Steinberg Cubase 5 Review
Cubase, one of the titans of the sequencer pantheon, has come out with an attractive looking 5th version, at a time when the sequencer wars are raging more than ever. Let’s take a look…
One of the oldest sequencers, along with Logic (old-timers may remember the golden era of Pro 24 and Notator), Cubase has over the years, imposed numerous ergonomic, technological, and conceptual standards on the competition. Releasing a new version of Steinberg’s flagship software is still an event in itself, although it must be admitted that today, the pretenders to the throne of the king of sequencers are quite numerous. As a result, innovation and excellence are no longer unique to Cubase and, without even mentioning other sequencer heavy-weights (Logic, Sonar, Pro Tools, Samplitude, Digital Performer and Ableton Live), the last decade has seen many new challengers, with varying price tags and popularity, but packed with great features: Fruity Loops, Melodyne, Tracktion, Energy XT, Reaper … In a market as competitive as this, it’s obviously increasingly difficult to stand out. Cubase 4 had its critics even though it launched the VST3 standard, brought its effects and virtual instruments up to date, inaugurated a new media management system and you could finally move effects from one track to another by drag & drop. But it seemed more like they were trying to catch up to the competition rather than really innovating … Even the more original innovations, like management of external hardware (particularly Yamaha’s, since the Japanese manufacturer had recently bought Steinberg) and the emergence of control room targeted features were interesting, but did not effect all users and therefore didn’t necessarily justify the increased software price: around $879! Fortunately, when the impressive Logic 8 came out for around $500 it forced Steinberg to rethink its rates and marketing strategy: you can now find Cubase 5 for around $500! With relatively interesting updates: 4.1 and 4.5 (side chain management for their effects, better routing management, additional sound banks for HALionOne, etc..), and this 5th version, Steinberg is doing its best to seduce us. Let’s get into details…
Cubase 5 is undoubtedly a success and shows progress in several areas. More user-friendly, more powerful and better equipped, Steinberg’s baby is alive and well! Sure, we’d always like to have more (especially virtual instruments), but features like VariAudio, VST Expression, Tempo/Signature tracks, or the multitrack export feature make this an essential update. To the question “Should you upgrade from version 4 or lower”, the answer is a 1000 times yes, but keep in mind that the Studio version of the software doesn’t include (and it’s an important point) VariAudio, amongst other things.
If however, you don’t have a sequencer or you intend to change, the problem is more difficult because after a quick web surf, it was pretty surprising to find out that no brands except Magix, Cakewalk and Ableton, have demo versions of their sequencers! And it’s a shame that you can’t try before you buy at a time when the differences between sequencers is often summed up by a few features and different work-flows. But, speaking as an unconditional Cubase user these past fifteen years, I can’t recommend Cubase 5 enough…
A penalty goes to Propellerhead for still not addressing the 64-bit ReWire and Rex format issue
- Full 64-bit!
- VariAudio, efficient and fully integrated.
- VST Expression.
- Finally there’s a multitrack export!
- Finally a hi-quality reverb!
- Tempo and signature tracks, so much easier…
- A complete all-in-one solution.
- Printed manuals and video tutorials.
- Groove Agent One, simple and effective.
- The automation panel
- The concept of an iPhone application to control the sequencer
- No sampler, no organ, no piano outside of the presets in HALion One
- Synthesizers that aren’t up to par with the competition
To read the full detailed exclusive article see: Steinberg Cubase 5 Review