I found the Cubase 9 announcement interesting in several ways and share the sentiment of many here. But hey. What’s new? We have a love/hate relationship to probably any software we use. It’s never perfect.
I was surprised they released Cubase 9 already so shortly after 8.5, and again charge for it. About $100 for some UI changes (lower zone), updated plugin UIs, some EQ enhancements. I think Mixer Undo is a biggie, as many DAWs struggle with this for some reason. And Cubase with its detailed history log… looks really like a great solution where you can backtrack your steps! But overall it feels like an expensive upgrade. Also their marketing headline “Our most complete DAW ever. Period.” - haha, I had to laugh.
First thing they mention is that the transport bar is not a floating window anymore (that gets in the way all the time). Nice. Buttons to show and hide the inspector and racks… haven’t they introduced the mouse hover feature in 8.5 to hide and show these areas? Seems they don’t know what they want. And the lower zone? Almost any other DAW has this. Ableton Live has the channel strip there, Studio One also has this, Logic has this, Reaper has this. No DAW has tons of floating windows and bad window management anymore. Reaper even has a very similar docking concept where you can dock stuff in the lower zone. And zones elsewhere if you wish. And this is one of Steinberg’s flagship features? It’s a little embarrassing. They jumped to a major new version number, I would expect a lot more from a major version. This feels much more like 8.6.
We Nuendo users were told there was a free video engine update coming this year to replace QuickTime, and then Nuendo 7.5 next year. So don’t get your hopes up for a jump from Nuendo 7 to 8 suddenly. I think Timo posted some things that could be expected from 7.5 so I don’t know why Cubase suddenly leaps ahead.
As Oliver.Lucas said, it’s a bit frustrating to see the major DAWs stagnate and rotate in their own sauce, feeling comfy.
While I use and love Nuendo for film work, for game sound design stuff I move more and more to Reaper. Reaper has a little bit an uncomfortable indie / hobbyist smell to it. It doesn’t look all too appealing, its stock plugins are ugly, but they sound good and Reaper is a hell of a flexible DAW. For sound design, sound manipulation, signal routing and overall flexibility and extensibility, it’s one of the best DAWs out there. And it has working VCAs You can do mixer snapshots and powerful macros beyond what Nuendo offers. I’m not surprised the sound blogs I read report of big game companies where their sound employees switch to Reaper for sound work all the time.
Reaper is no match to Nuendo in the movie world though, primarily because of all the import / export of AAF, re-conforming and anything that needs interoperability to industry video packages. But no dongle, no hassle and a great price for which you get all updates within the major version AND next major version for free (when you buy 5.x you get all 5.x and 6.x versions free of charge).
I’d like to see more creativity and long term vision in Steinberg’s products.