Cubase AI Explained: What You Get & How It Works

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Curious about DAWs, heard people talking about Cubase AI? Here’s a quick primer on how Cubase AI works and what it does…

Cubase AI is a lightweight, more accessible version of the Cubase digital audio workstation (DAW) developed by Steinberg. Think of it as Cubase with training wheels whereby you can learn the ropes before progressing onto the full-fat version of Cubase.

And the best part? You can get started with Cubase AI for free – all you need is a Mac or PC, here’s where you download it.

Cubase is widely considered to be one of the best DAWs on the market and is used by artists from every neck of the market – from Hans Zimmer to Meshuggah. It’s been around for decades and is considered to be one of the best, professional-grade DAWs on the market.

You usually get Cubase AI when you buy certain Yamaha or Steinberg music gear. It’s great for beginners because it’s easy to use and has all the basic tools you need to start making music, so if you’re looking to start recording at home, Cubase AI could be just what you’ve been searching for.

What Can You Do With Cubase AI?

  • Record and Edit Music: You can record your own music and edit it until it sounds just right.
  • Make Music with MIDI: MIDI lets you create music with computer sounds. You can make your own beats or melodies with it.
  • Use Virtual Instruments and Effects: Cubase AI has some built-in computer sounds and effects you can use to make your music sound better.
  • Mix and Master Your Music: Once you’re done recording, you can use Cubase AI to make your music sound professional and ready to share with others.
  • Work with Your Music Gear: If you have Yamaha or Steinberg music gear, you can use it easily with Cubase AI.

Cubase AI Features

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Cubase AI comes packed with plenty of excellent editing tools, more than any beginner will ever need. As a starting point in your music production journey, Cubase AI has all the basic stuff you’ll need as well as some more advanced settings and features thrown in for good measure.

When recording, you can adjust various settings to suit your needs. For example, you can control the input levels to ensure the sound is clear and not too loud or too quiet. You can also choose the sample rate and bit depth for your recordings, which can affect the overall sound quality.

Once you’ve recorded your audio, Cubase AI provides a range of editing tools to fine-tune your tracks. You can cut, copy, paste, and move parts of your audio around. This is great for fixing mistakes or experimenting with different arrangements.

Cubase AI also offers advanced features like time stretching and pitch shifting. Time stretching lets you change the speed of your audio without affecting its pitch, while pitch shifting lets you change the pitch without affecting the speed. These tools can be really useful for creative sound design or for fixing minor pitch issues in your recordings.

In addition, Cubase AI includes a variety of audio effects that you can apply to your tracks. These can help you shape the sound of your audio to match your creative vision. For example, you could add reverb to make a vocal sound like it’s in a large room, or use EQ to adjust the balance of frequencies in your audio.

Cubase AI Features & Tools

  • Audio Recording and Editing: Cubase AI allows you to record and edit audio with a high level of precision.
  • MIDI Sequencing: You can program and edit MIDI data, which is great for creating synth lines or virtual drum parts.
  • Virtual Instruments and Effects: Cubase AI comes with a limited, yet quite useful set of virtual instruments and audio effects, providing a decent toolkit for shaping your sound.
  • Mixing and Mastering Tools: The software also includes basic mixing and mastering tools, letting you finalize your tracks right within the DAW.
  • Integration with Steinberg/Yamaha Hardware: If you’re using Steinberg or Yamaha music hardware, Cubase AI will integrate smoothly with it, making your workflow more efficient.

Cubase AI PROs and CONS


  1. User-friendly: Cubase AI is known for its intuitive interface, which can be very beneficial for beginners.
  2. Hardware Bundling: It often comes free with Yamaha or Steinberg hardware, making it a cost-effective way to start with a professional DAW.
  3. Quality Audio Engine: Steinberg is known for its high-quality audio engine, and even though AI is a simplified version, it still retains this high audio quality.


  1. Limited Features: Compared to full versions of Cubase (like Cubase Pro), AI is considerably scaled down, and doesn’t include many advanced features. This could be a limitation for more advanced producers.
  2. No Standalone Purchase: As of my knowledge cutoff in 2021, Cubase AI is not available for standalone purchase; it is only available when bundled with certain hardware products.
  3. Limited Virtual Instruments and Effects: The suite of virtual instruments and effects is quite limited, which may require additional purchases or downloads to expand your sonic palette.

Is Cubase AI Worth It?

If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of music production, Cubase AI is a fantastic starting point. As an entry-level digital audio workstation (DAW), it offers a comprehensive set of tools that are more than enough for beginners.

Cubase AI is designed to be user-friendly, making it an excellent platform for newcomers to learn the ropes. It provides a solid foundation, giving you a taste of how things work inside the world of Cubase. You can experiment with recording, editing, mixing, and mastering tracks, all within a professional environment.

One of the major advantages of Cubase AI is that it often comes bundled with Yamaha or Steinberg hardware. This means you can start using a professional-grade DAW without any additional cost when you purchase compatible hardware.

However, as with any entry-level software, there’s a chance you might outgrow Cubase AI as your skills and needs evolve. You might find yourself craving more advanced features or additional audio tracks that Cubase AI doesn’t offer.

But don’t worry, if you reach that point, Steinberg has you covered. You can easily upgrade to the full version of Cubase, which offers a plethora of advanced features and unlimited audio tracks. This version is designed to cater to the needs of professional music producers and can help you take your music production to the next level.

So, is Cubase AI worth it? Absolutely. It’s a cost-effective, beginner-friendly platform that can smoothly transition you into the world of professional music production. And when you’re ready to level up, upgrading to the full version of Cubase is a breeze.


Master Your Music To A Professional Standard Even if You’re A Total Beginner

This step-by-step framework is the exact process I use to master music professionally. It is the culmination of 20+ years of experience, condensed down into a single, easy to follow workflow

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