I’ve been recording my own tracks in Cubase AI 6 for quite some time, plugging my guitar directly into my Steinberg CI2+ audio interface and using the VST synth for drums. I’m very new to the whole process of mixing and mastering songs, and I’m wondering if anyone can provide some insight as to whether the additional features in Elements are necessary/helpful tools to create a “passable” mix/master that doesn’t sound completely horrible, or if the tools in AI 6 are sufficient.
Elements has a few more plugins and tools, and yes, they are helpful. But still you have to know how to use them properly.
The short answer is no, you don’t need Elements to produce “passable” Mixes/Masters.
The extra plugins may help or, may even make things worse as it’s more important to learn how to use plugins than to have all of them. I’d suggest doing some searches online for home studio mixing and mastering…there are loads of helpful videos out there. Understand the importance of Compression and EQ to start off with. There are a lot of useful Free Plugins out there too but again it’s more important to understand how each one works than to have too many.
It might help to record your own version of a song you like and then work out where and why your version sounds different.
Alternatively, you can get a 30 day trial of Elements for free
Cubase Elements 9.5 will have new tools, effects, and huge workflow enhancements that will help you get a good mix/master much more easily. There are more different kinds of compressors and a Maximizer, and all of these have been improved recently. All of them now have a Mix knob, which helps you make things louder while retaining the natural punch of the instruments when needed, or make them even punchier.
Of course all of these new things wont do magic on their own, but they’re tools you’ll be glad to have while you’re learning.
You mentioned a VST synth for drums. I assume that you’re talking about Groove Agent ONE. Cubase Elements 9.5 comes with its successor, Groove Agent SE 4. It includes about 200 new pre-produced drum kits, along with the new “Acoustic Agent SE” kit, which emulates the sound of a natural drum set recorded in a real room.
The upgrade price for you is just 49 bucks, so I would say that it’s a no-brainer.