Cubase VST/32 5.0

Cubase – probably the top-selling music software in the UK, with a user-base of around 30,000 people – has undergone a major revamp with the release of Cubase VST/32 5.0. The user interface has been overhauled and a number of features added. For example, in the Arrange window there are columns to the left of the track-part display, which can be shown or hidden when you click and hold on any of the column headings. There’s also a pop-up list that lets you choose which column you want to work with. Altering the width of a column once it’s been set is a problem in many apps. In Cubase VST/32 5.0 it couldn’t be simpler. Just point-&-click near the right-hand edge of any column in the Arrange window, and use the cursor to adjust its size. The same thing applies to the height of the rows of tracks. Handling MIDI
Steinberg has also improved the way Cubase handles MIDI channels and outputs. Three columns are provided for this: Channel, to select the MIDI channel; Output, to select the appropriate output; and Instrument, to select the instrument by name. In Cubase terms, an Instrument is a combination of a MIDI channel and an output. This can be given a name, which can then be used to quickly select these settings instead of making the changes to both the Channnel and Output columns. You define your instruments using the “Set Up Instruments...” menu selection in a pop-up menu that appears when you click on an Instrument column. Up comes a dialogue box that lets you choose a MIDI channel, an output, and a Patchname Source and Patchname Device. Having made the settings, you can then enter both a shorter and a longer name – which Cubase will display elsewhere as appropriate. The parameters Inspector lets you open a new Extended section by clicking on a small arrow at the top right of the Inspector. Here multiple outputs can be added to any track – so you can easily play back a track over several different MIDI channels. A Randomize feature plays back MIDI parts with random variations in pitch velocity, timing or length, while a Dynamics section affects the dynamics and note range of the material in various ways. Access
Cubase’s Autosave can be set to any time you want, and you can keep a specified number of your most recently used files available in the File menu for quick access. Cubase now lets you select the number of divisions of a quarter note that will be displayed in the edit window – all the way from Cubase’s original 384 right up to 1,536 subdivisions. The way in which the control knobs work can be changed between Circular, Relative Circular or Linear. Linear mode, lets you click on a knob and drag it up or down with the mouse to change values. In Circular mode, clicking anywhere on the knob’s edge changes the value immediately. This can be inconvenient, so a Relative Circular mode has been added preventing this. In previous versions of Cubase VST, there was a Channel Mixer window and a Group Mixer window – both of which allowed you to view mixer channels and groups. The designer originally intended to put mixer channels in the first and groups in the second, but decided to put both in each window. Now, the windows are called simply Channel Mixer 1 and 2, and the purpose – to display different views of these in two smaller windows – is more obvious. There’s a pop-up menu for selecting what will be shown in the windows. One of the best new developments in Cubase VST/32 is the VST Instruments – not to be confused with Instruments. These are actually software simulations of synthesizers and drum-machines to which you can route your MIDI tracks internally within Cubase VST/32. The audio outputs can then be routed directly into the VST Channel mixer for playback. Another neat addition is the True Tape input effect. This lets you simulate the effect of tape saturation when recording in VST/32’s 32-bit mode. Recording engineers working with real drums often take advantage of analogue tape’s saturation characteristics to make drums sound “fatter”, for example – which they will do when extra harmonics are added to the sound by the tape-saturation process. Now you can achieve a similar result using Cubase VST/32.

OUR VERDICT

While there’s still room for improvement, version 5.0 is undoubtedly the best so far. If you’re looking for a top-flight music-sequencing, recording, and mixing system – and you don’t need compatibility with Digidesign Pro Tools TDM hardware – then Cubase VST/32 will do just fine.

Find the best price