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Cubase 3.0 (part 2)

Cubase is a sophisticated piece of software, and it does a lot more besides MIDI sequencing. How Steinberg expect the average user to get to grips with Logical Editing, the Interactive Phrase Synthesiser and the MIDI Mixer without a tutorial booklet is beyond me...

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Ditch the Dongle

The bulky Cubase package is lacking in one important respect, and there is one object in the box whose presence is decidedly unwelcome. Let’s start with the omission first. Cubase is a sophisticated piece of software, and it does a lot more besides MIDI sequencing. How Steinberg expect the average user to get to grips with Logical Editing, the Interactive Phrase Synthesiser and the MIDI Mixer without a tutorial booklet is beyond me. I suspect if we took a poll of Cubase users we would find less than 5% using these features simply because most people just don’t have time to spend on features whose worth is impossible to evaluate and level of difficulty inestimable. At least if there is a tutorial book you can measure its thickness between finger and thumb and judge the number of man-hours you’re going to have to put into learning the system. Even Cubase sequencing itself, which is very simple on a basic level, needs a good guide-you-by-the-hand tutorial if users are going to get the most out of what the software can do. I know that all the information is there in reference form in the manual, and there is a rudimentary seven page tutorial section, but it’s hard to piece together all the facts you are going to have to understand when you don’t yet know how much you’ll need to know to master the system.

Now, what is the superfluous item in the Cubase package that I mentioned? That blasted dongle of course. If I were judging Cubase as a piece of amateur software that people were going to use in their own homes purely for the sake of amusement then I wouldn’t mind. But Cubase is meant to be, or at least I think it’s meant to be serious professional software, and the last thing you need in professional work is a tiny little box that performs no function of its own, but if you lose it or someone nicks it then a) you can’t get your work done, and b) you have to fork out for a whole new package of dongle, disks and manuals. Steinberg will say that if they didn’t use a dongle then they would lose out because people would make illicit copies, but what they have done is pass the potential loss on to their customers. How would you feel if you lost your dongle? I can tell you from personal knowledge that you won’t feel too good about it - you’re left with a piece of paper giving you a licence to use the software legitimately, but you can’t because someone else has got your dongle. If you look through a listing of personal computer software for professional use you will find that packages that employ copy protection are very much in a minority. There are ways and means of discouraging illegitimate use other then by inconveniencing genuine legitimate users. If Steinberg take my advice, those naughty people who use copies of the software without a licence will be forced to shell out for the proper version anyway - to get the tutorial booklet so they can learn how to use it properly!

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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