Thought experiment: The future for Cubase, music creators, and the paradigm shift

Thought experiment:
What if Cubase was not a program…but an entire system?
Imagine a dedicated OS that was installed on the user’s dedicated music machine.
Then imagine that Cubase was not one program, but was “The Steinberg Suite,” if you will.
We talk about Adobe but then gloss over the thing that makes Adobe work: They don’t put all their stuff into one program. They spread it out. Like modules. Then they can develop those modules (apps) independently to do specific things well. Photoshop doesn’t try to be Premiere Pro, for example.

The reason that so many bugs ruin people’s time making or mixing music is because:

  1. They are working in an operating system that wasn’t made by Steinberg.
  2. They are working with hardware interfaces and controllers that weren’t made by Steinberg.
  3. They are trying to do so many things inside one program instead of spreading out.
  4. There is no efficient protocol (besides Eucon which is owned by Avid) to control plugins so we use MIDI or Mackie or some other thing and then hope it works for us in Steinberg’s products.

So…we fix those things.

  • We work in a music OS that doesn’t change whenever Apple or Microsoft decides.

  • We use specific hardware controllers that were designed to work with this new OS, using MIDI 2.0 to communicate with the DAW and hardware to form a handshake.

  • 3rd-party hardware and software developers could make new products, and perhaps firmware for existing products that work with this new OS, DAW suite, and MIDI 2.0 without worrying about things getting broken with the next Apple/Microsoft update.

We are currently thinking about how we go about things in a rather primitive fashion because we’re trying to make too many moving parts work together for too many people’s needs with too many different setups and it’s just not ever going to be fair for Steinberg or anybody else to keep up with that paradigm. We need a paradigm shift.

Maybe there shouldn’t be a Cubase 13 at all. Maybe there should just be the Steinberg suite and every project file type is compatible with each program in the suite. So that when you are done arranging and recording, you can open the same project in the mixing program. Then when there’s a bug or a problem with the mixing program, for example, the new change doesn’t negatively impact the recording program, and so on.

Think about how much easier it would be to flesh out new ideas with modular systems. We then pay Steinberg X amount of money per year because we love them, we need them to keep developing cutting-edge music technology, and we get updates with our money.

We need to come together through synergy. We need to start thinking in different terms to help develop the solutions we’ve all been complaining about for years.

I created this thread to maybe plant the metaphorical seed that can turn into a tree one day; to see if I’m the only one who would be interested in this type of thing and whether this thought experiment would ever be tangible, and if so…how could we help Steinberg to achieve it? Or perhaps a music association that Steinberg is a part of that includes many other audio companies. Since most of us use other products as well, I’d like to see the equivalent of the International Standards Organization (ISO), or maybe something similar to the association of people who are working on MIDI 2.0 to create a new OS for the music creators’ world.

What do you think of this idea and more importantly, how could the audio companies of the world keep a cash flow going with a paradigm shift that is built upon a system such as this?


It would be good to see an analysis of ‘bugs’ in Cubase to get an idea how many are caused by Cubase and how many by plugins and audio interfaces etc. but I don’t see that breaking Cubase into separate modules would help with reliability at all. Nor do I think that a dedicated music OS is a good idea.

Mac OS seems to be perfectly good enough as an OS and I can’t think of the last time something went wrong with it on my MacBook Pro.

The way to make Cubase more reliable is to understand the root causes of reliability issues and to deal with them. I expect Steinberg do this from time to time.

@RichardTownsend Only a very few bugs are triggered by something external to Cubase, mainly compatibility issues from hardware and devices.

This long list of bugs only contains bugs that come from Cubase itself, regardless of the OS, and many of them can make Cubase become unstable and ultimately crash if you go too hard on it.

