Monday, 8 September 2008

Cubase 4.5

A surprise present awaited me on return from my holiday: Steinberg have released a new free minor update to my DAW of choice, Cubase. I've always foolishly updated Cubase immediately before finding out problems from early adopters on the forums. New shiney things! Must have! Now!

So is it any good? Yes, thankfully.

Here are my initial impressions:
  • It's no more buggy than before, as far as I can see. Well, that's a start. But it gets better...
  • Support for adding/removing audio interfaces whilst Cubase is open has returned on the Mac!!! Hurrah!!! I cannot say how cross I was when this feature silently disappeared in a Cubase update (somewhere around 4.1 or so). When using my MacBook Pro, I'm always flitting between audio interfaces: I have two firewire devices in my studio at home, another at work, and a USB interface for on the road. Sometimes, I'll also just use the internal mic/speakers for a quick noodle. A desktop installation clearly doesn't suffer this problem, but having to shut down and restart Cubase every time I wanted to use a new audio interface (often) was a real drag. They've fixed it. Steinberg, I love you!!!
  • It uses more CPU than the previous version. This is actually a real bummer, but is (thankfully) offset by the previous bonus point (for me).
  • MP3 export has been fixed - it can now write ID3 tags correctly, so I don't have to resort to a third party tagging program after export.
  • The new Yamaha S90ES piano is a very cute addition. I'm a keyboard player, so this really does it for me. I use a Roland stage piano live, and so now I can look smug at my Yamaha S90ES owning co-band-member. I've got his piano sound too :-) However, I have to be honest: I prefer the sound of the TruePianos plugin that I use. The Saphire module just does it for me, and their new Amber is also great. So I'm not sure that I'll end up using the Yamaha all that much. (However, if I'd had the Yamaha from the start maybe I'd not have bothered with another Piano plugin. Who knows?)
  • New drum loops. Whatever. They'll float someone's boat.
  • New sounds. The guitars are OK. The basses are pants. There's some other stuff, but nothing as impressive as the Yamaha grand.
  • VST3 Sound. It's a low-level thing. You wouldn't notice it as a user. There's no interface change to the MediaBay. You won't until (unless) other VST manufacturers start supporting it.

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