Cubase 101: Literally Everything You Need To Know

what is cubase

Used by plenty of professional musicians and producers, Cubase is a DAW that can do pretty much whatever you have in mind. Here’s everything you need to know…



TL;DR: Cubase 13 – The Ultimate DAW for Music Maestros 🎶🚀

🔊 Cubase Overview:

  • What: A top-tier digital audio workstation (DAW) by Steinberg.
  • Users: Musicians, sound engineers, producers worldwide.
  • Specialty: Renowned for MIDI editing, recording, editing, and mixing music/audio.

📆 History Highlights:

  • Debut: 1989, a pioneer in combining MIDI sequencing and audio recording.
  • Evolution: Constant updates aligning with digital audio tech advancements.
  • Milestones:
    • 1991: Cubase Audio – Integrated digital audio with MIDI.
    • 1996: Introduced Virtual Studio Technology (VST).
    • 2002: Cubase SX – New audio engine and advanced editing features.
    • 2006: Score editor for professional notation.
    • 2012: MixConsole – Full-screen mixer with customizable layouts.
    • 2014: Cubase Pro 8 – Performance optimization, render in-place, and VCA faders.

🌟 Cubase 13: The Latest Version

The latest version of Cubase is Cubase 13. It picks up where Cubase 12 left off, adding in a raft of new features and capabilities.

Notable Cubase Users

🔑 Key Takeaway: Cubase 13 continues to set the standard in the DAW world, giving its users access to all the tools and functionality they need to create music at any level. From sound-tracking billion-dollar Hollywood movies to producing doom sludge metal in your bedroom, Cubase has all the tools you’ll ever need.


Cubase is a digital audio workstation (DAW) developed by the German company Steinberg. It provides tools for recording, editing, and mixing music and audio, and is used by musicians, sound engineers, and producers worldwide.

This powerhouse doesn’t just play in the minor leagues; it’s the go-to for maestros, sound wizards, and production gurus globally.

In this guide, we’re peeling back the curtain on Cubase. From its deep-rooted history to its state-of-the-art features, we’re laying it all out.

By the end, you’ll have a crystal-clear picture of what Cubase brings to the table—and if it’s the DAW tool you’ve been searching for.

Ready to rock? Let’s jump right in…

History

how much does cubase cost

Steinberg introduced Cubase in 1989, and it was one of the first DAWs to combine MIDI sequencing and audio recording in a single application. Initially, it was available for the Atari ST computer, but versions for Windows and Macintosh were released in the following years.

Over the decades, Steinberg has continuously updated and improved Cubase, adding new features and capabilities to keep pace with advances in digital audio technology.

Steinberg’s commitment to innovation and improvement is a key aspect of Cubase’s success and longevity. Let’s delve into some of the significant updates and enhancements that have been made to Cubase over the years.

Early Years and MIDI Revolution

In its initial versions, Cubase was primarily a MIDI sequencer, with limited audio capabilities.

The introduction of Cubase Audio in 1991 was a significant step forward, as it allowed users to record and manipulate digital audio alongside MIDI.

This was a game-changer in the music production industry, as it brought professional-level audio editing capabilities to the home studio.

VST Introduction

In 1996, Steinberg introduced the Virtual Studio Technology (VST) format with Cubase 3.02.

This allowed third-party developers to create plugins for Cubase, dramatically expanding the software’s capabilities.

VST plugins can emulate a wide range of hardware, from synthesizers and samplers to effects processors and mixers, making Cubase a much more versatile and powerful tool for music production.

SX Series and Advanced Audio Editing

The launch of Cubase SX in 2002 marked another significant milestone. This version introduced a new audio engine and a host of advanced audio editing features, including time stretching and pitch shifting.

These features allowed users to manipulate audio in ways that were previously impossible, opening up new creative possibilities.

Integration of Advanced Music Notation

With the release of Cubase 4 in 2006, Steinberg introduced a score editor capable of professional music notation. This made Cubase an attractive option for composers and arrangers, further broadening its user base.

Introduction of MixConsole

Cubase 7, released in 2012, introduced the MixConsole. This feature provided a full-screen mixer with customizable layouts and integrated EQ/Dynamics channel strip modules, offering users a high degree of control over their mixes.

Cubase Pro 8 and Performance Optimization

In 2014, Cubase Pro 8 was launched, featuring significant performance optimizations. This version introduced render in-place and VCA faders, which improved the workflow and made handling complex projects easier.

