The automation is not as sophisticated as on Pro Tools, and the seven VST windows provided in Nuendo make mixing much more fiddly than in Pro Tools’ single Mix window. However, support for 32-bit floating-point operation, comprehensive support for file formats, bit-depths and sample rates, and neat features such as the Undo History are all compelling reasons to buy Nuendo. Excellent features for working to picture, with strong support for surround sound make Nuendo a very cost-effective choice for post-production.
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As a serious alternative to Pro Tools for audio and MIDI recording – especially for former Cubase VST users – Steinberg’s Nuendo deserves serious consideration. You can use any hardware for which ASIO drivers are available – including the Pro Tools MIX card, which I used to test the software. With the software you get a Project window, which is equivalent to the Edit window in Pro Tools and, roughly, to the Arrange window in Cubase. Ranged across the top of this are various tools, some of which will be familiar to Cubase users – such as the scissors and glue tools. Others are new for Nuendo, such as Trim Start Left and Snap To Zero Crossing. The main Project window shows regions for the audio tracks and parts for the MIDI, with tracks running from left to right across the window. At this level you can cut, copy and paste audio and MIDI to form an arrangement, and can set track outputs, solos/mutes and so forth at the left of each track. This is laid-out more straightforwardly than in Cubase, and is similar to the layout of the Edit window in Pro Tools. However, Nuendo has a much noisier look-&-feel than Pro Tools – which is clearer and direct. However, Nuendo is a great improvement on Cubase VST in this respect. Click on any audio region and up pops a fully featured waveform-editing window called the Sample Editor. Click on any MIDI part, and up comes a graphical MIDI Editor that lets you move notes around individually, with a section provided to graphically edit Velocity and MIDI-controller data. The Browser window in the Project menu provides list editing for each track, with events handily filed away into folders for each track. I prefer the straightforward – albeit simpler and less comprehensive – approach to MIDI used in Nuendo to the more fiddly Cubase VST. Although there’s no score editing, Nuendo’s MIDI features are adequate for most projects, while MIDI tweakheads will prefer Cubase VST – especially for music production. For post-production, Nuendo definitely has the edge. Professional nine-pin machine-control facilities let you hook-up video recorders and synchronizers for work to picture. Nuendo also supports the OMFI file format, so you can exchange projects with Avid systems, or with Final Cut Pro. You can also transfer projects to and from Pro Tools.
Sound support There’s also support for the new OpenTL file-exchange format, which allows for the import of projects from the Tascam hard-disk recording systems, popular in video post-production. Nuendo supports surround formats up to and including 7.1 SDDS, and includes support for multi-channel effects. You can record at 16-bit, 24-bit or 32-bit floating resolution, and Nuendo supports file resolutions for export all the way from 8-bit up to 32-bit floating point. Floating-point representation provides much greater accuracy, and the 32-bit file support lets you preserve this accuracy until final mastering. Most applications, such as Pro Tools, stop at 24-bit files, and normally do not support 8-bit files. Supported sample-rates are even more comprehensive – all the way from 8KHz up to 384KHz – with the important sample-rates for CD and DVD included. There are some pleasant surprises for MIDI users. You can import ReCycle REX files containing drum loops that speed up or slow down as the tempo is adjusted, and there’s excellent support for ReWire – which lets you stream up to 64 audio channels from synthesizer applications such as Propellerheads’ Reason. The audio-mixing features are virtually identical to those in Cubase VST, with separate windows for the Mixer, Send Effects, Master Effects and Outputs, and individual Channel Settings windows for each channel, to let you set up the sends and inserts and adjust EQ. Non-realtime effects can be applied to selected audio events or Clips, or to a selected range. You can add realtime effects in the Mixer or apply effects directly to any audio event or Clip. Nuendo is packed with useful features missing from rival packages. For example, for each audio and MIDI Track, you can specify whether they should be time-based – where changing the playback tempo will not affect the time position of Events – or tempo-based. Tempo can either be fixed through the whole project, or follow the Tempo Track. In the Tempo Track Editor, you can draw curves that determine how the tempo will change over time. Nuendo also features multiple undo, with the possibility to selectively remove or modify applied audio-processing at any point.