Cubase 8.5.2 to go. Thought I'd share

I have a HP Studio workstation and a portable Thinkpad workstation that I used for Cubase setup exactly the same way. A Samsung USB SSD T1 is where the actual data (projects and audio tracks) is recorded/stored so I can go between the two systems seamlessly. About a year and a half to two years ago prior to buying the Lenovo W540 Thinkpad I bought and tried to use a Surface Pro 3 i5 but it couldn’t quite cut it processor power wise (big projects with lots of plugins had stutter and dropouts. Win 8.1 and I believe this was Cubase 8. The SP3 fan noise was fairly loud when it kicked in and distracting. Needless to say I returned it a few days later and bought the Lenovo and it has been perfect. two SSDs, dock station with lots of ports, two monitors available, fast powerful Intel. That is the history.

Today I tried this: This is my “business” computer.

I have a Surface Pro 4 i5, 256GB, 8GB Ram and I added 128GB to the microSD slot Win10 Anniversary 64b and a Surface Docking station (little rectangle box). I decided to JUST install Cubase 8.5.2 on it and set up my RME UCX so I could playback mix and master wave files to analyze through headphones while traveling. I also installed Sonarworks VST Reference 3 headphone software for my Sennheiser headphones. Worked perfect. I should have stopped there but it worked so effortlessly that I decided to install and recreate my entire studio machine on the Surface and see if it could fair better than the Surface Pro 3, Windows 8.1, Cubase 8 system I’d tested earlier.

I installed iLok2/Lexicon Native Bundle Reverbs; Halion 5; Steve Slate Drums; DMG Equilibrium, Compassion, Limitless; Steinberg/Neve 5033 & 5034; Neosoul Rhodes; and more.

The Surface docking device adds four more USB3 ports to the one on the Surface itself so five which was just enough for eLicense, iLok, Wireless Mouse; Samsung SSD T1 and the RME UCX. The Dock also supplies powerto the Surface, Network port and two mini display port outputs. Also, the Surface comes with/supports Pen too. I forgot to try it with Cubase.

I loaded a 48k 32bfp project with about 40 audio tracks; SSD4 w/Blackbird loaded; Halion5 w/five instruments; NeoSoul EPiano; 7 Lexicon reverbs loaded but only two used; Steinberg reverb (forgot the name but French Church was loaded); twenty or so DMG Equilibrium (IIR/64/On mode) and fifteen or so Compassions; a Limitless and Sonarworks Ref3 in Linear mode. There was more there including mute and volume automation but you can get an idea as to the project size etc. I plugged in my 600 phones and pressed PLAY and it PLAYED. It amazed me.
This system in total is so small and light you could fit it in a coat with a few big pockets. The headphones you’d have to wear.
Almost forgot, you can wirelessly project Cubase (or anything) from the Surface to a HDMI monitor/TV with the “wireless display adaptor” ($50.US) accessory plugged into the TV.
Just thought I share this information.
Edit: Question - Can an Apple iPad “Pro” do this?

Interesting, pretty cool! How does mix console and touch work together?

I didn’t try touch (I totally forgot it was an option but a very High Res Screen (12.3" PixelSense display • Resolution: 2736 x 1824 (267 PPI) and big fingers with Cubase makes the old mouse the best option or the glass coated “scratch pad” (very good) but the Pen is precise so I’ll try it but I am using Surface as you would any computer with the keyboard attached, kickstand (fully adjustable) angled and the Dock is attached so it isn’t like using it as a unconnected tablet vs 2in1. I’ve used the pen a lot and it is good for navigation and writing and it’s battery lasts about a year with one AAAA.

Sounds all great, but to answer your question about iPad, there is a dedicated (lite) Cubasis for that platform. Also I find it difficult to compare a tablet(Pro) to a laptop with touchscreen… two worlds apart imo. Better compare the touch to an Apple laptop, more in the same league.

My 2 cts…

I tried Cubase 8.5.20 with the Surface pen while at the same time wirelessly connecting/projecting Cubase to a 50" Samsung HDTV. The Pen works fine on the Cubase GUI and Surface’s palm-blocking allows you to rest the edge of your hand on the screen for input without consequences but Mouse and/or Touchpad works best for me. Of course all three are available at the same time all the time.

