Steinberg Cubase 5 Review

Cubase 5 is the latest update to Steinberg’s flagship music production platform. Cubase was first introduced in 1989 as a MIDI sequencer for the classic Atari ST computer. Over the last twenty years, Cubase has grown from its humble MIDI-only beginnings into one of the top DAWs for modern day music producers. With all the new additions and improvements found in this latest version, Cubase 5 will not only be instantly enjoyed by long-time Cubase users but also by those looking for a new DAW to expand their creative options.

Cubase 4 Vs. Cubase 5

Introduced in 2006 to replace the SX/SL/SE designation, Cubase 4 was (and still is) viewed as a ‘lemon’ by many in the audio production world. In 2007, Steinberg tried to rectify the situation by releasing the Cubase 4.1 update. Although some of the bugs were fixed by this update, there was still an alarming lack of stability for both Mac and PC Cubase users.

For a music producer, there are few things more frustrating than a DAW that crashes repeatedly for reasons that are not fixable by the end user. With Cubase 5, Steinberg has put this instability issue to rest while at the same time preserving many of the desirable features of Cubase 4 – such as the ability to change the order of channel insert effects via drag and drop and the introduction of instrument tracks.

What’s New in Cubase 5

Besides fixing much of what was wrong with version 4, Steinberg has also enriched Cubase 5 with a bundle of useful features that cannot be found in any other single digital audio workstation. There are a several striking new features in Cubase 5 that will immediately appeal to users working primarily with either beats or vocals.

Beat Generation and Loop Manipulation

Remixers and electronic music producers will find three new and inspiring beat-creation tools in Cubase 5:

  • ‘Groove Agent ONE ‘– a traditional MPC-style virtual instrument with rich editing/programming features.
  • ‘Beat Designer’ – a slick step-sequencer designed to work in conjunction with ‘Groove Agent ONE’.
  • ‘Loopmash’ – an unique loop manipulation instrument that works by synthesizing slices from a series of audio loops into fresh, locked-to-tempo audio material.

Pitch Correction and Vocal Editing Tools

Those users working with vocals or any other material that requires pitch correction or adjustment will find two welcome additions in Cubase 5.

The first is a stunning new feature called ‘VariAudio’. It a Melodyne-type pitch editor that is built right into the Cubase sample editor. For those unfamiliar with Melodyne, imagine the potential of editing software that allows you to edit the pitch of monophonic audio as quickly and seamlessly as if editing MIDI pitch data. Cubase is the first DAW on the market to include this powerful feature.

Cubase 5 also includes ‘Pitch Correct’ – a high quality, monophonic VST3 plug-in designed to correct intonation and pitch in real-time.

A Few Sleeper Features

Some of the less flashy yet truly priceless additions to Cubase 5 are the addition of a virtual MIDI controller keyboard and a feature called ‘Channel Batch Export’.

Virtual MIDI keyboards have been included in other DAWs (such as Apple Logic) for years. For some odd reason Steinberg has withheld this simple feature from the Cubase DAW until now. In Cubase 5, users have the option of activating a virtual MIDI keyboard via the transport bar. Once activated, the user can trigger MIDI notes by hitting the corresponding keys on the computer keyboard. This is an essential tool for mobile music production as it eschews the need for an external MIDI controller.

‘Channel Batch Export’ allows the Cubase user to export all the audio tracks in a multitrack session to individual audio files in just one pass. This feature is a huge time-saver for users with archiving requirements or for those needing to transfer projects between different DAWs.

With all these useful features Cubase 5 is a no-brainer upgrade for any registered Cubase user but also an enticing package for music producers currently working on any of the other top DAWs.

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