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Steinberg Cubase Essential 4 - Now Shipping!

Published: Tue February 26, 2008  News Feed

Steinberg is proud to present a new member of the world-famous Cubase product family - Cubase Essential 4 is tailored to musicians and home studios with a compact feature set for recording, composing and mixing music.

Cubase Essential 4

Just like the larger versions Cubase 4 and Cubase Studio 4, the new addition offers the advantages of the new VST3 standard and uses the same audio engine.

“This new Cubase version sets new standards in advanced functionality available at this low price point,” comments Arnd Kaiser, Steinberg’s Senior Product Planning Manager for Music Technology. “It’s the ideal Cubase for anyone who requires a great music production system packed with the latest technology that’s still intuitive to use and easy to navigate. And with the option to upgrade to more extensive versions within the world-famous Cubase line, Cubase Essential 4 is an excellent introduction to the world’s most popular music production software range,” Kaiser continues.

Cubase Essential 4 new features (compared to Cubase SE3)

New Plug-in Set – VST3

Steinberg Cubase Essential 4 includes a completely new set of audio effect plug-ins! VST3 offers major new features both for plug-in developers and users. A silence detection function makes sure that a plug-in only processes audio when there’s actually a signal present.

This helps to reduce overall CPU load. VST3 plug-ins natively support Intel-based Macs. In Cubase Essential 4, there more than 20 all-new audio plug-ins. In addition, some of the previous plug-ins have been reworked and updated for this version, pushing the total number of plug-ins to 31!

HALion One Sampling Instrument

Steinberg HALion One Virtual Instrument

Steinberg HALion One Virtual Instrument
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HALion One is a special player version of HALion and comes with a complete set of ready-to-use instruments derived from Yamaha Motif waveforms. These sounds have been optimized for low memory usage extremely fast loading.

MIDI File Playback using HALionOne

Cubase Essential 4 users have access to a complete General-MIDI Sound-Set. With Cubase Essential 4, Standard MIDI Files can be imported and played directly using HALionOne. Dragging a MIDI File into Cubase will automatically set up instrument tracks with HALionOne and select the correct GM sound. Users may now edit or exchange sounds and add effects.

Built-in Amp Simulator for instant guitar recording

As part of the new VST3 plug-in set in Cubase Essential, the Amp Simulator deserves special attention. With a total of 14 different amp and 10 speaker cabinet emulations, there are thousands of exciting sound possibilities. The new graphical user interface and a complete set of great-sounding presets make this plug-in fun and easy-to-use.

Guitar Amp Simulator

Guitar Amp Simulator
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The Amp Simulator becomes even more powerful when combined with other effects, such as the Tone Booster, or VSTDynamics. Complete effect combinations and EQ settings can be saved into Track Presets and quickly recalled in any project. To check out the outstanding sound quality of these effects, check out the included guitar Track Presets!

AudioWarp realtime time stretching/pitch shifting and Pitch Shifting in realtime

Cubase Essential 4 now includes powerful realtime time-stretching and pitch-shifting functions – AudioWarp. Audio files can now follow the projects tempo or a tempo track without the need for offline processing. Loops can match a projects tempo and even be transposed in realtime. Cubase Essential 4 uses a custom-designed realtime algorithm, which offers high audio quality combined with low CPU load.

In order to maintain the best sound quality possible, AudioWarp offers different playback modes for specific instrument groups (Drums, Plucked, Pads, Vocals, Mix, Solo) and a special advanced mode for custom settings. These can be set independently for each audio event. For realtime pitch shifting of solo audio material (like lead vocals), a special playback Solo algorithm preserves formants for natural-sounding transposition. AudioWarp is fully compatible with ACID files for instant compatibility with hundreds of loop libraries available.

Unique Arranger Track

Like no other music production software of its kind, Cubase Essential 4 offers a unified concept for both linear and pattern-style arranging. Thanks to the new Arranger Track, any linear arrangement can be easily divided into musical sections (Arranger Parts) and transformed into a new playback order. Up to 16 different arrangements can be saved within a single project without touching any tracks or parts in the project window.

Cubase Essential 4 Arranger Editor

Cubase Essential 4 Arranger Editor
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But that’s not all! The Arranger Track offers some exciting special features for more experienced users:

  • Arranger parts can be triggered live to experiment with different arrangements and to audition transitions.
  • Special playback modes allow for more flexible arranger chains: Normal, Repeat Forever and Pause After Repeats
  • Various “Flatten” options are available in the Arranger Track edit window. One, multiple or all Chains can be flattened with a single command; the Arranger Track can be kept after flattening.

MediaBay – database for sound management

To keep up with the ever-growing number of sounds, samples, loops and presets, Cubase Essential 4 is equipped with a powerful media file management system known as MediaBay. MediaBay is the central place for browsing, searching, managing and categorizing any type of media file. This includes audio and MIDI files, instrument and plug-in presets, video data and even project files.

Cubase Essential 4 MediaBay

Cubase Essential 4 MediaBay
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A user-friendly musical category search system helps finding sounds or loops fast. A Scope section features previewing options. Loops can be auditioned in the song’s tempo and conveniently imported using drag-and-drop.

Instrument Tracks

Cubase Essential 4 offers a new track type: Instrument Track. An Instrument Track provides a fast and convenient way to use virtual instruments. As a quick alternative to the VSTi Rack, Instrument Tracks provide a single MIDI Input and a single stereo Output within a single channel/track. Setting up a VST Instrument and getting ready to play is now just one step away. As a limitation, Instruments in an Instrument Track only provide a single MIDI Input and one Stereo Output. Of course, the VSTi Rack can still be used in the familiar way.

