Cubase 12 Pro license activated without asking for confirmation

I have both Cubase 12 Pro and Cubase 12 Artist licenses following upgrades of a desktop and a laptop respectively.

I had reason to install Cubase 12 LE on a seperate machine (long story) and to my surprise, one of my Cubase 12 Pro licenses got activated on that machine without any notification.

This is worrying because (a) I did not want a Cubase Pro activation used up on the machine with LE installed and (b) I wasn’t even made aware that an activation was about to take place.

So a word of warning: do not be logged into your own Steinberg account when installing any version of Cubase 12 on a machine other than your own! This could be very problematic e.g. in education, where a personal activation could end up getting used on a school machine.

There really should be some warning given by the Steinberg Activation Manager before an activation is used up.


Isn’t it possible to deactivate the pro license in the activation manager. As I understand it it doesn’t waste license, You can use it on any machine but you can only have three going at once.

@Wickham_Sky, @MrSoundman has clearly detailed the problem.

It is, and I did, however just starting LE caused it to be activated again. silently.

Another thing that’s curious is why was the the Pro license activated, and not the Artist one?
What determines which activation takes precedence?
Why in any case does an installation of LE cause a silent Pro activation?

Really sounds like something’s wrong.

I have C12 Pro activated on my laptop. I installed it, and opened it on my desktop machine, and it automatically activated. A similar, but different problem.

I planned on activating it at a later time if I keep that very aging computer, but would have preferred doing it myself, rather than having it done automatically.

Maybe something like “Would you like to activate Cubase 12 Pro on this computer now?”
or something like that.

Quite different, since you ran the program, so it makes sense.

Isn’t @MrSoundman is saying that it got activated even though he did not launch it?

So…it will activate even if you don’t start the program? I didn’t read that in his post.

No, what happened was that I installed LE, ran it, and it actually came up as Cubase Elements 12!

What I would have expected would be a message telling me there was no license for LE 12 (LE 11 was already installed), but instead, on investigation I found that one of my Cubase Pro 12 activations had been used up.

Yes, at least …

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We’ve recently improved the behaviour of Steinberg Activation Manager when multiple qualifying licenses are available. I’d recommend seeing whether this has been fixed in version 1.2.10. Opening the Steinberg Download Assistant should trigger the update.

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On a Windows 10 device with Cubase LE 11 installed and working, plus also Cubase LE 12 installed, but for which a license has not yet been obtained, I do the following:

  1. Open SAM, check the version is, and see both my licenses (Cubase Pro/Artist 12) are not acivated, and leave the SAM window open.
  2. Run Cubase LE 12 - the splash screen says “Checking licenses …” then the SAM display changes to “Success, you have now successfully activated Cubase LE AI Elements. You can now close Steinberg Activation Manager”, with buttons “Quit” and “Dismiss”.
  3. In the meantime Cubase LE has opened as Cubase Elements, I close Cubase.
  4. In SAM, I click the “Dismiss” button, and see that my Cubase Pro 12 license has been activated. This is the bit that I think should have been warned about (seek consent).
  5. I click “Deactivate” as I don’t want to “spend” a CPro license on this device.

(Yes, you might ask why have I bothered to install Cubase LE 12 on this device? The reason is that I expect to obtain an LE 12 activation code soon, and, as I’ve already downloaded the multi-gigabyte installers for the Pro and Artist upgrades, I thought I’d just go ahead and install LE rather than download everyting again. The device is to be given to someone to play with and doesn’t need a Pro or Artist license.)

What was the expected behaviour? You should be able to deactivate the Pro license and activate the Artist license (or LE license when you get it).

I expected that LE would start up, then tell me it was not activated/licensed.

A nice addition would be if an option was offered, e.g. “No activation for Cubase present - would you like to activate it now?”, and perhaps list the available licenses.

What I absolutely did not expect was that a Pro activation would be silently used up.

Perhaps I don’t understand the new licensing fully, and perhaps I shouldn’t have “authorised” SAM on that device. My goal was to just install, but not yet activate, Cubase LE 12. I downloaded all the installers (Pro/Artist/LE) onto a USB drive that I attached to each of thrree devices, so I could have installed LE manually I guess.