Recent Developments

In recent years, Steinberg has continued to add innovative features and improvements:

  • Cubase 10 introduced VariAudio 3, a feature that provides users with sophisticated pitch correction and manipulation capabilities.
  • Cubase 11 added advanced features like SpectraLayers One for spectral editing and SuperVision for metering.

What is The Latest Version of Cubase?

The latest version of Cubase is Cubase 13. Steinberg released Cubase 13 on November 2, 2023.

The latest build of Cubase comes in three flavors: Elements, Artist, and Pro, picking up where Cubase 12 left off and adding in a raft of new features and capabilities.

🔍 Cubase 13 New Features

  • Enhanced Spectral Editing: Craft sounds with surgical precision 🎚️ using the revamped Spectral Editor.
  • VariAudio 13 Pro: Experience seamless vocal editing and pitch correction that’s smoother than ever 🎤.
  • Sampler Track 2: Layer and manipulate samples with finesse 🎛️ with the upgraded Sampler Track.
  • Frequency EQ: Sculpt your soundscapes with pinpoint accuracy 🎧 using the brand-new Frequency EQ.

💡 Improved Workflow:

  • Track Versions: Experiment with different song arrangements effortlessly 🎶.
  • MultiTake Lane Selector: Easily navigate and compare multiple takes 🔄.
  • Enhanced Score Editor: Work with notation with increased clarity and efficiency 📝.

Cubase 13 Pricing & Versions Compared

FeatureElementsArtistPro
Price$99.99 USD$239 USD$579 USD
Target UsersBeginners and home studio enthusiastsIntermediate users looking to expandProfessional music producers and studios
Audio Tracks48UnlimitedUnlimited
MIDI Tracks64UnlimitedUnlimited
VST Instrument Tracks24UnlimitedUnlimited
Instrument Sounds1000+2600+3000+
VST Plugins457799
Inputs & Outputs2432256
VCA Tracks00256
Advanced FeaturesLimited pitch correction, no scoring tools, fewer editing and mixing toolsAll basic features + advanced pitch correction, limited scoring tools, additional editing and mixing toolsFull functionality, advanced pitch correction, extensive scoring tools, advanced editing and mixing tools
UpgradesUpgradeable to Artist and ProUpgradeable to ProN/A

The Industry Benchmark
Steinberg Cubase 13

Used by everybody from Meshuggah to Hans Zimmer, Cubase is legendary in the field of music production. Ideal for beginners and seasoned pros, Cubase scales with you which makes it a perfect solution for nearly everybody. 

ELECTRIKJAM RATING:
4.5
Best For: : Professionals, Beginners – Cubase can scale with you as you learn
System Requirements:: Windows: from 10 (64-Bit) / Mac OS (64 Bit) / CPU: AMD Multicore, Apple Silicon, Intel Core i5 / RAM 8GB (minimum) / Size 75 GB

Cubase 12 Overview

Cubase-12-feature-image

The most recent update to Cubase, version 12.0.70, primarily focuses on enhancing support for plug-in developers through improvements in the Virtual Studio Technology (VST) 3 Software Development Kit (SDK).

This update was a significant step forward for the Cubase community, particularly for those involved in creating and developing plugins.

Cubase 12 Versions: Elements, Artist & Pro

ELEMENTSARTISTPRO
Price$99.99 USD$239 USD$579 USD
Target UsersBeginners and home studio enthusiastsIntermediate users looking to expandProfessional music producers and studios
Audio Tracks48UnlimitedUnlimited
MIDI Tracks64UnlimitedUnlimited
VST Instrument Tracks24UnlimitedUnlimited
Instrument Sounds1000+2600+3000+
VST Plugins457799
Inputs & Outputs2432256
VCA Tracks00256

Here’s What You Get Inside Cubase 12.0.70

Enhancements in VST 3

One of the key features of this update is the integration of the new plug-in replacement process from the VST SDK 3.7.8. This enhancement will streamline the process of replacing plugins within the Cubase environment, making it more efficient for users.

Improvements in Track Import

The 12.0.70 update also addresses several issues related to track import. Now, when users import tracks via “Import Tracks from Project” and Track Archives, Send FX connections, MIDI output ports, and routings to group channels will function correctly. These improvements will ensure a smoother and more reliable track import process.

