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Steinberg Cubase Artist 6 review

Ben Pitt
21 Mar 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
228
inc VAT

Eclipsed for value and power by its cheaper and pricier siblings, but this mid-price version of Cubase is still an excellent choice for recording musicians.

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Specifications

Steinberg Cubase isn't the most innovative or feature-packed music-production software, but it's our top recommendation because it's so refined and well thought out. Rather than presenting lots of exotic features for making exciting new sounds, it focuses more on the nuts and bolts of music production – recording, editing and mixing – letting the inspiration come from the user rather than the software.

Few home users can justify spending £465 on the full version of Cubase, and that's where Cubase Artist 6 comes in. It's yet another name change for a cut-price version of Cubase, following Cubase Studio 5 and 4, and Cubase SL3. Sadly, Steinberg has reverted back to the approach adopted for SL3, restricting the numbers of mixer channels and so on rather than simply omitting advanced ancillary features, as Studio 4 and 5 did. The upshot is that Cubase Studio users will need to upgrade to the full Cubase 6 in order to be able to open their existing projects. Thankfully, it'll only cost them £150 to do so.

Cubase Main

For those choosing music-production software for the first time, there's one key question: does Cubase Artist provide enough to allow them to record music without running into frustrating limitations? Readers can judge for themselves using the comparison chart at tinyurl.com/CubaseArtist, but by and large, we reckon the answer is yes. Restrictions to 64 audio and 128 MIDI tracks, 32 instrument tracks (plus a further 32 via the VST instrument panel), 32 groups and 32 physical inputs and outputs are figures that only the most ambitious projects risk exceeding. Each channel is limited to eight insert effects and eight auxiliary sends, but these limits are inexplicably applied to the flagship version too. It's frustrating that most of Cubase 6's best effects plug-ins, such as the REVerence reverb effect, are absent, but Artist's effects library covers all the bases and includes the new VST Amp Rack. This guitar-oriented plug-in lets users mix and match guitar pedal, amp, cabinet and speaker positions for a versatile range of tones.

Cubase Artist also includes the core editing tools that make the flagship version such a powerful music-production workhorse. Common tasks such as trimming and crossfading audio objects and quantising MIDI performances are performed with the utmost precision and efficiency. More advanced functions such as mix automation and signal routing are elegantly implemented, too. Some of the new features introduced in Cubase 6 are included here, such as the ability to convert drum recordings to MIDI to bolster acoustic recordings with samples. The new Lane Track feature improves on Cubase's already excellent facilities for recording multiple takes and compiling the best bits together.

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