Cubase 11 feedback from an intermediate user

Hi team,

I downloaded the trial version of Cubase 11. I wanted to share my thoughts despite the many feedback links in the forum.

There’s no question that Steinberg has added a boat load of new tools and enhancements to some of the older tools, including their appearance. The new tools cater to mostly advanced users, which is a good thing because it keeps Cubase in the professional realm but is still attractive to the novice and intermediate users. For example, these new tools can stay in the drawer until guys like me create a desire to use them. They’re not going anywhere.

There are some new VSTs that only cater to the EDM and electronic crowd. There’s nothing new for the conventional players of light jazz standards, country, folk, and other similar genres. It’s almost like people who play the older genres don’t count anymore, as demonstrated by the many instructional videos on YouTube. Virtually every teaching video is done using EDM, which is a serious learning impediment to conventional players – but that’s another topic.

My initial impression of the GUI is, it looks more “buttery.” This is a positive comment. It looks like the flat icon designs have been enhanced. Despite the improvement in overall appearance, there are still inconsistencies in the icons, especially the record icons.

The Inspector window is still not sizeable. It’s often difficult to identity tracks by name that are listed in the Visible column because the names are cut off and shortening the track names is often not feasible.

Opening the MIDI Editor window on a second screen still does not sync the cursor position until you either press Play or manually click the ruler in screen #1 to set the bar you want to audition. There’s many a time where I just want to click in each MIDI track in the Project area and look at the MIDI data in the MIDI Editor window on monitor #2. The lower zone MIDI editor can be synced but it has size limitations, especially for looking at left and right hand piano MIDI parts. I’m surprised Steinberg didn’t fix the cursor syncing issue. It’s most annoying.

So overall, I can see the attraction to advanced level users but there are still a lot of basic GUI things that have not been corrected. These may seem trivial to some users because they have created some effective work-arounds. Hats off to those of you who can do that but we shouldn’t have to correct basic design things that impede workflow.

I’ll go take some Tylenol now in anticipation of getting the crap beat out of me for this post :smile:.

There was a widely communicated Steinberg survey just recently - have you given your feedback there?

1 Like

No but I will, Nico5. Thanks…

1 Like

I couldn’t agree more with these sentences.

I am encouraged lately how so many of the shows and especially commercials are suddenly rediscovering older music, not just from one era either. And their choices are actually…MUSICAL! Imagine that. Maybe there’s a movement afoot to break out of the EDM mold that has dominated for so long. Maybe some influential people are signalling a return to music that can be sung or whistled, music you can love just for the sheer quality and joy of it.

Now it’s Tylenol time for ME.

1 Like

Good one, DaddyO!!!

I thought I was alone on this. I work with a lot of pro musicians (pre-Covid of course) and we all agree that the music written after 1995 or so is basically in a world by itself because it is so predictable.

Your metaphor about the songs not being singable or reproducible by whistling is so true. The music today all sounds the same. It’s all about sub bass and vocals that sound like a robot singing through his nose, and then crushed by a compressor! And then there’s the no talent singers that talk rather than sing.

Maybe I’ve just had too many birthdays but VST and DAW developers have lost site of us who produce what I refer to as “human music.” Ironically, we are the ones with the most money to spend!! The EDM crowd is up to their collective backsides in debt.

I hope the DAW developers wake up and start catering to those of us who record real music instead of those who simply manufacture music. Anyone can do the latter. It takes a real musician to do the former :smile:!

1 Like

Complaining that your favorite style of music doesn’t get enough software and soundware attention is fair game.

However, implying that forms of music one is personally not fond of are not musical, is not a very nice way to interact on a forum like this.

I would actually hope that us older one’s would be able to lead by example of musical tolerance and encouragement rather than being quite so predictable as grumpy old men.

I also have a list of music styles I can’t relate to - some old, some new. But that doesn’t mean I can’t respect people who do.

Making ANY music is a very good thing in my book! Whether it’s aeolian chants, tribal rhythms, movie orchestrations, Bollywood musicals, lounge jazz, death metal, EDM or whatever. Making music is one of the best things our species is capable of doing.

Lets’ celebrate that!

2 Likes

Agreed 100%, Nico5. If everyone on the planet played ANY form of music at any level or genre, we wouldn’t need police or armies. No argument there. Guys who produce EDM and other similar forms certainly have their challenges. No disrespect intended.

Now to reality. My point is, the older musical styles like jazz, blues, folk, country…have been shoved off to the side and basically buried in favor of these new electronic styles that rely on technical DAW expertise versus good old musical training. DAW and VST developers obviously don’t see the value in keeping the older genres alive.

