better beginner videos and documentation

Some background.

I go back with Cubase to the first Windows version when it was just a midi sequencer. As the “wintel” version evolved into a DAW, I quickly and painfully discovered that native computer processing power was not up to the task, thus the advent of the pro tools PCI “farm cards” on the Apple platform. After trying several digital hardware solutions (Roland and Tascam) with their own hardware limitations, and because of other life circumstances, I got away from music as a hobby for quite a while.

Just started getting back into it this year.

I must say learning this software is quite a daunting task. Cubase 10 is packed with features and I find myself quite lost at times. This came as quite a shock as I thought my previous experience “long ago in a galaxy far, far away” would carry me through the learning curve. Referencing the manual and watching both Steinberg and other YouTube videos, I don’t always find an answer to my specific questions. It’s more like finding bits and pieces and then trying to tie it all together.

This is very complicated and amazing software. I did not anticipate this steep of a learning curve. I have so far been both awestruck by its feature set and frustrated by its complexity. I’m sure if I had continued to “grow” in my knowledge of Cubase by continuing to use it as each version improvement was released this experience would have been much less frustrating but I’m also confident that after I get comfortable with the basics I’ll come to appreciate its complexity.

The point of this thread is that part of my job involves writing S.O.P.’s, work instructions and training. Steinberg has created allot of “help and support” content (the aforementioned YouTube videos, etc.) but I find much of it a bit disorganized, especially their YouTube channel. Don’t get me wrong, there is allot of good content in those videos but what would have helped me immensely is a “starter” video highlighting the enormous impact of establishing choices in the Edit → Preferences and Project → Project Set Up dialogs.

I’ve come to find these have a significant impact on certain behaviors, many of which I was initially inclined to think would be found under more traditional menu bar options.

Another example of being caught by surprise was how the rather mundane task of importing a midi file could be so frustrating. One of the things I did before setting aside music as a hobby for all those years was exporting and archiving all my previous work as both type 0 and type 1 midi files.
OK, so I’ll just import a midi file of one of my songs and use that as a basis to learn the program. I’m sure there was sound patch info in that midi file which caused Cubase to default to use its HALion Sonic equivalent of a general midi sound patch. But I could not for the life of me figure out how to change that piano patch to use a preset in “The Grand” which contains higher quality sounds.

Running a google search I finally stumbled upon an old, locked thread in the Steinberg forum detailing how the fact that there is no direct provision for changing an instrument sound in this circumstance and the way to do it is to create a new instrument track, select the VSTi you want to use, and then copy the midi data in the exported track to the new instrument track. Unless I’m still missing something, that is a rather convoluted way of achieving the simple goal of changing a sound patch in an otherwise complex piece of software.

I’m not criticizing Steinberg or Cubase. I think it’s amazing music production software and I can’t wait to get past my “growing pains” and learning curve. Just wish there was a more detailed “beginners” video tutorial as I’ve not found anything that touches on the Preferences and Project Set Up dialogs and something that would have explained in detail the “Track” hierarchy as I also found it very confusing that all those different types of tracks can peacefully coexist side-by-side in the same “window”.

IMO, Steinberg should hire a TS16949 / ISO 9000 consulting firm to help them create training docs and videos. I think it would go a long way toward reducing the number of questions that users post in the forums which in turn would diminish many of the complaints and criticisms of the program and claims of “bugs” in the software. I think allot of that (complaints / criticisms / bugs) may be based on allot of users not having a full understanding of the Cubase feature set.

As for myself, the realization that my previous experience is not helping me with the learning curve, I’m more inclined to place blame on my ignorance rather than “bugs” or features not working or poorly implemented.

Bottom line, if you (Steinberg) don’t have any in house TS16949 / ISO 9000 work instruction writing specialists, please hire or contract some.

Guess some better starter guide wont hurt :slight_smile:

I remeber spending some time reading manual and asking questions, when I started using SX. It was a strange experience moving over from Cakewalk, wich I have used since it was just midi. I cant imagine it has become any easier to “get started” with cubase.

I can give you a quick way of looking at cubase, since you seam to be on your way to understanding how things work.

Edit, preferences.
-Study this and take the time reading about the functions in the manual. Notice how things are devided under categories.
You will also find the thing/settings you are looking for here, when it comes to importing/exporting midi. It will be way more fun with the correct settings for the task here :wink:

I agree. It feels like the existing manual is more of a reference doc. We need a separate “users guide”.

The Ableton Live manual is an excellent example. The first 324 pages contains an easy to follow guide with lots of pictures and it feels like I know the “optimal” way to use that program now. I wish Cubase had something similar.

I’m in full agreement, too. I teach various software applications to students, and with the insight of seeing all the changes made over the course of an application’s development, I have an enormous advantage over my students in not being intimidated by the sheer volume of tools and menus that these fully-developed software applications present to their users. In most cases, my advice to those students is to pick out one action they want to accomplish and to work through what it takes and where to find things. With Cubase, this is almost impossible to suggest because of the myriad things that must first be set up before it can be made to work.

Designers of software are typically most concerned with features and optimization, but few are interested in the potential workflow of their users. If I ever master the basics of Cubase 10 on my simple setup, I’m going to lay out a course of steps for every future first-timer that will guide them in an optimized fashion through setting up their studio and making connections, to adjusting menu settings and testing their results, to producing a first mix. Yes, I know there are already tutorials that do this, but I won’t do it the way an engineer or software designer thinks about the program, it will be the audio design equivalent of a “Hello World” process that every computer programmer is familiar with.

I do appreciate everyone’s current effort to explain things with the tutorials that have already been produced, but many (as OP has said) are still not detailed enough to be useful for those of us who have not followed the development of Cubase’s many versions over the years, and they do not reach down far enough to help us out of our quandary and quagmire. We need workflow oriented explanations! Cubase offers us the capacity to build a feast of audio magic, but many of us newbies can barely boil water.

Lee Lefever wrote a book on explaining things (The Art of Explanation) and included an analogy in which a knowledge domain’s information could be spread theoretically along a continuum in increasing complexity aligned to the 26 letters of the alphabet. Toward the front of the alphabet (A-D) is knowledge of the most obvious and accessible information, like names of things, how to turn it on, how similar it works to other things, etc., while toward the other end of the alphabet (X-Z) are the most complex and arcane knowledge points gleaned after years of devotion to the cause. An expert in a field may operate in the realm of letters past P, while an apprentice level understanding may hover around F or G.

The point is that an explainer may think they’re explaining something at a level that is graspable by someone who only has knowledge up to an E level, but it actually requires knowledge of someone at the J level or beyond. Lefever calls it the curse of knowledge. No matter what they do, an E level understanding will not be able to grasp J level explanations until they acquire supplemental knowledge to move them along to that point, and if an explainer doesn’t see the disparity, they won’t understand why their explanations are ineffective.

It’s a useful analogy for anyone trying to explain things. Much of what I’ve seen out there in the Cubase tutorial world seems to be just missing the level it’s meant to address. Could it be that there aren’t enough explainers who can relate to someone just starting out?