Steinberg Cubase Pro 8 – Gearjunkies review

Steinberg Cubase Pro 8 , a Gearjunkies review – German heavyweights Steinberg are back with a new version of their well known DAW Cubase called Cubase Pro 8. Steinberg really did some great things with this update, there are lots of improvements and new features so let’s dive in and see what is what.

First off Asio Guard 2

Steinberg introduced the first Asio Guard a while ago and now there is the new and improved ASIO Guard 2, which uses low latencies just on the tracks where latency matters while using a larger latency that saves performance for playback tracks. Also It now supports instrument tracks including multi-timbral and sample instruments that feature disk streaming. The internal ASIO-Guard buffering was extended and this improves the audio processing performance. It definately feels more robust and can certainly help in lowering the cpu use in most cases.

Plug-in manager

One of the top new features is the Plugin Manager. The new plug-in manager lets you arrange, sort and group your effects and instruments either at the top level or in custom submenus Now you can arrange plugins in favourite folders, Make manufacturer folders but leave out the plugins that you don’t want to see in a folder. This can be done for both Effects and Instruments. Speeding up your workflow considerably.

VCA faders

VCA Faders is a feature many cubase users were asking for on the forums. This new feature makes getting complicated mixes done much easier. Here’s how it works. You can now apply a vca fader to a group of channels and keep the original automation intact. The vca fader can then control the volume of the whole group. Also you can nest them so you have multiple vca faders and then make a vca fader controlling all the vca faders in the group. Therefore you have ultimate control over very complicated automation within the mix, also you can merge the automation curve of a VCA fader with the automation curve of a controlled fader or fader groups.

Render in-place

Another very often requested feature is Render in Place. Now you can bounce MIDI and audio parts easily. In the render menu you have multiple options, you now can render the file without the channel settings, with the channelsettings, whole path and whole path plus masterbus fx. A great new addition to Cubase Pro 8 and one that makes rendering a whole lot better. Only niggle at this time the rendering could be somewhat faster and that there is no render to mono option..

Direct Routing

Cubase Pro 8 includes a new direct routing section in MixConsole that allows you to set up group routing destinations for multiple channels, buses and stems at once with a single click. Create different mix versions of any session at once. For instance you can now route the channel to the masterbus, but also to a drumbus and a parallel drumbus and make seperate stems of them at once. Very handy new feature and it saves a lot of time.

Virgin territories

New in the automation menu is an option called Virgin territories. Virgin territories in automation lanes improves handling of automation data: when activated, no automation data is written between two automated events on the same track, making it possible to freely use the space in between two automations for parameter adjustments. Also in the space where there is no automation written there is nothing happening, so now cpu use is less than it was in the old automation system.

Wave Meters

A handy new feature in the mixer are the Wave Meters. With the new Wave Meters in Cubase Pro 8, upcoming audio events are displayed with the respective waveforms, scrolling through the mixer pane above the volume fader.  That way you can see what is happening in the audiofile and find out the current song position and check upcoming audio events within the project right from your mixconsole.

The new plugins: Quadrafuzz v2, VST Bass Amp, Multiband Envelope Shaper and Multiband Expander.

Quadrafuzz v2

Older versionS of Cubase had a distortion called Quadrafuzz, which was much loved by people who make dance music. You can even say it was kind of a secret weapon. Already a very old plugin that was created by Craig Anderton it now is revived as Quadrafuzz v2. Quadrafuzz v2 allows you to distort up to four bands individually, while maintaining full control over harmonic distortion and some band-based delay effects. The sound is up to date and the possilities are very much improved on. Definately a good tool to have in the arsenal. Welcome back Quadrafuzz.

VST Bass Amp

VST Bass Amp delivers a comprehensive collection of amps, cabs and stomp boxes. The sound of the new Bass Amp is good , also steinberg made sure you can tweak a whole lot, distance between the cabinet and the microphone, switch and mix mics, cabinets, etc. Also in the fx there is even the possibilty to use Magneto 2. Definately check this new Bass amp out it’s worth it.

Multiband Envelope Shaper

The Multiband Envelope Shaper helps bringing out the details on a drum mix, mastering tasks and creative sound (re- )shaping. It splits the incoming audio material into a maximum of four frequency bands and allows you to freely alter the attack and release characteristic of each band to rework the transient structure. You can radically alter the groove of a loop that way for instance.

Multiband Expander

Multiband Expander allows you to modify the dynamic range of your tracks. Choose different settings for each one of the four available frequency bands independently to create a broader dynamic range or simply reduce unwanted noise. Use this on your lead synth sound to really make it pop right out of the speakers.

These new plugins are a great addition to the vst arsenal of Cubase Pro 8 and can really get your creativity flowing. Also there are some updates to DeEsser that is now available in the tools section of the channel strip module, and now has full side-chain support. Multiband Compressor now supports dedicated side-chaining with the ability to adjust and monitor trigger frequencies individually for each of its four bands. And the updated Tuner plug-in now features strobe tuning mode, a customizable base frequency and a bigger display for better readability.

Dockable Instrument rack and MediaBay

MediaBay and the VST Instrument Rack can now be displayed to the right side of the Project window. The result is the new Rack Zone with improved efficiency. Very handy and now you can use the Media bay without leaving the arrangement page. And drag and drop audio and fx etc right into your track. A workflow enhancement that i very much appreciate. Only small gripe this time is that the dockable rack could be a little smaller in my opinion, it takes a bit of valuable space away from the arrangement page.

Chord pads

With Chord pads you can to creatively compose with chords. Play with chords and patterns in real time and remote control multiple parameters to change chords on the fly. The chord pads are playable via a MIDI keyboard and real-time parameters allow you to easily improvise chord performances by changing voicings, tensions and more as you go. You then can record your performance as MIDI events on any record-enabled MIDI or instrument track.

You can visually select chords in the circle of 5th view or the new Proximity Assistant.The new Proximity Chord Assistant mode provides suggestions from a defined reference chord, taking a set of harmonic rules into account. The distance and colors of the suggestions from the reference chord (at the center bottom of the window) convey a sense of how complex a suggestion is, in comparison to the reference chord. The circle of 5th mode shows you the chord relations as a classic circle of fifths visualization, and these new visual modes of the Chord Assistant are also available directly from the new chord pads. This function is fun to play with and can be a big help in finding the right chords to fit your track.

Groove Agent SE 4 Acoustic Agent

Groove Agent SE 4 now includes many of the features from Acoustic Agent from Groove Agent 4, with a content set based on an acoustic drum kit. With 20 drum style patterns and also advanced features like a built-in mixer for Group Channels, Room und Overheads you can create great drumkits. Also all the effects available in Groove Agent SE 4 are at your disposal, so you can radically alter the realistic drumkits in something much weirder via the distortions etc.

Final Thoughts:

Steinberg come right out of the gate with a sturdy version of Cubase Pro 8, there was not much that i could detect in the bug department. As a long time user i have to say that this was sometimes different with a new version. The new improved windows handling on PC is a plus, but the taskbar feels a little awkward and i had to adjust my aero theme to make it better readable. Also the fact that much asked for features by users are now implemented is a big plus. While working with Cubase Pro 8 for the first time it felt snappy, has faster loading times and didn’t crash. So all in all well done to Steinberg for releasing such a good first version of Cubase Pro 8.

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