Groove Agent v5.1.10 - convert to use without USB eLicenser

As I posted earlier, Steinberg has committed to switching Groove Agent 5 to Steinberg Licensing. It seems that this means there will be the option to switch standalone Groove Agent 5 licences and Groove Agent extension licences to Steinberg Licensing in the future - but, if so, this is not available yet.

The implication of Groove Agent 5 appearing in that list is that Groove Agent 6 is not expected in the next year or so.

The situation with HALion is different. A new HALion release was mentioned in the Steinberg Licensing discussion threads when Steinberg Licensing was first announced. It seems likely that we will see HALion 7 and Absolute 6 being launched later this year, along with the ability to switch HALion extensions to Steinberg Licensing.

FWIW, it seems that the plan is for WaveLab 11.1 to be released next week.

Steinberg surprised me and released WaveLab 11.1 more quickly than expected.

They have announced the mechanism to transfer WaveLab 11 licences to Steinberg Licensing, though the process will not be available for a few weeks. New WaveLab 11 licences are being issued on Steinberg Licensing.

Fellow Groove Agent 5 users. Did any of you also get these errors with 5.1.10 when trying to play a multi-program? It crashes the app.
Groove Agent 5

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Groove Agent 5 migration to Steinberg Licensing available now and working guys

How does one do this?

The voucher is in your My Steinberg account.

The instructions are the same as for WaveLab 11 migrations:


what do we loose out on if we migrate to new license? my dongle still works perfectly fine.

You don’t lose out on anything. Your dongle will still work, plus you get three activations on Steinberg Licensing.

You keep the old license on your dongle, and also get a new one for the new Steinberg licensing system.

What you lose out on is the ability to sell GA on a dongle, as it becomes NFR (not for resale) as part of the process. As your ‘active’ will be within the new licensing system.

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BUT only if you have a separate license for Groove Agent 5 will it work without a dongle - If your license for Groove Agent 5 is obtained thru Absolute VST Collection you must have the dongle connected to your computer still. The same for Backbone.

A real head scratcher for me, makes no sense at all. I have never been denied access to using software I own before because it was bought in a bundle.

Unless you don’t plug in your USB key, you are not denied access now.

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The Resale Wizard preamble says:

eLicenser-based licenses after upgrade to

Steinberg Licensing-based license

eLicenser-based licenses that have been upgraded to a Steinberg Licensing license may not be sold separately from the corresponding Steinberg Licensing license.
In the eLicenser Control Center, such licenses are marked with this addition:
(Upgraded to […] with Steinberg Licensing)
Example: After an update from Cubase 11 to Cubase 12, the eLicenser-based Cubase 11 license is inseparable from the Steinberg Licensing-based Cubase 12 license.

The correct process for transferring a product that has been upgraded/migrated from eLicenser to Steinberg Licensing therefore appears to be:

  • Deactivate all instances on Steinberg Activation Manager
  • Apply for the Download Access Code to transfer the licence via the Resale Wizard
  • Transfer the eLicenser licence to the purchaser on a USB eLicenser and send them the Download Access Code

Really, this is little different to selling Groove Agent on a dongle; you transfer the eLicenser licence on a USB eLicenser, plus go through the simple process to transfer the Steinberg Licensing licence as a Download Access Code.

I hope, in the future, there is the option to destroy upgraded/transferred eLicenser licences rather than transfer them to a purchaser. This could be done by allowing a user to ‘upgrade’ the “non-upgradeable” NFR eLicenser licence to an eLicenser licence that doesn’t activate anything.

I have three Steinberg licences I want to sell, which I had been keeping until there is an alternative to transferring them to a purchaser on a USB eLicenser. Unless a purchaser has a USB eLicenser they are willing to send me along with return postage and packaging, it is going to cost me a minimum of GBP 24 per purchaser to sell these licences: GBP 19.99 for a USB eLicenser and an estimated GBP 4 for postage and packaging (more if sending the eLicenser outside the UK). Used Steinberg licences for soft eLicenser eligible products have often sold at low prices because there is no way for the purchaser to have the licence on a soft eLicenser.

