Quandary: upgrade to Cubase 8.5 Pro or get another mic

I need some help in deciding how to spend a couple of hundred USD.

I do mostly live studio recordings of improvised music (acoustic and electric). I record on a Zoom F8. Since I am pretty new to this, I am still buying the hardware needed. My next investment was supposed to be a Beyerdynamic M201, which I would use for snare drum and/or saxes and clarinets, and guitar cab.

Now, yesterday I saw that Steinberg has a 40% discount on upgrading to Cubase 8.5 pro. The discount is good until 15 August.

I am currently using Cubase Elements 8, which I am very happy with.

However, I can see how it might be useful for me to upgrade to Pro, especially at this discount.

My main interests in the upgrade would be

  1. Better automation
  2. Some fx, particularly the Deesser and Reverence (I now use Voxengo’s Pristine Space, which is excellent, but 32 bit)
  3. Better metering
  4. Workflow optimisations

I do not use midi at all, nor any VSTis. I do not use any composition features. I do not use comping. I have no problem with the limited track count in Elements. I only record and mix audio tracks. So there is a lot in Pro that I don’t need, at least not in the foreseeable future.

In fact, if Steinberg didn’t offer this discount right now, I wouldn’t be considering upgrading to Pro at all. I have an UAD-2 Duo card and enough UAD fx and processors to make ma happy. I have been considering getting the UAD Precision deesser.

Now, please help me decide what to do here. Should I continue on the mic track and get the M201 and just forget about upgrading. Or should I take this opportunity to get the better featured Pro?

/Magnus

The way you describe it, stay on Elements.
http://www.digitalfishphones.com/main.php?item=2&subItem=5 a free de-esser here. 32bit but who cares. I use Jbridge and I can use my 32 bit plugs forever. BTW I have the UAD de-esser on my UAD1’s and it is nice but not $99 nice. Buy it when discounted or with a coupon. I paid $29 or 49 that way (years ago so not sure anymore).

The biggest selling point Cubase Pro has over Artist is that it gives you overall greater control over your mixes and automation, but the Artist and Pro-exclusive effects (including the DeEsser) are also pretty good and highly usable. The Pro-exclusive CurveEQ and the multiband processors will be very useful if you also do your own mastering.

Cubase Pro vs a new mic? I would say it depends on what you think about your current mic. Do the results you get with it sound close to what you want? If so I would get Cubase Pro now and a new mic later. If the mic gives you consistently barely usable results then you probably need a new one urgently, but I would still consider getting Pro sometime in the future.

vinark and Romantique Tp,

Thanks for replying. One of you stay on Elements, the other go Pro… Well, I guess this isn’t easy.

vinark: Thanks for the pointer about the UAD deesser. I have a 50 EUR coupon to redeem in July, so that would make it 49 EUR.

Romantique Tp: I should have specified that I have quite a few mics already: two ribbon mics, two good sdc, one good ldc, one very good dynamic. Plus, I can borrow/use a couple of bog standard SM57s. So, I can already make quite decent recordings. The Beyerdynamic mic I am considering is more of an upgrade as well, just like Elements to Pro. And yes, I do my own mastering, using mostly the UAD Precison series.

So, guys, which upgrade should I give priority? I guess I have never seen the Pro upgrade at this price before. And I have a dongle from the days when I was on Cubase SX…

More input is still welcome.

/Magnus

In your case I would definitely go with Cubase Pro. You can always buy the mic later, but the Cubase deal is time limited and we don’t know if Steinberg will offer such a huge discount next year, if they have a sale on upgrades at all.

As for your dongle, I would recommend buying the new model whenever you can. Cubase SX-era dongles are infamous for slowing stuff down and stop working out of nowhere. The new models (either the one from the Cubase 4 era or the newer, tiny one) are more study, last even longer and will allow Cubase to run as fast and smoothly as your computer can handle, almost as if the dongle wasn’t there.

http://www.steinberg.net/en/shop/buy_product/sku/502009050.html

You won’t need the new eLicenser to run Cubase Pro, but depending on how old your eLicenser is it should make Cubase work noticeably better. Note that you can transfer licenses between dongles, so you can start using Cubase Pro right now and transfer the license to a new dongle later.

My SX3 dongle still going strong and fast…

So was mine until I started getting some strange dropouts. Bought a new dongle and, touch wood, that has cleared up.

It is difficult Magnus_N to give good advice in this instance. It seems that what you like about elements is the simplicity of operation. You know how it works and as far as your needs go “it does what it says on the tin.”