For instance I’ve been working on a project lately that contains just a few audio tracks, and as I was doing some very basic editing Cubase suddenly crashed for absolutely no reason.
None of the programs I have on my computer exhibit this wonky behavior except Cubase.
You can work on a heavy project for days without any crash, and then you start a new project and it randomly crashes within the next two hours. Yes, it’s that random. Even when you avoid triggering one of the known bugs, it will either freeze or crash at the most unexpected moment, you just don’t know when.

That said, when it works, it works great!

A Steinberg OS ? uummm dunno about that , i run a purely Steinberg DAW , no other editors or recorders on this machine and the incapability goes from all the different updates , for instance , Cubase 12.0.50 worked absolutely perfectly stable for those like me that were not interested with the Midi Remote , GA5 Se , would never crash Cubase , no issue’s but now i can’t even use my go to drum machine due to it being unstable with 12.052 so what ever got broken in 12.051 remains in 12.052 , so would i like to have to wait 3 months for a fix of a Steinberg OS ? not on your nelly .

The idea of a dedicated MusicOS is not new, for example there has been (still exists?) a specific Ubuntu distribution called UbuntuStudio that was all set up for music production, and in recent years, there has ben another attempt to create a highly optimized linux system called ELK OS (which Steinberg actually once ported their Retrologue VSTi to as a proof of concept, and there are for sure some DAWs that run on it…)
Those OSes though (as Linux in general) always suffer from the same chicken-egg problem: most currently available software (DAWs, plugin) doesn’t run on it, so it isn’t widely used. As it isn’t widely used, there is no real incentive for developer to port their software to it because the return of investment is unclear at best.

Apart from that, such an OS has to be developed further and changed, too. And that has to be done by someone, either a private company (leaving you a similar situation as with Apple and Microsoft), or an “independent” organization funded by several companies like the MIDI manufacturers association, which has other problems (potentially reeeaaally slow decision making…).

Apart from that: that’s quite the horror story you had to go through, great that you survived it and I wish you all the best for further recovery and that you keep on making music, regardless on which OS :wink:

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Yes, I admire your tenacity in maintaining the list! But I wasn’t clear - what I meant was of the people who report problems, how many are actually Cubase bugs? You’ve got your setup sorted so you don’t experience much of that kind of problem. Same for me. But I don’t know if that’s generally the case.

It won’t work. First of all people aren’t going to switch to a proprietary system where even the OS is proprietary. They just won’t. At least not in large enough numbers to make Steinberg’s investment worth it. At the time of the switch the new system would have to provide everything that people are currently using, all in one system.

Secondly, we keep buying third-party software to expand our toolset, from plugins to ARA integrated tools. A proprietary OS increases their costs, because they’d have to develop for SteinbergOS, and then for VST and AAX etc. for both Windows and OSX. And they’d have to do it to satisfy only a fraction of all of their users.

Lastly I’d say that if you put ‘all your eggs in one basket’ then you’re also opening yourself up to more risk. I’m set up for work in both Nuendo and PT at home, on Win 11 Pro. I use Izotope RX for restoration work and 3rd party plugins and other software. If Steinberg went bankrupt I have Pro Tools. If Avid goes bankrupt I have Nuendo (which I prefer). If it was a single proprietary system then I’d have to set up a dual-boot computer because of that proprietary OS - and that’s not something that’s desirable to me.

So I don’t think it will happen, and I’m not sure I think it would be a good idea either.

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No, I don’t mean a Steinberg-only OS - I mean an OS that the audio association all agrees to use, including other audio companies of course. That’s what I mean when I said :

Fair enough, but what do I do when I need integration with IBM Aspera, Google Drive, MS OneDrive, Macrium Reflect and Backblaze backup etc…, and need to also run Davinci Resolve, Spotify, Zoom …and on and on…?

You’d have a second computer, or you’d have a second hard drive or a second boot partition to load a regular OS maybe? You definitely would not use Spotify and Zoom and regular apps on the drive or system for your dedicated music. There has to be a trade-off somewhere in order to have a solution somewhere else.