I have spent the better part of my Covid down time researching VST drums and other pattern generating software, looking for products that fulfill the needs of players of the older non-EDM genres. The pickings are very slim. Yes, you can buy VSTs that satisfy the older genre criteria to a point but out of every $100 you spend, you MIGHT get $20 worth of product you can use for the older genres. The rest is bloated with EDM styles. That’s not right.

I won’t apologize for the implication that producing a jazz standard from scratch is far more challenging than putting together an EDM track. Hence, my connotation about manufacturing music verus playing music. I respect anyone’s talents in producing any sort of output that qualifies as music. It’s time that traditional music be brought back to the forefront instead of being buried in the EDM genre “de jour.”

I feel for your frustrations - especially with too much throwing tools for different genres into the same soundware. This bundling has also deterred me from buying more stuff.

However, I also have some empathy for software developers and sound designers - in that the market is ridiculously competitive with prices racing to zero. It’s becoming even more difficult to make a living in these fields than it already was before. And some of the more algorithmic ways of making music - especially in electronic music are probably also easier to program, therefore less expensive to buy.

And of course there’s market size. I have no idea what the relative markets are for music makers who are into making EDM, hip-hop and other relatively young music styles. And what the market is for music makers who like to make jazz, folk, and other less technologically driven styles.

However there are quite a few plugins that arguably serve some part of making Jazz. Most of those aren’t exactly cheap, but maybe that’s because it’s quite complex to make a saxophone library with good articulations and riffs. And maybe the market for that isn’t as large.


Your comment about manufacturing music vs making music made me smile: I bet woodwind players and harpsichord players said the same thing when pipe organs and the piano forte were invented: “With those damn pipe organs we spend more time learning which bloody stops to push and pull vs good old musical training!:rofl:

Technological advances and automation have been an integral part of human music making since tens of thousands of years ago.

And I had to smile again when I read you lamenting the fact, that there’s not enough automatic drum track creation software for jazz standards. So you’re complaining that the EDM kids get all of the cool music manufacturing tools and you don’t. I hope that the sweet irony of that is not lost on you . :laughing: – And by the way, I agree: I wish there was more Jazz manufacturing software!

Speaking of that: For drum and (other) pattern generating software - there’s on oldie that seems to be still going strong. It has this vintage user interface reminding you of computing in the 1990s, and is a big visual and workflow clash with modern software. But it can generate Jazz and Folk like few others can: It’s called Band-in-a-Box and might be interesting for lovers of Jazz standards. It’s also not entirely trivial, but quite powerful. Using something like this for some steps in the process and then importing the results of that workflow (midi and/or audio) into Cubase for further work can yield very nice results.


And if you’re still reading, there may be some musical opportunities buried in having all of that EDM stuff at your fingertips. Is there maybe a way of making versions of jazz standards incorporating aspects of EDM and other “manufactured” music? Some of that idea has found its way into a genre called Electro Swing, which to the best of my knowledge is more prevalent in Europe than North America.

Sorry (as a Canadian I am legally bound to say that!) for the lengthy post.

Warmest wishes for a happy and musical holiday season - despite all of the crazy nonsense happening everywhere!

1 Like

Cubase is a very capable DAW for traditional music too. Lots of great tools for recording traditional bands. Lanes, comping , variaudio are a godsend for all kinds of music. Chord tracks, chord pads, very handy for traditional music stuff.
Frequency 2 works for any genre.
I use Logic Pro or Cubase for bands/singer/songwriter stuff, and Bitwig or Ableton for more modern music. Pick the best/most inspiring tool for the job.
You may have to invest in some carefully chosen third party plug ins & MIDI libraries, but then you can have boundless fun & go to new creative places.

1 Like

Excellent input, guys!

I invested in Band In a Box about six years ago and despite its 1990s GUI, it is very powerful. I own a Genos arranger keyboard and have found the styles useful for recording, however, the one thing Yamaha has never made easy is, the integration of MIDI from any of their arrangers into a DAW. It’s possible but full of trap doors.

Over the past Covid time, I’ve invested in a lot of new software and am slowly accumulating a decent collection of tools that work for me, even though they are still about 80% EDM and Rap by composition. It’s kind of like buying an expensive car. You actually hate the car but you really like the feel of the steering wheel :grinning:!

Lee

I’m enjoying the ‘old-timer’ reminiscing :slight_smile:

Dragging this back onto topic :wink:…what would you like to see included with Cubase to satisfy those not doing EDM ?

Good question, Dr. Strangelove. It’s not realistic to include many VST plugins for the genres I (we) prefer, possibly due to a lack of demand. For Steinberg to do that, they would be competing with the big VST producers. It makes no business sense. So, it’s probably not a question of what Steinberg could add to Cubase 11. What was core VSTs in the 90s is now specialty VSTs because so few use a DAW to produce the classic genres compared to Electronica.

