Considering Cubase12 Pro - questions

I am 10+ yrs Ableton user but got frustrated with the company to the point I am thinking about switching to another DAW. Watched some videos on Cubase and Studio One but both have some drawbacks. Installed DEMO of both and my main concerns are related to GUI and Steinberg.

  1. I posted some questions to Steinberg support and after a week got no response :frowning:
    which already feels like a bad start

  2. Since I use 4K monitors some software is not (YET) capable of dealing with that and I am very sensitive to usability. that means being able to resize, or customize things on the screen is very important for me. Even typing this message in the small docked window at the bottom of the browser (with 80% of the screen unusable) seems like a waste.

I am trying to resize some things in GUI and I see no way to do this. I am hoping I am simply unfamiliar with the interface so perhaps somebody could help me.
The left panel showing INSPECTOR and VISIBILITY tabs shows list with the truncated items (which would be rather deal breaker for me). Is there any way to resize it (like I can do with the panels on the right) ???
I also have not found any info how customizable is Cubase GUI colors ( I am talking about Interface itself - background colors, fonts etc.). Ableton-Live in that sense was pretty good.

  1. Steinberg offers a cross grade but the link goes nowhere. there is no info on how to apply for it and Support (after a week) has not responded to my very same questions.
    Which is already a big turn-off. I do not also see any kind of ticketing system where I could go and see my requests. What is your opinion on Steinberg support ?

So far I have much better experience with the Presonus Support as all my questions were answered in 24hrs and they also have (not so nice, but working) ticketing system on-line. Ableton in that sense is just horrible and that is number one reason I am about to make a switch.

Perhaps those questions might help others. Since Steinberg finally non-sense dongle licensing, there might be more users considering their products.

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To be honest it’s not overly customisable, and support can be very slow - many complaints about it on here. And it will bite them in the arse if it continues, as your example shows.

In regards to what you say, it’s hard to know what to say really. REAPER is hugely customisable, but then it’s not a suite of ready made tools like Cubase or Studio One offers out the box. But if it’s a solid linear DAW you want then give that (and it’s themes and extensions) a look.

I use Cubase for functions such as the chord track and integration with variaudio, if it weren’t for variaudio I’d probably be on Studio One already, as it’s more progressive and runs slicker. (IMO).

I think these kind of decisions are so subjective, you just need to try producing/mixing in each and see which one delivers you results. I’m torn down the middle as my heart is with Cubase, but head with S1. With a little bit of affection for REAPER on the side! :slight_smile:

What other elements were you weighing up between the two DAWs? I’ve been using both quite a lot recently so have a pretty good feel for how they compare at the moment.

First - thank you for quick reply.
I have used Ableton forums and after few complains forum admins got super pissed off, despite my complaints or requests got supported by many other users. They became obsessed with controlling and censoring the forum which is another big downside. Later I’ve found that tens of users were banned for complaining. I am 60+ and worked as a developer in the past (not music oriented) and I saw many companies in 40 yrs going down because of their censorship and lack of felixibility. The simple rule is that once the business grows big it is less and less friendly to the consumer. This applies everywhere, all areas of life. That is our role not to allow monopoly and fight for small business.

One of the downsides in LIVE is that all native plugins, instruments etc are docked at the bottom of the GUI and is is impossible to detach them and enlarge. Live GUI is now fully scalable, resizable and there are super nice settings for customizing the colors etc. If they would improve the support and allow detachable windows (which they still might do in the future) I would stay with LIVE. Of course if I switch I still have full Pro Ableton license and with the ARA I could possibly use both).

After watching some videos in last week I got almost completely sold on new features in C12 (chors, drum patterns building, vocal editing, etc.). It seems quite a big learning curve comparing to Ablton as there seem to be much more clicking and using menus, but I am prepared for that.

