Cubase 9 and DWM Composition/Aero Mode in Win 7

Would anyone running Win 7 and Cubase 9 be kind enough to let me know if it requires the DWM composition/Aero Mode enabled to run.

Thanks in advance.


There is no change in this area since Cubase 8. So it will ask for the same setup as Cubase 8 and 8.5. You can test it with Cubase 9 Trial.


I’ll have to wait for the Trial to become available a couple of months down the track to test. Last time I upgraded from 7.5 to 8.5 I was surprised to find out DWM/Aero was required to run. I now have 8.5 licence and run 7.5 because of this nuisance. If Cubase 9 happens to be the same then sadly this would be the end of the road between me and Steinberg.

Is windows 7 still supported by Steinberg for this version of Cubase?

Yes, it is.

I discovered this yesterday, this unusual method around Aero may be of interest, if you can switch from an Aero to the classic/ hi contrast desktop types with Cubase open.

After launching Cubase (Artist) 9/8.5, I found that I could switch from the Aero type to a classic or hi contrast (C/HC), non-Aero desktop look, and most importantly, I uncovered the menu hidden in the lower area of the title bar of the main Cubase window. Basically, things worked for me at a very basic level - my current ability. I used empty default projects for initial tests, as seen in the screen shots I attached, most were done yesterday in 8.5, also one today of CA9.

Here is a quick start, note the caveats:

  1. Start up Cubase (Artist), 9.0, 8.5. You are starting it of course with Win 7 desktop in Aero type, but you may wish to have the Personalize window already open for an even quicker switch to a C/HC type.
  2. Still in Aero, use the mouse to select something in either the Project window menus, like Configuration, or from the Cubase main menu bar across the top. I found that I needed to exercise this functionality, it seemed necessary in order to give mouse access to the main window menus, after doing the switch to C/HC mode. So, recap, once you have made a simple selection of just one menu, you have done enough.
  3. Minimize CA9 or not, and change over to a C/HC desktop. On this AMD PC, the change from Aero to classic seems to happen in two steps over a few seconds, and it takes longer on the i7 - Slower switching between modes with a much faster i7 running an older nVIDIA video card with only 1 MB, so mode switching time didn’t seem to have much to do with the processor. CA did not crash for me if I had worked with the menu previous to switching to C/HC.
  4. Now, look at Cubase, its still there, but with a very lean title bar. The menu titles of the main Cubase menu have gone into/behind the title bar of the main Cubase window and are hidden.
  5. Click on the main title bar name - “Cubase Artist”, especially the lower portion of the font, or touch along the menu bar in the middle to lower portion of the bar, or on the lower border, with the mouse; you should see the menu, hidden, suddenly pop out! The location of tip of the mouse is important. Once you have the menu showing, slide along to the right and see that these minimalist menus do not extend out to midway across the screen, but are more compact and all located much closer together and to the left edge.
  6. Or try the keyboard, stuff still works like normal, you just can’t see it! - like ctrl-n for new file, ctrl-s save, etc., still working.
  7. Using Cubase Artist 9.0.1, build 113, I noticed sticking/magnetic behavior in the main Project window - once you switch to C/HC mode and mouse the Project window around a little - it jumps and sticks to the top menu bar; horizontal movement is possible, but no longer vertically. If it is moved off the primary to a second monitor, it continues to stick at the top. Sliding horizontally is fine. So a different behavior than in Aero mode. There may be other things also that I haven’t or don’t know now to check. No issues noted with the lower transport toolbar.


  1. I am a very new Cubase user, started with Cubase 8.5/9 less than two weeks ago. So, this disclosure might be premature.
  2. I haven’t tried this in CPro 9, so possibly different behavior. All the windows, menus and selections that I viewed appeared to be accessible and functional. I made a single track in CA9, a 5 bar MIDI recording w/ Halion Sonic SE and output to a 44/16 wave file as a quick lightweight test, using the mouse to access the hidden menus. The audio driver was the Low Latency ASIO. Everything seemed to work for me at this minimal level, but please try for yourself.
  3. Tweaks to the size of the “Active Title Bar” and “Active Window Border” for the C/HC mode may be helpful, but I did not find them necessary. Those parameters are found in the Window Color and Appearance window, which pops up when selecting the “Window Color”, that is located under the theme selection area, in the main Personalize window.
  4. In Cubase Artist 8.5, the MIDI track window can be moved x and y, no different than its behavior in the Aero mode. As I mentioned above, in CA9, its movement seems to be in the x direction only.
  5. I tried this technique on two different Win 7 Pro/SP1 installs, both older models with older nVIDIA video cards and drivers - i7 Sandy Bridge ASUS desktop and AMD Phenom II-940 ASUS desktop, with an LG FHD 1920x1080 video display.


