Does anyone else think Wavelab 7 design is really clunky?


I regularly use Cubase 6 and Wavelab 7 at the same time. I opened them both today to do some recording, and again it really jumped out at me how completely different in quality CB6 and WL7 design are?

CB6 is really professional, sleek, quite beautifully drawn menu’s and thought out colours and backgrounds, WL7 icons are like something from Windows 3.1 (just look at the speaker icon and the other top menu icons - actually do think they are from Windows 3.1!!!) and the other menu icons and window icons look as if a 12 year old designed them as a computer class project?

I am amazed that the same company designed and released these two pieces of software.

Whenever I use WL7 I just get this sinking feeling that I am using a really archaic, lazily bodged together piece of software, and that has a definite effect on my use of the software. It doesn’t stimulate or inspire the eye, and it makes menu and window choices a really unpleasant experience.

WL7 WORKS technically very well as a piece of software but at huge expense of little comfort and little pleasure to use visually.

Does anyone else have this experience? If enough users came up with their views and offered suggestions for improvement, maybe just maybe Steinberg would listen?

You just don’t get this with Open Source software, and I do wish someone would put together an excellent Open Source music equivalent of Joomla with such a vibrant and ongoing sense of improvement and design by a responsible and contributing community of users. There are some Open Source DAWs but they are not suitable for professional use really.

I don’t have the technical computer skills to do this unfortunately, or I would do it.


Hi Barry,
It’s interesting that you posted this today, because I was just about to make a post praising WL. While I understand your feeling that WL may not be sleek looking, I’ve just spent a few weeks with WL and it’s already become my “go to” wave editor. I’ve been a professional musician/sound designer for a long time (in other words…I’m old) and started with Mac wave editors like Alchemy and Sound Designer. I’ve pretty much used them all and am not really interested in learning a new one unless there’s really something special about it. I have to say that the more I get into this program, the more impressed I am with how deep and versatile it is. Could it be better? Of course. I just posted about five things that I wish were different (and that nobody else probably cares about), so I totally understand that, for you, the look and workflow might be a problem. But, although I find a few things clunky, I’ve been able to adapt to the workflow in WL pretty quickly, so I guess I’d have to say that it feels fairly natural to me.

Anyway, I’m not trying to hijack your thread. I was just going to thank Philippe for creating such a useful application and this seemed like a logical place to put it…


I have said that I find the application really ok, it does the job. My point is that if Steinberg can produce something as visually modern and comfortable to use as Cubase, why are the graphics in WL7 on a completely lower standard? I use WL and CB a lot, and a visually pleasing environment is really important to the work flow, and even my creativity. Having to click Windows 3.1 icons, it just doesn’t work for me.


For me - personally - WL7 is a clunkfest (both visually and especially workflow wise) designed for a time long since past (when 'windows" were cool). I have gone on and on about the visual design and 90’s feel to this application over and over in the past - all to zero avail.

And while you compare Cubase and WL as being under the “Steinberg” umbrella - there is something Cubase/Nuendo has that WL does not and that’s a UI Team (Dave Nicholson and crew) to actually work the UI design while others write the actual functional code. I can only assume that PG’s deal with Steinberg is unique to him or perhaps by his own choice he wants to do everything himself - or god forbid - this is PG’s vision of “good” when the entire world is going Windows 7, Windows Metro or whatever the flavor of the day is.

To be honest - I was OK with the WL6 workflow because it made sense to me…but this new “window” switcher design in addition to the 1993 “look and feel” really has made me realize that WL is probably not long for my work. Like you said, technically - for many “functions” it’s still head of the class…but for actual work (or in my case workflow) - it can be a very frustrating experience - especially with no decent documentation, old cheesy 1999 graphics, old tab controls from the WL 6 era and so on.

Lately, button positions and even titles in various dialog boxes are driving me crazy as they are grammatically incorrect ,use lower case letters (NOTHING annoys me more than this) and some even display full “sentences” in the main menus and text…obviously whoever is in charge of this portion of the design can’t even get simple dialog titles to be uniform and follow Windows design specs.

