Cubase Aesthetic/GUI

I’ve been a Cubase user for almost 20 years now.

Cubase workflow is awesome for me. However, the GUI needs some love. With each update, Steinberg has definitely changed the look. But I feel like the designers think that we want flashy looks—very childish, consumer hifi, crammed, 3D, need for speed luxury car interior, etc. An example is right here in the forum. Look up. The shocking, bright-red Steinberg logo on top of a sky-blue gradient banner. My eyes hurt. :stuck_out_tongue:

We are after all artists. Aesthetic sensibility matters: the way text is formatted, colors, events/regions, waveforms, analysis tools embedded logically, visual feedback, smoothness, etc. Things can look beautiful/inviting and be functional. Ableton does it well in a minimalist way—they care. Logic is cognizant of this. Pro Tools has its own charm. But all these DAWs lack Cubase’s workflow and power for me.

Please lets make Cubase more beautiful.

Beautiful post


Imho Abletons and Protools GUIs are absolutely horrible, they look like programs from literally 10 years ago. While there is always room for improvement (also in functionality and workflow), I must say that Studio1+Cubase are a lot more beautiful than their competitors.

I understand the sentiments. But do the Empire State Building and Taj Mahal look horrible just because they’re older than 10 years?

As far as DAW aesthetics go, I agree that Ableton and Pro Tools look terrible. They may be very legible and functional but they just don’t look particularly attractive to me. Logic looks good. Cubase looks a bit better than Studio One overall (mix console, arrange view, PRV), but there are still some older, ugly or poorly designed windows in Cubase whereas Studio One is more consistent in its appearance.

I think it boils down to everyone having different taste and different ideas about what looks nice and what makes a GUI good or bad. You can’t please all the people all the time.

We can make Cubase look better. I’m not talking about just taste. MacOS looks better than Windows—objectively. Most Windows users don’t value design (and industrial design) like Apple users do. And when they do, Microsoft tries to catch up to it in some ways. There’s a reason why Logic looks good (except for some legacy plugins). Although I think Cubase does workflow better in many ways.

I wouldn’t even talk about this if I didn’t think Cubase is capable of being the best DAW in the world (objectively). Cubase is so close to just making Pro Tools/Ableton/Logic and others irrelevant (objectively). Cubase does modern studio workflow and classic recording so well. All the other DAWs have an edge in one thing or the other. Cubase has potential to be the master of all.

Slightly OT but I would say thats not true. Since (especially the newer) Win10 releases Windows catched up a lot on UI, where I would say its just opinion. On functionality/customizability/compatibility/workflow though Windows wins (was working for 5 years on MacOs 'til I switchted to a PC one year ago).

I agree to the rest you said.

I think Studio One is getting more and more appealing. Very little waste of space. Look how many channels they can show in their mixer view! However the aesthetic is very much a taste thing. And I prefer functionality over aesthetic, use colour coding where it has a meaning even if will look like a Christmas tree. But one think is clear there need to be a known look and feel and it should have the same functions when it is present. They did improve that with C10 let hope for an other step in 10.5.

Fair enough. I don’t hate Windows! :slight_smile:

As far as Studio One is concerned, yes, it is getting quite appealing. I’m not a fan of its GUI in general, but man is it fluid and super snappy on MacOs.

In a way you’re right but as someone “re-discovering” present day Cubase - after being in Ableton-land for almost a decade - and loving it there - I have to respond here.

Yes Ableton’s look and feel hasn’t changed for ages - but there’s a Zen-like minimalist simplicity to Ableton and its pared down menu set ( and DAW- feature set ) that really makes creativity keep going and not constantly killed by having to enter engineer or tekkie mode.

And if it comes to present day Cubase it seems very clear to me that the whole way menus are organised in Cubase needs rethought. Its a kitchen sink-mess. So Ableton engineers clearly and rightly know that to "touch"ie tweak or tamper with the Ableton “way” - is entering hallowed ground :slight_smile:

Plus it has to be said, compared to Cubase - Ableton is as solid as a rock.
Dependable and reliable. Not something I can say about so so many other … DAW-like software and associated tech…

Obviously old-timers will want Cubase menus exactly as they are, so to accommodate - some flexible mechanism needs to be designed in whereby people can revert to the “old-school” menu mess if they want - while making things a little more obvious, logical and un cluttered for the newcomers ( and returning lost sheep )

I am with you there, but that has nothing to do with looks, but is a pure functional/workflow thing. I am absolutely not a guy who do not want things to change, just because you are used to them. Changes are fine for me, as long as there are any workflow improvements too. In the end its all about time, if a new feature or a rearranged menu saves me time, even if I had to relearn certain things, then give it to me please!

I mean who wouldn’t want Ableton’s elastic/rubber band MIDI tool! Some things in Ableton are just truly unique. But Cubase is still top for me; as far as a professional studio/film/post workflow is concerned.

The great Hans Zimmer reveals in his new Steinberg talk that Cubase is now aesthetically pleasing. As much as I like him, Cubase has more users than just Hans. Please, Steinberg, listen to us, too!

IMHO, Flat Design rules:

Logic truly is the best designed and smoothest in performance—-and cheapest. They’ve definitely got an edge and the resources, being owned by Apple.

Good progress with 10.5. Events are now flatter.

Lets now work on anti-aliasing of waveforms and smooth play head please! We need a professional metering system with accurate and fast fallback speeds. Again please get rid of the gradient mess and overall jankyness.


Flat design, like everything, is just styling. Flat design owes more to the fact that brand new device touch-screen interfaces at first were fairly rudimentary, and no one really knew what to do. Typographic interfaces were the latest rage - and so there we are - flat as it gets. There’s no real improvement over past desktop design guides. It’s just different. It’ll pass, like everything, until the next rage. Then, everybody shells out all over again just to get the latest window dressing.

It’s not flat for the sake of being flat. It’s easier on the eyes in a professional environment. Also, I don’t take “flat” design religiously. Make something beautiful, functional and elegant, and I wont have a problem with it. Look at UAD visual design. It’s great.

You can’t say the gradient mess of Cubase was not due to some technological limitation. Computers are insanely powerful now, and we need to catch up. Also waveforms–they look like this because of performance limitations of the past. Look at Pro Tools metering–and then look at Cubase’s gradient mush. Then look at any professional mixing console and outboard gear. In fact, look at Steinberg’s own flagship interface’s hardware and software design: AXR4. Then look at Cubase’s gradient metering.

So yeah. Things have room to and can be improved. Look at Wavelab 10! It has improved so much.

Gradient metering ? Then change it !
Anyhow, kind of late discussing GUI design, when the GUI is nearly completely redesigned, a progression that was started back in version 7 and now almost finished in version 10.5
After that long of a progress, I don’t think there is any chance it will be changed “much” in the coming years.
I would appreciate it, if Steinberg did concentrate on the inner workings from now on.
Of cause this is only my opinion, and it is not a dismissal of the oppositions in this thread, I just think it is wasted energy.