Cubase 9 is here, and Steinberg are touting improved stability and performance, and lots of user-requested features. That includes new goodies like a built-in Sample Track for manipulating audio, plus history in the mixer.

At last, all the Cubase releases are synced – Elements, Artist, and Pro all hit Cubase 9 at once. (Steinberg says it’s the first time that’s happened.)

But this is also intended to be a clean break. 32-bit plug-in support is out – 64-bit only. There’s also meant to be improved compatibility as a result, and a scanner tool will hunt out plug-ins you’ve got that may require a 64-bit installer or update. (There’s also expanded plug-and-play USB support on Windows, which I need to research.)

The whole package looks promising. Take what’s essentially the most complete DAW platform available today, and add stuff like multiple marker tracks and Sample Tracks for sample manipulation, and you have a workflow winner. There are simpler, lighter DAWs; there are environments more focused on production and live performance like Ableton Live and FL Studio and Reason. But Cubase remains one of the standards for sheer power of doing absolutely everything.

In pictures

Sampler Track, showing the way the new view/edit pane in the bottom works.

Sampler Track, showing the way the new Lower Zone view/edit pane in the bottom works.

Frequency is the new EQ plug-in.

Frequency is the new EQ plug-in.

MixConsole history - a separate edit history for the mixer.

MixConsole history – a separate edit history for the mixer.

Audio ins for instruments means, for instance, you could sidechain the Retrologue.

Audio ins for instruments means, for instance, you could sidechain the Retrologue.

What’s new

Lower Zone. A new split view in the Project window for displaying the mixer and other panels.

Sampler Track. Play and manipulate samples, all integrated with the DAW. It’s a bit like having Sampler/Simpler in Ableton Live, but really interwoven with the DAW paradigm. Just grab some audio in your project, and go – complete with chromatic playback, a filter, and other settings.

Undo/redo and history in the Mixer. [Pro/Artist only.] Not only does undo/redo apply to mix changes, but you get an advanced History for reviewing and applying changes.

Frequency EQ [Pro only]. Basically, this is all you need in an EQ: eight bands, Linear Phase, M/S, Auto Listen monitoring, Spectrum Display.

More sidechaining. You can now route audio input to compatible VST 3 plug-ins – that’s now compatible instrument plug-ins.

Up to ten marker tracks, cycle export. [Pro] Separate markers for different tracks – huge workflow fix, actually, and I’m surprised other DAWs don’t work this way. Plus export with cycle range.

Cloud collaboration. VST Transit [Pro, Artist] and Connect SE support [Pro].

Updated plug-ins. An overhauled Maximizer, a ground-up redesign of AutoPan, and graphics upgrades for the Brickwall Limiter, Compressor, Expander, Gate and Envelope Shaper. (See below)

That AutoPan looks especially nice:

There’s also a scan of plug-ins for stability concerns when you launch, via something called Plug-in Sentinel.

Those refreshed plug-ins

Have a look; certainly looking nice:

brickwall-limiter

maximizer

envelope-shaper

expander

gate

autopan

compressor

limiter

What’s new in Cubase 9 [Steinberg]

  • Harry

    Apple, you REALLY need to pull your finger out, I’m clinging on by a thread here.

  • Mark McKeever

    I was sure this would be the year they dropped the dumb dongle. Went with Studio One as my Apple crash Logic alternative instead. Looks nice otherwise though.

    • Markus Girrulat

      man, that would have been great… i always in fear of loosing the damn dongle or it gets damaged… it has become such “baby” to watch as much as you care for your purse or keys :-))… they should go for online regristration like adobe, waves, native instruments… easier and more comfortable…

  • QuantumDrone

    Stopping support for 32 bit plug ins is quite possibly the worst decision they could’ve made. For those of us who make a living off of composing with our existing older libraries and soft synths, this is a deal breaker. How can I consider buying this when it doesn’t support the tools I use?

    • Markus Girrulat

      Yes. But thats often the case for beeing on a Mac OS-platform… they dont give a shit on people buying third party stuff… so every two OS-updates you have to deal with high update costs on several plug ins… that why i love hardware so much :-))… well, i will give it a try on 10.10, even if its not supported… worked for 8.5 without problems… cubase is super reliable to me… but yeah.. since i had that problems with tons of plug ins years ago i always keep on bouncing each track with all plugins… so at least i have the old idea ready to use in new projects 🙂

      • foljs

        > Yes. But thats often the case for beeing on a Mac OS-platform…

        This is about Cubase, and has nothing to do with the Mac platform.

    • foljs

      > How can I consider buying this when it doesn’t support the tools I use?

      There are not expecting people reliant on 32bit plugins to consider buying it, obviously.