The iPad “Pro” question: I asked that question because when the iPad “Pro” was released Mr. Cook declared it could replace your pc.
Now I am sure this is true for some users but after Cook’s declaration the “tech writers” (very loose use of the two words) and their- iPad “Pro” vs. Surface Pro 4 - articles dutifully pronounced the “winner” as the iPad “Pro” failing to mention that the “winner” is a phone operating system vs a true Operating System capable of running thousands of Applications both old and new plus Universal Windows Platform (UWP) applications (written to work across all devices ie. PC, Tablet, Mobile, Xbox, HoloLens etc) WITH TOUCH. I’d estimate that about 90% of the “review/comparisons” of these two devices were either written from ignorance or dishonesty. Readers often are not stupid (Apple Cult members excluded) and pointed out the obvious in the Comments Section following these so called “technical reviews”.

After I tried Cubase on the Surface and as I was writing the above experience I remembered these comparisons and I had to laugh again, hence the question, asked with a degree of sarcasm.

VinnieD said: " Also I find it difficult to compare a tablet(Pro) to a laptop with touchscreen… two worlds apart imo."

Don’t tell the “tech writers” (ie Apple Cult Members) who did just that and declared the 'winner"!

Cubasis is an App (never used it). Cubase is an Application. My point!
Photoshop Express is not Photoshop. Surface runs Photoshop and Photoshop Express. iPad “Pro” probably doesn’t. Correct me if I am wrong.

Surface is not a “laptop” as you stated. It is usually referred to as a “2 in 1” because it is a tablet if you want but much more if you want.

Microsoft is a software company. Surface was developed for one reason. Challenge their OEM (original equipment manufacturers) partners (Lenovo, HP, Dell etc) to be innovative. It worked because there are now hundreds of these type of devices all running Windows 10 software.

One more cool little thing I tried today.
MS made a Bluetooth device that attaches to their older Surface keyboards that I dug out and hooked up that allows one to detach the keyboard from the Surface so you can use a mouse and older keyboard/touchpad and, because the keyboard is detached and the angle back of the Surface can be close to the desktop the use of the Pen is much easier/better on the touchscreen.

Final thoughts from my travels to Monterey, CA for w few days on this small, lightweight portable system

Yesterday I spent a few hours using this set-up but trying to avoid using the mouse and instead primarily using the Surface Pen and the bluetooth connected keyboard (for key commands). FYI - The Surface Pen has a button on it that is equal to right click.

I took a stereo mix and opened it in Cubase to experiment with mastering it using three DMG plugins: Equilibrium (FIR), Compassion (parallel compression) and Limitless. Cubase scales nicely on Win10 Anniversary/Surface screen and the Pen works extremely well with it. Remember, Surface has a completely variable “kickstand” and I set it as far back/open as it goes which is the ideal place/angle when using the Pen. All of the DMG plugins were also excellent with the Pen. To open the EQ and grab a frequency point(s) and move them with the Pen while listening is something else. It is hard to explain but it was a different experience all together to work this way. The tactile interaction on a surface with a pen in hand is somewhat analogous to painting on a canvas. Instant and direct connect.

I kept thinking to myself, “How can this work so well?” and “It is as if these applications were designed to be used like this”. But of course in reality the Pen is doing exactly the same as the mouse does. The direct touching of the screen though vs.the “arms length” (disconnected) with the mouse brings (for me) a type of intimacy and interactive experience that is quite different.

After a short while I was working quickly with the Pen and having great fun. Who needs a mouse? Right click with Pen in the software -Perfect. Palm blocking on Surface - Perfect.

Perhaps I sound like a Surface commercial but honestly I write this here because I wanted others who might not have the chance to try this hear about the possibilities that are available. Many other manufacturers offer similar Windows 10 devices. The key is that the keyboard must detach and the monitor has to lie back. I’m right handed so the keyboard is to the left. I said this earlier. I started loading up the Surface with Cubase/Halion/SSD4 just to see how it could handle being a DAW. It succeeded. Then I decided to explore using a DAW like Cubase with the Surface feature set. It is a whole new experience. Side Note: Signing in to the Surface is via very fast facial recognition.

It makes me want to try two large touch screen monitors (angled way back) on my studio computer.

This is a portable system and I’ve brought my little RME UCX but I decided (for the first time) to try using the Steinberg/Cubase supplied ASIO generic driver and the Surface audio output headphone jack with the Sennheiser phones and Sonarworks REF3 Cubase output. I didn’t even remember this driver was offered until I started Cubase but forgot to turn on the RME. This could make the system even more portable (without the RME). It surprised me in that the audio from the built-in headphone output sounded very good.

As I write this I can’t wait to get back to using this system again.