Getting Cubase Pro will not be an easy step up for a number of reasons, many of which will depend upon your computer and learning skills. Firstly there may be a number of set-up issues that might take a while to sort out, how problematic this might be will depend upon the computer you are using. There will definitely be a fairly big learning curve to begin with. It may well take quite a while before your recording projects go smoothly. 8.5 will not be intuitive for quite a while. How do I know this? Well a close friend made the jump and I had to deal with the phone calls.

Don’t get me wrong. I love using Cubase and it is second nature to me now. This was not always the case and with any software of this complexity there can be a period where productivity suffers. The kind of music and recording I do only scratches the surface and I am learning all the time. However, I need/like the track count, the vsti’s and all the effects plugins to do what I do.

So you need to think about what you actually want and how you want to get there. If you don’t want the initial extra hassle stick with elements, but if you want an adventure and a roller-coaster ride choose 8.5 pro.

There’s another cost to consider and that’s the ongoing cost of upgrading in the future… Each time Cubase Pro updates it costs much more than Artist or Elements to upgrade. I can’t quite remember the figures but this is possibly twice as much, more like £50-£150 a shot. Updates seem to turn up every 12-18 months. Of course, this also depends on whether you like to upgrade regularly or not. I do, and it costs me more than my friends who use Artist/Elements every time.

Sounds to me like you should try to think what you’re future is with Cubase. If it is recording top notch music but just straight recording/mixing then invest your money the recording side, i.e. mic and audio device, then the playback side i.e. monitors and room treatment. If you’re more of a tweaker and you like sound design, mixing in the box, production, auto-tuning, comping, endless fiddling, etc, then you should probably upgrade to CbPro. There are many other options too!

When I started out in music I invested heavily in the recording process and used studios to do the mixing process. That got me started with the best recordings so I could create a professional released product. Now I do the whole lot myself in the box so definitely need CbPro for the pro features like time-warp, control room and vari-audio.

I collaborate with some people and they’re on Artist - perhaps this will do for you instead of Pro??

Mike.

You are quite right, silhouette: I really like the simplicity of Elements. I come from SX3, and to me, Elements is even more powerful but very transparent. Combined with the UAD plugins, I can do mixes that I am quite happy with.

But is the learning curve to from Elements to Pro that steep? I would have thought that the basic principles were the same: project window, mixer, automation.

If this really is so, I am less inclined to take the path of Pro.

/Magnus

Thanks, Mike, this is very useful input.

I guess I am really more of the first type you describe. But I tend a little to fiddling, too. Perhaps I just have to make a decision here. It may be more sensible for me to just concentrate on the recording side and settle for fairly straightforward mixing?

I wouldn’t even be considering an upgrade, if Steinberg weren’t offering the huge discount.

If I did upgrade, I don’t think I would get every update, though. That is a good point you make, too.

I am not considering Artis, however, since upgrading to that would cost me almost the same as Pro with the discount.

/Magnus

Everything you know about Elements will transfer to Pro, in fact I’m pretty sure you could use the exact same workflow you currently use in Elements and still get your job done. Cubase Pro is an immensely deep DAW, it gives you far more possibilities than Elements, but learning how to use everything isn’t a requirement, it just ensures that you’re getting the most out of it.

As for upgrade prices, they work like this if you’re always buying the latest version:

-.0 updates are $99. These are bigger updates that focus on adding new features and redesigning existing functionality.

-.5 updates are $49. These focus on feature requests and polishing what was added in the previous update. These are usually no-brainers if you already have a .0 version, they’re for the most part the same thing but better.

The upgrade prices stack. If you skip Cubase Pro 9, the 8.5 -> 9.5 upgrade will cost 149 bucks, 8.5 -> 10.0 will be 199, and so on.

Well I suppose I am being a bit conservative. I also confess that I have not used Elements. I think that I was swayed by your liking for elements and a seeming desire for simplicity. I guess that the initial transfer would be fairly straightforward, but possibly a little time would be needed to get the hang of many features that are not there in elements. I guess I am a bit wary of telling someone to go for Pro as I would do if it is not the right thing for that person. Clearly you are beginning to think that it might be…and given that it might be worth going for it.

Just to report back: I’ve upgraded to Pro. So far, so good, everything is up and running. I went into town and bought a new elicenser, too.

Thanks all for your kind help.

/Magnus

I hope that you get as much enjoyment as I have from Cubase 8.5. Despite all the issues it is a wonderful place to make music and for me the most trouble free and stable version I have used so far. I am sure that you will dig in deeper and discover some real creativity enhancing features.