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Steinberg Cubase 7 review

Verdict

A big overhaul of a heavyweight audio production tool: Cubase has never been so sophisticated or more complex

Review Date: 17 Dec 2012

Reviewed By: Ben Pitt

Price when reviewed: £363 (£436 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
4 stars out of 6

Music-production software has slowly evolved over the years, leaving hardware simulation behind in favour of more usable but abstract interfaces. However, loading up Cubase 7 for the first time feels like taking a step back in time. In this latest release Steinberg has placed the mixer back at the heart of the software – and it’s an enormous beast, resembling the kind that stretches from wall to wall in top-flight studios.

It’s a dramatic change and there are plenty of useful new features. The Channel Strip is one of them, incorporating five insert effects in each channel. These comprise a noise gate, compressor, envelope shaper, tape or tube saturation and a limiter – a powerful combination for creating mixes with plenty of punch. The settings themselves aren’t new, but having them a mouse-click away encourages routine and more extensive use.

Steinberg Cubase 7

The four-band channel EQ now includes high-pass and low-pass filters, and a spectrum analyser overlaid on the EQ curve to help fine-tune settings. It, too, is better integrated into the main mixer panel, with thumbnail-sized EQ curves that turn into bigger, editable curves when clicked. The mixer also includes routing, inserts, sends, metering, picture icons and space for making notes. New cue mix controls mean it’s now possible to create independent headphone mixes for multiple performers without having to commandeer the channel sends.

Steinberg Cubase 7

That’s a lot to fit into a single screen, so thankfully there are numerous options to hide the various channel types and mixer modules. Effects in the Channel Strip can show all their controls or only one or two key parameters. There’s an option to display only the channels that contain music between two points in time – great for tackling small sections of an enormous project – and it’s also possible to save and recall mixer views, and to run text searches to jump to specific channel.

All in all it’s a great success, but we wouldn’t fancy our chances if this was our first experience of audio production: there’s a huge amount to take in. Even seasoned users will be bemused by the string of buttons for resetting solo, automation and bypass settings, which are represented by 13 single-letter abbreviations.

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