Cubase 12 migration/install on Windows 11 - my experience and a few tips

Hi, I recently completed a DAW migration from Cubase 11 on Windows 10 to Cubase 12 on Windows 11 (also moving from an 8th generation Intel CPU to the 12th generation CPU), and I wanted to share my experience and a few tips:

There have been many posts on this forum about Cubase 12 instability, so I was quite wary of running into issues, esp. since Cubase is in daily production use in my studio and I did not want any downtime. So I decided to build a new PC from scratch - that way I wouldn’t run into issues due to leftover settings and other weirdness by upgrading an existing installation. That also meant that I could leave the existing Cubase 11 PC in production use while I get the new Cubase 12 PC installed and fully debugged, and then just swap out PCs. I highly recommend this strategy if you can’t afford studio downtime!

It took me a couple of weeks to get the new Cubase 12 PC fully up and running - I ran into some issues that necessitated things like various reinstalls, and messing around with the preferences directory, and to make sure all my plugins, settings, key commands, preferences etc. were properly migrated. So, budget plenty of time to get this stuff sorted out first!

The good news is that by now, the Cubase 12 PC is fully up and running, and swapped into my studio as the production PC. It is not only running flawlessly, I am impressed by its efficiency/power - latency is down to 10 msec (down from 20 msec - same audio interface), and even the most complex projects that would stress out my previous PC are now running perfectly smoothly, with the new 12th gen CPU barely breaking a sweat. So, luckily, I did not run into any of the Cubase 12 performance/stability issues that have been reported. The following things might have helped:

(1) Before installing Cubase 12, make sure you have a really clean and stable Windows 11 install on a PC that’s been well-burned in so that you don’t assign blame for Cubase crashes on things like buggy/old drivers, system-level incompatibilities, or similar things. Get a brand new PC, do a clean Windows install on it (and nothing else), and spend the time to get the latest drivers and Windows updates installed.

(2) Do a clean Cubase 12 install so that you don’t run into things like corrupted settings, or Cubase somehow pulling in older versions of preferences/binaries from a previous Cubase install on that same machine.

(3) Only install plugins/VSTs where the manufacturer has tested and guaranteed compatibility with Windows 11 and Cubase 12. This meant digging into their support web page, and/or reaching out to them to get that info. It’s tedious, but it saves you from running software that hadn’t been tested and certified to run on this configuration, and might cause all sorts of incompatibility-driven issues.

(4) I’m paranoid enough of settings/preferences migration going wrong (having worked in tech for a long time, I know this is a boring part of the code base that’s often not tested well or at all) that I chose to configure Cubase 12 from scratch. This meant screenshotting various settings screens in my Cubase 11 installation, and then manually recreating those settings in Cubase 12, incl. assignments of key commands etc. I know this sounds (and is!) tedious, but I viewed it as an insurance payment against “polluting” my pristine Cubase 12 install with corrupted settings from previous installs.

I realize that this is a more costly proposition (buying a new PC and all), but if you rely on Cubase daily, it’s worth the expense, and if you time it well, you can do things like hardware upgrades in conjuction with major OS upgrades and major DAW version upgrades all in one fell swoop.

Lastly, I’m impressed with the parallelism that Cubase 12 shows when running an audio export - it loads up all of my CPU cores, so it’s really taking advantage of all that CPU horsepower - well done Steinberg!

If you’re curious, this is the 12th gen Intel system I am running Cubase 12 on. It’s a fanless system, meaning it is completely quiet, which is necessary since the PC runs in the mixing room and I can’t have any PC fan noise in there. I can highly recommend the fanless systems from this vendor - rock solid stability, and zero noise, which is so critical for a studio PC in a critical listening environment like an acoustically treated mixing or mastering room!

Timo.

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I already had a new pc so I couldn’t do what you did. I dual booted between win 10 and 11. This had no impact on my win 10 partition and Cubase. Then when I had time I would boot to win 11 and get that installation right. It also worked well with Cubase 11 as the dongle was in the same machine.

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Yup, that’s a great solution if you don’t also want to migrate to new hardware!

Regarding the dongle (eLicenser) which I still need since I have libraries/instruments that require it, I use the Silex DS-510 to “virtualize” the eLicenser over the network. That way I can connect to it via my network from both my Cubase 11 machine and Cubase 12 machine.

Another quick tip: I’m keeping that “legacy” Cubase 11 machine around and up to date since I’ve discovered a handful of projects have virtual instruments in them that for one reason or another I don’t have in Cubase 12. So if I end up running into one of those, I simply fire up the Cubase 11 machine, do a Render-In-Place of that instrument, and import that rendered audio track into the Cubase 12 machine. That obviously prints the MIDI, but most of these projects I’m keeping around simply for archival purposes in case I need to do a remix, or hand somebody stems in the future.

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I have a brand new custom SCAN PC 12900K i9 sitting next to me and what you outline is the approach I am also taking. We can never guarantee a 100pct working system,

However, you can cover yourself if you rely on a system professionally by employing caution and running your old system in tandem/overlap. It is just common sense when you rely on a machine. It is not optional.