I have struggled a lot with NI products (ie. Komplete Kontrol Suite - Pro). Simply because of KONTAKT interface which sucks. Functionality ? Hmm, it looks super ancient (from WindowsXP era) but the worst part is GUI, which uses raster graphic and fonts and is non-customizable at all.
For that reason I purchased and returned several (otherwise great) LIBs. I simply could not read the screen as everything was super small and colors where like “from hell”. All dark grey on black.

Of course I still use NI stuff, but the GUI gives me lots of frustration as nothing is resizable and even Kontakt placed on the track allows to resize the window but the instrument interface remains the same.

For the resons mentioned I am looking for a DAW where I can limit those issues (at least within the DAW). S1 seems to be more customizable than C12 but I am not experienced enough in both the tell this is true.

I like the WORKSPACE feature in C12 but haven’t tested this enough to see if this is really helpfull. I like however the fact that most (if I’m not mistaken) C12 internal panels can be undocked and turned into full screen window (I use 4 monitors). With the few minor exceptions most of the fonts are readable, which is a big plus.

If anybody knows any kind of information on C12 GUI customization I would appreciate sharing it. S1 has 3rd party plugin (or script) which for example allows to add more colors and I wonder if any kind of tool like this is available for C12 ?

Ableton has a M4L Color Editor which is fantastic. It is hard to imagine for me that C12 as one of the oldest DAW on the planet, after so many years does not have color, font customization…

Perhaps I am a bit oversensitive on GUI, but I had to work with software interfaces for years and I immediately know when the developer has no skills in that area. To be honest I like S1 interface better but C12 has new features which are absolutely amazing, so I am a bit thorn in two what to choose, haha

and,… no I am not interested in Reaper…(no comments)

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While there’s some VERY pro Steinberg people on here (As expected), it’s all quite a genuine love for the software. But credit to the mods and Steinberg staff here I’ve never thought that anyone was being silenced or censored - It’s a really great forum, and is a credit to the software (imo).

Probably a big part of why I enjoy using Steinberg products is this community as it feels that help is always on hand… That, and I’m comfortable with the surroundings I guess.

The userbase is much more mature than other DAW forums I’ve visited, too. It seems that most Steinberg users know what they want and aren’t taken in by ‘fads’ or quirky feature that a lot of other DAWs offer.

The only kind of colour customisation is very basic, and you can’t really colour elements as required - I don’t know if you been in the settings and seen it, but it’s really odd how you can’t just pick from a full colour pallette.

HiDPI scaling can be a bit hit and miss too, particularly with third party plugins and the Steinberg own plugins are woefully out-dated with tiny icons. So much needs a refresh, really.

There is, however, the project logical editor which can be used to recolour tracks based on text.
See here for example.

But the Studio One Colour Toolbar is a whole level better and far easier to setup. Cubase doesn’t have any option to add custom toolbars or buttons into it’s UI, which is where S1 really works well from a UI perspective.

You can expand the colour palette in Cubase too, but that’s about it really. It’s in the project colors setup section. Basically 32 colours and then you can have up to 4 tints of each.

I get that, it’s more modern and key developers from Steinberg were part of the team that built Studio One. So a lot of good ideas and experience was there at the start and it’s maintained a much fresher feel.

Other than Variaudio, which is unique to Steinberg, I don’t find S1 missing anything in comparison but it has many more advancements and workflow improvements. Such as sound variations, integrated pattern editor, user macros assigned to buttons, scratch pad, better window management, live looping via the arranger track, the splitter tool, the "project page "and linking of “song” files. etc.

Like I said before my head knows S1 is better in many ways, but Cubase has my heart - and this is why it’s so subjective. Sometimes you need to forget about the technical features and go with the DAW which makes you feel inspired - S1 never does for me, despite it’s achievements.

I’m probably not helping a great deal other than saying follow your heart really, they’re both great and none are ‘perfect’… :slight_smile:


Thanks for your honest notes. Could you elaborate a bit more on your statement:
" S1 never does for me, despite it’s achievements."

what you see in C12 that helps you so much with inspiration ?

