Oh, for crying out loud!.....

Even Tracktion finally gets a Step Sequencer after all this time…Tracktion??? Oh…Cubase?

Although it’s not the sharpest knife you do have Step Designer in Cubase.

Yeah, seems like it wouldn’t take much to improve on that very basic tool. Cubase is such a powerful app and it seems like having a drum sequencer that’s as evolved as it’s host would be the natural progression.

For drums you have Beat Designer (not Step Designer).

Yeah, it does need an upgrade…more like in Halion, Sonic 2 and Groove Agent! Maybe in v8 the interfaces will crossover?!

I think in Tracktion it´s not a Step Sequencer or Step Midi thingy…
it´s only an Inplace-Editor, more precisely: Midi in Arrange view. (just a piano roll)
Am I right?

Cubase has this since years…
called “Context Editor”:


Beat designer… needs an entire makeover…
I ended up buy the Arturia Spark and using its hardware stepsequencer to to drive Groove agent 4…

I typically use the Drum Editor, although admittedly I don’t do anything terribly sophisticated - just basic rock stuff.

That said, it’s never felt wanting to me, so I’m wondering what kind of features / functionality I’m missing out on by not using some kind of step sequencer / beat designer / etc.

Can someone touch on the kinds of things that these other tools would do for me?

Buy a cheap Roland DR 55 for step sequencing before they get collectable. It would save having the entire programming team shoehorning one in to the thousands of features that have improved a thousandfold over a simple step sequencer that’s probably going to be used once a year by a very few Cubase users.

Do the math.
Dr 55; Ten bucks on ebay. Hardware future proof.
Cubase update just to get a personal step sequencer (if that happens); $50-100 for the upgrade. Probably buggy as the programmers haven’t got it as a priority feature item.

What used to be the 'Context Editor" is now just the Piano Roll view if you navigate from the track view quick controls or the 'Drum Editor" from the MIDI Menu. Either is incredibly basic in terms of actual musical workflow and editing.

The reason tools become favorites is because they make our lives easier or more creative. The frustrating thing is that the Drum Editor has all the basic tools present to get the job done, they are just in very awkward places with a ridiculous amount of keystrokes to accomplish basic tasks. No ability to create quick beats and loop the idea until you get ‘your’ original idea then drag that out or copy. These kinds of fast and intuitive tools are essential for original beat creation and songwriting.

The minute you get lost in the dreaded ‘tech zone’ or ‘Loop Hunt’ your musical idea has vanished and your back to key combinations and endless grid lines with pages full of colored triangles. Great if your brain is wired like a math major but sucks if your a musician. The biggest advantage of graphical based Drum Sequencer is you can build your idea very quickly and create completely original patterns that compliment ‘your’ song instead of hundreds of variation of some one else’s song.

Then you can save a few different versions ( chorus, intro, breakdown, ect ) and have a completely original drum groove for the entire song in a matter of minutes!

Steinberg PLEASE revamp the aging Drum Editor into something musical!!!
From this…

To something like this…

Being a musician of the traditional sort I never get bogged down by “loop hunts”. I just make my own. I use the software but I don’t want it to bog me down to trying to get a machine to do it for me.
I create. It records.
Step recorders and loop libraries just get in the way. Plus they aren’t MINE. :slight_smile:
My advice is to reduce the options of the machine to annoy you. By not relying on it to not slow down creativity. Computer “creation machines” often do, even to me.

Please don’t…i have been using Cubase since the Atari days because of the amazing drum editor, it makes creating realistic drums really easy.

This, the drum editor is definitely a useful tool, just not for whipping up a quick drumtrack. I’m all for a good step sequencer though!

I totally get that having used a program for so long, you get used to the features and it becomes a familiar habit. We get used to certain tools and they become indispensable.

But sometimes newer versions of tools can add huge workflow advantages to our daily recording lives. Like any other new feature, it may take a minute to acclimate but we did that with each new version of Cubase and welcomed the changes. One example is a good drum sequencer. Playing is great IF you have that option but, not every musician or songwriter does. A dedicated Drum Sequencer is an incredibly fast way of creating totally ‘original’ beats literally in seconds.

Several other DAWs use Dedicated Drum Sequencers for this purpose:

Okay, here’s the part I don’t get. Not trolling - I truly don’t understand the difference between a step sequencer and the drum editor.

I watched the opening of the Sonar one, and what went through my mind as he covered the initial bases was this mental comparison to the Cubase drum editor.

List of instruments down the left side: check.
Set to whatever time signature you want: check.
Set the granularity of the notes (1/8th, 16th, etc.): check.
Click on the row of the instrument you want at the beat you want: check.

