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Steinberg Cubase 7 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £435
inc VAT

Has improved ergonomics and is still incredibly powerful, but you need to invest time to get the best out of it


Another new feature is a track type called Chord Track, which lets the user specify the chord sequence in a piece of music. It can even suggest chords, although this isn’t the most fulfilling way to compose. Once the Chord Track is populated, MIDI parts can be forced to follow the chord progression. More impressively, the Chord Track can be used to generate harmony parts for a monophonic audio recording, which is great if you want to generate instant backing vocals, for instance. It harmonises using static chords rather than following the movement of the original recording, but the individual notes can be edited using Cubase’s powerful VariAudio editor.

Steinberg Cubase 7 Harmony
Steinberg Cubase 7 lets you harmonise vocals using its new Chord tracks

Other new features include improved handling of independent headphone mixes for up to four performers, plus talkback facilities so the engineer can speak to the performers. This means you can tailor each mix to the particular needs of a performer, so they hear exactly what they need to hear. Output metering has been revamped to keep a close eye on perceived loudness, as well as the usual peak metering.

A technology called ASIO Guard claims to deliver more robust audio performance. Apparently, it pre-processes tracks by four to five times the buffer size for plug-ins and instruments. Our system was fine without it, but every little helps in the battle against latency and audio glitches.

The built-in virtual instruments can now use natural tuning rather than equal temperament. The difference is subtle, but it was often notably more sonorous. The controls for setting it up are comically cryptic, though. The PDF manual isn’t much help, but the YouTube videos detailing new features are a great help.

Sadly, there are still a few minor irritations, such as the inability to undo mixer changes. As an example, Cubase 7 ignores the mixer when you hit Ctrl-Z to undo a change and undoes the last edit made in the Project window instead. Thankfully, these irritations are few and far between. Cubase is polished and precise, and it seems the designers have implemented the kinds of functions that people really need rather than flashy gimmicks. Cubase 7 is designed for the fastest possible use by musicians, producers and engineers who know it inside-out. It makes few concessions for anyone else, but it clearly knows its target market well.

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Price £435
Rating ****

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