Cubase 3.0 (part 3)
Spot the Difference
Looking at the main screen of Cubase 3.0 you wont see many differences from Version 2. But the differences are in the important little details. Have a look at Figure 1 and see if you can see what I mean. Its almost tempting to make a spot-the-difference competition out of this, but since Im about to give away the answers it might not be such a good idea. There are some slight differences here which were caused by the defaults files on the disks and are not of any importance.
Now is anyone thinking that there isnt all that much difference between the Version 2 and Version 3 screens? Well I would say that its a good thing to keep the user interface as consistent as possible in keeping with the famous saying, If it aint broke, dont fix it. The most obvious change is in the clever shading of the transport buttons. Not an important point Ill grant you but its nice to see that Steinberg are intent on improving the look and feel of their product as well as its features. Hidden among, and behind, the similarities are a multitude of detailed improvements which make Cubase easier to use and more versatile. Let me examine just a few of them:
- On the left of the track list you will see three columns (where Version 1 had one and Version 2 had two). As well as the activity display and mute indicator there is a column showing the Class of each track. All the tracks on this example are standard MIDI tracks for normal recording and editing, but there may also be Drum tracks, Group Tracks, MIDI Mixer tracks and Tape tracks (for controlling recorders such as the Fostex R8 and G16) in your arrangement. The manual follows the description of these classes with a telling statement: If you purchase an extension to Cubase or an expanded version, more Track Classes may appear on the menu. So this is where Steinberg are headed! Ill comment further later on in the article.
- If you position the mouse cursor exactly over the dividing line between the track list and the Part display a grabber hand will appear which allows you to see more of the track list information or more of the Part display according to your preferences. In Version 2, the column to the right of the track name was given to a list of instruments. Probably very useful if you had a large collection of them, but not as helpful if your armoury consisted of just a couple of synths or samplers. I decided that the best ploy was to name the instruments according to the MIDI channels to which they were assigned, thereby telling me all I needed to know and conserving valuable space for the Part display. Version 3 does the sensible thing and swaps these columns around so that the first thing you see to the right of the track names are the MIDI channels.
- Something that always used to waste a lot of time in Version 2 was the endless opening and closing of Part dialogue boxes. I never complained because I was so glad to have the ability to adjust parameters such as Velocity, MIDI Volume, Delay and Transposition Interval in real time as the track was playing. The drawback was that although the track would continue, the track display behind the dialogue box would freeze and Cubases biggest asset became useless. Now there is a little icon at the bottom of the activity display column. Double click this and an information box, called the Inspector, appears at the left of the screen containing loads of parameters for you to play with while the track and the Part display are both running. And to get from track to track is a doddle! Just click the track you want to adjust and make changes that will affect the entire track. Want to change just one Part on a track? Click the Part and the changes will relate to that Part only. The best ideas are often the simplest and this one speeds up the operation of Cubase wonderfully.
- Have you ever thought that the Ataris screen is too small to display all the vast array of tracks you use in your arrangement to full advantage? Up till now there wasnt much you could do except shell out for a Mega ST and a pricey large monitor. Now, you can hide the transport window if you wish. You can do without this quite conveniently once you are used to the keyboard equivalent commands (but I wish someone would invent customisable key caps for the Atari). With the transport window hidden you can see as many as thirty-one tracks on the standard monitor all at the same time without scrolling. My arrangements dont usually extend to such giddy heights of complexity, but the facilitys there and plenty of people will use it to the full.