My Backbone and Electric Bass licences became redundant once I updated to Absolute 5, though I will keep them until Absolute is on Steinberg Licensing. Iconica Ensembles went onto my “for sale” list intentionally: I owned Iconica Ensembles, I got a better deal in a sale to buy Iconica Sections & Players outright than upgrade Iconica Ensembles to Iconica Opus, then I took up a very good deal in a later sale to upgrade Iconica Sections & Players to Iconica Opus to release my Iconica Ensembles licence for sale.

The ceiling price of a used audio software licence is typically 50% of new value; lower still for products that are regularly on sale or where there is a plentiful supply of used licences. A realistic starting price for Backbone and Electric Bass is probably GBP 50 each and GBP 125 for Iconica Ensembles (I have not researched current used prices so these figures might be too high). I could easily lose half my selling price for Backbone or Electric Bass transferring an arguably useless eLicenser licence.

I can understand purchasers wanting the updated eLicenser licences for the main applications (Cubase, Nuendo, Dorico, WaveLab) so that they have downgrade rights. The same might be true for those buying Absolute, HALion, HALion Sonic or Groove Agent licences. However, for instruments where there are no compatibility issues with non-Steinberg Licensing versions, such as Backbone, or content packs, I suspect most purchasers would not want the eLicenser licence.

Sometimes Absolute users are temporarily worse off than those with licences for component products. If I remember correctly, Absolute users could not update to Groove Agent 5 for some months until Absolute 4 was released. You can only upgrade Absolute as a bundle.

It is frustrating that those with standalone Backbone or Groove Agent 5 licences can migrate those licences to Steinberg Licensing now, whilst Absolute 5 users cannot migrate. However, Absolute 5 users - of which I am one - got what we paid for, which was a product licensed using eLicenser.

I would like to see Steinberg allow at least one of:

  • migrating an Absolute 5 licence to Steinberg Licensing, on the understanding that the Steinberg Licensing licence will not authorise HALion, HALion Sonic or The Grand
  • users are able to pay to update to Absolute 6 now, again on the understanding that there are currently no Steinberg Licensing versions of HALion, HALion Sonic or The Grand

Of those two options, migrating an Absolute 5 licence seems the cleaner. However, that will make updating from Absolute 5 to Absolute 6 a two-stage process; you would have to migrate Absolute 5 to Steinberg Licensing, then update to Absolute 6 on Steinberg Licensing. Judging by forum posts, some users find migration from eLicenser to Steinberg Licensing on a paid version update confusing enough, without the extra process of migrating before updating.

Hopefully HALion 7 and Absolute 6 will arrive by the end of the year, so Absolute users can leave eLicenser behind.

This means that if Steinberg decides to not update Absolute 5 with the new license system I must use my dongle if I don’t want to pay for an upgrade. The idea that a bundle should dictate which version of free updates and copy protection I must use is just ridiculous logic to me. The fact that Steinberg actually posts on social media stuff like “finally use without dongle” doesn’t make it better. Steinberg needs to understand that using software legally should be easier than using other solutions.

@glennloopez Why not wait and see what they actually do before talking about worst case scenarios, and raising the specter of “legal” usage? Steinberg has shown that they’re responsive to users.

Understandably, Steinberg are taking a different approach with products they intend to issue a paid update for in the next 6-12 months and products that are unlikely to receive an update in that timeframe. WaveLab 11, Backbone and Groove Agent 5 have been migrated to Steinberg Licensing, HALion and HALion Sonic seem destined to move to Steinberg Licensing on a paid version update. I am not aware of any indication on whether The Grand is to migrate or whether there will be a new paid update to The Grand.

Absolute doesn’t fit very well with this two-track approach. No matter what Steinberg does, someone will say “that’s unfair”.

SpectraLayers 8 gained Steinberg Licensing support so that new Cubase 12 and Nuendo 12 licence holders (who did not have an eLicenser licence for an older version of Cubase or Nuendo) could use SpectraLayers One. Steinberg didn’t allow SpectraLayers 8 Pro and SpectraLayers 8 Elements licence holders to migrate to Steinberg Licensing - the only way to move a paid SpectraLayers licence to Steinberg Licensing is updating to SpectraLayers 9, which was released yesterday. Is that unfair to SpectraLayers 8 licence holders? Should Steinberg offer migration when they can?