Up to C11, I had a Pro license on the desktop, an Artist license on main a laptop, an Elements license on a soft-eLicenser on a second (travel) laptop and LE on a “play” device. There was no way the licenses could get mixed up. Now, I need to be careful how they get allocated.

And yes, I know I can activate Pro on up to three devices … and also deactivate, but one would need to know about the device that gets “silently” activated without notice.

Bizarrely, under the new licensing system, if one is not careful in tracking activations, they are potentially easier to lose than they were on the USB eLicenser! (in the main laptop, I have a USB-eLicenser actually built in!).


I encountered this issue over the weekend. I own licenses for Elements 12, Artist 12, and Pro 12. (Long story.)

Anyway, I installed Artist 12 on a computer I was setting up for a blog post I’m writing and was confused and surprised to see the “Cubase Pro” splash screen pop up when I launched it for the first time. I checked the activation manager and indeed, it had taken the liberty of activating Pro for me instead of Artist. Since there are 2 potential install types for all Cubase flavors (one for Pro/Artist, and another for LE/AI/Elements) I think the logic works like this: First it checks which of those 2 install types you’re running, and then it checks which license types you have available, and it chooses the “best” license available for automatic activation.

The good news is I was able to deactivate Pro and activate Artist instead, and that setting has “stuck.” But I would have preferred that Steinberg did it so that if it finds that more than one license type is available for the current install it ASKS YOU which license you want to activate.

EDIT: Turns out the setting didn’t stick; Cubase Pro 12 gets re-activated every time I launch Cubase Artist 12.


Exactly. I know of no other product where this type of “stealth” activation happens without warning.

Please Steinberg, the activation of such high-value products should be changed so that it must require explicit consent from the owner of the license!


@MrSoundman - I was wrong about the long-term behavior of activations. Every time I launch Cubase Artist 12, my Cubase Pro 12 license gets re-activated. I can’t prevent this from happening. I have video evidence (see below). QUESTION: Have you opened a bug report on this behavior? If not, I probably will.

@Ben_at_Steinberg - I have licenses for Cubase Pro, Artist, and Elements 12 on my account. There’s one computer where I only want to run Cubase Artist, however, whenever I launch Cubase Artist, the Steinberg Activation Manager always silently re-activates Cubase Pro 12 (and leaves Artist activated as well). This is with version of Activation Manager. I have recorded a short video that demonstrates this: Cubase Pro 12 Activates Itself

First you see that only Cubase Artist 12 is activated on the PC. Then I launch Cubase and you see the Artist 12 splash screen. After I close my project and exit Cubase, I re-launch Activation Manager and find that now both Artist AND Pro are activated. This happens every time I run Cubase.


No – not sure Steinberg see this as a bug (at least, not yet).

Your video illustrates the issue very well though – well done!

Thanks. I just submitted a support email with details.

This gets even weirder.

In the meantime, I have now also have a Cubase LE (12) license. In total, on my account, I have Pro, Artist and LE. I want to use LE on a tablet. I log on, and activate only the LE license. I can verify in SAM that only the LE license is activated on the device.

I start LE.

In SAM I now see the Artist license become activated, before my very eyes, so that both the LE and Artist licenses are now activated!

This is the same bug that @Ultimate_outsider describes above.

@Ben_at_Steinberg, I think you guys need to go back to the drawing board with this one!

The logic should be that the already activated license should be the one that is used, and it should absolutely not be the case that a different (more expensive!) license is activated, apparently randomly, without the consent of the license owner!

This is completely unacceptable for users who have, over the years, purchased multiple licenses in order to be able to use Cubase on multiple devices. The new licensing system seems to have chucked everything into one pot, from which it appears to choose the inappropriate license tier at random.


The Artist/Pro bug is almost understandable because they share the same directory/installer (but still a bug imo) but I have seen it switch from Elements to Pro, and now you have seen it switch from AI to pro- Elements/AI/LE use both a different installer and a different directory from Artist/Pro- they are breaking your local copy by disabling its license!