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Steinberg Cubase - From ASCII on Ataris to ASIO & Apples

Published: Wed July 10, 2013  News Feed

Steinberg Pro Music Software

Steinberg Cubase - From ASCII on Ataris to ASIO & Apples

By Hugh McKenna


The roots of Cubase are deep, going back to the early days of MIDI and the Commodore 64 (and you thought it was just for games). We've come a long way and while you can certainly still do your MIDI programming with Steinberg, there's also award winning software for mastering, scoring, recording, mixing, virtual instruments & more coming from the German giant.

Steinberg History - The Early Days

The story begins in 1983 when Manfred Rürup and Karl “Charlie” Steinberg originally met at a recording session and found they had a shared belief in the potential of computers within music technology. So they began work on their first revolutionary concept, the “MIDI Multitrack Sequencer”. Development for the Commodore 64 started a year later with Steinberg building their own MIDI interface for this early personal computer. Doubtless they were thankful when 3 years later Atari released their ST computer with a built-in MIDI interface. We certainly know that plenty of musicians were thankful and the Atari ST with Cubase was arguably the first affordable home studio setup. Right at the start Steinberg were committed to professional quality & innovation being made available to as many people as possible, with cross platform development and affordability. In fact Cubase 1.0 made such an impact that it was still being used over 10 years after it's introduction by artists like Photek, Fatboy Slim and Luke Vibert.

The 90's saw Cubase develop into the DAW we all recognise today, Apple Mac compatibility, audio editing from Wavelab and in 1996 the development of the VST standard. The VST plugin format and Steinberg's ASIO drivers have become familiar with PC based musicians/engineers of all stripes and not just Cubase users. Allowing anyone to turn their humble home computer into a studio powerhouse with low latency, rock solid performance and a huge range of instruments at their fingertips. There's been no shortage of great VST instruments and effects coming from Steinberg themselves, such as the Halion sampler, The Grand piano.

In 2005 Steinberg joined forces with Yamaha and have since added highly acclaimed hardware to their product range. Now however big your studio is or whatever kind of music you produce Steinberg can deliver a solution for you, Mac or PC, audio mastering or MIDI, software and hardware. That's why Steinberg is the choice of a diverse range of musicians/composers/engineers/producers such as Hans Zimmer, Justice, Kraftwerk, Meshuggah, Bernard Sumner (New Order, Joy Division), Mogwai & Amon Tobin.

Steinberg Cubase History

Which Version Of Cubase Should You Choose?

An important question and one that will vary depending what you plan on doing. Cubase 7 contains the full feature set and will cover anything from orchestral scoring to beat programming, however if you don't need certain advanced compositional features then Cubase Artist 7 might be for you and finally Elements presents a compelling option for those just starting out.

We'll assume no prior knowledge of computer music to begin with so if you want to find out about more advanced options and features then skip to the section that best describes just what you do. So starting off...
  1. You will want to check whether your computer has the power to do everything you want it to. Steinberg have produced a great guide which breaks down the complicated terminology and makes plain everything you need to consider before getting started.
  2. Be realistic about what you want to achieve, it's very tempting to get a huge interface, full keyboard and orchestral sampler right off the bat. However there's a lot to take in when you're starting out with computer music. Better to start small and really get to know your gear before expanding.
  3. Final rule is simple, have fun. Get that right and you'll be a master in no time.

Cubase For Guitarists

The Details Which Version Of Cubase? Guitarist Package
Who's Using It?
What You Need Cubase Elements 7 - Ideal For Beginners
Cubase Elements 7


With VST Amp Rack and Amp Simulator plugins Elements is great for guitarists. If you're largely producing solo compositions then you don't need unlimited audio tracks or extensive MIDI plugins. But Elements does have the same core audio engine as it's big brothers and share's the vast majority of audio effects. Plus there's HalionSonic SE for sampled accompaniment, Prologue for synth sounds and Groove Agent One for rhythms. Band in a box.
Cubase For Guitarists
Zoom G2Nu & Cubase Artist bundle

You might want to try our Zoom G2Nu & Cubase Artist bundle. That's a more feature rich version of Cubase plus a guitar pedal/USB audio interface.
Meshuggah Steinberg
Metal Masters Meshuggah

"We have been working with Steinberg products since we first started to use computers in our working process. It is with great pleasure and awesomeness that Meshuggah is cooperating with Steinberg."
Upgrades Going Forward Cubase Elements To Artist Upgrade - Once you're ready to make the jump to a more full featured DAW
Steinberg CI1 USB Audio Interface and Free Headphones - Elements will work with many onboard sound cards but an ASIO interface is almost a necessity for proper use. Also handy if you need to add some mic inputs and studio headphones to your setup.