Padshop 2 and Retrologue 2 had minor releases that added Steinberg Licensing support so that it was possible to use them with a Cubase Artist 12, Cubase Pro 12 or Nuendo 12 licence. I believe standalone licences for Padshop 2 and Retrologue 2 remain on eLicenser with no ability to migrate to Steinberg Licensing, even though it would be trivial for Steinberg to offer migration now; the voucher system has bedded down and there are already Steinberg Licensing releases of the applications.

There are other arguably unfair situations that are not to do with Steinberg Licensing. Dorico for iPad is separately licenced to Dorico for Windows/Mac OS. A basic feature set, broadly comparable to the free Dorico SE, is available on the iPad for free. iPad users get a feature set broadly comparable to Dorico Elements by buying a subscription or a lifetime unlock (including all future upgrades) from the App Store. I get the full Dorico Pro feature set on my tablet without additional payment because I own Dorico Pro 4 and my tablet is a Surface Pro. Is this fair? Really, Steinberg had little alternative to making Dorico for iPad a separate product because of the App Store policies about purchases made outside the App Store. Meanwhile, any Dorico 4 licence holder is free to purchase a Windows tablet if they wish.

The Dorico for iPad situation is replicated with Cubasis, only there is no free tier of Cubasis. Cubasis LE, the limited feature version bundled with some hardware, is only available on iOS. If you want the full version of Cubasis, you have to buy it even if you own Cubase or Nuendo.

I can use Nuendo 12 without a dongle, but:

  • the DNxHD video plugin is still on eLicenser (and is not soft eLicenser compatible)
  • VST Connect Pro 5.5 is still on eLicenser (and is not soft eLicenser compatible)
  • Nuendo 12 is not stable on my main system (which is getting the point where it needs a fresh Windows install)

I can use Nuendo 12 without a dongle - which is exactly what I do on my Surface Pro. However, I have to work without DNxHD or VST Connect Pro 5.5 unless I am prepared to plug in my USB eLicenser.

This is a time of transition. The messiness of the current half and half licensing system will eventually go away. I expect to pay to update to Absolute 6, but I will get HALion 7 in return. Hopefully HALion 7 is such an improvement over HALion 6 that paying for the update seems worthwhile; Absolute 5 was a lukewarm release, especially for those like me who already owned the two biggest additions (Backbone and Electric Bass). I expect the DNxHD plugin and all my content pack licences to migrate to Steinberg Licensing. I feel VST Connect Pro could go either way - I feel it is most likely to migrate but maybe there will be a paid update.

We’re all in that same boat, and of course want everything to move across.

However, we also need to remember that the product we purchased was done so on the basis of it requiring the eLicenser. I think the timing is very unfortunate whereby you have the new licensing, and H7 incoming - Yet Absolute 5 released less than 12 months ago.

If I was Steinberg I don’t know what I’d do really.
If you bring out H7 and hold Absolute 5 users on H6 they will be annoyed cause they can’t use H7.
If you bring out H7 and also Absolute 6 as a paid upgrade people will be annoyed that the lifetime of Absolute 5 was so short.
If you bring out H7 and give it to Absolute 6 users then Steinberg lose revenue, and H6 users may be annoyed that we get it for ‘free’.

As @steve says, Steinberg have proven to be responsive to users throughout this licensing journey so far, so let’s see what unravels. As Absolute users we can’t expect to know what will happen until all parts of the bundle are available on the new licensing.

I’m guessing it’s more than technical reasons why it will take time too, there must be digital rights issues to tie up whereby third parties are concerned(?). But they will be fully aware of the situation and wanting to keep majority happy.


I thought with this GA update I can choose which protection model I want to use?
After installing 5.1.11 GA doesn’t run anymore although my USB elicenser is plugged in…

A post was split to a new topic: Does Groove Agent 5 still require the USB-eLicenser dongle? What about the expansions?