Steinberg/Dorico compared to others

Brian, your work routine is really impressive.
Are you talking about Music Engraving or are your projects of a different kind? I suspect, big audio projects done in Cubase f.e. are far more complex.

I’m more concerned about Cubase than Dorico at this point. It’ll be a pain for clients that want to use both, but I could live with that I think.

In the future it’ll matter more with Dorico as its sound engine improves. For now, I don’t see Dorico being much of a problem. I can just send the projects and mixed renderings in audio format…don’t need a full system image.

Cubase is a whole different ball of wax. Start with a fresh system drive on every big project. Where possible, keep all the project files on the drive too, though some require secondary drives as well for tracks to live. In large studios, they need entire arrays of drives, and change the system drive OFTEN.

Not sure about Steinberg’s solution, but many of the options out there for on cloud registration don’t work if the SYSTEM DRIVE is changed. I.E. Your system drive crashes and you did not get a chance to release all the keys. Even if you have a sector for sector clone on another drive…get ready to file support tickets to get all your keys released, and be prepared to wait for that, then re-register, etc.

Many I have seen…if the CPU changes, poof. If the drive changes (won’t even work from a cloned backup to a new drive, or if a drive changes somewhere in a software driven RAID array, etc), poof. Swap the system board and keep everything else…poof. (this license has been depreciated).

They might have a workaround where one can force the lisencer to a given drive/device that’ll maintain the same ID. A usb stick (like Waves), or whatever. If this is the case, I’m perfectly happy. It won’t be my ‘Steinberg’ dongle, but I could build a ‘dongle’ or portable drive of some sort to handle keys/registration none the less. Clients could do the same.

If it needs to go online before it works from back-up drives and such. If it requires calling or ticketing support people to free up keys and mess if you forget a step, or a piece of hardware fails, or you wish to migrate systems. BIG very unnecessary PITA.

I’ll also start looking more seriously at other options. Other DAWs that still have non-cloud options beyond the initial registration (I guess PT still uses iLok, which can be kept on a dongle). Stand alone all in one devices as another example. Those aren’t perfect either, but at least I don’t have to go online and deal with mess that is getting closer and closer to ‘ransom ware’ with each passing year in my opinion.

Dear Sir, my experience is like this. I purchased Vegas Pro 17 (Video Editor) & Borix FX Titler. When I change my hard drive or the PC itself (the old PC where installed these software are dead without releasing the keys), when I sign-in to the Websites of these software, they show the PC name of the old PCs and gives me a facility button to deactivate the older PC and then this current PC/Drive accepts the activation key and it works normal. :pray:

Can´t believe the endless comments about dongles and e-licensers, servers, and clones. What ever happened to playing, learning, or composing music?
I started the thread, I obviously hit a nerve.
My nerves are still freaked, more than a week, still no Cubase, no answer from support to my ticket. Basically, I am being denied access to my property, I mean, I did pay for the product.
Like I said, I reinstalled Guitar Pro in 2 minutes, opened a score,and started playing.What a joy! Simple was always good.

@Brian_Roland, there will be a way to activate the software so that it can run completely offline for a fixed period of time that will not require an Internet connection on the computer on which the software is to be run. It will also be possible to release the activation on a particular computer so that you can use that activation on another computer, though that process will require an internet connection (though not necessarily on either of the computers involved: you should be able to do it e.g. via the web browser on your smartphone).

Please rest assured that we are quite aware of the varied use cases of our products and that we are taking them into account as we implement the new license management system. We will provide detailed information about how it will work before the first product to use the system will be released. Until then, please don’t speculate about how it may or may not work and how convenient or inconvenient it may turn out to be. Thanks!


Who fixes this time?

I’ll wait and see. Please understand that the more I hear, the more worried I become.

If the keys can be kept on a device independent of the system drive that stays registered and does not require the internet once activated, I’m happy.

If I cannot change system drives (the one hosting the OS) or other hardware without it depreciating the registration, I will be in a big mess.

1 Like

Not wishing to labour the point, but is it really necessary to have a clone of the entire system disk for each project? I can perhaps understand keeping a separate user account for each project, so that all user prefs and settings are contained. But even that seems a bit excessive.

You mention that the client might use the clone: isn’t that a breach of most licences? Unless they’re paying you for licences for Windows, Cubase , plug-ins, etc?

I think what Brian’s getting at is that if licenses are stored on dongles, he can build a “system” that only includes plugins/VSTs/whatever that the client has licenses for (on dongles). That drive is then effectively portable, so long as the relevant dongles are present.


