Steinberg Cubase Pro 8
Cubase 8 combines powerful tools from Nuendo with new features such as VCA faders and the ability to render audio in place. The first change in Cubase 8 is the name. Steinberg have often struggled in distinguishing the higher- and lower-end versions by name alone over the years, initially calling the senior program Cubase SX, until version 4 when they dropped the SX. Cubase Studio later became Cubase Artist, making things a little clearer, but in version 8 Steinberg have removed any possible ambiguity:
Steinberg Cubase Pro 8
Cubase 8 combines powerful tools from Nuendo with new features such as VCA faders and the ability to render audio in place. The first change in Cubase 8 is the name.
Steinberg have often struggled in distinguishing the higher- and lower-end versions by name alone over the years, initially calling the senior program Cubase SX, until version 4 when they dropped the SX. Cubase Studio later became Cubase Artist, making things a little clearer, but in version 8 Steinberg have removed any possible ambiguity: One thing that irked me about this is that everything in the Project window is now the same dark shade of blue; the Inspector is the same colour as the Track List, which is the same colour as the Event Display and other new elements of the window.
At least in 7. Steinberg have also expanded the abilities of the Project window by making it possible to display either the VST Instrument rack or parts of the Media Bay directly in the window without requiring multiple windows to be open. Mimicking the tabbed behaviour of the left-hand part of the window, where you can switch between the Inspector and the Visibility controls, once Racks are enabled you can toggle between the rack and a Media Bay view.
Even if I did, the integrated VST Instruments section actually takes up a few more horizontal pixels than the windowed version, which was quite surprising. Rounding out the changes to the Project window in Cubase is a cleaned-up Track List. The Track Names are bolder and easier to read, and the controls on the track headers are now organised in a way that makes them feel less unwieldy. Whereas in previous versions the default option was for track controls to automatically wrap themselves based on the width and height of the track header, that option has been removed.
Instead, in the Track Controls Settings window, you can now set a width for the track header, and Cubase will decide based on how many controls you have visible how many rows are needed to lay out the controls. And a nice touch is that a preview area has been added so you can see what the layout will look like in the Track Controls window, although it seems limited to three rows.
Pro Tools, by comparison, has had them since version 7. Coming from the dark distant past of analogue consoles, VCA Voltage-Controlled Amplifier faders allow you to have one fader that controls the relative levels of a number of faders assigned to the corresponding VCA group.
Now you might be thinking that this sounds an awful lot like existing group channels, which also permit the level of multiple audio channels to be controlled by a single fader.
But the key difference is that whereas a group channel fader controls the mixed level of the assigned audio channels, VCA fader channels control the unmixed, individual levels of the assigned audio channels. To understand how this might be different in practice, consider post-fader send effects. My only small gripe is that while in Pro Tools you can do all this from either the Edit or the Mix window, in Cubase this functionality is only available from the Mix Console window.
VCA fader channels also play nicely with automation by implementing a new type of automation called combination automation. However, if a track contains its own independent automation, combination automation is written instead, where the original automation curve appears in dark and a new curve is superimposed, based on the combination of the original automation and the VCA fader track automation.
If you later want to remove a channel from a group that has combined automation, Cubase will politely ask you if you want to keep the combined automation, or revert back to the original automation. Previously, if you had some volume automation on a track at the start of a project and then some automation at the end of track, for example, the value of the last automation event in the first cluster of automation would be held over to the start of the second cluster. This meant that if you wanted to try out something in between, the volume fader would always snap back to the value of the last automation event on that track once you let go.
Virgin Territories, as the name suggests, prevents this situation by making it possible to have territories on an automation track that contain no automation and are not tainted by previous automation events.
Virgin Territories makes it possible to have gaps in automation. This will terminate the continuous line of automation, until you want to start writing again. If you want to fill those gaps later, the Automation Panel gains a few new commands for filling gaps on selected tracks quicker than a trip to the dentist. Route Master Another useful feature, this time coming from Nuendo 5 , is Direct Routing, which allows you to route an audio-based channel to up to seven additional outputs.