MIDI Remote Enhancements

For MIDI Remote users, the update brings persistent mappings for Device Surfaces that have “Label Fields” assigned for the “Piano Keys” item. This enhancement will provide a more consistent user experience when using MIDI Remote.

Stability and 3rd Party Support

Steinberg has also improved the stability of Cubase 12.0.70, particularly when importing track archives using HALion Sonic with content without valid licenses and when drawing into the waveform image with multiple clips open in the Sample Editor.

Additionally, the update introduces support for the Spatial Connect plug-in by Dear Reality, expanding the range of third-party plugins compatible with Cubase.

Availability

The Cubase 12.0.70 update is available for download via the Steinberg Download Assistant, allowing users to take advantage of these new features and improvements immediately.

What Can You Do With Cubase?

bass heavy metal songs

Cubase offers a wide range of features that cater to the needs of both amateur and professional users. Here’s a general overview of just some of the things you can do with Cubase.

It doesn’t include everything but we’ve tried to include all the main reasons why producers and artists use Cubase.

Multi-track Recording

Cubase’s multi-track recording feature allows users to record multiple audio sources simultaneously. This is particularly useful for band recordings where each instrument can be recorded on a separate track for individual control over volume, panning, and effects.

This feature also enables complex music productions, where layers of different sounds and instruments can be built up to create a rich, textured final mix.

MIDI Sequencing

Cubase’s MIDI sequencing capabilities are extensive, providing users with the ability to compose and arrange music using virtual instruments.

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) data represents musical information like pitch, duration, and intensity, which can be used to control virtual or hardware instruments.

This allows composers to create intricate compositions, from simple melodies to full orchestral scores, all within the Cubase environment.

Audio Editing

Cubase provides a comprehensive set of tools for editing audio. Basic functions like cutting, pasting, and crossfading allow users to manipulate audio clips with ease.

More advanced features include time stretching, which changes the length of an audio clip without affecting its pitch, and pitch shifting, which alters the pitch without changing the length.

These tools give users the flexibility to mold and shape their audio to fit their creative vision.

Mixing and Mastering

Cubase features a professional-grade mixing console that emulates the layout and functionality of a traditional hardware mixing desk.

This, combined with a suite of high-quality effects and plugins, provides users with everything they need to mix and master their audio to a professional standard.

Equalizers, compressors, reverbs, and limiters are just some of the tools available to shape the sound and create a balanced, polished final mix.

VST Support

Cubase supports Virtual Studio Technology (VST) plugins, a standard developed by Steinberg itself. VST plugins can emulate a wide range of hardware, from synthesizers and samplers to effects processors and mixers. This allows users to expand their sonic palette far beyond the built-in capabilities of Cubase, with thousands of VST plugins available from various developers.

Score Editing

Cubase includes a score editor that allows users to create and edit musical notation. This is a valuable tool for composers and arrangers, allowing them to see and edit their music in traditional notation format. The score editor supports complex scoring layouts and symbols, making it suitable for everything from lead sheets to full orchestral scores.

Integration with Other Steinberg Products

Cubase integrates seamlessly with other Steinberg products, such as the HALion sampler and the WaveLab audio editor.

This means that users can easily incorporate sounds from HALion, or edit their audio in WaveLab, without leaving the Cubase environment. This integration enhances workflow and provides a cohesive, unified user experience.

Do Professional Producers Use Cubase?

what-guitars-do-meshuggah-use

Cubase has been around for decades and during this time it has earned itself a reputation as one of the best DAWs on the market.

There’s plenty of competing DAW platforms, of course, but Cubase has remained one of the most trusted brands in the market and is used by a whole host of famous artists and producers, as you can see below. 

