Concerns about Steinberg Licensing

It’s a daw….I can move on….I’m really not precious about it…Studio one updates blow chunks on Cubase updates over the last 36 months….if studio one gets led in the wrong direction there are other options….

The church of the DAW doesn’t exist with me….I’ve not really got it….

Cubase 11.0.41 is final. it is poor engineering from SB. It’s good that they provide a dongle less solution for people that dont want the dongle. But it is a disaster for the ones that have a lot of money in old projects that they need to be able to open “forever”. A good solution would provide a solution that works for both. Now it is a huge degrade for some users.


You have enough time to open old projects and transfer them to a more recent Cubase/Cubase 12. If they’re using old 32bit plugins, I guess you will have to bounce down tracks.

Best you stop using your dongle as soon as 12 is out and seal your dongle in a labeled box and preserve it.

This is the history of computing and software. Compatibility isn’t forever. You either need to buy/store old outdated hardware, or you transfer to new mediums.

It’s just the way it goes.


For PACE, it’s their specialist field so they have to actively provide flexibility as it’s a system they sell. It’s also been compromised multiple times over the year.

Why don’t Steinberg use them?

Longterm it makes sense when you have so many products that are integral to one another to develop your own security platform. Particularly when you’re responsible for technologies that other third parties develop for.

No doubt this will cost a lot of money to setup, but SB have always had a long-term vision whereby money spent is invested in themselves and their technologies. Which is why we have VST, ASIO etc.

I don’t know what the driving factor is for SB to completely forego a dongle with the new system, whether it’s an image they want to shake off, simplicity with one system, security concern running two methods, over-complicated license terms, or just cost - who knows?

One thing for sure is as it’s explained, there will be no dongle. I’m pretty sure if NI put Kontakt users on a dongle protection there would be absolute hell break lose via the majority of users. At least SB only have to contend with a small minority who are probably more concerned than genuinely will experience issues.

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First I want to sincerely thank the Steinberg team for their excellent engagement here in this thread about this extremely important topic! Good to see such responsiveness and also passion about what you are trying to do, and trying to listen to our concerns!

I’ve read 99% of this thread, and my own concerns are the following:

  1. I do not like any licensing system that phones home in any way, shape or form. Too many reasons why, all have been discussed in these threads. Considering you are determined to do this anyway, and you’re part of an industry that has decided to do this, I request that you please:
  • Detail precisely in an easy-to-find policy statement what you will collect each time the product phones home.
  • Limit what you will collect and HOW OFTEN you collect it to the absolute minimum for license validation, and then restrict ALL OTHER data you might be tempted to collect (any kind of telemetry, OS, plugins, session info, hardware details, IP/network info, etc., etc.) so it is absolutely OPT IN only (i.e. to optionally “help” Steinberg develop better products)
  • Provide an easy-to-access LOG of when the last time was the product phoned home and EXACTLY what was included. Obviously some of it will be an encrypted signature of some kind, so you can say something like: “IP address, Username, Encrypted license key token” or whatever
  • Promise to follow strict privacy standards to the highest ethical and technical standards according to and exceeding German law (which tends to have better protections currently than, say, US privacy standards)
  • Have periodic internal audits to confirm that you are following your own policies
  • Anonymize ALL data possible, and have strict reduced, minimalistic data-retention policies in place
  • Don’t get greedy with collecting more and more data. Stay focused that this is strictly a licensing system, NOT a data mining system.
  1. License limitations – I currently own most of your products (from WaveLab to HALion to Nuendo, etc.) and use them on several computers. Some don’t touch the Internet for a long time. I need maximum flexibility with your phone home system – 2 activations at a time is not enough considering you are now asking us to regularly connect to the Internet. The dongle, as hated as it is by some, at least gave us huge flexibility to jump on another computer that’s been offline for a while. Your 1-year offline option is helpful, but not enough. So I request that you:
  • Please increase the number of activations to at least 3 activations per license
  • Please extend the phone home window to 45-60 days to make it easier for us.
  • Please make the 1-year offline option as flexible as possible – please figure out a way to save a key to a USB drive that can move from machine to machine if possible. I realize there are technical concerns, but please see item 4 below about trusting your customers…
  • Most importantly, please allow a “soft fail” mode with a generous little respectful window so that we can at least use the license for, say, 1 more day more before you lock us out. For example, if we haven’t booted a laptop for 45 days or even 70 days (and we didn’t use the 1-year offline option on this particular laptop), then load it up on location and can’t connect to the Internet, please allow it to soft fail and give us a kindly-worded warning, and then a little 24 hour grace countdown period before you deactivate the license OR we have to find an Internet connection. This will prevent a lot of hassle when we need to grab and go with a laptop that hasn’t booted up for a while, and we’ll at least know we can get 24 more hours out of it before you lock us out.
  1. If you require us to have an online license system, which creates a new set of security risks that we didn’t have to deal with before compared to your old license system, please do us the courtesy of providing best-in-class security protocols for protecting our accounts, which would include a 2FA account protection with something like a Yubikey, U2F, or TOTP-based app options (like Authy, Google Authenticator, etc.) That’s the least you can do to help protect accounts that we know house valuable license assets!

