Cannot install Cubase trial because of eLicenser


I’m sorry to say, dear Steinberg, you’ve made trying out your software a real pain. I wish you’d made your trialware more accessible for people who try to evaluate your software, without having to commit to so much hassle.

I downloaded the 64bit trial version of Cubase 8 Pro for Windows 7 64bit. I have a 6 month old Dell PC with plenty of memory, disk, i7 CPU etc.

Upon download, I got an email with the activation number. Here’s the first failure: the email I got from you questioned its own content: "If the activation number is found below then… ", followed by the number. What gives? If you’re already sending me an email, can’t you already tell which instructions apply to me and save me the confusion?

When I tried to run Cubase and provided the Activation number, I got a message - “currently there’s no USB e-licenser connected”, which makes sense, as this is a trial software I downloaded, it has no physical manifestation. So again, Steinberg - what gives? If it’s a 30 day trial, just kill it after 30 days, why do I need to bother with e-licensers and dongles?

After further learning I realized there’s a soft eLicenser which I got from here -; I installed and registered it successfully on Steinberg’s site. But still, Cubase will not recognize the eLicenser and asked for a dongle.

So I found this on your FAQ -
This exactly described my problem, and provided a helper installer (34MB!) which which upon successful download got promptly deleted by my antivirus software (Panda). So I decided to put my trust (again) on Steinberg, disable the Panda antivirus, download again and install the helper. It won’t install, claiming that my OS is too old and that it requires Windows 7 (I have windows 7).

What do you suggest at this point? Should I go and spend $700 on a promise that Cubase may one day run on my computer? Please advise…

Couldn’t agree more! I’ve been using Reaper but am dissatisfied with its MIDI editor. Having fond memories of using Cubase SX back in college 15 years ago, I thought I’d see what the latest version has to offer.

…but I don’t want to drop the cash without at least trying it out first. Unfortunately this seems to be impossible! Even if I did find a way to get it to work, the fact that I’ve already been troubleshooting for almost an hour, before I’ve even opened the application, does not bode well in terms of a happy future using this DAW.

Having no trial version available at all would be a better advertisement for the product - at least then I’d try to find a friend who has it or something. As it stands, I consider Cubase to be well and truly out of the running!


Just saw your post, and can understand the frustration. I had a look at the Cubase website page and clicked on the “Trial” tab. Scrolling down towards the bottom of the page underneath the “Download Mac Version” and “Download PC Version” red buttons, there’s some information there, clearly stating that a USB eLicenser is required. The trial will not operate without the eLicenser it seems I’m afraid. You can purchase one for £17 from the Steinberg Shop though.



I created an account at this forum for the sole purpose of expressing my frustration at the STUPID waste of time my “free” Trial of Cubase 9 has cost me. As pointed out elsewhere here, an elicenser dongle is required to run the Trial. Yes, I should’ve noticed that teensy asterisk’d print on the Trial download page. My bad. Where Steinberg falls flat is in claiming the that the Trial is free. If you have to buy something in order to get the Trial to work, it’s NOT free. That’s like a car dealership offering free test drives on a new car, but only if you first buy a set of tires for it.

I understand Steinberg’s need to protect their software, yada yada. Every software developer has the same problem. There are three correct paths to take in this situation: 1) figure out some way to offer a truly free Trial of your software, 2) state very clearly that an additional purchase is required (a “before you continue” popup would work perfectly), or 3) don’t offer a free Trial.

10 freakin’ gigs of downloaded Steinberg uselessness now reside (temporarily) on my Windows 10 machine, but not for long.

Same for me too, gutted, and cannot agree more. Just wasted 12gb of downloading over a crap bandwidth to find out it NOT a free trial.

Was really looking forward to it too.

Yep, totally agree.

Having to buy something for a free trial, which will probably take weeks to get to where I live in Australia, is a joke.

They want to kill their own business, so be it.

I’ll be closing my account with Steinberg.


Agree with you all that posted before me. I will NEVER buy any kind of product of Steinberg and not event try them.

I am sorry to hear that the “USB-eLicenser required” note is not visible enough on the trial download page
And on the product page, there is even a photo of the USB-eLicenser:

Yes, for certain product trials a USB-eLicenser is required - that’s how it is at the moment unfortunately - but there is also a Cubase Elements trial that does not require a USB-eLicenser.
Also, there are many Steinberg and non-Steinberg users out there already using a USB-eLicenser for other applications so they can also make use of the free trials.

Oh well, that may be the way you do business, but I don’t do business with companies that do not trust or respect their customers, and that’s what a dongle is.



I’m also one of those who was considering moving from Reaper and Pro Tools to Cubase, but really wanted to try it out before committing. £17 to try out your software is not acceptable, and having already been tied into the DRM-tax that is iLok, I’m not interested in losing yet another USB slot for overzealous DRM. Another potential customer out.

The USB-eLicenser has been there in its current form for over 15 years now so it is not exactly news that one is needed to try Cubase Pro. Cubase Elements can be tested without a USB-eLicenser.
If you choose to purchase a USB-eLicenser and choose to go with Cubase, you can purchase the cheaper download version as you already have a USB-eLicenser.

I am going to close this topic now.