I keep playing with the DEMO and watching videos on both and still undecided (especially I figured out the pricing will be so close). Any experience with Vienna Ensamble Pro - I am thinking about setting up my 2nd PC to keep the instruments and samples to off-load my main PC CPU.

I was struggling with playing video in Ableton for several weeks. Asked support for help. After exchanging Emails for few weeks they were not able to help me and the DAW kept crashing. They blames the video file, my OS settings etc. I imported this same video into C12 DEMO and it plays without any issues. So my concern is also how often I get stuck without vendor help. Ableton supprot from being absolutely fantastic 10+ years ago went to one of the worst. Probably the one which might be worse is NI.

Few more questions:

  • Is there any way to open the C12 windows in full screen (without the top OS bar, in Windows10) ?
  • how often major upgrades come up and are they paid (and roughly by what percentage of original price?)
  • just to confirm: so there is no way to change colors of GUI fonts anywhere ? correct ? There are some places I have found so far where the fonts are very dark and hard to read. In Ableton the solution for that was Global GUI Zoom. I am assuming C12 uses raster fonts and images so this should not be a problem. Icon size at times feel inconsistent, but not to the point it would be a deal breaker. Being able to read TEXT is crucial.
  • is there any ticketing system on Cubase site ? Posted 2 messages and got zero response.

Once again - thank you so much for spending time to share your opinions. Reading your messages I might end up buying both products - haha!

BTW. One thing I would be missing from Ableton is the session view and GUI customization (in v11). IT is kinda shame that after so many years, Steinberg has done so little to this part of the software.

One more question related to GUI.

In the left panel (Inspector/Visibility/Zones etc.) loots of entries are truncated. In some places it is super hard to figure out what is what. There is no horizontal slide and this panel seems to be not resizable. Any ideas how to deal with that ???

I was going to add a screenshot, but it looks like the forum does not allow it (bad admin decision).

You can of course maximize the arranger or mixer or editor windows, but the menu bar is always there.

Updates usually come up quite regularly once a year. Cubase 12 was a bit of an exception. Cost is usually 99 bucks, but if you can wait, there is often a summer sale for half price.

Sadly not. I prefer a light GUI with dark fonts for better legibility, and would love to have more colour customization options in Cubase.

I hav to agree with “skijumptoes” that the support is very sub par and slow. You are usually better off on the forum, which I also agree is rather good with very few trolls and lots of helpful and knowledgeable people. The presence of Steinberg employees on the forum has grown a bit, but could be more imho.

I think it should be said that if you come from Live, you cannot expect Cubase to be anything like that. They are very different products with different philosophies. Something like the session view has been requested by some people here on the forum, but I don’t think it is coming anytime soon to Cubase, and I guess a lot of people just have no need for that (including me. I used Live in version 5 or so for some time and while the session view was fun, it just didn’t fit my workflow which is strictly linear and which Live back then was seriously lacking)

I have no real experience with S1. Tried it in version 2, found it also lacking, but it was a long time ago. Seems to have nice features that I’d like to have in Cubase, too :wink: would probably my first choice if for some reason I’d stop using Cubase.

Since you are coming from Live, have you tried Bitwig? It seems to be the logical alternative to Live, with a similar concept and philosophy.

Btw, the thing with the inspector has been reported as a bug somewhere on the forum… It has maybe to do with screen resolution/HDPI, I forgot, I don’t have it.

Edit: you generally can post images on the forum, but maybe new users aren’t allowed immediately, dunno…

I never achieve much with it. It feels “too easy” if that’s even a thing? That was always my problem with Ableton (Used it ver 8-9)… If there’s a shortcut I’ll take it, and so what happens is I create lots of ideas in these DAWs but they’re quite heavily gridded/quantised, and as a result don’t finished so many tracks as not feeling inspired.

But I work with a friend who loves it, so usually dipping in and out of the Sphere subscription where we can collaborate remotely nowadays, which is brilliant if you’re laying down parts for each other.

