After a few months playing with Logic Pro X to learn electronic music production, I’ve decided to take the leap to Cubase 8 Artist and see how I like it. Let me preface this by saying there isn’t anything about Logic that I disliked particularly – as a DAW it functions similarly to the others – tracks, buses, plug-ins, etc – but there is a certain ‘polish’ to Logic that made it feel that Apple had pushed the presentation of the UI over the functionality.
The Robin factor
The key factor to my decision to make a move was my good friend Robin, who is a longstanding Cubase user and is becoming successful in electronic music – particularly in the kinds of music I’m keen on learning to make. Check out one of Rob’s partnership’s tracks under former pseudonym ‘Brown and Gammon’ –
This track is not as representative of his current work, but as part of his record deal I can’t share that with you yet, but rest assured, from what I’ve heard, it’s gonna be awesome.
Anyway, back to Cubase. As someone that works in software development I found it fascinating to make a leap from one platform to another – it certainly made me think about what users of our software (Unity) find when they arrive at our door for the first time. That first time user flow is something that really can make or break. With me, I had purchased Cubase with the reassurance that a good friend would be there to help teach me anything about music production from his years of experience but in attempting to learn Cubase I found that there are a lot less tutorials and getting started content out there on the web. In addition that which I did find was seemingly outdated (going back to Cubase 5 in places, current version at time of writing is 8).
What’s up with Cubase?
With a lack of tutorials and some confusions as to ‘where is my X’ or ‘Why does the Y work like this’ – I had a frustrating first couple of days. The major gripes I have with Cubase 8 include the following –
- It’s a small community compared to other products, and Steinberg could do more to rectify this, more up to date forums, knowledge bases etc would be a start
- To buy Cubase, you need a physical copy on DVD. Remember those? well if you have a mac laptop since 2012 you probably don’t, so I had to buy a USB dvd drive to install. This just sucks.
- Want to use Cubase? you’ll need the eLicenser, a USB key that you put in your computer to verify you bought the software. Not just the first time though… forever. In 2015. This is just lazy licensing tech on the side of Steinberg – sure it’s super effective, but ultimately if they want market share, they need a licensing server side solution, and accept that people who pirate it are ultimately just adding to the numbers of their community – and probably would write more tutorials / share knowledge. Now look – I’m not condoning piracy whatsoever – it happens to our software all the time (now we have released a free version we see less of it) – but it’s a fact of life, and making your paying customers suffer for it isn’t cool.
But seriously, try it.
So anyway. Gripes aside I really like Cubase – I do! It’s no nonsense UI and responsive windows are reassuring and it rarely breaks down. Often there’s performance lag but this is mostly thanks to my over zealous use of CPU hungry plug-ins on my laptop. I’m feeling more productive than ever and with each track i’ve made, i’ve been learning more. I recommend people give Cubase a chance, there’s a lot of people using Logic and that’s a plus but I find Cubase far more of a tool than Logic – which is what I referred to at the start of this post when I said that logic has more ‘polish’.
The presentation of windows in logic – sliding in and out of a single window, with photographic trims and gradient edges is all well and good, but when it slows you down you start to wonder why and who at Apple produces on their system. Cubase is less fancy, even ugly in places, but it feels functional and that’s what counts when you’re just trying to work.
The next step is to take three tracks that I am happy with and effectively ‘release’ them as an EP of some sort to see what people think. Wish me luck!