Has improved ergonomics and is still incredibly powerful, but you need to invest time to get the best out of it
Cubase has been our favourite music-production software for over a decade, thanks to its rock-solid reliability, high-fidelity audio processing and a focus on the traditional disciplines of music production: recording live performances, editing and mixing. Whereas consumer packages try to make music production more accessible to the casual user, Cubase is focused on providing precise, comprehensive controls for experienced users. This isn’t a software package you can just dip into every now and then. You must put time and effort in to mastering it.
Steinberg Cubase 7’s revamped mixer is packed with masses of powerful features – this is just a small selection
As for new features and updates, the mixer and pop-up channel editor have been overhauled, with new processing modules, a completely new cosmetic appearance and some clever time-saving tricks. These welcome timesavers include the ability to perform a text search for channels, copy and paste settings and save and recall views in the mixer, among others. The aim is to make multiple windows and menu commands less necessary, building more control into the mixer itself.
Steinberg Cubase 7 lets you add chord progression labels to the timeline
There are five new effects for version 7: a gate, compressor, transient designer, tape saturation and limiter. Conveniently, these effects are built into each mixer channel instead of being accessed through a separate module or effects unit. The controls are simpler than in the bundled VST effects, but having their controls integrated directly into the mixer or channel editor is a welcome timesaver. It also makes it easier to get an overview of complex mixes because you can see all effects settings on the mixer instead of having to open a pop-up editor. The channel EQ is more sophisticated than before, too, with high-pass and low-pass filters, as well as spectrum analysis to show the frequency response both pre- and post-EQ processing.
Consequently, the mixer is busier than ever, but it’s easier to make it appear full-screen on a second monitor (you can now use a context menu option to lock it to full-screen instead of resizing it) and there are numerous options to resize, reorganise and hide the various modules and channels. Acronyms abound, though, and the sheer volume of available controls means it isn’t for the faint-hearted.
The EQ section now includes a spectrum analyser to show what the EQ is doing to the audio
Our favourite new feature in this update is the Q-Link button, which temporarily links selected channels together so any changes are applied to all of those channels. This is a massive timesaver when handling a group of similar channels, such as those carrying backing vocals. It’s also possible to create permanently linked channels, or have limited sets of parameters across multiple channels. Linked changes are performed relative to their existing values, but hitting the Abs button (short for Absolute) makes the channels jump to the same value. This is the kind of flexibility and attention to detail we’ve come to expect from Cubase.