Need a new DAW - is Cubase what I want?

My expectation would be to move existing work as MIDI files and then assign whatever the closest instrument is in Cubase. Does the Cubase “Pro” product come with a decent stock grand piano and any decent woodwinds? Does it come with at least one decent general-purpose synthesizer (e.g., Sytrus on FL Studio)?

I’m musically trained and FL Studio most definitely is not for musically trained users. Are there are other DAWs good for composing that I should be considering for their musical heritage?

Yes, you can stretch the note value, or even entire groups of notes at the same time. Grab and stretch. If the grid or cursor snap is toggled on, it snaps to the closest grid or cursor position where you let go of the mouse, if you want free control of where the note ends, you toggle snap off.

You can also quantize the beginning and ends of notes independently so they snap to the grid. You can also automate the process of creating legato effects (end of previous notes overlap the next note by your preferred amount).

You can also use MIDI logic editors to adjust note lengths as a batch process.

And more…

You can use step input mode, and drop notes in using your MIDI keyboard, or with the little emulated keyboard included in Cubase that uses keys on your qwerty keyboard.

Yes, you can control note lengths before you enter them. There are a pair of grid settings to do this, which can be bound to keyboard keys on your computer and/or MIDI events from your favorite controller.

You may also set a default velocity for notes entered, or in the case of using your MIDI controller, you could tweak settings so whatever velocity you use when striking the key is applied.

For me it’s…tap an MPC pad to set the note value I want (from 64th notes to whole notes, another pad toggles dot on/off), tap the keys I want on my MIDI keyboard, repeat…

I’ve also got cursor control events assigned on my MIDI controller, so it’s no problem moving about to any grid position I want without even touching the computer.

To accomplish this I use something Cubase offers called ‘generic remote’ maps. These let you bind MIDI events to pretty much ANY control in Cubase. I chose to use the MPC pad bank since my controller has those, but one could also set aside an octave or so of ‘keys’ at one end or the other of the keyboard if you don’t have a lot of ‘buttons or pads’ at hand.

OK, so it doesn’t sound that different from FL Studio. Why did Ozinga say that going to the Cubase Piano roll needs a big adjustment?

There will be differences and workflow adjustments, but fear not, the MIDI editors in Cubase are really powerful. Perhaps the best on the market.

On another thread (—it won’t let me post links - ) @Alexander_D says there is a problem running Cubase on 4K displays. Others seem to disagree. Since I run on a Windows 10 4K system with an Nvidia Quadro RTX 4000 graphics card this would be a deal breaker for me. Is there a known problem?

see Forum Guide

This is why the trial is a good idea to try. You can even use the Elements trial which doesn’t require a USB dongle, to test whether these issues happen on your machine.

but fear not, the MIDI editors in Cubase are really powerful. Perhaps the best on the market.

I’m sure they’re powerful but are they harder to use or produce a klunky workflow? Linux is more powerful than Windows but I stopped using it because I had to spend too much time thinking about geeky stuff instead of the work I needed to do.

I want to keep my head in a musical space - I’m a musician and want to spend as little time as possible thinking about the tool (once I’ve learned it of course) so I can keep my head focused on the music. I want to devote most of my attention to notes, melody, harmony, rhythm, keys, counterpoint, etc, and as little as possible to settings, menus, ctrl-keys, etc. I compose on the Piano Roll and only use my MIDI keyboard to try out melody lines, chord progressions, etc, by ear, but I never use the MIDI keyboard as an input device.

This is why the trial is a good idea to try.
No that’s not good enough. What if I make big investment in money and time learning Cubase and then get a new PC or graphics card? I produce videos so I’m always upgrading video cards or drivers. I need to know if there’s a known problem with Cubase WRT 4K displays and if so what’s known about it in terms of what causes it or how to prevent it. I have not heard reports of this with any of the other DAWs I’m considering. Cubase is not cheap and I would expect that in 2021 running properly in 4K would be a no-brainer for all professional software and not something you’d have to test for in a trial.

Double Click to enter and same to delete. Also you can use the pen tool which toggles with pointer
using alt/option key.
You can enter snapped to grid at quantize values. So if your Q is set to 16th you can enter 16th notes (but can change the length while drawing). But the next note you enter is again 16th. That is the difference in FL which create new notes same as the previous ones length and velocity.

