OK, this is a bit of a rant, I am sorry in advance. I am a long time Cubase user sinces SE1 or whataver that intro version was called in the early 2000s, and i am stuck at 6.5 as of now, I tested every new version since 7, sometimes over weeks, and i just couldn’t get over some of the UI/UX disasters introduced with 7. I was pretty close ar jumping ship completely and switch to other DAWs, I just found that most of them have severe usability issues, too.
Now I understand that something had to be done to the UI of Cubase, what with MDI being kinda obsoleted, and multiple Screen support. So far, so good, but what i cannot understand why it was necessary to change things that have proven themselves over a long time and why it was done so half-heartedly and frankly, badly executed sometimes.
Some errors and aberactions like the unusable mouse-over insert handling have been fixed in C8.5 at last, but there is still enough left:
- optical separation between channels in mixer rack. it is hard to tell at first glance which fader belongs to which channel. That was much better in C6. Why not just extend that thin line that starts at the channel names= Why does it stop at the meter readouts???
- why change the modfier to route mutiple selected channels to the same bus from “alt” to “shift-alt” for no reason? That is really uncomfortable for left hand mouse users and so unneccessary
- Why has the “edit VST instrument” button in the mixer been removed since C7 and replaced by a long click on the E? There is enough space above the channel name and one click on a button is just faster than a long click. Also: using the same button for difrerent thing is a no-no in UI design.
- in the mixer toolbar: every knob immediatley executes an action, only the bypass Inserts/E/CS/S need an additional alt modifier. Again, uncomfortable for left handers, again, really unnessecary!
- I miss the button “edit send effect”, which is now only reachable in the context menu, wich one more click. OK, personal taste here.
- I think i found around six different designs for scroll bars! Only the old ones you find e.g. in the settings dialog or VST connections i consider usable because they are easily handle with a mouse or trackpad even on a smaller laptop. The other ones in the arranger window, the mixer, the VST plugin manager, the instrument rack and so on: tiny, thin, barely visible, badly aligned and all slightly different. Very important design rule: don’t fiddle with scrollbars. People have been used to those in their operating system for a long time and they work well. use them!
- Does Steinberg use multiple UI toolkits? Compare the media bay to the plugin manager: different colors/grey scales, different table design, different search fields, might be two different programs at all. The instrument rack looks different again as do all the old dialogs from C6 times. very inconsistent.
- further inconsisteny: the “edit” button, that distinctive lowercase “e” we’ve come to know is now an uppercase E in the mixer. But not in the new 8.5 insert knobs, there it is the lowercase “e” again. Really?
- insert/send plugin names in the mixer: when they don’t fit the width, since C8 suddenly there is an ellipsis (…) instead of the name just being cut off at the right border like before or gradually remove the vowels as in C6. Now i have constellations like two plugins that read “Valhalla…64” and “Valhalla…64”. Great! Now which one is Uebermod and which one Plate? No problem in C6 where i created the project. Why on earth would one change something that worked before to something that doesn’t work? And is there no quality control at all at Steinberg?
- overall: when you decide to go for a new design, make it consistent. C8.5 as of now looks like several different people who never met developed different parts of the interface.
- the inverted GUI colors seems to be hip right now, but with my eyes i cannot handle gray on gray on dark gray or black very well. Might be personal, others like it. But it lacks contrast.
- another tiny thing, but it adds up. if you enable the insert buttons in C8.5 to be visible and change the channel width, the position of the “e” changes. At width 20 and above it is centered, below it is left aligned to the disable button. Huh?
Now i have to concede that there are a lot of improvements in C8.5 and great new features compared to 6.5 (and some things like more than eight inserts painfully still missing) and a lot of things about design are also a taste thing and one can get used to a lot, but there are so many things there that are just plain badly executed, i still cringe whenever i try out a new demo version. I tried S1 and design-wise, it is way ahead of Cubase, but sadly it lacks features especially in the MIDI area, but if Steinberg doesn’t get their act together, that might be an alternative.
Rant over. Sorry, had to be said.