My main issues are more to do with the addition of producer level tools, while ignoring the basic flaws in the GUI (mentioned in my first post). Microsoft did the same thing with Word. They had a decent word processor in the late 80s but to keep pace with the competition, they added more and more tools but never mended the bugs and flaws in the core program. They still exist today. The only thing that has saved Microsoft’s backside is that most people use Word as a simple replacement to the typewriter. That is, most people have no idea how to use a word processor to create usable documents. I teach that at the college level and see it every day. But I digress…

You can be a “David Foster” level user of Cubase but when you’re faced with annoyances to the work flow, all that knowledge is for nothing. If I’m the only one who finds that these basic GUI annoyances keep drowning my workflow, I can accept that, however, I suspect I’m not alone. Cubase has some stellar tools that aid workflow and yet Steinberg seems to ignore some of the most basic required fixes. End of rant…where’s the Tylenol :laughing:?

so ignoring the digressing :slight_smile: - what, specifically, do you want added ? Apart from fixing broken items I can’t see what it is you’re suggesting ?

Imagine I’m an idiot (I am!) - spell 'em out

Okay. How about a complete bank of jazz, country, folk, and easy listening drums and strumming guitar patterns, totally devoid of EDM and other similar genres? (Did I just contradict my previous note about it not being a good business move for Steinberg to go down that road :grinning:?)

For example, Groove Agent has some of the best drum samples I’ve ever heard and yet, I have yet to find any useful patterns for those genres. I can use the patterns from my Genos and then remap those MIDI patterns to the Groove Agent drums but as mentioned earlier, MIDI connections between the Genos and Cubase are filled with trap doors. I much prefer instrument tracks with VSTs.

Same goes for Halion 6 . Great sounds but there are few useful patterns for these genres.

2 Likes

Might I add that the Squasher plugin that comes with C11, is highly usable for ordinary drum sets , when used as parallel compression “New York” style.

1 Like

Disclaimer: the following comes from someone who is very new to Cubase.
My fondest wish is that there would be a larger selection of usable brass instruments. These may be available in Cubase, but I haven’t found them. The first brass sound I found was synth brass – I would hope there’s more. To be fair, I haven’t found many good brass sounds in DAWs or aftermarket packages.

As far as drum sounds go, though – doesn’t Steinberg have some jazz drum packages for Groove Agent? How unprofitable would it be to include an assortment of these in the Cubase product? (Again, they may be there – maybe I just haven’t found them yet.)

And nothing against Band In A Box, but if you’re a Mac user, iReal might be a better bet. Perhaps not as powerful, but cheaper, and great for sketching out arrangements that you can export to midi.

I seem to recall you can buy extra packages for Groove Agent (I think) but we shouldn’t have to. There is such an abundance of EDM stuff that comes standard with DAWS that the older styles seem to have been pushed aside. I’d like to see a better balance of these products.

1 Like

I wonder if that’s because it’s cheaper to make them? Audio recording, session players, transportation etc?

That’s quite likely, Steve. I’m no expert but from what I hear with EDM, there is a boatload of repetition. After a good template is made, it can be repurposed and modified to suit. The same can be said for the traditional genres, but I think achieving variation is far more difficult. The instrumentation is also far more sophisticated.

To achieve effective sounds with the traditional genres, you need a much broader pool of instrumentation and musicians’ playing abilities. Mixing and other final processing is more difficult because of this much wider range of sound. All this costs a lot of money and requires the talent from a much broader range of players. It’s no wonder Steinberg may just let the thrid party people have at it. Those companies don’t offer DAWs as good as Cubase either :slight_smile: .

I must ask since you have researched VST drums and midi files…

Toontracks EZX expansions alone include lots of variety.

Slim? Or am I not understanding? Of 46 EZX products, I see Jazz, Americana, Big Band, Reggae, 70s.
Of the SDX line I see Orchestral Percussion, Roots, Roots sticks, and a very impressive Al Schmitts Decades.

Not only do all those extensions include midi packs, but many mix versions, and there are lots of other midi such as Groove Monkey that work well in these products.

None of the above are EDM whatsoever. So what am I missing here? If you want tools that are focused on composition creation and arrangement there are lots of good choices. I have been using this one and it’s a great asset when I’m searching for a similar chord.

Better yet, take piano guitar lessons.

EDM tools are often inexpensive for numerous reasons. It started with NI’s Reaktor over 20 years ago. Just follow the money. EDM tools are so competitive and with prices continuing to drop in a saturated market, I think it’s bottomed out. However jazz is a relatively small market…no offense.