Artists, Producers & Bands That Use Cubase

  • Hans Zimmer: Hans Zimmer is a renowned film composer known for his work on scores for blockbuster movies like “Inception,” “The Lion King,” and “The Dark Knight” trilogy. His innovative use of electronic elements alongside traditional orchestration has made him one of the most influential figures in modern film music.
  • Ian Kirkpatrick: Ian Kirkpatrick is a record producer who has worked with a variety of pop artists, including Dua Lipa, Britney Spears, and Jason Derulo. He’s known for his catchy, contemporary production style that blends elements of pop, dance, and electronic music.
  • Ludwig Göransson: Ludwig Göransson is a composer, conductor, and record producer known for his work in both film and music industries. He scored films like “Black Panther” and “Tenet,” and has also collaborated with artists like Childish Gambino.
  • Cirkut: Cirkut, whose real name is Henry Walter, is a record producer and songwriter. He’s worked with some of the biggest names in pop music, including Katy Perry, Rihanna, and The Weeknd, and is known for his polished, radio-friendly production style.
  • Alan Silvestri: Alan Silvestri is a prolific composer known for his work on film scores for movies like “Back to the Future,” “Forrest Gump,” and “The Avengers.” His memorable themes and skillful orchestration have made him a staple in Hollywood.
  • Misha Mansoor: Misha Mansoor is a guitarist and producer for the progressive metal band Periphery. He’s known for his technical guitar playing and his role in developing the “djent” subgenre of metal. As a producer, he’s praised for his ability to create dense, intricate soundscapes.
  • Tiesto: Tiesto is a world-renowned DJ and producer, known for his contributions to the electronic dance music (EDM) scene. His energetic, uplifting tracks and remixes have made him a staple in clubs and festivals around the world.
  • CHVRCHΞS: CHVRCHΞS is an indie pop band from Scotland known for their synth-heavy sound and catchy melodies. Their use of electronic elements combined with pop sensibilities has earned them a dedicated fan base and critical acclaim.
  • Tyler Smyth: Tyler Smyth is a producer and member of the rock band Dangerkids. He’s known for his production work in the rock and metal genres, and his band’s music often blends elements of rock, metal, and electronic music.
  • Meshuggah: Meshuggah is a Swedish metal band known for their complex, polyrhythmic song structures and heavy, detuned guitar riffs. They’re often credited with pioneering the “djent” subgenre of metal.
  • Zedd: Zedd is a DJ and producer known for his work in the EDM genre. His tracks often feature catchy melodies, big synth sounds, and collaborations with pop artists. He’s had several hits, including “Clarity” and “Stay.”

Cubase is used in a variety of musical and audio production contexts. Musicians use it to record and produce their music, while sound engineers and producers use it to mix and master recordings.

It’s also used in post-production for film and television, where it’s used to edit and mix soundtracks and sound effects.

Cubase’s MIDI sequencing capabilities make it a popular choice for electronic music production, while its audio recording and editing features make it suitable for recording bands and solo artists. Its score editing features also make it a useful tool for composers and arrangers.

Basically, it is about as versatile as a DAW can get, so if you’re in the market for a rock-solid DAW that is not only trusted by some of the most famous musicians and composers currently working the planet but is also constantly evolving with new features, you might want to check it out for your recording projects.

The Industry Benchmark
Steinberg Cubase 13

Used by everybody from Meshuggah to Hans Zimmer, Cubase is legendary in the field of music production. Ideal for beginners and seasoned pros, Cubase scales with you which makes it a perfect solution for nearly everybody. 

ELECTRIKJAM RATING:
4.5
Best For: : Professionals, Beginners – Cubase can scale with you as you learn
System Requirements:: Windows: from 10 (64-Bit) / Mac OS (64 Bit) / CPU: AMD Multicore, Apple Silicon, Intel Core i5 / RAM 8GB (minimum) / Size 75 GB


Cubase FAQs

What is Cubase?

Cubase is a professional digital audio workstation (DAW) developed by Steinberg. It allows users to record, edit, mix, and produce music tracks and scores, offering a range of features suitable for both beginners and professionals in the music industry.

How much is Cubase?

The price of Cubase can vary based on the version and region. Steinberg offers several editions of Cubase, such as Cubase Pro, Cubase Artist, and Cubase Elements, each with different features and at different price points. Elements is the cheapest option and is the best place to start out.

What is Cubase LE?

Cubase LE is a lighter version of the Cubase DAW. It’s often bundled for free with various audio hardware products, such as audio interfaces. While it offers a limited set of features compared to the full versions, it’s a great starting point for beginners looking to get into digital music production.

What is Cubase AI?

Cubase AI is another lite version of Cubase, similar to Cubase LE but with some differences in features and licensing. It’s also often bundled with certain music hardware products. It provides a streamlined set of tools and functions ideal for those new to music production.

Who uses Cubase?

Cubase is used by a wide range of individuals, from amateur musicians and home studio enthusiasts to professional producers, composers, and sound engineers. Its versatility and comprehensive feature set make it a popular choice for various music genres and audio production tasks.

Absolute Beginner? No problem.

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