What I mean by stretch is not note length only but also the time relation between notes. Like audio time stretch but for midi notes.
For example you have 1 bar of quarter notes, you stretch them in so they become 8th notes but also becomes half bar.
But I guess since you do not use it, it will not be a problem in Cubase which is only possible in midi regions.

Other than that, most things are much better organized and professional in Cubase, especially for your type of work. So once you adjust your workflow I m sure you won’t be disappointed.

So read the topic where that was reported. If the issues are the light graphical lines, for me personally I can tolerate a minor glitch like that, in my 26 contiguous years of using Cubase I have found that things like that get fixed.

You have to set your expectations to fit within your personal risk tolerance. No software can guarantee every detail of future compatibility, and in any case Steinberg provides that you can sell your license without cost to you if you discover after a couple years it doesn’t work for you.

Cubase is sleek and powerful in terms of midi functionality, but you’ll have to learn a thing or two in order to use them.

I recommend that when you consider advice from others here, give more weight to longtime members whose post history you can browse like (but not limited to) @Brian_Roland, @Scab_Pickens, @raino @mkok @ozinga

Also see the Forum Guide so you can format your posts using the forum built-in quote functions etc.

That’s a lot of clicking. A lot of the music I make is very Philip Glass-y in nature - lots and lots of short (sixteenth or eighth notes) played in a staccato manner. Even in FL Studio it’s click-click-click-click-click… till my fingers hurt (I have stage 4 osteoarthritis in both thumbs as it is!).

Also last year I became interested in Japanese pentatonic scales (e.g., the “In”, “In-sen”, or the Hirajoshi scale) I cooked up a good Koto in Sytrus and I like to write music for it in those scales. Again, lots of short, fast stacatto notes. Is there a way to set the Piano Roll to one-click?

I did read it but I couldn’t tell how serious or widespread the problems are or who is at risk of them. The OP there kept using the term HDPI which is a standard used in mobile devices. I’m using Windows so I don’t even know if it applies to me. The other postings were light on technical info - display settings and monitor resolution, video-card, driver, etc.

I don’t have a couple of years. Good DAWs have long learning curves and I’m 68 so I can’t put two years into learning a DAW and creating all my projects in it and have to throw all that away because I get a new video card. 4K is industry standard at this point so if Cubase has a problem with something as basic as that it would be a worry, so I need to know whether it’s widespread and acknowledged by Steinberg/Yamaha.

@art1 it’s gonna be the same no matter what you buy. There is no way that you will settle your trepidation using info on the forum. You will have to jump in and get real time personal experience.

You seem almost entirely focused on a single detail, a graphics glitch, that comes from one or two topics, and which is very minor, and which doesn’t affect functionality in Cubase. In my view it’s not a show-stopper, and whether the problem will affect you can be determined by simply downloading the trial, running the program and observing the display.

The participants in this topic of yours have no way of knowing what your skill level is, what kind of learner you are, etc., but there are many experienced users who voluntarily give excellent tutorial advice if you ask a specific question.

There are multiple ways to do a given thing in Cubase. When someone makes a suggestion, you shouldn’t assume that it’s the only way that thing can be done.

Here are some points that might interest you:

Cubase Pro is Tonality-aware, in two major (pun intended) ways.

  • In the Score Editor you can set a key signature, notes are displayed in the customary way you see in sheet music
  • In the Key Editor (the Piano Roll) you can set a key and ‘quantize’ pitches to the key.

In both key and score editors you can modify notated (as opposed to chord symbols) chords’ inversions using the mouse or key commands, and to insert chords and edit them.

The chord track allows you to input chord symbols, that can control enharmonic note display, and the playback from other virtual instrument tracks. Also, chord symbols can be converted in a keystroke to notated chords.

Cubase Provides a way to create custom chord symbols, and custom scales, as long as they are 7 note western temperament.

The image below is from the Key Editor, and shows the Scale assistant and some of the Chord editing functions.

I didn’t think he was making a suggestion - I thought he was saying outright that it takes two clicks to enter a note. IS there a one-click note entry in the Cubase Piano Roll?

Regarding the graphics problem - to me it’s more of an indicator. I agree that those little lines are probably something I could ignore, but delving into this is a good way to find out how easy it is to investigate and get help with bugs, how committed is Cubase to bringing their software into the 21st century (e.g., 4K) ; how quick they are to fix bugs (on the Steinberg forums I’ve seen a wide variety of views on that with some people saying they’ve very quick and others saying they take forever).