Examples range from a tool tip saying “Record” and then the actual dialog “Recording”. Or you click on Options->Batch file renaming…the dialog title says “Batch renaming”. Is it so hard to firm up this kind of stuff?

And then you have bizarre things like the Global Analysis dialog (with another “lower” case menu command I might add) and it’s button placement - instead of being OK, Cancel, Help like the most of the rest of the system - this one sports a Close, Analyze and Help (in that order) - as if trying to grope around for that Cancel button - “second” from the right on any other dialog not a big enough PITA.

This dialog not only changes the button text from Cancel to Close…but then someone thought it would be even cooler to swap the Close button with the Analyze button (another great button text choice - guys - it’s APPLY for god sake) as if to confuse even more.

I could go on…but you get the drift. WL7 is difficult enough to navigate as it is with all it’s windows and switchers but these kinds of basic design oversights just make a difficult session even more of a pain - especially at this price point. I could see this kind of stuff making it into an 89 dollar app but at 600? It should be perfect.


I’m sorry that you don’t feel at ease with the WaveLab 7 design. But saying that the design is from the years 1993 or 1999 is just not right. On the contrary, it uses modern concepts such as tabbed documents or window docking. I agree that certain parts, or certain workflow aspects, need to be improved. But there are good reasons for the current UI, and the type of Cubase UI would not be suited for WaveLab editing features.


I won’t spend a ton of time trying to convince you otherwise but many of the icons and the “look/feel” of this program is pretty much identical to mid 90’s design concepts. And as far as “tabbed documents” and Window docking - those too are 7 years ago. That just isn’t how many of the most modern interfaces do it now.

I recently test drove Adobe Audition 4 recently and to me - these guys have it right. The program itself may not take on WL functionality at all turns (yet)…but their workflow and design considerations make for a much more comfortable session experience. And my test drive had no manual or anything…I was up and editing in 5 minutes.

If there are good reasons for WL7’s design (and with no manual for me to understand these reasons) I would love to know what they are. Cause I have been truckin here with it since release and it remains a mystery to me - outside of my two “workspaces” which I finally figured out after months of trial/error.


The icons and menu graphics and colours are archaic and jarring to look at! Just to get a professional opinion, I showed WL7 to two pro software designers yesterday at a conference in London and they said more or less everything others have said in this thread - the look and feel of WL7 is retro.

If this software was open source it would never look like this? It doesn’t change because the look and feel is just one person’s protected project. This happens with commercial software costing hundreds of pounds (just look at Microsoft?)

With open source you can get software as clunky and retro looking as this - but look at the latest Joomla - amazing FREE software designed and shaped by a community of users and representing one of the visually and logically best pieces of software I have ever used?

I can’t imagine a piece of open source software full of the kinds of grammar and spelling mistakes described here getting past early beta stage let alone delivered to users.

This kind of persistently bad designing that ignores even basic grammar and spelling mistakes regularly pointed out by is a kind of market arrogance?

Please listen to users in these forums ( these comments are echoed all over the place) We ARE the users and can really help shape WL7 so it visually equals it’s functionality. Give the design over to a team of USERS!




Allright, time for another sound from another user. I couldn’t care less how Wavelab looks - as long as it’s functional - and I’m quite happy the way it looks now. One advantage of not having icons change every second the fashion of the moment changes, is that I know what icon I’m looking for, and have done for many versions. No time lost there. As for the grammatical flaws in titles and such; this is the first time I hear anyone complain about it, and I’m sure PG is most willing to change any faults in this area. My guess is, he’s not aware of them. Things like each word in a title capitalised or two spaces between sentences are specific to English (maybe even different in British and American English) and are easily overlooked by non-native users (reason for me not to have spotted them for all these years - not to mention not being annoyed by them).

Another subject is the functional design of Wavelab. I can see the reasoning behind the choice for different workspaces for different main functions of the program - of which Wave Editor and Montage both use the Master Section. I can see the difficulties, and after months of struggling I got more or less used to the new functionality. Much can still be improved though, and again, I wholeheartedly agree with the call for a real manual. Please!

Luck, Arjan

Well - some of us do care. Actually probably a LOT of users DO care but they are not going to take the time to come here and lodge a complaint.

