Cubase - Being left behind by the competition for old ways

Hey Steinberg, I’ll start by saying that I personally think that Cubase is one of, if not the best DAW out there :slight_smile:
I’ve used it for years and always recommended it to friends, or other musicians starting out, but I’m struggling to these days as it simply hasn’t moved with the times.

There are a few areas that really let it down and I’m seeing numerous people switch to, or opt to buy other competitor products in a number of cases for things Steinberg could easily change, such as:

  • Sidechain support - this isn’t some elaborate feature, it’s been around for decades and should be included in all versions, like Ableton does, even in their most basic version. Even Reaper for $60US has it…! It’s almost like not including panning in basic versions…


  • Licences - these days, a LOT of artists will have a laptop and studio computer. For example when travelling I can still create some tracks, or record onsite using my laptop and then when I’m back I use my desktop. Out of the thousands of dollars of plugins and virtual instruments I’ve bought, they almost all allow me two activations (at least), apart from the Cubase! In these situations, I’m recommending people use Ableton, or Reaper. I’m aware that Cubase can be installed on multiple computers and then used by inserting the USB dongle, which brings me to my third point


  • USB Dongles for Artist/Pro… USB dongles, when we’re just over a week away from 2020!!! This almost takes us back to dialup days… Some of the obvious limitations, are losing the USB key when travelling, damaging the USB port by having it hanging out, damaging the key itself, reducing the available ports without a hub, USB key failure… ILok for example secures the software, but I can manage activations through that with no hardware key required

I’d love to keep using Cubase and recommending it and so this is just constructive criticism, because I’m seeing droves move straight to Ableton for their first DAW for example, for some reasons such as sidechain that could be easily fixed. The more people that move to competitor products, the more it makes it impossible to open, or share projects for collaborations which then makes other people leave.

If you read posts in both pro and consumer audio forums, you’ll see these points are hurting sales for you guys.
Hopefully 2020 is the year for change… make Cubase great again! :sunglasses:

TBH if these 3 things are the reason why people leave Cubase, then they did not really use it. These are all nice to haves compared to features/bugfixes which really matter, would improve workflow and would save time(=money) imho.

I agree on the bugfix side that these are important and Cubase has it’s share of crashes (mostly seem due to 3rd party plugins and it could have better resilience) but jump onto any of the forums and you’ll see these complaints all the time and the reason for starting with the alternatives mentioned as their first DAW, or changing to them.

It’s not about whether we think they were, or weren’t “really” using Cubase, it’s about what stops them buying it, or makes them leave regardless of how they use it when they’re all reasonable critiques. On side chain, they pitch it on any electronic music tutorial and even for all styles of music these days and then they look at Cubase and see it doesn’t have it in entry levels. Half of them are already struggling to get funds together to buy their DAW, let alone their audio interfaces, plugins, studio monitors, instruments. Ableton is being bundled with a lot of that gear for free and ticks all those boxes. They start with that and keep using it. Cubase is bundled as well, but obviously no use in that regard, so they miss out on the customers from day one and even upgrading to Elements is no help there.

I’ve been using Cubase for about 20 years and I’m using a laptop more these days and instead of messing around with old world dongles, or paying twice for Pro (or maybe Artist) on my next upgrade, I’m even considering Ableton. I have always thought that Cubase is better, although in fairness it’s been a long time since I’ve really used Ableton Live and it does seem to have improved a lot, so instead of waiting for Steinberg to change it might be an option.

fl studio manages audio warping on triplet grid values, I don’t know what the quality of timestretch’s algo is worth but cubase pro 10.5 still doesn’t handle that.2020…

For me, the only bad thing of using Cubase is the dongle key.

Interesting point Faramis. I haven’t heard that complaint about it before. In your experience, do you think that would stop many people trying Cubase initially, or make them switch to FL, or another competitor?

And yeah the dongle thing is absurd and when you’re getting laptops that often only have one, or maybe 2 USB-C ports these days, it just doesn’t make sense. Say I’m on a plane, should I really need a USB hub, or even converter cable, or something to just to authorise software?! I’d rather not even be pluging in a flash drive, or external hard dive, let alone anything else. I read a good review on some of the different DAWS out there and that was their number one downside to Cubase as well.

I just picked up an inexpensive portable midi controller that came with Ableton Lite for free… Lite has all of these features including full side chain support… I’ve installed it… sort of hoping I don’t like it, but so far it seems pretty good and given that you can install on two computers and it meets everything else, it might be worth upgrading to the full version.

