Shocked how good Cubase 8.5 looked graphically compared to C13

Hello everyone,

I’ve recently embarked on a bit of a digital archeological expedition, unearthing some of my old sessions from 2014, which involved using 32-bit plugins. This required firing up my venerable Mac Pro and dusting off Cubase 8.5. To my surprise, I found myself genuinely impressed by the user interface’s aesthetic.

The UI had this pleasingly soft appeal, with rounded window corners, gradient hues, elegantly designed icons, and user-friendly fonts. It was the kind of design that seemed to lessen eye strain, making it comfortable to work for extended periods without fatigue.

Contrasting this with the UI from Cubase 11 onwards, there’s a noticeable shift. The newer interface feels more stark and aggressive, lacking the subtle contrasts and softer visuals of the earlier version.

This may sound trivial to some, but I’d be thrilled if the Steinberg team could consider incorporating an option to revert to the “classic” Cubase look. It’s a small touch, but sometimes, these little details can significantly enhance the user experience.

What do you all think? Anybody else miss the old UI?

Here’s a comparison of the same session

Cubase 8.5

Cubase 13


I will forever miss the gradients and detest the boring flat look.


The flat-look is not natural. We live in a 3-d world, there’s a reason software was made to look 3-d. Even DOS software was made to look 3-d.
It’s like the difference between the old Coventry cathedral (destroyed in an air raid in 1940-something) and the new. Even the ruins of the old look better than the new.

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Gradients place a higher load on graphics rendering and so could contribute to glitching in a realtime system.
How I did miss the (F2) floating toolbar though …

interesting argument, but I don’t think now with the processing power we have (M3 MacBook, etc…) it’s a problem.

That was then. Processors and graphics cards have come a long way in a short time. It likely wouldn’t break a sweat at all. I think its time to bring it back. It was one of my favorite things about Cubase.

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An important consideration is that Steinberg is currently designing a UI focused on old-school “Flat Design” which is a problematic design approach:

People have different opinions on whether they like the aesthetic quality of gradients. What I will say is that some use of some gradients can be very useful for the purposes of improving comprehension.

Version 8.5 does have strong positive qualities to it. It is surprising they abandoned some of the good ideas that exist there.

Are the fader caps in the Mix Consoles the very last skeuomorphic GUI elements left in Cubase?

Ahh, the memories of Cubase 8.5. Wrote a lot of fun music in that DAW!

BTW, while I like the 8.5 GUI, I sure wouldn’t want it on a 4K screen. Or on a Mac’s retina display and fractional scaling.

At some point Steinberg had to move the entire UI framework to a vector-based scalable system that worked across a ton of different scaling ratios, so a pixel-based UI would have to be completely replaced. It’s taken many years, but Steinberg is finally on the right path. While there are certain things I like about the “old” interface design, Steinberg HAD to change graphical frameworks or Cubase would have died a slow, ugly, miserable death and looked like crap on today’s shiny high-pixel density IPS panels.


Yep, good point here.

Cubase 13 is technically far more advanced than what C8.5 was, clearly. faster, stronger… a lot more stable (I had about 10 crashs while loading my old sessions today :smiley: )

Apparently they changed a bit the UI in the latest C13 update, I will have a try… the main issue I have when I compare to 8,5 is also that 8.5 looks a lot more “organized” and steady, while C13 looks a bit more chaotic :smiley:

IMO, I think Cubase 8.5 was more or less at the tail end of the OLD UI framework, and it was the culmination of all their prior work. In other words, it was a mature, refined interface.

When they had to change frameworks over time and deal with high-DPI scaling issues, they had to go through some messy growing pains. I think we’re still in the transition… maybe 2/3 of the way through the transition. By C15 or C16 maybe we’ll arrive at the same maturity as the C8.5 interface.

I think Steinberg has done a great job so far though. 13 looks modern, elegant and readable. It will only get better.

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Agreed. They have clearly been in a transition for the last several iterations, and the interface and the underlying framework seem to be more or less fully transitioned now to the new system, so from here on out, it’s going to be about refinements.