Now - I love PG’s work as much as the next guy but and having him be a very accessible and active part of this apps development can be a huge advantage to us when we need support and changes brought to the software - however there is a huge downside to having one person holding the reigns over every single detail.

To me - this feels like another reason that we do not have any documentation either. If it’s truly just PG (and ONLY PG - with no other active staffers actually designing, coding or documenting the app) it’s no wonder we are lacking in all these different areas.

Anyway - it is what it is. I will continue to plod along over here with WL7…always holding onto hope that this may get better in the future.


I care too. Beyond care really, it is a concern because while WL7 does a good job of editing and recording, it is really difficult to use visually. If anyone is aware of NLP, Neuro Linguistic Progamming, it suggests that generally people fall into one of three preferred ‘learning’ or ‘understanding’ modes; Visual (show me and I will learn it), Aural (decribe it to me in words or lists and I will learn it), and Kinaesthetic (let me just get on with it, and I will learn it). Good software takes care of all THREE types, not just one. Poor software is written according to the programmer’s preferred ‘learning’ mode, and they expect the rest of the world to just adapt to it?

WL7 seems very ‘text’ driven, and my guess is that the programmer is driven and motivated by text. That would make sense I guess in programming. But what about those of us (including me) who is driven and motivated by visual things, ie, clear visual symbols that are easy to differentiate, colours that don’t clash or merge together (has anyone checked out the effect of blue and red combined on those who are colour blind?), crisp outlines, easy to see for those of us who are more senior (I am 61 and have to wear glasses to read the icons in WL7, I can read the icons clearly without glasses in Cubase 6). WL7 falls over on nearly all of these visual requirements for clear and straightforward understanding and learning.

Using WL7 as it stands is a bit like driving a car with a steering wheel and gear stick made of meccano, a dashboard semi-obscured by the steering wheel so you have to crouch to read it, and some of the controls over on the passenger side, so you can’t reach them without stopping the car, getting out, pulling something out, getting back in and proceeding? That’s how it feels using WL7 for someone who is visually motivated?

Anyway, as someone has said, it does sound as if lot of comment can happen here without any real sign it is being heard or followed through that much? I wonder if I should join the ranks of those who just pay their £600, shrug their shoulders and accept whatever is handed out to them by a single designer who is not really listening to what is being said?

Let’s see what others say, I will be quiet now.


I will add that while PG is very attentive to problems and especially to specific functionality requests - over the years - there is an odd “defensive” vibe present ANYTIME the interface is brought forward by users. It’s almost as if this is some kind of sort spot or something.

Then to make matters worse - the usual obligatory stash of users come out of the woodwork to defend this outdated look - claiming it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Yet many of these same users were all pounding PG several years back as they complained relentlessly about how WL6 wouldn’t work on Vista and then Windows 7, wouldn’t burn CD’s…wouldn’t do this and that. The huge irony of course is that they are so quick to defend the retro WL look but couldn’t wait to join the masses by dumping XP for a more modern looking, visually appealing OS like Vista or Windows 7.

You can see by his response to me - that his design - is the only way it seems. I guess if I really could understand the design of WL7 and how it’s supposed to work - I would probably be more understanding of it’s shortcomings - but with no real manual, endless frustration and puzzling rhetoric like “There are good reasons for the current UI”…WITHOUT actually alluding to what those reasons are - one has little choice but to “shrug” and feel a like a sheep here instead of a paying customer with some slight chance @ input.

All I know is - if you are creating and then selling a product @ 600 pounds or 600 dollars - you have better take some of that income and buy a thicker skin because people are going to have very clear opinions of what they feel is important at this price point.


Some notes:

  • I don’t do the documentation (but I create the “What’s this” texts).

  • There are over 8000 text strings in the WaveLab UI, each one in 6 languages. They are reviewed by some persons better than me in english :wink: But even with that, typos are always possible. The quality in 7 is better than in the past <= 6, you can be sure of that.

  • Icon design is a matter of taste. There are more than 400 different icons in WaveLab, more than in most DAWs I know. Full usage of colours is necessary to differentiate them. About 80% of the icons has been done by graphic designers. The style must be “compatible”, as far as possible, with both Mac and Windows (and the overall UI look tries to match each platform as closely as possible, rather than providing an identical platform-independent skin).


