Best dongle-free alternative for "on the road"?

Hi All -

Does anyone work on their Cubase files on the road using a non-dongle alternative to Cubase? I’d love to spend some airplane/airport time listening/tweaking etc., but I think the chances of “dongle trauma” are too high under circumstances like that.

Thanks for sharing any experiences/suggestions!

Wait for Cubase 6 elements :wink:

Reaper :confused:

Hey Strophoid, thanks for that! Went here for the comparison among the three C6 products … dang, though I only use a fraction of the horsepower of C6, it seems like the functions I do use aren’t in Elements, or even Artist (Reverence, Gate, Timewarp, VariAudio, “Advanced Comping”) … I guess I have to decide what’s important to me or not, bummer.

NorthWoodMediaWorks - another DAW … it’s taken me a decade to figure out how to learn Cubase … not sure if my brain can handle a new one now … but I hear it’s pretty easy, so maybe I’ll at least take a look - thanks for the suggestion!

Of course, there is Cubase LE or AI 1, 4 o 5, all without dongle too. Cubase LE 1 does not run on IntelMacs and cannot be imported into Cubase 5/6 directly (you must use Cubase SX1 to 4 to do so). Also, Cubase LE4/5 do not support Rewire.

You might give a try to Energy XT. It´s kind of Cubase-like, inexpensive, and you can use it in Windows as a VST plugin too. My main platform ist Cubase, I have multiple licences, but I delved into Energy XT more and more, and it´s surprisingly good. It has TimeStretching, VST support, integrated EQ and effects, multi track batch export!!!, and a lot more. Compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux. Can run from an external drive. Dongle free, comes with a licence file. Rewire option is an extra of 19 EUR.

Give it a try.
(Besides, they are running now a promotion, a licence costs 39 EUR for the moment.)

Hope this helps.
All the best.


Thank you Roger-S. I’ll consider energy-xt, the price is enticing.

Re: Cubase LE 5 or AI 5 - I wasn’t able to find a detailed comparison of features on the Steinberg website … it doesn’t even appear as a product for sale under “Shop” or “Products”. Would you know where that info might be available? And … whether I can download them to my computer and get straight to work (or do I need “Steinberg hardware” as some sites seem to imply)?


Aloha N,

I have been reading/hearing a lot about reaper and want to give it a try.

I start many songs from the notation screen (especially while traveling)
then I go to VSTis and then audio.

So I went to the site but I can not find any info on if it does notation (and how well)

Do you know if Reaper can do the notation thang?


That´s because it isn´t sold separately, but is an OEM product that comes bundled with some hardware of different manufacturers, or with some special edition of some music magazine.

No idea if it’s any good, but I just received an email for a free download for Samplitude 11 Silver, if you’re interested I can give it to you, I won’t be using it anyway.

Hey Stroph - thanks, dude, that’s mighty nice of you. I’m not travelling till later this summer, and don’t want to commit to a different DAW-system quite yet, so I don’t want to take that away from you -


I think a notation editor is planned for the future, but is not there at the moment.


Have you considered fabricating a lanyard where you mount the dongle someplace on the computer? There also have been stories here where Steinberg replaced licenses for people thad had something go wrong with their dongle. Just have a spare key just in case maybe?

When I do live recording, I have the dongle mounted via velcro to the macbook I use for live stuff. I haven’t used other versions of cubase that don’t require a dongle. I would wonder if there are any translation issues, like if you were to open a Cubase 6 project on cubase 6LE (whatever version that doesn’t require a dongle) save it then open it on Cubase6 and find that the work you already did on Cubase6 using Cubase6’s features was lost when you saved on the light weight, dongle-free version.

Just speculating… for safety reasons.

Try Presonus Studio One Artist!

Please note :laughing: … that Reaper’s MIDI features are also very basic. Same with Studio One which is surprising given that former SB programmers developed it.

Too bad there couldn’t be a dongle-free version that could only be authorized by legitimate users of Cubase who need to travel without worrying about dongle damage or loss.

Maybe Sequel? :wink:

Cubase LE or AI cannot be bought separately, but comes bundled with some interfaces or other hardware from, E-mu, Alesis, Tascam Yamaha of couse, ESI and a lot of other companies. You may find it on ebay though. Considering, that you´re looking for some more advanced features, you better have a look at this page:

Up that page you´ll find a comparison between all versions 4 of Cubase.

By the way, Sequel is another option, as mentioned earlier. Sequel projects can be loaded directly into Cubase, records audio and instrument tracks, so it´s up to you, to see, what you´re gonna take…:wink:. You can download and use the Sequel trial for 45 days directly from inside your account.

Hope that helps.


Him Tom Z.! Thanks for your reply. I too wonder about the translation issue in terms of missing features even going between various Cubase products that might not require a dongle … but it sounds like I just have to decide to either work with those or worry about the dongles (mainly in terms of damaging it as it sticks out the side of the laptop…).

I’m not able to picture your dongle/velcro set up well - is the velcro for use during recording/use, or is it for storing afterwards?

Roger - thanks for that link. I will try to look at it early next week, as I’m going to be working this wknd.


Hi Alexis,

All it is is a short USB extension cable plugged into the computer with the dongle plugged into it. There is a velcro strip on the dongle and its mating piece on the laptop. I just press the dongle onto the velcro.

Awesome!! Thanks - I might feel comfortable enough with that set up even on a plane.

If you don’t already have one, buy a spare dongle so you have one in case anything was to happen. I think they are only $20. If for any reason something happens to your dongle Steinberg should be able to help you out if you have one. I think at the very least, you’ll be able to download a trial to keep you up and running in the unlikely case something would happen to your dongle. Then you’ll have your butt covered.