…and I STILL don’t know how to tell if Cubase/Steinberg/Yamaha have acknowledged this problem. Is there an outstanding bug database?

With default key bindings of Cubase…

  1. Tap the 8 key (across the top of the keyboard, not the 10key 8) so it goes into draw mode. Or right click and choose the draw mode. Or… several ways to get there. In this case, tapping the 1 key goes back to select mode. By default, Cubase binds those mouse tools across the first 8 or so number keys I think. And if you don’t like it there, or would rather have something else there, you can always move it to other keys.

Now it only takes a single click to enter a note.

  1. Changing the Set Quantize value will also change the note length for the next entry. I don’t think these are bound to any keys by default, but it’s easy to do.
    So one could bind 32nd notes through whole notes to various keys, another key to toggle dotted notes and triplets on/off.

  2. Sometimes it’s easier to snap to cursor instead of grid, click at the top ruler to set a cursor position, use a key binding to change the grid for a note length you desire, then click near the cursor position.

  3. If you need it, engage step entry mode and snap to cursor instead of snapping to grid. In step entry mode it’s easy to move the cursor with the arrow keys based on the current grid setting, then change the grid again for desired note length, then click.

I pretty much use step 3 in perpetuity…I’ll put it in step mode, and toggle the grid as needed to move the cursor, arrow key, toggle again to set note length, click or play in the note.

You get a good bit of flexibility here, the trick is to make key and/or MIDI controller bindings so you don’t need the mouse nearly as much!

So…use two hands…left hand to set the grid and move the cursor around, which also sets length for next entered note. Right hand to click where you want it to go.

If mouse-work is stressful for your given ergonomics and health situation, take advantage of other options of data entry! Use the keyboard more. Use your MIDI controller more. Take advantage of macros for frequent multi-step operations.

That’s one thing about Cubase that throws alot of people for a loop. It’s DUMB out of the box; however, they give you the tools to go under the hood and TEACH it to fit a workflow that works best for YOU and whatever project, or stage of a project you’re dealing with.

What works best in the composing stages might be junk for the big mix down…so you can change all that around as needed, for whatever situations arise.

Keybindings, presets, macros, logic editors, remote controls.

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Maybe I wasn’t clear. I prefer mousing. I mouse just as well with either hand so I can take turns resting the other hand. Because of my style of music I often enter long sequences of same-value (sixteenth or eighth) notes, just with different pitches. So I just wanted to make sure there was a way to do that with single clicks, while resting the other hand. That’s easy to do on the FL Studio Piano roll.

Yep, you can go one further…

Set a grid size of something like 16th notes.
Put it in draw mode.

Drag the mouse across the screen wildly from left to right so a note just goes into each grid space. Don’t worry about what the notes are yet.

Run logic editors to transform the notes to fit a given scale/chord/arpeggio/whatever…could go for hard set values, or random ones within constraints, etc.

Maybe it’s not quite there yet, but close…so in select mode, click the note you want to move, use arrow keys to manipulate the pitch. Etc.

I keep mentioning the logic editor. It’s basically a little GUI where you can build simple if/then/and/or scripts to select/deselect/mute/unmute/add/delete/transform events. (I say add, it can’t make arbitrary events out of thin air, but it can add extra ones based on existing events).

Example…say ya want notes to get a little louder with velocity as they get higher, and softer as they get lower. Could just make a logic editor that parses through all selected notes and sets the velocity the same as the note number.

Say you want any note within 20ms of the 1st and 3rd beats to play at 20% more velocity, and to be shortened by 8%. Again, easy peasy with the logical editor.

You can also transform note on/off positions. I.E. swap everything on beat one with everything on beat 4. Etc…


I love a good MMO gaming mouse with Cubase!

I found one with 12 programmable buttons on the left side for the thumb, and 3 or so on top (not counting the regular left/right buttons), and a scroll wheel that also has left-right pivot switches.

Really comes in handy for DAW stuff, and I’d be lost in Blender (3d object stuff) without it now.

If ya wanted, could probably find left and right hand versions of something like that, and have both connected at the same time :wink:

I also have one of those half keyboard Orbweaver things, rarely game here, but got it to have extra programmable buttons, joysticks, etc at hand for DAW and Blender stuff.

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