However - the “dated” look of WL goes well beyond the icons. While most of the WL icons do still reek of the 90’s…(whoever is actually doing your icon design needs to up their game considerably) I do not believe that’s the real focus in the context of this thread.

I think the OP is speaking more to the UI as a whole - how the look, feel and especially - workflow (with all these windows) is rooted heavily in the past…when pretty much all new modern DAW interfaces are moving toward single window focus where a user can switch between editing and project view by simply clicking a tab rather than having their entire workflow jarringly disrupted by having the entire interface disappear - as is the case with the “window” switcher.


new modern DAW interfaces are moving toward single window focus where a user can switch between editing and project view by simply clicking a tab

The editing part of WaveLab is full of features, more than in other DAWs I believe. Merging this with the audio montage and batch processor stuff in a single window, would lead to a confusing concept because of the large number of functions (think about it…).
This is why a modular approach has been choosen (through workspaces). Modularity helps mastering complexity. This will help adding new features, in the long term, without overloading a single window.
The approach is somehow on the line of Open Office for instance (for example, the word processor and spreadsheets share some concepts, but are edited in different window frameworks; have you heard many people complaining about this?). I don’t believe this UI concept is outdated.

I appreciate you coming back and offering your view, and I like the question you ask at the end of your email… it adds a ‘collaborative’ feeling and seemed to indicate a willingness to find out from us, the users, what our experience is?

Could I invite you to bravely open a poll (I think this forum software allows that) and take in an open discussion about users experience at least? It may inspire you with praise, and challenge you with criticism, but isn’t that how things improve? As Mr Cohen wonderfully puts it; there is a crack in everything, that’s where the light gets in!

I think that would be really appreciated and take away some of the ‘heat’ that is clearly swilling around in quite a few users.

To listen well to someone helps them think better …


Less than 1% of WaveLab users are participating to this forum, hence the relevance of a poll is limited. A poll could be interesting only for accurate and limited questions. I don’t think this applies for the topic of this thread.

When there is something specific you don’t like in WaveLab, please explain why and as far as possible, propose an alternative. This is a common activity in this WaveLab forum. It’s better to create different threads discussing different accurate topics. Thanks.

I normally wouldn’t get into these discussions, but I have to react when someone starts speaking as a spokesperson for all users (we ARE the users), hence, “time for another sound”. I felt the need to sound another opinion, if only to even the scales, so to speak. I think the users you speak of above - if they exist - are the typical non-you user. At least I don’t recognise myself there.

Luck, Arjan


My apologies if you believe I am speaking of you - but that’s your choice. I am not targeting anyone in particular. And I would appreciate it if you would stop hanging tags on me. I am no spokesperson nor to I want to be.

It is a simply a generalization - one of which I have yet to be proven wrong on yet. That you enjoy this interface is totally your call and I respect that. However - it does not work for me and many others who have time and time again brought this topic up - seems it’s an old tired topic that never ever goes away when speaking about this app.


I have three monitor screens at 1920x1080 each. When I run Adobe products I make use of the 5760x1080 landscape, When I run Nuendo 5.5, I see more applets, plugins mixer and editor windows, Portools9 same diff, When I need Wavelab 7 it is placed across all three screens. Excellent workflow with 3 screens. I don’t honestly see clunky!?
I see more visible functions and active plugins for Mastering. Looks impressive to clients so far. Won’t need to go into the genuine functionality. PG has always come through in that dept.

It was stated Adobe Audition is on the right path, Joomla is a user group to make this product 90120 sexy, OK whatever. PG Maybe in Wavelab8? I’d rather know it will be 64bit with the same look by then
The look is the look, it’s perfect IMHO and undeniably works! To me it’s as cool as a '93 Dodge Viper.

BTW My wife says I should improve my clunky look too :unamused: :ugeek:

At the risk of being seen as ‘defensive’, I do not find the WL GUI ‘clunky’ .

My guess is that different perceptions of the GUI and functionality reflect the way we individually work and if you’re just mastering or use it in another context.

I’m a happy little WL user!