You can even automate this switching so that the output of the channel is switched during playback automatically. The audio wavefrom scrolls from the bottom of the meter upwards, and a line in the centre represents the current playback position.
Render In Place One of my favourite new features in Cubase 8 is one that Logic users have enjoyed for some time. In Logic, the feature was called Bounce in Place, and its purpose, as you might guess, was to enable selected material in the Main Window to be rendered as a new audio file before being added back to the Project. In Cubase, this similar feature is called Render in Place, and Steinberg have taken the concept even further.
One example of where Render in Place is particularly handy is if you have something on an instrument track and want to quickly turn it into audio for manipulation in that domain. Cubase will then automatically bounce the selected part into an audio file, and then add a new audio track beneath the source material containing the event at the right position, and finally mute the original source — all in one command!
Pretty much anything on a track that produces audio can be rendered in this way, including entire tracks if no part or event is selected on the selected track. And if you have selected material that spans multiple tracks, you even get the option to render the selection to individual audio files or a single one. To configure how Render in Place operates, a second command called Render Setup opens a window containing two tabs: Render and File Settings. Selecting Render Setup lets you open this window to configure the settings before executing a render in place.
Under the Render tab there are various options, starting with how multiple events or parts will be handled. You can create Separate Events, where a separate audio file will be created for each selected event or part, or you can create One Event, where all the events or parts on each track are combined into a single event. Finally, a third option lets you render the output as Block Events where, if multiple parts or events are adjacent in the time line, Cubase will combine their output as one audio file, but create separate events for cases where parts and events are not adjacent.
Next, you can specify what signal routing should be included in the render. The default option is Channel Settings, where inserts and any channel strip settings including EQ are rendered, and only the routing settings including sends are transferred to the new track.
If you are rendering events or parts from different tracks, you may also have the option to bounce into a single track if conditions are favourable. Tail Size allows you to specify for how long Cubase should keep rendering after the selected events and parts have ended, which is useful if you are rendering big reverbs or soft-synth sounds with a long decay. Render in Place is a truly useful tool that will be invaluable in almost any situation where you want to create new audio files from existing material.
Firstly, plug-in side-chaining is currently not supported, so the resulting render will include the plug-in, but the plug-in will not receive the side-chain input. Steinberg recommend users revert back to using the Export Audio Mixdown command in these cases. Hopefully this is something that could be added to the VST specification in the future, though, making it possible for a host like Cubase to query a plug-in about what outputs are utilised by a given MIDI port and channel.
In the meantime, a potential workaround is to enable the Mix Down to One Track option, assuming conditions are favourable. Building on the Chord Track functionality added in Cubase 7, which allowed you to define and explore the harmonic structure of a project, Steinberg have added a new Chord Pads interface that makes it more interactive to work with chords in Cubase.
Chord Pads appears in a zone at the bottom of the project window, and is opened by selecting Chord Pads from the Project menu, or by clicking the Chord Pads button in the Chords section of the Inspector with a MIDI or instrument track selected. Each pad can be assigned a particular chord that plays assuming you have a MIDI or instrument track selected when you click a given pad, with the output illustrated on the piano keyboard above the pads.
As you hover the mouse over a pad, a number of arrow buttons appears, and you can assign a chord to a pad by clicking the arrow to the left of the pad to open the Chord Editor, which is similar to the Chord Editor used to edit Chord Events on the Chord Track. You can also assign a chord to a pad by right-clicking it, choosing Assign Pad from MIDI Input from the pop-up menu, and playing your desired chord.
Part of the reason the pads are laid out in a piano-like format is that they can be remotely triggered from your MIDI controller. Here, you can also assign trigger notes to adjust the voicing, tensions and transpositions of the chords.
Taking the tensions as an example, sending a controller value of 0 would mean the chord has no tension notes, and a value of would indicate the chord has the most amount of tension notes.
