Steinberg Cubase 6 review
An ambitious update with big improvements for editing live recordings and boosting the quality of MIDI performances
Review Date: 21 Mar 2011
Reviewed By: Ben Pitt
Price when reviewed: £388 (£466 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Ease of Use
Of all the major music-production software we’ve tested, Cubase is the one we use for our own musical projects. We tried switching to Ableton Live but the fling didn’t last – while it's a powerful compositional aide that’s packed with inspiring features, it can’t compete with Cubase for recording and editing live performances.
For Cubase 6, Steinberg has played to the software’s strengths. The new features read like our personal wish list, speeding up common, laborious tasks and boosting the quality of recordings.
One such timesaver is tempo detection. Recording to a click track makes subsequent editing easier, but it can be prohibitive for musicians and removes the subtle tempo changes that breathe life into a performance. With Cubase 6, it’s now possible to record without a click track, and then automatically map the project’s tempo to the recording.
It wasn’t perfect in our tests, struggling with dramatic changes, but fixing these sections manually was far quicker than the fully manual approach we’ve resorted to in the past.
Cubase 6 also takes the graft out of tidying up sloppy timing in instrumental performances. This previously involved slicing either side of the offending note, adjusting its timing and creating crossfades for seamless transitions.
Cubase now does it all automatically, and can even identify and fix notes that are out of time by a prescribed amount, leaving others untouched. Best of all, it knows to treat multi-mic recordings such as drum kits as a single unit, avoiding any risk of synchronisation and phase problems.
These automatic edits needed to be auditioned carefully to make sure they were successful, but most were. Accessing this feature is far from intuitive, though, to the extent that most users will probably never find it.
It’s also of limited use in conjunction with the automatic tempo detection, which adds tempo changes per beat and therefore assumes the recording is always perfectly in time. An option to generate tempo changes per bar would be more useful.
Cubase 6’s beat detection can be put to various other uses, including audio-to-MIDI conversion. Bolstering acoustic drum recordings with samples is a great way to beef them up or send them into experimental territory, and now it couldn’t be easier.
The trigger is based on volume and timing (to avoid double-triggers) but not frequency, so sadly it can’t distinguish between kick and snare drums in a stereo mix. It worked perfectly for multi-mic drum recordings, although using it in conjunction with the audio quantize function described above was clumsy.
Sorry to be picky, but Sonar has had tempo detection (aka audiosnap) and lane tracks (aka track layers) since v6 in 2007.
Cubase is admittedly more widely recognized and VST Expression 2 support is very interesting.
By tonygward on 24 Mar 2011
I'm not bashing Cubase but why has PC Pro never reviewed Cockos Reaper which judging by the posts to its support forum has been stealing users from Cubase, Logic etc for a long time. Ok it doesn't match Cubase feature for feature but the price is much lower and it's constantly updated rather than having an annual service pack like some other apps.
By russv1 on 7 Apr 2011
Copy protection nightmares, horrible support
What they don't tell you is that Steinberg is obsessed with copy protection that can cause you major problems. They have no telephone support. Consider that before blowing all that money. As a result, I took a look at Reaper which russv1 talks of which is actually far faster, more streamlined and much less buggy. If you're looking to invest in the future and pay 1/3 the price, you have your answer. Prosonus also has a new product out -- which should make you wonder why all these new products are coming out. It's because Cubase is mediocre, buggy and the support is contemptuous -- and trust me, some day you will need it badly and be left blowing in the wind.
By steinbergsucks on 16 Jun 2011
Cubase 6 sounds great to me!
Although you didn't cover it, Cubase 6 has a fully professional notation program. A critical requirement for people that are musically literate. Obviously it follows that the enhanced MIDI control will also be invaluable. For me, I think I'm going to switch from Sonar X1 to Cubase 6. It all depends on what you need the program for. If your recording garage music, Reaper is probably the way to go. Most rockers will probably never hit the ceiling with something like Reaper. A small Reaperish DAW would probably be fine for small folk ensembles as well. I was also impressed that you feel Cubase 6 is better for live performance recording than Pro Tools! Oh my! You've upset the rocker gawds with that one! LOL! And as far as not coming with a host of software synths--so what, I have a ton of VSTs (ala Kontakt) that I use 100% of the time anyway. By the way, any of the Sonar Producer programs are wonky in Win 7.
Thanks for the review!
By Kelly_Dowhower on 17 Aug 2011
I need some help here if any of you can help I will appreciate very much, I have just both a new Cubase 6 I made a mistake while registering it instead of registering it as Cubase6 I have I hag register it as cubase Ai6 and now I am having problem to obtain the right activation code to make it function properly, please, please help!
By Boya101 on 15 Oct 2011
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