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Cubase 3.0 (part 6)

If you are already a Cubase owner, you may be asking yourself whether Version 3 is worth the cost of the upgrade...


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Equipping Your Home Recording Studio
Essential Upgrade?

If you are already a Cubase owner, you may be asking yourself whether Version 3 is worth the cost of the upgrade. Consider also that you’ll probably have to install some extra memory in your computer to take full advantage of it (my ST has 2.5 Megabytes and I couldn’t load some old Cubase files I had created before I had the memory upgrade. “Out of Memory”, the screen informed me.). I would say that nearly always it’s best to upgrade your software when you have the opportunity. Technology is constantly on the march and unless you keep yourself at the cutting edge then inevitably you’ll get left behind. Cubase 3.0 is the fully mature version of Cubase, and although I expect there will be a few tweaks yet to come, this is the version to have rather than the now outdated Version 2. One of Cubase’s advantages is that it is very simple to use at a basic level and get good results. There are also many levels of complexity so that if you feel the spirit of adventure coming on that, especially with the MIDI Mixer, Logical Edit and the Interactive Phrase Synthesiser, there is probably no limit the the possibilities available.

Have you ever met anyone who is really clever? I mean really clever, so clever that they can solve complex mathematical problems in the blink of an eye that would take normal people the best part of a fortnight to get wrong? They can of course also play chess blindfolded with one hand tied behind their back and captain the first fifteen at rugby while playing Liszt’s Sonata in B minor standing on their head in the 11th quasi-lotus position of lower Himalayan yoga! Steinberg’s Laboratories are full of people like this and instead of wasting their abilities on all these trivial pursuits they design sequencing software for the Atari ST and other notable computers!

The only snag when people of exceptional talent design tools and systems for ordinary mortals to use is that very often something they think is simplicity itself is to most people so complex that it is virtually unusable. Fortunately Steinberg must have had the sense to hire a representative of the averagely intelligent classes because most of Cubase is indeed perfectly understandable and usable, but there are still some parts where most of us have so far feared to tread, namely Logical Editing, Interactive Phrase Synthesis and the MIDI Mixer. I haven’t met anyone yet who has actually used any of these features of Cubase on a real piece of music. One might suggest that hey are interesting to dabble with, but too hard to understand well enough to be part of one’s regular sequencing technique.

The above paragraphs represent the way I and many people feel when confronted with a new product that seems complex and whose potential benefits are unknown. Why should anyone spend a considerable amount of time and effort learning a system which might not ever repay that effort. OK, if you start learning the piano or guitar you know you have a long hard struggle ahead of you before you are a master of the instrument, but at least you can see the example of accomplished musicians who can play really well. Are there any Interactive Phrase Synthesiser virtuosi out there? If there are, they are keeping their heads well down. Most Cubase users will have looked at these features of their software, experimented a little - probably unsuccessfully - and decided consciously or unconsciously to concentrate on the features of Cubase where they know that time spent learning will be amply repaid later on. Fortunately for me I am in the lucky position of being paid to experiment with equipment so that I can pass the results on to Sound on Sound readers. I knew that even if I didn’t get any musical use out of these more difficult Cubase features then I would still get my reward - a cheque at the end of the month! This is a great incentive to getting down to a good manual reading session, which I did and can now announce that I am, if not a total convert to Interactive Phrase Synthesis or the MIDI Mixer, at least impressed by their capabilities and can safely recommend that time spent learning them will not be wasted. The Logical Editing function on the other hand is something that, now I have thoroughly got to grips with it, I will use all the time with Cubase, in fact it could be my favourite out of Cubase’s five editing screens.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004