From a songwriting perspective it’s got so many great musical theory foundations baked in at the core, and if you embrace those it takes you all the way through the production with chord track aiding decisions made on harmonies, MIDI Data colour coding and Variaudio integration.

Also because the workflow isn’t as great, you take more deliberate actions - That kinda feeds into the music I’m making, as I’m not rushing and forming music in loops - I tend to put more thought in.

Also, the mixer just does wonders for me, no other DAW mixes like Cubase… I couldn’t tell you what it is doing that’s any different, but I just find that I don’t run out of space in the mix so early in the process - I think that there’s a channel strip on every channel perhaps helps?

This video probably explains best tho:

I watch that every few months for a bit of inspiration, because sometimes I can feel quite down on Cubase - i.e. recently had performance issues and all kinds of bugs, a lot functions are super out-dated. And videos like this kinda gets my head back on track and remembering the good parts of it.

Sadly no, I think I said earlier about window management -it’s pretty appalling in Cubase I think, there’s title bars on every window which takes up too much space, and multi-monitor support is a trade-off as if you set plugins to be ‘always on top’ they disappear when you click on second screen or different app, and if you don’t set them ‘on top’ they disappear when you click on main timeline.

Studio One floats them elegantly in one window which is always on top and doesn’t disappear when you click away. Plus you have full screen mode and dock/undock elements like the mixer and piano roll. By comparison it’s night and day in the usability stakes.

Steinberg/Cubase right now seem to be in a transition phase as they’re dumping out old technology like VST2, the dongle, and some old plugins. And it seems they’re trying to communicate with users better.

We saw this with the new licensing system - they made some really significant changes based on user feedback. Also the new MIDI Remote functions, again, one of the developers has been active in communicating with users here to improve it.

I think this has really put pressure on their support channels in past few months, as eggs are having to be broken to progress the DAW. It must be a very tough line to walk due to the sheet number of legacy users that Cubase has while wanting to attract new users through the door.

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I agree, the mixer in Cubase is awesome. I don’t think I want to mix in a DAW that doesn’t have a pre section with gain and filters, Quick Link, fully scalable interface and control room. Still room for improvement, of course. I think usability-wise it’s the best part in Cubase.

I was looking for utility like Cubase MIDI mapping tool. I tried a few but none of them was well polished and all of them were external to the DAW. There were also some external scripting tools but not flexible enough and kinda to complex to work with. I really like the mapping editor with the ability to assign/change channels. Hopefully they improve the communication so the controller can also receive midi. In general this was brilliant idea to implement it into the DAW.

Ableton has an excellent feature allowing to hide windows top-bar, so there is more screen real estate. I did not even know it is possible until they implement it. Not sure if it works on the Mac but I love this feature. This should be rather easy to implement since this uses build in OS libraries.

I would love the see detachable panels (windows) to be able to stick together like a magnets so one can then relocate the entire group.

The most problematic for me in all software is READABILITY. At this moment (until I see a solution to this) the INSPECTOR panel sucks ! I see 30%+ text truncated.

I was about to make a purchase yesterday and something told me to wait. Today I discovered something which seems like a total deal breaker. Unless there is a fix I can forget about Cubase.

I have 4 monitors. 2 x 4K (identical) and 2 HD. Wehn I load Omnisphere on a track it opens up on another screen (HD) and 30% of the interface is cut out (right and bottom). When I move this window over to my main screen (4K) it restores properly (however it is very small). Then when I move it over to the HD screen again it looks OK. That is a huge problem for me. I am not going to shuffle this plugin back and forth between screens to get the right view.

Any suggestions for a workaround ?

I get the same, it’s related to the DPI setting on each screen. Your HD and 4k displays are no doubt different.

I have to run Windows with HiDPI/scaling turned off on my displays for Cubase. As a result the text and everything is so small. But it’s the only way I’ve found to have reliable plugins which I can move where I want.

There may be a better way, but HiDPI and third party plugins are still an issue with Cubase in my experience, although it’s better than what it was, it usually seems it’s something that the plugin developer is able to fix their side - as plugin updates have fixed instances for me in the past.