Honestly, the only conceptual difference I’m seeing is that step sequencers have squares and the drum editor uses diamonds.

What am I missing here?

Honestly, the only conceptual difference I’m seeing is that step sequencers have squares and the drum editor uses diamonds.
What am I missing here?

Not a lot.

OI! OP. Use the quantise. You’ll be up and running in about ten minutes.

Thanks for the replies…

Yes, the Drum Editor is a powerful tool and conceptually, they do the same things. But thats a bit like saying that an Avalon 737 and a ART Voice Channel do the same thing. Yes, there are both capable of Pre-amp, EQ, and Compression but, are they the same, not even close. Its the way they accomplish the job at hand and, as a result, the finished product.

For example, the Drum Editor is capable of swing by a selectable percentage but that feature is buried in the Quantize Panel instead of being an integrated part of the interface like Sonar or logic
The Drum Editor Pattern is ‘tied’ to the track view in that, you have to select a working area to define the Pattern and soloing the selected track is the only way to get fully independent operation whereas in Fruityloops, Logic and Sonar, the Step Sequencer is it’s own separate instrument inside of the DAW and while it’s playback can be tied to the DAW, it can also be separate while auditioning ideas and building the pattern. When the Pattern is finished, it is automatically turned into a Groove Clip or loop that can be stretched instantly across as much of the timeline as needed. The Drum Editor requires you to copy and paste the finished product.

My point isn’t that the Drum Editor doesn’t have the same functions, its that the interface could simply use some updating to compete with some of the more popular tools out there. Consolidating all the powerful features of the Drum Editor into one independent interface would make it a lot easier/creative to use. Workflow enhancements and interface design can make all the difference in the world.

Sometimes change can be a good thing.

All of Cubase is essentially customisable, including the drum editor. This means that the user, for the large part, is given rein to set up the parts of Cubase he needs to the convenience of his way of working.
I think that once you have spent a short time setting up the drum editor to the way you want, it can then be saved to template or Project for recall.
This way you can set the quantise and grid settings. Look at how you want it to work, get it as close as you can and if you can’t (which for most seems to be unlikely) then call for a feature request.

Ah, now I see the kinds of differences you’re talking about. I did some poking around and Cubase does in fact have a step sequencer. It’s called Beat Designer. Looking in the main product manual (Cubase 7 for me) I found references that said to look in the separate document Plug-in_Reference.pdf, which I found in Program Files\Steinberg\Cubase 7\Documentation. The Beat Designer is under Midi Effects and in version 7 the description starts on page 126.

One of the things it says there is this:

Normally, you work on a short sequence, adjusting and modifying it while playing it back in a loop. The drum patterns can then either be converted to MIDI parts on a track or triggered using MIDI notes during playback, see “Converting Patterns into MIDI Parts” on page 132 and “Triggering Patterns” on page 132.

I don’t use step sequencers so I can’t really speak to how it compares to other products, but it does appear to be the droid you’re looking for.

Thanks for clarifying the difference between drum editor and step sequencer, that helped. Hope this points you in the direction of what you wanted.

Yes Cubase is most definitely customizable in just about every way for sure!

It is my favorite DAW to work in and I realize that you cant pick and choose all your favorite features from each DAW to create your own superhero DAW. That being said, we have to work with a lot of different DAW’s here at work because we take so many different kinds of projects and its gives us a broad overview of the tools that are out there and many do have a full featured Drum Sequencer/Step Sequencer as part of their arsenal.

You get used to this pretty quickly when your constantly working on a production deadline and it can be very powerful and fast to have all of those features in one dedicated, easy to navigate interface. What takes me 10-20 minutes to create in Drum Editor, I can create in seconds in the Step Sequencer that is inside Sonar for example. This is especially true when your creating Drum Patterns that don’t conform to the more common Dance or EDM genera. There are huge libraries for that style of music but surprisingly few when you get into Latin or Salza styles and almost non existent when you start working in the genera of Country or Americana. It gets even more sparse when you start working with time signatures that are not 4/4.


Thanks for the heads up. The few times iv’e used Beat Designer, I found it to be very basic with a limited set of tools and controls. It seems its more setup to trigger quick or short patterns from their presets. They can be edited but don’t have nearly the control that the Drum Editor provides. It IS a lot easier on the eyes however than Drum Editor and looks overall like a more modern GUI.

So between those two ( Drum Editor and Beat Designer ) they have the makings of a powerhouse! If you could combine the in-depth tools of the Drum Editor with the ease of use and more ergonomic graphics of the Beat Designer, you would have the ultimate Beat Creation Tool.

A songwriter, content creator, and Film scores dream machine!
Heres to wishing!!