Wavelab vs Cubase for digital singles mastering

Hi folks,
I have seen this question asked a few times over the years but I’m hoping that I’m coming to this thread with enough background knowledge for folks to not just write me off…

I am currently demoing Wavelab 9 and I’m wondering if it is something that I should invest in or if I should stick with Cubase 9 Pro for my mastering needs. I would only be mastering for myself (not other peoples projects) and I would only be mastering single songs-not albums. They will be for digital release. When I release full albums for CD distribution, I go to a “real” mastering engineer. So I don’t have a need for DDP. I use Fabfilter and Brainworx stuff in Cubase now, and I’d probably be using the same plugins in Wavelab since I know them. I also have Ozone metering, and Waves phase correlation stuff, etc.

Can anyone point to any areas of importance or convenience in Wavelab that I would be missing in Cubase-if I don’t need audio montage or to be able to create DDPs? My thought would be to set up a mastering template within Cubase with all my standard go-to plugins loaded. Reference tracks, etc, is a piece of cake in Cubase…What am I missing? I get it, “it’s the builder, not the tool” etc, etc…just mainly wondering if there is a good reason for me to choose this tool…Thanks!

My first thought is what do you feel are you missing in your Cubase setup? Only then can we talk about whether WaveLab would provide it for you.


It sounds like you’ve done your research. As much as I advocate using a dedicated mastering DAW (as noted here: https://theproaudiofiles.com/mastering-daw/), I think for single song mastering for digital distribution only, you can probably get away with using non-mastering DAWs such as Cubase if you really want to. Anything beyond that really does require something like WaveLab in my opinion.

To me, the obvious thing WaveLab has that Cubase doesn’t (as far as I know) is a GREAT metering section that doesn’t require inserting and managing a plugin. The loudness metering is tied to each playback start and stop whereas often times, plugin meters are not aware of transport starts and stops. The analysis tools for checking the loudness stats of audio files is very useful to me.

Also, if it matters to you, WaveLab is excellent at tagging rendered master files (WAV, mp3, AAC) with metadata and artwork. I personally enjoy the fact that when I render my master files, I can have WaveLab automatically populate and tag files with applicable metadata. The metadata is not always needed but it’s nice to know it’s there, and clients like to see the artwork on their reference mp3s. To me it’s a nice timesaver to not do this in another app after WaveLab.

Thank you both. Justin, that article is really great! It answered every question I have. I think the thing at this point in my life that I miss the most with Cubase is easily making several different file types of a track at once…and ease of metatagging. I think in this case it will come down to whether it is better for me to stick with a program that I know fairly deeply (Cubase) or start anew with a brand new program to learn. I think I will stick with Cubase for now and if those issues become too cumbersome I will make the switch.