However buying/building a new PC is not something that everyone can do every time. It is not great for the environment and often wholly unneccessary (I have an old Intel 2600 that will run 130 track hobby music projects with tonnes of plug ins and VSTi, it gets to 80pct ASIO and is rock solid with 9.0.2).

Last time round I wanted a 10 year PC, I am close to 6 years in and want ideally 7 out of it, 10 was a little optimistic. I gained some CPUs cycle back based on some CPU optimizations on a few important plug ins (about 15-20pct estimated which is significant) I do think Cubase users could take a serious look into taking the pain of reprogramming their prefs and key commands and at the least a clean OS install. (I always do prefs manually using a new install of Cubase anyway) Here is my write up / previous rather optimistic plan :

We have to remember there are many systems, PC and Mac and of various ages, OS and states of cleanliness/use/hardware. Of course there will be bugs with any new software but the end user should also help themselves by planning and taking a very cautious approach. Project reverse compatibility is an issue for some of course which adds a complication. It also depends on what you are doing and what tools within the DAW you are using. The 3rd party check is sensible but also a little worrying as there are some tools which one becomes highly reliant on. A little caution is required and quite possibly some patience.

It is always going to be a path of some degree of complexity and a few problems along the way. This is complex hardware software dependency and the targets including OS are always moving.

Also it is worth knowing there is likely to be unanticipated paid updates required further adding to the expense of an entire system upgrade. I typically plan for £300.00 spend on such updates across applications and plug ins. Some software companies are worse than others for this (even plug ins) v6/v7/v8… etc… Win 11 ? I almost expect to have to pay $$$ for updates with them. Maybe this time I will get a pleasant surprise ?

This new system I am expecting only a doubling of CPU horsepower due to the many serial processes (Intel i7700 4 core to 12900K 8/16 core)

We all have choices to make but should try and make the OS and install process as clean as possible. Taking time, thinking everything through and planning such a large undertaking.

If honest I dread PC hardware/software/migration upgrades in general. Yes there is a sense of learning something with new tech M.2 drives, video connections etc. and a sense of gaining some CPU horsepower. In general it is mainly a rather costly headache that requires care and planning (and crucially system overlap if you rely on it). And it seems to become more complex as time goes on… as new interfacing appears that you have never even heard of.

I am pleased your system is working well, it is a good sign.

Thanks for your additional insights! Regarding your point that buying new PCs is costly (and creates an environmental burden) - as you point out, there are plenty of uses for older PCs: Keep one of them around with an older Cubase installation in case you need some legacy functionality, and having a dedicated (low powered) PC for office work (email, web browsing etc.), is also a good idea - that will minimize the risk of your music production/mastering PC getting infected with something from the Internet. I tend to get at least a decade of use out of my older PCs via judicious component-level upgrades and matching them to the right use cases.

Agreed. I got 12 years out of my last one but I suspect I won’t get the same this time.

I do have a seperate office PC here for the very reasons of having the studio machine offline, low energy condumption i3 which is fine for email/file transfer.

Just for interest sake my i7700 and 2600 benchmark with very little differences just 23pct or so faster for the newer CPU… (both quad core)

Ok this is merely one benchmark, but there is 6 years between them !

In doing this can you you upgrade from 11 on the old machine to 12 on the new machine and run them in tandem or do you have to pay for a full new install of 12?

If you buy an upgrade license from Cubase 11 to Cubase 12, you can run them in tandem. The old Cubase 11 installation will (still) require the eLicenser USB key, but the new Cubase 12 installation will use the new Steinberg licensing system and thus not require the eLicenser. The only thing to look out for is if you have any other products/expansion packs that require an eLicenser-based license that you want to run in Cubase 12 - for those you’ll still have to plug in that USB key. In that case, if you don’t want to constantly plug in and unplug that USB key (I’ve broken one from doing just that too many times and had to buy a new one), I recommend virtualizing it on your network with something like the Silex DS-510. I hope this helps!

I got inspired by this and decided to run a benchmark on my old and new system as well and share the results for this community:

My old system was an 8th generation Intel i7, and the new system is a 12th generation Intel i7. All other components (motherboard, RAM, SSD), etc., are the best money could buy at the time. I used Passmark PerformanceTest V10.2 to get component-level benchmark scores. The most relevant scores are CPU and disk: CPU score went up 63%, and disk score went up 222%(!).

Most importantly, latency went from ~20msec on the Cubase 11 system to ~10msec on the Cubase 12 system (with the same audio hardware/driver), so that 63% CPU performance bump translated into a 2X latency reduction.

This was the point of this upgrade for me: 20msec latency is right at the edge of perception, and ended up being a problem for some vocalists, so I wanted to get that down to 10msec, which this system upgrade did, so I’m happy!

I didn’t know CPU power could affect latency !?
Both my old Intel 3rd gen laptop and my 9th gen desktop have the same latency at the same buffer settings.

CPU power is a factor (not the only factor!) for latency. If the CPU can churn through a buffer more quickly by being able to calculate its processing for the buffer more quickly, it allows you to reduce buffer size without running into audio glitches, thus reducing latency.

I though you got lower latency with the same settings obviously…

No, the gist is that the faster processing allowed me to reduce buffer size, so thanks for asking and clarifying this in the thread!