  2. I ask that you please err on the side of trusting your customers! This is the tough balance I know you are trying to find, but I think you can do well to gain the support (and understanding) of your customers if you trust them first, and resist any urges for any harder policies. Copy protection in general penalizes your most valuable asset – your honest customers – and I don’t think it’s enough that your licensing system is “better” than the old system. It needs to be MUCH better. I think you also have a chance to establish a better, more trusting standard in this industry, where I know many of us reward more trust with more business.

Thanks again for listening in this thread. Please make sure it works, gets out of our way, respects our privacy, respects us as users, and is generous with flexibility – you can achieve this while also protecting your own interests.

Best Regards, Uarte


I haven’t been able to find this answer anywhere so perhaps someone here can point me in the right direction. What will happen to instrument licenses currently on usb eLicensers? Will be transferred into the new system or will they also need to be upgraded to transfer over? I’d rather not have to buy my halion/ groove agent expansions/instruments just to keep access to them if we’re switching the dongle.

While I have no problems with the upcoming licensing system, I do have concerns with the cessation of eLicenser. I currently run 3 versions of Cubase on my DAW system - Cubase SX3 to convert old .ALL files, Cubase 8.5 for rendering older tracks made with 32 bit plugins, and Cubase 11 Pro.

I am not sure if the new licensing system caters for having 3 versions of Cubase on the one computer. If it doesn’t, then I’ll still be needing the eLicenser even if I update to Cubase 12.

In addition, there is no way of making a backup dongle in case of an emergency - like the plastic dongle breaking.

The ownership as gone from the inventor in Germany to a conglomerate in Japan. What the next stop will be is probably beyond your pay grade. Since the Yamaha take over there have financial improvement not been good. Google trend for the products is a disaster. So don’t be sure that you dont have to go somewhere sometime in the future.

I still think the perfect world beating harmony would of been Steinberg /Rme , when Yamaha was mentions i did cringe for a while

I can think of many owners that would have been lot worse than Yamaha. At least Yamaha core business is in the industry to they have a name and reputation to protect.

@FilterFreq @cubace

What the hell yall talking about? Do you know what Nuage is? It’s probably the most legit sound post production DAW controllers.

Yamaha is popular also in the live sound FOH live mixer market, they have Nuendo Live integrated into their mix desks.

they make amazing bass guitars, electric guitars, and drums also.

Im not sure how we get in to controllers, but Nuage is probably the worst thing that have ever happened to cubase. It have made remote controllers get stuck in the 90’s.

Have you used one? It’s literally the Bugatti of DAW controllers…?

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Bit rude of you old bean , that’s your personal opinion , calm down you’ll bust a blood vestal , my opinion is my opinion so please politely ignore and walk on by if you don’t like it .
Steinberg/Rme , perfect match .