That does no good if the target system is in a backwoods country church with no internet access. They’re NOT going to install a Sat Dish, and thousands of dollars worth of networking stuff just to register software. Many of these places don’t even have full time pastors. Contracts with bank numbers/debt cards on file are OUT. I’ll have to come up with a different way…I’ll have to devote extra hours to getting things in a format that’ll work, etc. Lots of extra steps/time/money. Never mind the work flow had been near flawless for many years now.

I really don’t see myself hauling racks and stacks to this stuff and hooking it all up either.

For years, I simply took one hard drive mounted in a sled. Plugged that and my dongle in, booted twice, and went to work.

The system drive clone part, I could probably find work-arounds. The internet access part, I cannot.

It will be a huge time sink of a mess if I can’t clone the system drives as well. I’ll have to spend quite a few hours at many workstations scattered across the area I work in.

Getting a new high end laptop that will be fragile, and likely obsolete in short order…I’d rather not do. The list of reasons why not is pretty long.

I could build a ‘luggable’, but that’s still a much bigger mess than a drive or two in my shirt pocket.

No, they are entitled to use one copy at a time on their machine. I use the same version of windows they have a license for. Retail licenses are not machine bound. You only use it on one machine at the time, but can transfer it to other drives or machines, Etc.

There are also service versions (the keys) that are designed to be portable like this.

When the client boots up, it works for a short time. They can change the registration code in the OS to their own, call a number via voice, punch in some codes, or use the website in the event of Windows 10, and register it. Once it is registered on that hardware, it sticks, they can change back and forth to their other system drive(s) that they have registered at will.

In ‘some’ cases, they might have an OEM only version of windows that IS system bound and tricks out when they enter their product key. They still have options. They can purchase a retail key, or they can just elect NOT to ‘boot’ from my drive, and instead run the projects off their own system drive/DAW configuration.

Unless it’s a different version of Windows (Pro vs Home, etc.), it’s never been a problem in the past.

Technically they are only using ONE copy of windows on that machine at a time.

It’s no different really, than changing out a CPU, cloning and replacing a system drive, etc.

It’s effectively a system backup.

As for the DAW and plugin licenses…they have a dongle, and thus the right to run the software.

In some cases, I walk into a control room and bring my dongle. When I leave, they no longer have Cubase, unless they buy it. The drive itself might or might not stay with them depending upon what I came to do for them.

Yes, there are other ways to do these things. I just won’t be able to use Cubase anymore in a number of the situations.

The big sticking point is…I could change system drives in machines, and did not need to go online to be up and running. Attach dongles, two boots, I’m in. If it’s an extended stay, I make a phone call to Microsoft and punch in some numbers.

I’ve largely just skimmed over the thread, so my apologies if I missed it elsewhere. But I’m really intrigued - what do you do for them?

With the churches and community groups you mean? It can be as simple as live recordings (leaching off their mixing console, and sometimes with extra mics added) of things like weddings/performances, or as complex as playing tracks, instruments, and light trees (all while also recording the performance when that happens).

Some are custom projects including scores and music. I also sometimes teach and conduct the program. Sometimes they involve live speakers and musicians, sometimes it’s just a light and slide show or other media.

There’s more at times, and less at times. Obviously there are things that all it takes is a USB stick and power-point (plenty of portable OSes can handle this without even bothering with Windows). Others can be complex enough that extra equipment has to be rented from sound/light companies.

I’ve already explained the simplicity of having a personal back-up system that’s as simple as changing drive sleds. Easy to keep everything separate for myself, and for my clients (compositions, mock-ups, tutorials/workshops, learning courses)…plug/play ready to collaborate. Be it tomorrow, or 6 years from now…I plug in a drive, some dongles, and am back where I left off.

Yes, there are ways to ‘import’ projects in existing set-ups, but it’s not nearly as simple as plug and play, and be on the same versions of stuff, with the same configurations, looking at the same things right away.

1 Like

The fact that Steinberg has been OK with legitimate customers suffering badly-designed, under-resourced, and in places plain broken licencing and update systems for so long suggests it’s not much of a priority?
The inability of the eLicenser Control Centre software to self-update, or even check for updates suggests that continuous improvement was never on the agenda? Even Dorico 3.5’s check-for-updates is currently broken.
But it’s all going to get better. Don’t know when. Wait and see!
Probably Windows 11 and Mac OS 11 will arrive sooner, and upgrading both entire operating systems will require fewer clicks (and dollars) than the next Cubase or Dorico update?
That’s OK. We love Cubase and Dorico, and we’ll suffer for them.

This problem is easily fixed by simply installing and cloning before activating the software.

It’s not a hard issue to avoid. Lots of software use Machine ID-based activation, with a code generated based on the hardware in the machine. Windows has been doing this for like a decade or more.