      The other 95% of musicians, though, can.

      It’s not like there haven’t been ample years to move to 64bit and huge writings on the wall…

      • QuantumDrone

        Wow! That’s fantastic that you know the exact demographic percentile of people who use 64bit plugins exclusively as compared to those who don’t. Truly, I wish I had your expert knowledge of composers as a whole across the known world!

        Speaking seriously though, just because you use only 64bit plugins hardly means that everyone else does as well. There is a whole internet of things out there and a burgeoning VST market where anyone who can code (and some who can’t) can make a software instrument, sample library, or fx module. Here’s a few sites that report on many hidden gems: http://www.kvraudio.comhttp://www.vstplanet.comhttp://www.vst4free.com
        Heck, this year’s KVR Developer challenge even has some entries that are 32bit only, and they were created this year. Imagine that.

        Here’s what I’m not saying: “32bit is the plugin standard for which all should kneel and accept with joy and praise!” Here’s what I am saying: 64bit plugins are of course the future, and in time, all development will cease on 32bit things. However, a large portion of those who find themselves in the business of making music (especially those who have been composing before 2009, when 64bit became the standard in Windows operating systems) still use 32bit plugins. Not exclusively mind you, but they still rely on them for their work.

        Seven years is not a very long time in the composition business. It may be so within the world of tech, but music makers’ habits are more glacial in nature and should be remembered as such.

        • foljs

          > Wow! That’s fantastic that you know the exact demographic percentile of people who use 64bit plugins exclusively as compared to those who don’t. Truly, I wish I had your expert knowledge of composers as a whole across the known world!

          Well, Steinberg and Apple know the percentages too (from telemetry and software download stats) and they have both chosen to stop supporting 32bit plugins, as have many other players.

          > Speaking seriously though, just because you use only 64bit plugins hardly means that everyone else does as well.

          Sure. But beyond a certain number of users, the costs (in code maintainance, lost optimization opportunities, dual customer support 32 and 64 bit etc) from supporting 32bit makes no sense. We’ve reached that point.

          > Seven years is not a very long time in the composition business.

          Well, for older projects, they should be archived as audio stems, in which case the old 32bit plugins shouldn’t matter anymore.

          And for newer projects, there was more than 7 years to transition to 64 bit plugins (including the 64bit versions of the same plugins, that the plugin companies put out for free).

          There are two cases:

          If you have a 32bit plugin, and there’s a 64bit version of it, just switch to that. In most cases its totally free update, and there’s no problem. It will even run better and slightly faster.

          If on the other hand you still have a 32bit plugin and the company has no 64bit version available for it STILL, then in all probability they have abandoned that plugin right? Or they are massively dragging their asses.

          So, if the plugin company has abandoned their own plugin, why should Steinberg still support it?

    • socialdiscard

      Steinberg took away the .ALL and .ARR formats…and computers took away floppy drives…how can I work like this? If it’s such a problem for you Don’t Upgrade. Work with what works for you. Simple.

  • murw

    You can use Jbridge of you want to keep using 32 bit plugins. I used it in previous 64 bit Cubase versions as it seemed to be working better than Steinberg’s own bridge.
    https://jstuff.wordpress.com/jbridge/

    • QuantumDrone

      Thanks for the info and link. It’s good to know there is some recourse when dealing with lack of support.

  • Sjakelien

    It was Cubase (Atari ST) that introduced me to the wonders of Sequencing, and later the introduction of VST to the whole virtual studio stuff. So I still have a sweet spot for the brand.
    I got curious to look at the state of this software through this announcement, and watched all of the 11 videos associated with this release.
    I liked a lot, especially the pan-sensitive EQ, and the clean look of the plug-ins.
    However, I was shocked by the overall workflow and UI: many, in my opinion, crucial navigation elements are hidden in small pop-up menus, on locations that really don’t make sense to me.
    I’m sure it would make sense to those that have been working in Cubase for the last 10 years, but for me, it would take weeks or even months before I would be able to use this software.

  • El Libra

    Like Pro Tools, Cubase has made it possible for me to have versions 7.5, 8.5, and 9 running on my system. To be fair, Cubase held out a little longer than most – anyone who records music these days using any kind of DAW has to be prepared for the inevitable (and planned) obsolescence of their product and plan accordingly (especially if you make your living this way). Obsolescence as a business model exists in every aspect of life from the jeans you buy to the computer you use. I keep a Windows XP computer on hand (offline of course) to finish or revise old projects or to use older technology that won’t work in a 64-bit environment. The point is (after so much wind, LOL) – you have to be adaptable. Complaining is not going to make progress go away.