Thank you very much for your detailed information. I did test what you sugested and it works with Cubase 8.5 Pro. It will very likely work with 9 also. The menus are the only thing that are visually missing and need to be accessed in the manner you suggested by the screen shots. Everything else works normal. This leads me to conclude that the only logical explanation Steinberg have forced Win 7 users to use DWM Composion is to offload some of the graphics processing power from the CPU to the GPU by runnung Aero themes. This should provide some more processing power towards recording music which is the primary objective of Cubase of course. The dilema however is with today’s CPUs, how much processing power does one need to force this change?

At the time of upgrade to Cubase 8.5 I was running eight monitors. I am now running 16 all coming of the same machine via two Okta video cards. The machine is shared for both music production and trading financial instruments. The problem is that the trading platforms do not like DWM Composition due to the amount of data being displayed and processed on the video cards (laggy charts) so I have to use Classic themes. Then I decide to record music and Cubase asks for the Aero themes. It is a constant switching between themes; it becomes nuisanse. Not to mention how much I dislike the Aero themes anyway.

The two Okta graphic cards are in excess of 10K. Any DAW is under 1K. So which way should I go? Replace the GPUs for Cubase? I don’t think so. Move to another DAW? I have. I bought Pro Tools 12 and it’s great. But so is Cubase. I’ve been using Cubase for over ten years now and sadly this is where the journey finishes. I was hoping that this would have been fixed in 9 as there were a number of people complaing about this UI change. However, a few extra MHz freed to the CPU seems to be more important than keeping loyal customers.


You could of course also run the latest version that runs without aero. Like 7.5 or earlier. It is not that progress has been so big that this is a problem.
I do run C9 but I would happily work in anything from C4.

Yes, of course. I have 8.5 licence and stuck using 7.5 whenever I require Cubase.

There are some very handy improvements for me in 8.5 and 9 in terms of progress.


Thank you very much for your detailed information. I did test what you sugested and it works with Cubase 8.5 Pro. It will very likely work with 9 also. The menus are the only thing that are visually missing and need to be accessed in the manner you suggested by the screen shots. Everything else works normal.

At the time of upgrade to Cubase 8.5 I was running eight monitors. I am now running 16 all coming of the same machine via two Okta video cards

Wow, that is a lot of pixels.

Thank you for your patience in trying the Win 7 Aero workaround, it is really so much quicker procedure than it reads!
It probably would have been more popular about a year ago, there was some concern on the C8 forum. It is a somewhat fragile fix perhaps, as it could disappear with the next update; however, it might still work well for someone using Win 7 and for whom high contrast is a necessity and doesn’t have the switching requirement that you do.

And yes, as you say, the Menu titles are missing, but those probably become memorized or can be found on a paper reference.

Switching between Aero and Classic for you is a very different situation, considering your unusual dichotomy of software use and large monitor count. At this much smaller level of operation here, I have repeatedly switched back and forth between Aero/Classic with CA 9 project open, but not recording or playing. Switching speed seems primarily video card/driver dependent.


Why ?
Is it purely a “look” thing, or are there any other reason.
Personally I find the AERO look using Windows 10 much better than anything that was possible in Windows 7.

As I previously stated, yes, I dislike Aero, however, that’s not the main reason. I can live with Aero providing the fact my machine can deliver what I need it to deliver with Aero turned on, but it doesn’t. If you look at the attachment below you would see 224 charts of various financial instruments I trade every day. Those charts are spread out over eight monitors via an Okta card. That’s the first half. The second half consists of another eight monitors displaying various other real time information to aid with decision making when entering and exiting trading positions. So there are 16 monitors coming out of two Okta graphics cards from the same machine.

Trying to run such significant amount of real time ticking data with Aero on results in lagy charts. This is because processing of graphics is done by the video cards GPU due to the 3D DWM Composition which comes with Aero. To cure this problem I must run Classing Windows 7 Themes where the processing is done by the CPU instead of the GPU and everything runs smooth. This is the only reason I am still using Win 7. DWM Composition can not be disabled on Win 8 or Win 10.

I work 16 hour shifts Monday to Friday. During my trading days I mainly sit in front of the computer and wait for certain criteria to be met so I can enter/exit trading positions. In between while waiting for signals, instead of wasting time by doing nothing, I utilise my time by working on music composition, music production etc. This is done on the same machine simultaneously. The introduction of Cubase 8 has disabled this possibility for me because it requires the legendary DWM Composition/Aero Themes. This means that I constantly need to switch between themes to complete certain tasks. I have now moved to Pro Tools 12 because of this reason. Hopefully this will be fixed in the near future so I can go back to my beloved Cubase.


That’s a very exotic use case.

One powerful graphics card should be able to power 8 Aero displays at 60 fps, I’d think. But personally I’d think of using two seperate computers.