No. Have ever even seen one in real life. But it shows what cubase can do, and this functions are “hidden” for others to use.

If you want to talk about Yamaha and Nuage, or subscription, please open a new thread.

It seems like all concerns haven been raised and I can close this thread.


A few days ago, I received news from Steinberg about a new, “exciting” way of user control. So as part of the exciting new freedom of my use of Steinberg programs, I will have to check in at Steinberg’s headquarters once every 30 days to be allowed to continue working with Steinberg’s programs, for which I will pay him the same as before. Of course, it’s all because Steinberg likes me and wants me to be better.

Let’s think - I have an Elicenser key, activated the product one time and never had to dutifully report to Steinberg to keep this product working, moreover, sometimes I took the key out of one computer and put it in another, started my Cubase Artist 9 in seconds and after the problem.

Now I have to start the internet, check if, for example, Windows will not download any updates (it’s better on my Mac Pro) that will turn my computer configuration upside down, it’s better to turn on some protection, etc. to another computer, log in and activate it back, that’s just great …

I have a question for Steinberg - you are decommissioning the E-licenser, but why don’t you want to let us activate one time without having to log in and activate the product again?

We buy your expensive software honestly, and pirates will surely breach your security and won’t have to activate your Cubase, Dorico etc … We want to be honest and pay for your products. I am asking this because our freedom and right to any kind of independence and freedom to use software are being increasingly restricted.

I keep hearing that we are important to you, and I have the feeling that you are treating us like a herd of naive and stupid milk cows with no rights.

A few days ago, due to the new “exciting Steinberg facilitation”, I panicked and wanted to buy Cubase Artist 11 as the last product that would give me a little more freedom to work with music in my studio. But there was a sobriety. After all, I have two Mac Pro’s in my studio!

and I can buy logic X. It is a great DAW and costs just over two thousand kronor in the AppStore here in Norway, while Cubase Artist 11 costs over 3500! Works perfectly with my Native Instruments and EastWest Platinum Symphony Orchestra. Thanks to my ID I can install it on my MacPro without any problem and I don’t have to reactivate it! …

What’s more. A long time ago I worked on the Cakewalk Sonar. I found Sonar BandLabb on the internet. You have to activate it every 6 months (you can Offline) but … it’s completely free !! I downloaded it and installed it on my PC. It’s the same great Cakewalk as it used to be, I opened old projects on it. I’ve also read a lot about Ableton, Presonus etc …

Steinberg is not the only alternative for us, and we still have a choice. There are quite a few of your users out there who love the little bit of freedom they’ve had in using your programs up until now, so it makes sense for all who think alike to protest against the new era of miraculous control. If not, we would consider leaving your um … “family”. I personally will not spend a single euro more on your software with the new licensing method. Those who don’t respect my opinion won’t get any money from me.

Maybe something worth changing in Steinberg’s plans? Remember that the desire for super control and power, instead of going forward, breeds backward march and in the end … collapse.


We’re not entirely sure yet. We will provide further details in future. For now, please rest assured that we know it would be hugely inconvenient for our users to have to re-download and re-install all their content in order to achieve compatibility with the new system, and we will make sure this doesn’t happen. We have a number of possible approaches for how to migrate existing licenses for products that are not updated often, and we will evaluate them, then choose one. We will be sure to communicate any steps that users might need to take well in advance of those steps becoming necessary.

In short: we will have a solution for this. We will tell you more about it when we know what it will be.


There is still a good supply of USB-eLicensers available at present, and we expect them to be available for purchase for some time to come. However, we will not be manufacturing any more, so if you want to buy one or two spares, you should look at doing so in the medium term.

It’s worth pointing out, for the avoidance of doubt, that once the eLicenser infrastructure is eventually shut down – and we are talking some years into the future here – then it will no longer be possible to transfer licenses from one USB-eLicenser to another, as that process requires a connection to the eLicenser servers, which will no longer be available at that point.