Hopefully Steinberg has an updates on the way to address these shortcomings so I can stick to Cubase and convince more of the new upcoming producers to give it a shot :wink:

Sorry to revive an old thread, but I’ve found myself in a similar position, though I’ve yet to make a move.

I have an Ableton Live 10 Lite licence that came free with an audio interface that I bought for random recording (when I get inspiration!) and I’m using Cubase Pro 10.5 in my studio setup. I have no desire, for all of the reasons that have been voiced innumerable times, to remove the dongle (old and fragile, which I’ve had since Cubase VST) from my studio workstation and attach it to my laptop via a USB-C adaptor.

I’d really like to remain in the Cubase “stable” for my ad-hoc recording, albeit with limited functionality, and transfer the audio files to the studio machine for further development, so I asked Cubase if I could get a (or exchange the Ableton licence for) Cubase LE key so that I could remain a good, brand-loyal, user.

The answer has been bluntly negative. Not for any logical reason. Just because “we don’t do that”.

Perhaps it’s my own fault for not buying into the Steinberg audio interface family - if so, I apologise to the Steinberg gods - but I have my reasons why I made my choice, and “what free software it came bundled with” was not part of that decision.

The outcome is that:
(a) I have reached out on the Cubase AI/LE forum to see if anyone has an unused key they would trade for my Ableton Live 10 Lite licence - somewhat predictably, no takers there.
(b) I will end up using Ableton on my laptop, and have to learn a DAW I didn’t intend to grapple with. Like @cubasetheory, I hope I won’t like it, but if I do, the Cubase licencing team will have quite deliberately succeeded in shifting their market share away from Cubase. Ok; only by 0.000001%, but I’m clearly not alone here.

Tangentially: I’ve been working my way through the “Sodajerker on Songwriting” podcast that I was very happily introduced to recently. Of the 30 or so episodes that I’ve listened to now, I’ve never heard Cubase mentioned by an interviewee once. Pro Tools… every time. These aren’t wannabe bedroom EDM guys either - McCartney, Nile Rogers, Sting, Elvis Costello, Patrice Rushen, Jeff Lynne… I know that popularity doesn’t prove anything, but you’d think Steinberg might be a bit keener to grow their user base rather than watch people leave for the competition.

So @cubasetheory - how did you get on with Ableton? Should I stop whining, and just switch across?

I don’t get it.

Protool is boring af - I could care less who is using it and how popular it is - maybe it’s their detriment for using it… ie, maybe they would do even better work if they were using Cubase - - - that’s their loss.

@lovegames
Don’t get what?

I wasn’t advocating anything else over Cubase. I haven’t any experience of ProTools or any other “proper” DAW (and I tried to be explicit that popularity wasn’t a measure of quality), which is why I was asking @cubasetheory about their experience with Ableton. My point is simply that Steinberg seems to be pretty complacent about attracting new, or retaining existing, users. If customer retention isn’t a priority - - - that’s their loss.

Anyone who actually understands what Cubase does and what it can do - - - isn’t leaving Cubase, and if they do, they typically come back. %90 of the people out there, for what they do, they could use any DAW.

I second that, Cubase is miles ahead these days, because they protected their investment with a solid dongle security system.

What’s your issue with timestretch algo’s? Cubase has a vast amount of algo’s that are suitable for many things, the algo’s are better than the offerings in FL studio for many applications…

Not exactly solid. My dongle is taped together after bringing the dongle on the road.
I have stopped using Cubase for this reason when I am away from my stationary computer. There should be a solution for laptop users - otherwise they are loosing customers.

When SONAR was stopped I had to choose a new DAW and I had decided not to consider moving to Cubase just because of the dongle…
Then I thought again about it and watched some videos. And also Craig Anderton, a famous grammy-nominated SONAR user wrote that Cubase was very deep about MIDI.
So I decided to give it a chance and how can I say it… it was just fantastic!
The program and all the system around (HALion, Groove Agent…) are so intelligently done! It’s a pleasure to work with this so fast and efficiently. Really inspiring tools.

To summarize : YES, you’re right, Steinberg certainly loses a lot of sales because of the dongle… People are scared. And it is a shame because when you use it, you can see that it also has some benefits. On the other hand, Cakewalk (SONAR) was known to be user friendly and not to protect their programs too much. And they were the first big DAW to be discontinued, because the sales were really decreasing… You have to think about this.

In addition to this, I think that Steinberg’s marketing policy could be more effective. The best example is HALion Sonic SE, that I find better than Kontakt Player. But it is marketed as “free download without any content”. It’s completely ineffective. People want more free sounds. They won’t download a program and then maybe think about buying a bank. Native Instruments gives free banks at the beginning for everyone, like a gateway to their world.