates a midi track routed to it or create an instrument track like before and the instrument appears in the rack automatically.
- HALion Sonic SE 2: Giving you tons of fresh new sounds plus a totally new synth
Since Steinberg was bought by Yamaha some years ago, the Halion synths have benefitted from Yamaha’s considerable experience and feature sounds from some of their synths (Motif range I believe). It will be interesting to see what these sounds are like (a separate download from 7.5)
- Groove Agent SE 4: With over 120 drum kits and smart user interface for creating beats and hits in no time
This looks like a radical overhaul of the rather simplistic version of Groove Agent in v7. They have obviously taken a good look at Native Instruments Maschine (see my feature here) and also Akai’s long running MPC range and have tried to incorporate some of those workflow ideas. It has a huge slew of new features on board including pattern editor and a suite of dedicated effects. There are also new drum kits to play with.
- New construction kits: Adding flavor to your productions and giving you new song ideas
Could be interesting to some. They are essentially 30 complete songs made up of midi files that are assigned to the various synths and drum machines within Cubase. The idea is that they give you starting blocks to inspire. I’m not sure it’s the sort of thing I’d use but maybe good to build tracks in a hurry and then fiddle with the content later.
- LoopMash FX: For real-time modern-style breaks, tape-stops, stutters and more
Ah this looks fun. Fans of Izotope’s innovative stutter edit will like this as you can apply those peculiar twists and turns and beat repeats on any material now not just the loops within the previous Loop Mash plug in. Assign a midi tracks output to the track with Loop Mash FX inserted on and then have some serious fun making your audio jump through hoops!
- REVelation: Super-smooth and silky-sounding algorithmic reverb that brings back the memories of those old fancy hardware units
We are getting a bit spoilt now with this sumptuous collection of new stuff. A good quality algorithmic reverb would have cost at least double the update price so this alone makes the €49 cost seem a bit like a bargain. This reverb is a bit overdue mind as the previous algorithmic reverb Roomworks (and Roomworks SE) have been sounding (!) a bit long in the tooth and compared to the shinier, newer convolution based reverb, Reverence, it has seemed a bit lacking. I am looking forward to pitting this against my current favourite algorithmic reverb Aether
- Magneto 2: Adding warmth to your tracks
Aha Magneto returns! Long time Cubase users will remember the original Magneto, a tape emulation plugin, from way back. It’s nice to see it return in hopefully an even better sounding incarnation. Interestingly it appears in two formats within Cubase 7.5, as a vst plugin or as a component within the channel strip which makes a lot of sense for those who want to run it on every track to emulate a tape based project.
- VST Connect SE 2 (available in Cubase 7.5 only): Unique remote recording plug-in now with MIDI data transmission
I am still yet to try this which came out with v7 and allows musicians all over the world to essentially become plugins within an input track ! The new version allows not just audio but midi to be recorded from your connected contributors.
- Transient navigation: Tab to transients on audio events in the Project window thanks to the new instant hitpoint navigation
This has been in Cubase for a long time but now takes place automatically without you having to go into the audio editor and set it manually. Also being able to do this within the arrange page will speed up editing significantly.
If you are a user of the score editor, you may be pleased to learn that you now have a whole wealth of midi editing facilities within the score editor now rather than having to tediously swap to the key editor every time you want to say quantize or other such midi edit operation.
I will return to this post once I have completed this download.