For those of you who don’t know, I’m a huge Cubase user and have been for years. It was really the first DAW I ever worked with that just clicked for me and made the entire recording process easy and streamlined. My workflow has grown and changed over the years, but Cubase has always been a consistent piece of my process.
With the latest Cubase release, Cubase 10, I think Steinberg has really added some amazing new features that just might help it become the new standard in recording. There’s been a huge facelift to the entire DAW, but the updates with this release are so much more than that from both a workflow and technical standpoint.
Let me tell you some of the features that I absolutely love in Cubase 10.
There are plenty of technical, feature-related reasons for choosing your DAW, but it all kind of starts with how the program looks. A great looking DAW that’s easy to navigate inspires your workflow as much, if not more than, the editing and mixing features themselves.
A non-intuitive DAW is a recipe for trouble in the studio, which is why this new Cubase layout is a huge benefit. They’ve kept things clean and minimalist. There’s nothing extra cluttering up your view when you just need something straightforward to work in. All of the menus are easily accessible when you need to get to them - standard top menus, track menus on the left, and a media/effect browser on the right that you can hide when you’re not using it.
On top of that, the metering and routing is clear and instinctive. Simply put, everything is right where it needs to be.
Creating New Tracks
If you’re tracking in Cubase, their updated New Track menu is designed to be easier to use than ever. Rather than creating your tracks and handling the routing in and out in a second menu (the old way), they’ve consolidated all of the most needed settings into this new menu. You can create multiple tracks with mono or stereo configurations and name them all right from one screen.
This new menu is a huge timesaver over other DAWs that have you create the track on one screen, name them in another, and route them in a third.
If you’re not starting from a blank session, Cubase has some huge feature improvements for working with existing tracks. Let’s say for example that you’re a mixer that’s just received a bunch of tracks recorded in another studio at 96 kHz, but you’d prefer to mix at 48 kHz. Cubase has improved their resampling to make sure that any sample rate changes are performed with the highest level of accuracy. They’ve also introduced 32-bit native support for further resolution improvements.
Once you’ve got everything into your session, Cubase has introduced simplified mono-to-stereo and stereo-to-mono options to help with track setup and editing. It’s now as easy as selecting the tracks you want to combine or split and navigating to the Convert Tracks Menu.
Finally, comping is a breeze in Cubase 10 with drag-and-drop functionality. The lanes spill out naturally under the main track, where you can easily audition and drag your favorites to the top. This is a huge time saver when it comes to vocal editing.
Perhaps one of the coolest UI improvements for Cubase is their new plugin menu navigation. The new effect/instrument viewer is searchable and introduces a new “screenshot” view of each and every VST plugin. By default, all of the Cubase plugins have a screenshot, but you might see some placeholders for other plugins.
Within any plugin though, you’re able to click on a camera icon that takes a snapshot of your current view of a plugin and automatically assigns it to this menu. This makes finding your favorite virtual guitar rig, compressors & more a breeze if you struggle to remember names of similar processors! It looks pretty great too.
Speaking of plugins, all of the stock Cubase plugins got a major renovation with the latest Cubase update. While long-time Cubase users might recognize some classic plugins, they’ve all received new looks for the release of Cubase 10. The new skins look more modern and intuitive which is great considering some of them were beginning to feel a bit dated.
There are also new additions like the Distroyer distortion plugin and new IRs included with Cubase’s classic convolution reverb, REVerence. These new options add to what already felt like a complete lineup of plugins in Cubase, but they’re welcomed additions for sure.
If the plugins alone aren’t cutting it for you, Cubase has added a massive 5 GB sample library as well. This library includes all kinds of virtual instruments, drum samplers & standard loops that can be added to your sessions.
I’m an especially big fan of the cinematic samples that have been added to Cubase. They’re great pieces of audio for music production, and things like orchestral samples, explosions, and more are readily available with the DAW without having to go out and purchase additional sample libraries from third parties.
Continuing the trend of replacing third party software with built-in features, Cubase 10 comes with the VariAudio 3 editor, which is possibly the single greatest addition. While past iterations of VariAudio allowed you to do some basic audio manipulation, the new release makes it easier than ever.
Now you can edit things like pitch, formant, vibrato, tilt, and even volume note-by-note, right within the VariAudio interface. No jumping back to a menu each time you want to edit a different element of the note, the corners of each one have become controls on the note itself.
This stands in contrast with several of the third party options, and should speed up editing quite a bit. Best of all - native features tend to reduce your reliance on CPU & RAM, freeing up system resources for other plugins.
Audio alignment is another huge feature that has had an instant impact on my workflow personally. Time aligning a doubled vocal was a tedious process that required a huge attention to detail. There have been third party solutions to this on the market for years, but they haven’t always been consistent or transparent.
With the audio alignment in Cubase 10, you set your lead vocal as the reference track, the double as the alignment target, and process it! The engine behind this seems to be one of the most accurate ones I’ve used, and I haven’t really found myself needing to align anything further.
Wrapping up a mix can be a headache, especially when revisions are needed. Often, each revision would require duplicating a session if you wanted to retain the old mix. If you didn’t, you’d just end up overwriting the old with the new.
With Cubase 10, Mix Snapshots let you archive your revisions as you work and recall them later if needed. This is a huge bonus when working with bands or labels that change their mind about an edit they requested. It can also be a great way to capture vocal up/vocal down/instrumental mixes all within a single session. Even remixers should find a benefit to the snapshot functionality, giving themselves a way to return to the unprocessed session quickly to compare something to the original.
These snapshots can account for as much or as little of your session as you want. Just want to take a snapshot of the fader levels? That’s fine. Or if you’d rather just capture your current Inserts/Settings, that can be done too. It’s a great way to track different parts of your mix and integrates with just about any workflow.
What does the JST Community think?
Does Cubase check off a lot of boxes that modern mixers and audio engineers need? Is something missing that you wish they’d include in Cubase 11?
Come share your experiences with Cubase 10 over in the Joey Sturgis Tones Facebook group. If you’re looking for guidance on navigating Cubase 10 & all of the processing available in it, be sure to check out the JST VIP section of the site. JST VIP members get exclusive access to all kinds of training, tutorials & more that help you take your mixes to the next level.