Mockups: Contrast, Improved Flat Design, and Fonts in V13

There’s lively discussion from people regarding the new UI changes. I’ve been using the comments I’ve read as a part of my user research. I’m curious to learn and understand more about the experience people are having with the new V13 interface.

Here’s a key issue I understand so far: there’s concern about legibility and contrast.

Here are some bullet points about this:

  • Our eyes can become tired when viewing screens with high contrast
  • Some people have varying degrees of color-blindness
  • Lower contrast information can sometimes be more relaxing on the eyes
  • Situations sometimes require higher contrast while other situations require lower. For example, we may want higher contrast when viewing a screen in the sunlight.

I created some simple mockups that demonstrate a few things:

  • There are different contrasts with the text.
  • I also demonstrate less flat design by using more depth. I understand some people don’t like flat design. I’ll remark on that concept on another post.

The current design is missing some information. I also made design choices in order to add make it appear more “relaxed” and consistent.

Any opinions on legibility and eye strain? Does one version look better than another to anyone? This is for my own professional research.

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Updated with more details.

I must admit, seeing the screenshots of C13, seems like the font for starters is horrible, I don’t know what they were thinking to be honest…


Can you do less Ableton?

Agreed, it is all very rough and brutish.


Steinberg, hire this guy!

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I think cubase 12 was great, didn´t need to change anything regarding colors.


Fader caps look great , Number 2 with one eye looks good with the black writing in the inaerts ,HOWEVER the whole lot of screen shots you have you loaded look as thou they have the translucent fx over the top which makes them hard to concentrate on

When I’m working in Cubase 13 Pro it looks like a Christmas tree or an advertising sign at times with all the lights competing for my attention.

I’ve done graphic design since 1996 — book covers, websites, ads, etc., so I’m also coming at this from the perspective of someone who has dealt with such design issues in the past.

Things could definitely be better in terms of the C13 interface design. Or perhaps there ought to be a comprehensive tutorial for using the color preferences to make various elements appear more as we want. But genuine company advise; not someone who’s trying to get clicks for their Youtube channel and has no real stake in it. Thanks to the OP for keeping this issue in the fore.

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I can’t even use the mix window in 13 just for this reason alone. It looks like Disney designed a virtual mixing console for children so they could pretend to be a famous producer crafting that next big dance hit for Beyonce… From a professional standpoint it’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s like when Apple started adding personalities to the drum app ffs.


I like the new look. And there are possibilities to customize the look.

Just to say something positive.


V13 makes some sensible improvements and I personally don’t mind some of their attempts at flat design. My redesigns above are in response to many criticisms I’ve read about legibility, comprehension, and eye strain though.

I actually did many things that are less like Ableton.

This is Ableton 12

I agree that there are improvements and I prefer using C13 because of the way it’s been organized and streamlined. The text over background color issue is more a sticking point for me.

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Comparison. The left is a screenshot of Nuendo with my particular settings. The right is an updated mockup.

Reminder: I’m trying to achieve more nuanced contrast, more visual space, and a clearer visual hierarchy through use of depth.

I’m older and my eyes are getting dim. I personally need more contrast. I also need a inverse theme that is predominantly light with content dark.

Also, I appreciate anytime we get away from photorealistic interfaces in favor of standard GUI widgets. I don’t need to see a knob that looks the same as the one that was in a piece of equipment 50 years ago.

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I completely understand. We do need a type UI that can easily switch between contrast modes. Especially for Cubase users like myself, who I believe… are getting older. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 8 and these screens aren’t getting any easier to read.

Here’s a interesting thing that might have some bearing.

“The European Accessibility Act (EAA) will become legally applicable in EU member states on 28 June 2025. The EAA will require websites, apps, ebooks, ecommerce platforms, PDFs and others to conform to WCAG 2.1 AA criteria within the EU.”

It could very well be that Steinberg deemed the legibility and contrast ratios of the UI too low and wanted to avoid getting in trouble. One would have to measure the old and new UI and see how they map to the WCAG criteria.


Really interesting theory. Hopefully this means they will continue to address accessibility. It’s also been argued by others that improving accessibility inherently improves UX and UI for everyone.

GREAT JOB @estevancarlos