I’m putting myself of using it the more I write! lol :slight_smile:

It is not the plugin problem It is the DAW. I have no problems in LIVE with this same plugin. Yes I have DPI enabled. If I disable it the whole hell break loose. Windows itself sucks in the sceen management. On top of that it seems that Cubase sucks in that sense as well. If there is no solution to that Cubase is out of my shopping list until they fix it.
The screen I use for Omnisphere and other plugins is only HD. So what are your App settings for C12 as far as DPI etc. ?

Sadly, I disable it in windows and in Cubase. I done it a while back.

Things may be better now - trouble is all my workspace presets are setup for the current resolution and scale so don’t going back to HiDPI modes as everything goes wonky.

There are settings within Cubase such as “Allow windows to be resized” which can fix such issues, i.e.:

Maybe try that? …but as the link suggests, some OpenGL plugins still don’t display correctly. I don’t own Omnisphere to have first hand experience, sorry.

Thanks for the link. I also found this video which helped me to fix the Omnisphere and other video issues so not my 4 monitors, despite different resolution, look as expected. I was able to get the scaling almost the same on all of them, which is better than I have expected.

I was about to post a link to the VID but the forum page says I cannot post links! WTF? !
another censorship deception ? Can you post links ?

I also notice there is a little “double arrow” icon on the right of this page panel which allows opening the editor on a full screen page, which is very helpful. No complaining anymore about small editing space.

NO more problems with Omnisphere scaling but when I open other Cubase plugins (oi.e. Padshop2) everything is super tiny, almost impossible to use. I really do not understand how plugin developers expect to get away with this small crap! I have my 4K monitors about 8+ years, so this isn’t a really new technology which needs time for the market to adjust. Those tiny interface are being a problem for thousands of users already for many years. Ableton for example has invested time and money to convert everything into VECTOR which makes scaling a breeze. Steinberg seem to be like a Grandfather comparing to Ableton and still offers plugins like this one which are in my case completely useless (unless there is some workaround).

For some reason I also get no sound 3rd party VST instruments. I loaded some example project and get sound from audio clips but not VST.

Any idea ? I asked Steinberg in a ticket, but they do not seem to respond at all which worries me a lot. I have gone through a similar nightmare with Ableton.

OK, after rebooting I had to change my resolutions and video setting to where it was because nothing was working as expected. I normally use one screen with lower resolution (just HD) to place VST on it so everything is a bit bigger, but in some cases still unreadable.

Few minutes ago after restart C12 completely stopped working and gets pixelated, no sound etc. So it looks like it lost its Demo license or something. I am about to give up.
But thank you so much for your time spent here.

I have one other idea. When you go to a specific plugin file (.DLL) you can then try to change the DPI setting for that specific file only, so it will leave the main DAW as is and change the scaling for the plugin only. This of course would take lots of time if you have 100+ plugins but perhaps worth trying.
I might try this myself with LIVE.

Thank you guys for great responses. I just received a first message from Steinberg sending me link for Demo download. Rather poor joke! I do not even know who is sending it (no signature) so I consider it’s a SPAM.

From your opinions Cubase doesn’t seem to look so bright as it is presented online in many videos. I haven’t make any decissions yet, because I need to test it more. So far the two major turn off’s are:

  • poor support
  • scaling and customization problems

I’m not sure if I can liv with that or not. When you mentioned a bug reported on the Forum, were you refering to the INSPECTOR which is non-resizable ? Also in this inspector are some fonts and suuuuspe-tiny icons which really suck, because I have to stick my nose to the screen to read it.