Transpose allows you to transpose a chord up or down in semitones, and you can even use the pitch-bend wheel to do this, which is perhaps more fun than it is useful. Any trigger notes you assign get indicated by colour on the keyboard above the pads blue for the remote range of the pads, and green for any of the other controls.
You can also activate or deactivate the remote by clicking a button at the bottom left of the Chord Pads Zone. Although the pads default to a piano-like configuration, you can change this to a grid formation if you prefer. Now, as you play different pads, you should notice the voicing automatically changing on those pads that have it enabled.
If you want to lock all the pads into the voicing of one particular pad, right-clicking that pad and selecting Adaptive Voicing Reference will give it a yellow border and make that pad the reference for all the others.
While this is more of a reference than a function, Steinberg have also provided a Chord Assistant window that gives you a visual representation of relationships between chords. The Chord Assistant showing the Proximity view for the saddest of all chords.
The Chord Assistant has two views where the first, Proximity, places an origin chord at the bottom-centre of the display, and semi-circular rings of chords around it. The chords on the closer rings represent simpler relationships with the origin chords, while those further away represent a more complex relationship.
The second view offered by the Assistant is Circle of Fifths, where the origin chord is placed in the centre with two rings of chords orbiting it. The chords are presented so that relative majors and minors are kept together. In both views, much like the chord pads, you can click a chord to play it, and you can right-click a chord to assign it to the next available slot.
I really like the musical nature of features like Chord Pads. Pieces Of Eight Cubase 8 is another great release from Steinberg that, despite clearly leaning towards mixing and production-oriented features, still has something to offer for everyone when you consider things like improved audio engine enhancements with ASIO Guard 2, improved workflow for those that make use of Workspaces, and Chord Pads.
This improves the workflow when running Cubase with multiple monitors, makes co-existing with windows from other applications more convenient, and finally makes it possible to maximise the Project window in a useful way. When Cubase is open and no Project is loaded, the new menu bar contains the traditional three windows buttons in the far right: At the application level you could also do it by selecting Minimise All from the Windows menu, or by assigning a key command.
One problem I noticed when restoring a minimised Cubase window is that sometimes it will be restored behind other open windows like a Windows Explorer window, for example , which is a bit annoying. Now, in Cubase 8, Steinberg have improved the technology and eliminated some of the drawbacks of the initial implementation, such as its incompatibility with multitimbral VST instruments and instruments that used disk streaming.
Just for fun, I decided to run the same test on a quad-core Mac Pro running Mavericks. Going from low to normal to high, Activity Monitor showed that Cubase was using around percent, percent really! However, I know of others who are getting different results with different systems, especially those running more complicated setups with Vienna Ensemble Pro. Artistic Differences In addition to updating Cubase to version 8 and renaming it Cubase Pro, Steinberg have also updated the junior version of Cubase, Cubase Artist, to version 8 as well.
Although Artist users get much of the functionality described in this article, some of the higher-end mixing features have been omitted. Problems On The As with all new software releases, there were a few initial problems with the first 8. But Steinberg released version 8. This was improved in 8.
A few other visual glitches were also fixed, including an amusing one where the Project Cursor Line would stay visible when you minimised the Project window. That way, you can start typing in the timecode immediately without having to first click into the field. A slightly more annoying issue concerns the metronome, which has become somewhat temperamental in deciding whether or not it will play the click or not when recording.
Steinberg are aware of the issue and offer two solutions: Workspace Is The Place Steinberg have revamped the way Workspaces function in version 8, with two different categories of Workspace — Global and Project — replacing the previous model that offered Workspaces and Workspace presets. As you might imagine, Global Workspaces are available to any Project you open in Cubase, whereas Project Workspaces are available only in the project in which they were saved.
Workspaces are now accessed via a dedicated Workspaces menu on the menu bar, The updated Workspaces Organizer shows both Global and Project Workspaces. The workflow of Workspaces has also been simplified, in that where Workspaces used to be updated automatically as you changed the arrangement of your windows unless they were locked , this is no longer the case.
Now, instead of having a lock feature, you have to expressly tell Cubase to update a Workspace with the new Update Workspace command.
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