Cubase For Electronic Music Producers

The Details Which Version Of Cubase? Electronic Music Package Who's Using It?
What You Need Cubase Artist 7 Electronic Music Production
Cubase Artist 7


Artist 7 shares the vast majority of effects and instruments with the full Cubase 7. So if you need a heap of sounds right out the box then Artist 7 is perfect.
Cubase For EDM
Steinberg UR-22 & Cubase Artist 7 Bundle

Why not combine Artist with the superb UR-22 USB Audio Interface for a saving. Plus low latency, Audio/MIDI I/O and great sound quality are all very important if you're working in the box.
London Elektricity Steinberg
London Elektricity

"Cubase has always been my weapon of choice ever since my Atari 1040ST."

"With Cubase it's all about workflow. It's great for working with MIDI and audio, and it gives me exactly what I need. There are some surprises in there too, like LoopMash and the Pitch Correct plug-in — they can be a lot of fun to use. Sidechaining is great in Cubase now and is very easy on processor. WaveLab is incredible. I'm probably only using about 10% of what it can do, and am still learning. I would love to have lessons on WaveLab."
Upgrades Going Forward Cubase Artist To Cubase 7 Upgrade - Once you've got tracks up to a certain standard then the full Cubase can provide professional polish. With loads of arrangement, mixer & workflow enhancements, pro plugins as well as audio tuning/manipulation Cubase 7 is the true studio inside your computer.
Nektar Panorama P4 Controller - Calling it a MIDI controller is doing the P4 a disservice. While you certainly can play VST instruments and merrily tweak their settings the integration goes much deeper. It's more like turning Cubase into a hands on, hardware studio.

The True Professional

The Details Which Version Of Cubase? Professional Package
Who's Using It?
What You Need Cubase 7 Complete DAW
Cubase 7


If it's truly professional results in any scenario that you're after then Cubase 7 is the one. Editing, take comping, tuning, mixing, scoring, VSTi's, samples and well, everything you need.
Cubase For Pros
Steinberg MR816 X & Cubase 7 Bundle

Get 8 mic inputs, DSP processing and studio quality monitoring options on top of a pro DAW, save money while you're at it too. The MR816X has picked up rave reviews for it's sound quality. A studio setup without compromise.
Hans Zimmer Steinberg
Hans Zimmer - Oscar & Grammy winning composer. You might know him from such films as Inception, The Lion King & The Dark Knight

"I was amazed by how much I was throwing at Cubase and it never winced, never seized up, never faltered. It's always an extreme thing, and although I honestly can't recall how many audio tracks were being used, remember that everything we do is in 5.1 so that quickly adds tracks, plus there are 300–400 MIDI tracks going at the same time. We also tried to keep everything virtual on this movie up until the very end."
Upgrades Going Forward So you've got Cubase and it's not so much a question of what can it do but where do you want to go with it?

Get a Sampler/MIDI Controller/Audio Interface/Synth and get all orchestral with a Yamaha MOX6 61 Key Synth + free gigbag
Maybe you've got the MR816X bundle above and need to add a pro selection of mics to track your band.
But hey if you fancy staying digital and in the box the Steinberg can give you entire orchestras and grand pianos!

Into The Future with iPad

Always with an eye on the horizon Steinberg have produced Cubasis, a fully functioning DAW for the iPad. Below you can see a list of features similar to many traditional DAWs and above listen to just what's possible using on the iPad.
Cubasis 1.5
  • Unlimited audio and MIDI tracks (depending on the device used)
  • Micrologue virtual analog synthesizer
  • Over 85 virtual instrument sounds based on HALion Sonic
  • Mixer with more than 12 effect processors (insert and send effects)
  • Over 280 MIDI and audio loops
  • Virtual keyboard and virtual drum pads
  • Sample Editor and Key Editor
  • Export to Cubase, Dropbox, SoundCloud, AudioCopy & email
  • MIDI clock and thru support
  • Core Audio and Core MIDI compatible hardware supported
  • Sequence other Core MIDI apps (MIDI recording only) and run Cubasis simultaneously with background audio plus realtime audio streaming via Audiobus
  • Import audio from your iTunes music library or using iTunes filesharing, use AudioPaste or set up a Wi-Fi server in Cubasis

If you really want to create professional sounds like Allen Morgan then you'll want the right interface and accessories. Take a look at the list below for great iPad interfaces.

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