by Glenn Bucci
I was able to download the upgrade from Cubase 5 (PC) to Cubase 7 on line. Thankfully the install went very well. Here are some of my observations.
1. I like the way you can customize the screens, and I really do like the way the mixer looks a lot better. Different colored faders for audio, midi, and group is something I like as you can find things a little faster. It also has a smoother look, and appears more modern. They have not updated the Cubase mixer for a very long time, and this new look seems fresh and up to date. Now you can also put a photo of a instrument above the faders. I know Logic gave this option a long time ago. It seems that it allows you to find the particular fader faster than looking at the words below on the scribble strips. Partially since you recogzine the photo faster than it is to read the names below.
2. I was initially happy about the channel strip being shown on the mixer screen. However after working with plug ins for so many years with a visual box showing up with additional visual information in front of you, I still prefer that work flow over just knobs. Also just the display of the controls and not being able to see everything big enough and at once I was not as keen on. However when you click the channel edit button, the whole channel strip for that channel shows up along with your inserts on the left and Aux's on the right like the previous versions. I found this a lot easier to work with (compared to the mixer page) the knobs alone. I found this display and it's work flow to be actually quite nice. Also you can click the EQ (next to the channel strip) and a new EQ display shows up which again looks fresher than the old display on the previous versions. . If you use the Studio EQ as an insert, the extra graph showing more information on the screen is quite nice. as well.
I like the vintage comp (which looks like a 1176 with more features), and I compared it to the Waves 1176. They sound similar though different. I would not say one is better than the other. Depending on the source, one may be better than another. The tube compressor adds some distortion, and does not really seem to warm up things. The tape effect I was not impressed with and it does not even come close to the one in Samplitude, not to mention the UAD Studer. Many of the bread and butter effects visually do not seem to be any different than the ones in Cubase 5.
Some things that were a little confusing initially like when you wanted to bypass an effect on a channel. Just by clicking on an insert on the mixer page does not disable it like the older version. You have to click on the left hand side of the insert where there is a small circle to bypass the effect. Also though I like seeing photos of the instruments, it makes the faders shorter and a little more difficult to read the fine details on the fader. I prefer to have the larger faders that are easier to read.
3. I think I will keep my visual work flow on the mixer similar to what I had in Cubase 5. Just showing the inserts and Aux on top. Perhaps the metering when mixing as well. I don't like the work flow of seeing your EQ in the channel strip as it is so big that it takes other things off the screen. You then have to scroll down to see the other sections with you mouse. I much prefer the way Samplitude has the layout of the inserts, effects, and EQ on their mixer. However I like the fader, and navigation screen on the left better in Cubase. I also like the improved way it lays out the plug ins in the mixer. It makes finding things a lot easier as it combines many plug ins together under the same title. I wish this is something Samplitude would do with their work flow.
4. In the older versions of Cubase you could save your mixer setting view. For instance a view that you would see the mixer starting with the first fader on the left. Another saved view you could click to open would start the mixer view on the drums, or group tracks. Samplitude was better in this area as they had numbers you just have to click on to see the different views. In Cubase you had to click, open,and move your mouse to the view you wanted. They seemed to have removed their old work flow. Now there is a visual column on the left that lists all your channels. So you just click on the track you want to see on the mixer. The mixer notes that you have on your project page on the far bottom, you can now also include on the mixer if you want. I typically use the note page for information like what mic, pre and certain settings I used for a track. Personally the information on the project page is enough for me, but the added flexiblity of adding it on the mixer page is nice.
5. I was glad with my install that all my Waves, UAD, Focusrite, and other plug ins all showed up and work well. The CPU performance seems to be similar to Cubase 5. I was a little worried since my computer is a couple years old. It seems this older computer will still be able to be used with Cubase 7. The Mackie Controller and Expander also work very well with the new version. Cubase 7 seemed to have taken the info from my Cubase 5 and transport them into Cubase 7.
This is just a scratch of the surface with all the new features of Cubase 7. I hope to work with musicans in the future who will have Cubase 7 in their studio. I would then be able to record tracks in my studio that will show up on their project on their Cubase 7. Also I know I will be working with the midi track to obtain new chord assistant change ideas for songs. The additional metering and putting the control room all on one screen is also very nice. Overall this version is a huge improvement and really puts Cubase/Nuendo back as one of the of the DAW's out there. It sill though lacks some features of Samplitude like burning CD;s, multipe mastering metering and powerful object editing. With Steinberg owning Wavelab, it seems many of these features will be for Wavelab only though. Though Samplitude is a powerful program which I really like, it's integration with third party plug ins and hardware is not a smooth and thought out as Cubase. Both are great programs in their own way.