Changing the MOBO in a PC is [practically] building a new PC. It’s like putting an image from a Lenovo Laptop onto a Dell XPS and expecting the software to just work. Some hardware changes tax more than others. RAM Capacity and HDD/SSD changes do not tax much. Changing the CPU or MOBO in a computer is a completely different ballgame, and rightfully so.

Building a new PC in the same case doesn’t mean it’s the same PC :wink:

There are benefits to the dongle. Cases like yours are understandable. However, the dongle comes with too many limitations, both due to how it limits use of the software as well as how it interacts with the design of lots of modern PCs.

Some laptops are shipping with only USB-C ports. There is no USB-C eLicenser, so this forces you to use a dongle for the dongle.

Many Laptops have USB-ports further towards the front of the machine, which makes it impractical to use a dongle if you also want to use an external mouse with the machine in a space-limited environment.

Some Laptops - like the new M1 MacBooks - have very limited USB-Ports, as well.

Beyond that, constantly moving a Dongle between Desktop and Laptop wears on both the dongle (which is plastic on metal, and there is force applied every time you have to pull it - this is less of an issue with iLoks, which have far superior construction) as well as the USB Ports on those machine.

Lastly, iLok has a Maschine and Cloud alternative to the hardware dongle, so it’s the best of all three worlds. Cubase only works with a dongle. So, while the dongle #WorksForYou™, it doesn’t work for everyone else. The people who need a better solution don’t have the choice to use one. They are forced to deal with the dongle and all of its disadvantages. They don’t benefit - at all - from it.

I don’t. I basically bought a Studio One Crossgrade just so I don’t have to deal with the dongle, at all… Ever. If I have to be mobile, I just don’t never Cubase during the time. I use Studio One instead.

Have to travel in a couple of weeks, and I’m not even taking Cubase with me. I don’t even have it installed on my laptop. That’s the compromise that I’ve accepted to avoid dealing with [potential] dongle inconveniences and the wear and tear of moving that thing back and forth between machines. And I certainly don’t want to have to deal with issues resulting from Broken/Lost/Stolen dongles or a laptop that fell and broke because a dongle was protruding out of the USB port while away from home…

As for AV Software and eLicenser/iLok/Waves Central… That is a problem with your AV. Don’t project it onto the licensing solution. Mention it to the developer of your AV Software.


No matter what you do, some segment of your user base will be unhappy. The trick is making most of the them the least unhappy. From user comments overwhelmingly the user base will welcome the cloud based solution.

Me included. I have a sound engineer, and being able to manage licenses remotely - and own them - instead of handing over a dongle is much preferred, and will the the same arrangement i have for art tools for my artists. For myself, my laptop has a single USB port, and I have to have a dongle for 3Dconnexion HID’s. So avoiding dongles just for a silly license is very welcome. FWIW …

1 Like

Not once I have said not to look towards the future, and make things ‘better’ for ‘more users’.

Not once have I ridiculed other workflows that work better for other types of users, nor have I demanded them to ‘justify’ their work-flow and system designs.

I’ve only continued to hammer the thread with responses thus far to explain that the dongle is not just a ‘limit’, it’s also a form of ‘freedom’ of which MANY pro users of dongle-ware see as a ‘feature’ rather than a ‘burden’.

  • We can change systems and system drives at will, and not have to re-register everything on it every time!

  • We have far more options on project deployment, including settings where there is NO INTERNET ACCESS for individual workstations.

All I have asked for is a method to device-based register, that does NOT require the cloud to change system drives.

Umm, I made the project drives in the past and present tense. I plug them in, plug in the dongle, boot twice, and they work. Why should I have to ‘fix’ them?

If the ‘new protection system’ removes the ability for me to use my old dongles if I upgrade, it’s not an ‘easily fixed’ problem. Will I be asked to stall updates to things I wish to keep on a dongle, and buy an entirely new license to move forward? Or, can I ‘upgrade’ all my keys, and still maintain full compatibility with those old project drives?

No, it’s not ‘easy’ if you work in several different locations with your key(s), and some have no networking abilities AT ALL (on purpose, BY DESIGN, for MANY valid and ethical reasons).

It’s not ‘easy’ if you have decades worth of project drives on hand, that will no longer be ‘plug and play’ as they were designed to be.

Picking a DAW that has a dongle option was not an ‘accident’. It was a ‘sought after feature’ for many of us. We KNOW we’ll be changing system drives, and/or using it in multiple locations. Sometimes several times on the same day!

It’s not ‘easy’, when you designed a workflow that is legacy friendly, and pretty much plug and play, and the next upgrade could BREAK every bit of it, and force additional man hours at every location one works with, including all sorts of committee meetings, approval processes, implementation documents, and the additional purchase of new system components, new services that were not needed before (which cost extra), new contracts, new accounts, additional fire-wall management, further training for personnel, etc, etc, etc.

Something I’d never buy to run Cubase Pro. Most certainly not for Nuendo!

Really, I’m going to be using full sized PCI/e cards and stuff. In the least it’ll need ports to plug in a decent ASIO audio interface.

Such systems often look more like:
Multiple Video cards/screens/projectors (some of them even in other rooms)
Multiple audio cards (or even entire sub-systems) clocked together
Oversized motherboards with legacy slots and such onboard
Several pointing devices and keyboards plugged in
Anywhere from 3 to 12 dongles plugged in
Several MIDI controller devices
SAS and/or Thunderbolt drive arrays/various backplanes
Maybe even synced to legacy analogue or ADAT recorders
If networking, a very different sort of setup than what is used to ‘go on the internet’.
Etc, etc, etc.
Not only does all this stuff require more SPACE, it also drinks MORE JUICE. Large power-supplies are a must. Running all this off a portable battery isn’t really an option, and won’t be anytime soon.

Nothing stopping them making dongles with C connectors, or even incorporating a dongle into a nice audio interface with portable users in mind. Heck, they can maybe even make one that works over bluetooth or something for those types of users. MORE options are always welcome. Totally canning the existing options that people have incorporated into professional systems and workflows for decades simply does NOT MAKE SENSE.

There could also be other ways to make it work, including supporting our existing dongles, or an option to keep the keys on whatever ‘device’ one chooses (other than the system drive). I.E. With Wave’s plugins, we can make our own dongle…register to a thumb drive, or the hard drive/partition of our choice.

As I said before, the old ‘official dongle’ no longer working isn’t an issue for me. If I can keep the keys on the device of my choice, I’m happy. USB stick, second partition, different hard drive than the system one, etc.

I say it’s not a problem, if I can still drag keys to my ‘old dongles’ for legacy support of my old projects! If I’m forced to ‘not upgrade’ to maintain legacy support…well, then it’s a problem.

Really, being able to change the system drive without going online, talking to the cloud, and re-registering everything on it is a normal part of many mission critical work-flows. It’s pretty much why dongles exist as a form of software protection (they could have just been keeping the keys on the system drive all along…but they knew studios would need to swap system drives pretty often)!

Once I set up a drive for a major DAW project, one of the first things I do is disable the majority of the networking stuff! Target machines often do not have networking hardware in them at all, and if they do, they are optimized and configured for streaming A/V at minimal latency…NOT for accessing ‘the cloud’.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been using Steinberg and iLok dongles for a very long time (sometimes with as many as 5 system or system-drive changes in a single day).

I’ve yet to have one fail, nor has the system software that goes with it been one bit more difficult to install and use than that of popular cloud based systems. I know it’s possible for a dongle to go bad, or be stolen, or damaged in transit, but the fact is…things out on ‘the cloud’, going through ‘multiple infrastructures and systems’ of which I have ‘zero control over’ have way MORE POSSIBLE FAILURE POINTS! I’ve had to waste time with cloud registered stuff (Adobe is so annoying it’s banned from my personal systems) way more than I’ve ever been bothered with my dongle-ware. Heck, all those others tend to take at least 70mb of memory at all times, are CONSTANTLY NAGGING the user, regularly have ‘issues’ if anything is wrong with the ‘connection or network’, are always pinging and accepting pings from the internet (I’ve watched system monitor on idle systems, and they wake up and go nuts with process calls and network activity!), and more. WAY more possible ‘failure points’, and ‘security concerns’.

Stienberg’s current route…I don’t see a bunch of system services running having to do with the dongles. Only time Steinberg cares, is when I’m running software that needs the dongle. All they cared about was, “Is there a valid license present? Yep…you can run now! Call back and do another check every so often to make sure the keys are there.” Kill the Steinberg process, and the only remains are a system driver pointing to the dongle. Pull it out, and even that goes away!

If my dongle goes bad, I plug in the spare and go back to work. It rarely matters what version of eLisencer control is on that system_drive. If it was working when the sled came out, it usually works when it goes back in!

Cloud Mess: If the internet is down, or their servers crash, or, or, or…I cannot roll back, I cannot do a thing until all that is corrected.

I can’t have multiple test beds, where all I need do is change the dongle. Simple changes of the system drive to be up and running again is no longer an option. The tools effectively become a kind of ‘ransom ware’ where I have to jump through hoops (sometimes expensive ones) to get my projects going again. MANY third parties can play a role in shutting it all down. Not so with the old dongle-ware system.

Also, for a mission critical build, the LAST THING I want are system services that access an outside network and ‘update themselves’. I don’t want anything ‘updating’ until I have read everything about it first, and observed it in a test bed (I.E. a clone of the system drive that can be swapped if things go wrong)!

If connecting to the internet on a periodic basis from an ‘implemented system’ is a REQUIREMENT to keep using Cubase…I’ll probably stop upgrading, continue to use it ‘as is’ for as long as I can, and begin looking for an entirely new workflow. I might not even be able to use a PC/Mac based solution anymore in a number of cases.

Why? Updating my old keys might remove the dongle option and block access to my backups and processes. Without that dongle, my old backups no longer function properly! Will I even be able to roll back at all anymore? Etc.

Oh well, will wait and see.

A cloud option is not ‘unwelcome’. Simply include the option to register it one time on the dongle and/or to partitions other than the ‘OS hosting system drive’, which can be maintained independently of the system-drive hosting the OS, Then people have OPTIONS.

Make it so it can be activated one time on a secondary device/partition, and no need to ‘displease’ any segment of the user-base. Make it so it can painlessly roll back to older versions as the existing dongle system provides.

Case in point…if I upgrade to the ‘new protection system’, and I can no longer plug in a 32bit Cubase 7.5 project drive built years ago and use it almost IMMEDIATELY, then I have a pretty serious problem.

Ditching the option to deploy without ‘cloud access’ IS ‘unwelcome’. Particularly when it’s contrary to what we’ve come to rely upon, and have numerous projects in libraries designed to take advantage of this cross system ‘feature’.

“Limiting my time” to use a system build without ‘re-registering’ it is NOT AN OPTION for more than half my cases. The control rooms are NOT ONLINE, and in some cases they don’t want them online…period…For a long list of reasons…

As for comments from the user-base in forums, in this case it’s a Dorico thread, but the registration system effects several other products (dongle being a solution to fast easy migration, ability to maintain test beds, complete plug and play backup solutions, etc), that have been deployed throughout the world for decades.

The majority of new forum threads are from new users seeking first time help (before they’ve really dug in and designed a personal work-flow, let alone a complex system workflow for multiple labs/studios/users). Once they figure it out, it’s rarely a problem anymore. It’s on their dongle…install the control center, plug it in, and 495 times out of 500 ‘in the wild’ it’s worked very well for users (exceptions mainly being bad USB drivers/ports, or just janky systems that probably should not be trying to run a Pro level DAW anyway).

As for HALion, there were rarely major complaints in that forum about the dongle ‘not working’ over 5 versions of the stuff. The ‘problems’ that have been flooding in of late are mostly related to the cloud based ‘software eLisencer’ introduced in version 6. I.E. People reinstalling the OS, and not being able to get it working again, then finding that the CLOUD no longer has their keys on hand. People inadvertently starting multiple accounts and losing track of one (it is still on the cloud, but the user LOST the account somehow). Etc.

These ‘new users’ typically don’t have 10 years worth of archives and projects to support. They’re just getting started, and will post questions and gripes about the ‘cloud registration’ process as well.

For Dorico, backing up projects independently of the rest of the system, and sharing those tends to be good enough. Exchanging scores has different sets of requirements from exchanging ‘entire control room/performances’.

For Cubendo, no…we need to be able to mount entire systems in a tray, and have them be plug and play from there. Preserving as much of the initial project as possible (including subtle things like plugin versions, device driver versions, etc. can be a big deal). We don’t want to spend 4 hours each time we sit at a different console, or work with a new client, re-registering everything, moving junk around, learning how some other engineer organizes things, etc. We want to plug in our drive, tap F4 and connect a few devices, and start working pretty much exactly where we signed off (this does not happen when you ‘import’ projects into an OS/DAW installation, initialized and configured by someone else)!

1 Like

Just a thought regarding USB-C ports and the USB dongle -

There are USB-A to USB-C adapters available where you can connect a standard USB-A device (memory stick, etc.) into one end and then plug the other end into the USB-C port on the computer. The accompanying picture is from a listing on eBay. I do not know if this type of adapter will work in this situation. It might depend on what is required, and possibly checked for, in the licensing procedure. For example, I have seen situations where a USB modem would only work if it was inserted into the actual same USB port on a computer as it was when it was originally installed/set up. In theory, these adapters should work if all that is required is a connection via USB.

disk ish ask new licence

The point has been made here folks, time to let this topic rest. Brian sorry but that post is way too long to read, but rest assured you have been heard.