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It’s a thought experiment, so I’m open to all ideas on how to make it work. :slight_smile:

I’ve seen no evidence that the operating system is the cause of a significant reliability problem for Cubase. Do you have some? Mac OS is solid as a rock and Steinberg seem to be able to adjust Cubase to cope with OS upgrades.

The only benefit of a music OS I can see is that it could be kept stable so vendors wouldn’t have to keep updating their software to keep up - but that comes at a cost. I like having the new features in Mac OS and new services like metal on Mac have massively improved the GUI performance of Cubase for example.

MacOS is heavily used in music and video sectors, so it already has good features for musicians.

I can see a vast number of downsides to a separate music OS.

sorry - replied to Matthias by mistake, rather than Steve

No worries…

It’s just a return to some old ways that dissapeared for a reason.
There’s nothing new in the proposal, dedicated systems (for audio but also in other fields) already existed.

All the keyboard workstations of a recent past were exactly that: turnkey music production systems.
And they were replaced by DAWs and VIs, because that’s what people want.

Also stuff like SADiE, or the old Synclavier, or Fairlight etc. The 80ies and 90ies were full of these solutions, none were able to keep up.

Your answer is out there already.

This is essentially what I suggested in 2014, as Windows XP was in its dying days …

That post was eventually locked. Good luck with this one!

You’re describing the Akai MPC line or the Korg Kronos/Nautilus.

What part of this discussion is eliminating a DAW or VIs? We’re talking about making a computer environment that runs exactly those things but does it better and more efficiently. MIDI 2.0 is around the corner and it is exciting stuff. Very high res, the two-way communication, etc…it’s going to be great once it’s ironed out and companies start implementing it.
Think of all the resources that Audio devs waste trying to keep up with changing environments.
My answer is not out there already. If it existed, we’d all be using it. The examples you gave did not use standard computer hardware that people could build themselves, were not based on an operating system that could run VST3s and VIs that we all use today, and THAT is why they were not able to keep up, as you put it.
I suggest thinking bigger picture here.

lol - I admire your innocent optimism.

We don’t even have a widely supported non-proprietary high performance audio standard and are therefore relying on proprietary ASIO, AU and AAX.

About 50 years ago, MIDI was the last and may remain the only widely supported music making standard (apart from audio file formats). We never got a widely adopted open version of REX or ACID and they are withering into oblivion. — MIDI 2.0 may end up withering like IP v6 - we don’t know yet.

In the meantime we have big tech companies even hijacking open Internet ecosystems, like email, chat, DNS. And how few platforms for actual music do we realistically have?

If you’re philosophically serious and committed about open music making platforms, you’ll need to commit to Linux and live with that choice.

Most of the music making world just has never been ready for that. From music makers to software and hardware developers to investors.

p.s. After agreeing to MIDI, Roland and Yamaha still can’t agree on what the middle C is supposed to be called :rofl:

EDIT: To be fair, I should acknowledge and commend Steinberg for having supported other standards like REX and Rewire and more recently ARA2. However none of those are truly open standards - and that means, just like VST2, they can get killed off by their owners.


That’s why it’s a thought experiment, you see. :slight_smile:
To figure out if we can, or why we can’t have nice things. Haha…

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You’re wrong about IPv6, but MIDI 2.0 wouldn’t have emerged if there wasn’t a need for it. In 1983, most people didn’t know they needed MIDI because, in fact, most people didn’t need it at that time.

As for paradigm shifts, I can see a Yamaha QY10 from here, and there’s an Alesis SR-16 somewhere in a drawer. I left those for “in-the-box”, and that happens to be Cubase at the moment. I also have a few things running on Linux, and sometimes even an Atari ST. There’s a piece of wood in the corner with strings stretched along it, with a magnetic pickup. I’ve hummed into a microphone, and digitally converted that to MIDI. Show me a paradigm, and I’ll shift it.

But the conversaton is about whether or not we, as musicians who use computers, can have an ecosystem that is flexible, non-proprietary, and yet commercially viable.

Perhaps we might all get the CLAP.