Track Presets

One of the most powerful new features in Cubase Essential 4 is Track Presets – especially when they’re combined with the new MediaBay. Track Presets are presets for complete track/channel settings. They are available for audio, MIDI, and Instrument tracks. Even combinations of tracks can be saved as Multi-Track Preset.

Most track and mixer setting are stored, as well as Instrument/Preset information for an Instrument Track, or MIDI Port/Channel/Patch information for a MIDI track. Also included are all Insert FX settings as well as EQ. Track Presets can then be saved with attributes like Category/Style/Character etc. and conveniently browsed using MediaBay.

Drag & Drop for Insert Effects

A new feature indispensable when working in the Cubase Essential 4 mixer: effects can now be re-arranged using drag & drop. This includes both moving and swapping of inserts and works both within a single channel, as well as between channels.

Windows Vista and Mac Universal Binary Support

Cubase Essential 4 supports the latest Windows and Mac operating systems, including Windows XP and Vista as well as MacOS 10.4 and 10.5 (Leopard). As a Universal Binary application, it supports both PPC- and Intel-based systems. It is also compatible with both Vista32 and Vista64 bit systems.

Track Freeze Function

The powerful Freeze function known from Cubase 4 and Cubase Studio 4 is now available in Cubase Essential 4.

Track Freeze Function

Eliminating a common problem specifically on slower computers, the Freeze option converts audio or instrument tracks, as well as entire virtual instruments into invisible audio files, thereby dramatically reducing CPU load. Cubase Essential 4 offers additional options to freeze virtual instrument channels with or without insert effects, and even unload these instruments to save RAM.

VST Plug-in Bridge (Mac)

The new VST Plug-in Bridge in Cubase Essential 4 ensures maximum compatibility of plug-ins. Mac PPC-only versions of plug-ins and virtual instruments can now be used on Macs with Intel processors. Although performance drawbacks must be expected, this feature helps Mac users when switching to a new Intel machine. However, it is generally recommended to use native (Universal Binary) versions of plug-ins or instruments whenever available.

Full latency-compensated audio engine with dynamic multiprocessing

Cubase Essential 4 features Steinberg’s latest-generation audio engine, which offers full plug-in latency compensation across the entire signal path. This includes insert effects and send/return effects, as well as virtual instruments, avoiding latency-related timing issues. In addition, dynamic multiprocessing takes performance to a new level by distributing the CPU load dynamically between available processors or processor cores.

Redesigned Sample Editor

Sample Editor

Just like the Score Editor, the Cubase Essential 4 Sample Editor now has a new Inspector-style section to the left, which consolidates many important audio-editing functions; especially those used for musical tempo operations (including AudioWarp and Hitpoints). Things that were spread across different parts of the program are now in one place. The first two tabs include everything needed to set an audio event's tempo and timing, as well as to apply quantize ("Straighten Up") or Audio Warp.

The first tab "Definition" is used to set an audio event's tempo and timing (grid). The second tab "Playback" is used to apply AudioWarp. The third tab includes all Hitpoint related functions. The new Inspector replaces the previous “Musical Mode” function, which is now directly integrated into the new Editor.

User Interface Design Update

Cubase Essential 4 features a redesigned user interface which improves visibility for visual elements and supports easy navigation, especially in the Mixer and Inspector areas, with selected mixer channels are very clearly highlighted. Small fonts are rendered to be highly legibl, helping to keep a clear overview evening larger projects.

The new user interface also introduces a number of new features:

  • The Track Inspector is now fully customizable. A new setup panel allows each item in the Track Inspector to be made visible or hidden. Also, the order of items can be changed – individually for each track type, of course. In addition, entire setups can be stored as presets making recalling or switching between favourite setups fast and easy.
  • The Channel Strip window is also fully customizable, and features its own setup panel, allowing individual sections to be configured in the same way as the track inspector. Presets can also be created for later recall. The larger EQ section features a large display area for easy editing.
  • Individual colors can be set for tracks/channels for better visibility. This includes convenient Auto Track Coloring functions that support easy navigation.

Drum Editing Enhancements

Cubase Essential 4 offers great drum editing tools:

  • Velocity data can now be edited for multiple pitches simultaneously
  • Instrument names are shown in the key editor, when selecting/moving events (if a drum map has been assigned)
  • Instrument names are also shown in the Drum Editor info line, as well as the context display when selecting/moving events

Apple Remote Support

Apple Remote Support

Mac users using an Apple Remote will be pleased to find their little infrared remote control to be available as a remote device in Cubase Essential 4. “Apple Remote Control” is now available from the device setup window. It is already programmed with preset functions but is fully programmable with hundreds of available functions (OSX-only).

Advanced QuickTime 7 Support

QuickTime compatibility has improved in Cubase Essential 4 in several areas:

  • MPEG1, MPEG4, .H264 formats are now supported
  • “Replace Audio in Video File” now works with every audio file format supported by QuickTime
  • “HQ” flag support (high-resolution video playback)
  • Half/Double Size support

Cubase Essential 4 is now compatible with the latest and most popular video formats and offers more flexibility and enhanced image quality.

The new Cubase version is compatible with all new operating systems from Apple and Microsoft and is shipping now.

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