When one deisgns the interface thefonts which supposed to be readable (ie. those who are being red several times a day) should not differ in size more than 20%. In Cubase the differences are more than 50% which shows that the GUI designer is lacking basic skills and knowledge. IT was all OK 15 years ago with HD monitors but not anymore.
One best decission Abelton made was converting LIVE into fully vector based GUI.
Thereis VERY BAD TREND in GUI design started years ago by Aple where fonts are designed to be light color on LIGHT BACKGROUND. For the graphical web pages it looks nice and cool, but for the desktop GUI it is very stupid idea and whoever uses this philosophy (trend) should be simply fired.

Developers have no clue and experience on software usability. They do what they think is god, but not what users want and often nobody does any surveys to research what works the best. For many word CONTRAST seem not to exist. Obviously with low contrast eyes get tired much quicker. When you have low contrast and add small objects, you have a perfect equation for disaster (read FRUSTRATION).

  1. Support is a special kind of stupid sending you a demo link when you are in fact looking at the demo. DONT expect any support to be any good for ANY DAW and especially Cubase.
    This forum is your best option. Don’t expect support to be any better than Ableton.
    Most are as bad as AVID these days.
  2. DPI scaling is an issue and has been for YEARS in Cubase although is has improved just a little.
  3. The higher the screen resolution the smaller everything is which begs the question as to WHY guys who know this and are using DAWS insist on using 4K at the moment? That and the combo of HD and 4K is gonna be a problem for sure. If you have older eyes like me it IS an issue for sure. Check out Digital Performer (MOTU) if you really want an eye strain.
  4. The Inspector is non sizable in Cubase as are many things.
  5. Color options and font stuff is what it is in Cubase; very limited.
  6. Now is the time to write your own DAW, we need another one. HAHA
  7. Customizing is NOT Cubase’s forte, you want Reaper for that
  8. Some plugin makers are hip to the 4K/scaling thing. Others are not
  9. Changing your DAW do to crappy support which they are ALL guilty of is kind of asinine to me…
  10. Your color options are in the Prefs\User Interface\Color Schemes.

PLEASE look at this if yo have not yet:

*****If you are expecting things to change quickly with Cubase you will be disappointed for sure.

You need to dig more into S1 as it more than likely has all the things you need as well.
It works well for me.

Thanks a lot for your suggestions and sharing. This very likely will also help others make the right decisions in choosing the DAW.

It is important to realize that no DAW is going to be perfect. So it is best to decide which features are the most important to you and see if a given DAW addresses those well.

I reluctantly migrated from DAW (which shall remain unnamed). I was generally happy with it and very familiar with it’s operations. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Cubase didn’t crash all the time. On the minus side, the learning curve on Cubase is daunting. I’m working my way through the pdf manual from front to back, which is a task since it is about 1300 pages. It is logically laid out and I’m learning a lot. In contrast the videos, while individually helpful, are rather scattershot. They should really consider a series of instructional videos to mirror the chapters in the user guide so people could gather knowledge in a logical step by step basis. That would be appeal to newbies and people who are migrating.

To me, the best killer feature of C12 is the ease with which you can work with external controllers, regardless of maker. No, it is not perfect. But it is perfect enough. I have had controllers laying around for years unused and now suddenly I am easily able to make them fully functional. If they didn’t make allowances for users to create their own controller assignments I would be in trouble since two of them are over 20 years old and I could wait forever for a company to support them. As it is, I was able to design and customize my own knob, fader, and button assignments and choose from a wide variety of Cubase functions. If Steinberg was smart they would take everyone’s controller maps and have them available for download in one easy location. This would beat searching through the forums for a map. Ideally, it would be presented in a tree format alphabetically sorted by manufacturer along with a description. I’ll bet it would have lots to choose from in short order. People could take crudely designed maps and improve them and upload the better version so the database would be continually improving.

As far as getting help goes, I have found that people on the forums are pretty helpful, but you have to overlook a little snark. I’m pretty ignorant and usually ask some pretty dumb questions and as a result get some snarky answers. I figure that is just in the nature of people who are technically inclined.

Bottom line: I’m very happy with Cubase and I hope to get a handle on most of the major features and functions by the time I’m 105 years old.

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You’re quite the optimist, aren’t you? :grin: