The Beat Calculator issue is not yet solved

TLDR:
The trusty old Beat Calculator was very reliable and accurate. The new replacement is unreliable and inaccurate as it is relying on the users ability to perfectly time the 2 last taps down to the microsecond.

Dear Steinberg,

A decision was made to remove the Beat Calculator in Cubase 13 without something to replace all of its uses. This was met with strongly worded complaints on the forums and while you initially directed users toward the new and less capable tempo-tap feature, or the old Tempo Detection panel (which gives a good reading as if by the whims of a playful coin toss) you eventually made an update addressing the complaints: the 13.0.20 maintenance update. Forum threads on the topic were then swiftly closed and/or marked as solved.

While the reasons for removing the Beat Calculator in the first place remain a mystery it is clear that the update still didn’t bring us back to parity with the functionality of the beloved (and perfectly working) original.

The good old Beat Calculator had the capacity of being highly accurate. It was built in such a way that the longer one tapped along to a beat the more accurate the reading would become. The trusty Beat Calculator was designed very cleverly indeed: by dividing the number of beats tapped and the time elapsed since the first tap, one could be certain that no matter how unusual of a tempo one tapped along to, if one simply tapped long enough the reading would steadily approach the true tempo with accuracy down to a decimal. No need for more than one attempt.

Anyone that has used the new tempo tapping feature knows that the same cannot be said of it. No matter how long one taps along to a beat, the reading will jump around and not at all get more accurate over time as it’s overshooting or undershooting its mark by large margins. One will have as bad of a reading after 20 full seconds of tapping along as after just the first two taps.

See, the new tempo-tap feature is designed in a much less precise way. Instead of taking all taps in to account it is naively relying on the users ability to perfectly time the 2 last taps down to the microsecond. Since this will inevitably fail to give the correct tempo for most users, it will then instead try to compensate by rounding the reading to something that looks like a more “reasonable” tempo, like a whole number, or a whole number and a half etc.

The fundamental problem with this is that you will get multiple readings as you tap, and they will all look reasonable, but you have no idea which one to trust, so you basically have to guess; take one of them and see if it’s the one and if it isn’t: increment or decrement until you’ve found it - kind of doing it by hand in a sense. A much more involved process and much less efficient. The Beat Calculator would give you one accurate answer you could trust, the new replacement will get you in the ball-park with multiple answers you can’t really trust. That’s a surprisingly big difference in ergonomics.

It’s a bummer having to open a web browser or a third party app to do something so very simple and fundamental that was previously easily done within Cubase itself. Please bring back the Beat Calculator and/or better yet: add a mode to its replacement that behaves in the same accurate way. Simply displaying a reading that stabilizes over time, approaching the true tempo as one taps along. Over the coming years this will no doubt add up to a lot of saved time and frustration.

Thank you!

4 Likes

Not a Beat Calculator user here, but hopefully they restore the missing functionality soon.

In the meantime one possible workaround is to open your Project in Cubase 12, use its Beat Calculator, save the Project and continue working on it in Cubase 13.

This speaks to the point I’ve been making elsewhere: Steinberg keeps overcomplicating things and “addressing” stuff in ways that often do not serve the users or properly replace what they’re trying to get rid of.

I really don’t know why: if a feature is tiny, works perfectly, and a large number of musicians have come to rely on it, just leave it in. There’s no harm in it.

If the new feature totally replaces it and, most importantly, works with speed as good or better than what was being replaced, sure, remove it.

If that bar is not met, then be a smart software company rather than one constantly getting in its own way and have the wisdom to leave well enough alone.

3 Likes

I once worked at a place where we managed a large project with an old codebase and many, many features. We hit a point where there was a discussion to start removing some things. The thinking behind it was to save money and reduce development time by removing some features.

In order to make this decision, they were able to measure how often users would use or visit certain features. When it was around 5% of users, there was a strong consideration and incentive to remove it.

At my previous job, we provided explanations for our decisions as well. With that in mind, Steinberg created a feature they believed replaced the Beat Calculator and from what I hear, some users disagree.

In this scenario I wonder a few things:

  • Did Steinberg research which features are underutilized?
  • Is it possible that the Beat Calculator is one of those features? Or maybe it’s not.
  • Maybe they could consider communicating that to us?
1 Like

The term “Beat Calculator” was actually not quite accurate anymore in Cubase 12 (and before), and I think this added to quite some confusion in any debate about this functionality.
There are actually two different things provided in the Beat Calculator:

  • tapping tempo
  • calculating BPM

The first item got modernized and is still present in Cubase 13.
The second item got dropped. It’s the small tool of convenience, where the user defines a time span (range or selection) and then tells the software how many beats there are in this time span. The function would then return the BPM to the user. You can do the same thing with any calculator but its integration in Cubase was just good and much more convenient (read: speed up workflow) than having to do it manually yourself.

I saw another thread where people asked for real-time audio beat detection. This was also thrown into the Beat Calculator discussion. It actually aimed at the short-coming of the tapping feature and had nothing to do with the actual calculator part of it.

It would be swell to get the calculator back into Cubase. Keep the Tap Tempo as it is or add the real-time audio beat detection if you want.
But bring back the calculator, please.

Oh, come on: it’s a tiny, tiny feature and has to cost virtually nothing to maintain.

Just stop developing new mountains of cruft like plugins such as that silly effect modulator one I never use and can’t even remember the name of that was billed as some hot new feature but is straight up laughable in the face of what BitWig can already do by design.

Just tired of these excuses: 5% of vocal users can create a lot of bad will for a company if properly motivated to do so by years of negligence. If it’s not hurting anything and it costs almost nothing to maintain, just leave it alone. If the new feature does not yet completely obsolete it, recognize that and leave well enough alone till it does.

This is not rocket science. I see how these companies operate and it’s the same across the board: release cadence pressure is killing the ability to perfect or stabilize anything. Absolutely perfect code, an ideal algorithm for a given task? Meh, few use it according to our invasive telemetry, so let’s ditch it. Screw 'em. They’ll get over it.

No, we won’t, and society won’t: this way of thinking is creating rifts, major ones. poopies’s moving too fast and it’s too disruptive. It’s killing our will to want to spend our time creating stuff if the rug’s just gonna get arbitrarily pulled without warning next release cycle.

Stop it.

2 Likes

Thank you for pointing out the two different parts of the Beat Calculator. However, you’re incorrect here:

Actually, this feature is no longer present. If you used it a lot you’d know the difference. This is my main point here. It will no longer give you a good tempo reading regardless of how long you tap. By “modernizing” it Steinberg broke it. Useless is a strong word but it’s close to it. It is now faster to open a website to get this done.

All other major tempo tapping apps work just like the tapping feature in the old Beat Calculator. Because, clearly, that’s the way to do it! And they all give you a reliable reading. For example:

https://www.all8.com/tools/bpm.htm
https://www.beatsperminuteonline.com/
https://taptempo.io/

The new tap feature in Cubase does not work in this way, and it gives you a bad reading. It must have been “modernized” by someone who don’t actually use this feature themselves.

Now that I clarified this, I wonder if you have a specific reason for writing this?

2 Likes

There is a difference between “the feature is not there” and “the feature does not give me the results I expect”.
You talk about the latter, I am talking about the Tap button being there and tapping it still returning a bpm value. Whether it is accurate enough for you or not was not the matter of my post. Does that clear it up for you?

Yes, I understand. That’s fair.

I guess I’m wondering if this feature is something you’re relying on personally when you ask Steinberg to keep it as is, or if you just don’t care about it.

I don’t mean to sound confrontational.

1 Like

Honestly, the mess with the Beat Calculator is amongst the reasons why I did not purchase Cubase 13 in the first place. I am happily using C12.
I cannot comment on how well the tapping algorithm works. I can only see that it is there.

Edit: I thought about why they changed it in the first place, not the algorithm but why they got rid of the old dialog box.
I assume it has something to do with the old tapping functionality being somewhat awkwardly implemented. You had to open the Beat Calculator first, then the tapping window. This tapping window had to be modal, ie. it would block anything else of Cubase. I guess this was done in order to be able to transfer the Space bar from whatever it usually is assigned to (Start/Stop) to the tapping. That meant you were not able to use key commands anymore to start playback.
So for the update they wanted to change that. The solution, obviously, was to move the Tap button into the Transport Bar, thus removing the modality.
Why or if this had an effect on the accuracy of the bpm results is unknown to me, of course.
I only know that apparently the actual Beat Calculator (excluding the tapping function) was deemed not important enough to justify a rewrite of the dialog by a Steinberg decision maker. This is the head-scratcher to me.

1 Like

Yes, I think you’re right about that. And honestly I’m not against the updated ergonomics in terms of always having it accessible in the transport panel (or by pressing shift + spacebar). That’s all great to be honest. My problem is that the new algorithm makes the improved accessibility pointless. It doesn’t really matter how fast, or how easily I can get a value from it if the value is inaccurate.

Ok, I’ve been trying to understand the new algorithm better. It seems to be based on some kind of moving average of the last few taps, perhaps with a weight towards the last couple or something like that. Not sure what explains the jumping around. Either way: It wont give you a reliable reading and it doesn’t stabilize the longer you tap along.

1 Like

User case scenario

Record MIDI as you play with no metronome and search for a feel, like something super funky.

Once you captured something really cool, cut the MIDI part,

it’s end being just before what you don’t want, now you’ve got your coherent MIDI loop from which you can define a tempo context. You reach for Beat Calculator, select the part, enter the number of beats and there you are. You can then optionally slightly tame your human groove with delicate progressive quantizing, 1% at a time, or by hand if you are so inclined, and with musical mode set, can also further change the tempo value while keeping a very human feel that wasn’t constrained by a click.

The removal and replacement of Beat Calculator seems to assume that the workflow is to have a vague sense of tempo in mind, to click to get an idea of the bpm value, to set that value then to obey it while recording with a click.

How about No thanks ?

We want the beat calculator back ASAP.

It makes zero sense to remove it.

Don’t destroy people’s workflow by lack of imagination.

4 Likes

I don’t get it. Why removing the Beat Calculator?

The new Tap Tempo is great. I set it to display only. It is ready to use quickly.
But Beat calculator was more than just a Tap Tempo.

Bring It back please.

2 Likes

Short term thinking as usual. Look at the forum 15+ years ago. We’d complain about things obviously, but in general, the majority of users would still defend their love of the software, and there was a great community.

Those small percentages accumulate. Look at things in here now, nothing like the old days. Steinberg did themselves no favours IMO when they took away the community spirit from the Lounge.

Now they’re slowly taking it out of the software bit by bit. Still functional, maybe. Still can do some great stuff with it obviously, but never before did I want to start looking at other software and thinking about moving away from Steinberg completely.

To be fair, Cubase is still the best for me so I keep coming back. That won’t last forever though and soon as something like S1 gets its act together, I’ll be gone.

3 Likes

It is ready to use quickly, yes, thats great, but the readings I get from it are inaccurate. So doesn’t matter that they’re faster to get. I have done a couple of direct A/B comparisons but thinking about maybe recording a video to help get the point across.

One person in this thread said keep the new Tap Tempo as it is, it turns out that person had never tried the new Tap Tempo. Now, second person said the new Tap Tempo is great. And I’m curious, how do you use it @leroo ? Do you rely on it for an accurate reading or are you happy with a ball-park number?

I think I’m gonna make a video on this topic when I get a free moment. My issue seems hard to convey over text.

Cheers

Hello

Tap Tempo for ballpark number. I used it this way with Beat Calculator.

Ah ok, makes sense. Yes the original algorithm of the Tap Tempo worked just as well for ball-park numbers as the algorithm of the new one, but now that’s all it does.

I don’t want to dunk on Steinberg too much here. Clearly it’s difficult to make and maintain software as big and complicated as Cubase, having to consider many factors, some of which not obvious to the end user. I’m guessing that they removed the Beat Calculator because it was using an old API for its windowing, or something like that, and Steinberg wants to unify its look and feel across the app. This is a valid concern of course, but not at the expense of features and usability in my opinion.

Cheers

I once wrote in a topic that in general the Tap Tempo functionality is still part of Cubase 13 and the calculator of the Beat Calculator was removed. I suggested that Steinberg bring back the calculator but they could keep the location of tap tempo as it is now in C13. Then a person in that topic asked me if I am satisfied with the new function and I replied that I never commented on the quality of the result but only stating the mere fact that such a function exists and referring to its location on screen.
Later I see that same person make a comment in another topic suggesting that I commented on the quality of the tap tempo results.

Imagine my surprise.

I’m on the Hip Hop side of things. I do a lot of sampling and the beat calculator was perfect for quickly finding the tempo of my samples. The tempo tap is terrible. My sample is never on point with the metronome. It takes me so long to find the correct temp of my samples because now I have to increase of decrease the temp until the metronome lines up with my samples beat. The apply temp to track was handy also. I need to know the original tempo of the samples I use because when I put the samples in Groove Agent 5, I need to put the original tempo in so if I change the tempo of my song the samples change to correct tempo. Right now it’s counter productive for me. Please put this feature back in Cubase 13.

2 Likes