Canadian Musician - March / April 2018 - Page 20

ROAD TEST Steinberg Cubase Pro 9.5 Digital Audio Workstation S By Eric Price teinberg’s paid x.5 releases sit be- tween the free maintenance updates and the wealth of new features expected from a full-version update. As such, Cubase 9.5 Pro offers a respectable mix of addressing longstanding user requests and offering unique new features and capabilities. In Use At the top of my list of major feature improve- ments, I’d say that the new 64-bit floating-point resolution engine feature is a winner. For those wanting greater detail and transparency when processing audio, Cubase has your back. You now have the option, under what was formerly called Device Settings and now renamed Studio Setup, to choose between 32- or 64-bit Processing Precision. When an audio engine calculates really big or really small values, they may eventually get trun- cated or rounded. We might hear those round- ing errors as noise – especially during events like fades. The increased resolution of the new 64-bit engine effectively moves those calculations out- side of the audible realm, and I can confirm that it results in greater detail in your mix. There are several improvements in the project window to go over. First up is the new Adapt to Zoom option. With this new zooming tool, you can make a Grid Snap adjustment according to the degree of zoom. If you use the snap-to-grid function as much as I do, you’ll find this addition a real time saver. Next, we have the automation improvements. Track automation now supports Bezier curves for smooth changes and faster editing of parameters. There is now the option of using the Range tool on an automation lane, letting users quickly high- light an area to edit. This was something near the top of many users’ request lists. There are some changes, in Cubase Pro only, to the single window layout in the Right Zone. The zone now features two new tabs. The first allows quick access to the metering section, displaying either the master signal levels or the loudness meter. Secondly, you now have a control room tab for fast access to control room settings. Also added to the Media Browser tab is a very handy File Browser option that gives you an easy way to directly access and review vari- 20 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N ous media files directly on the computer and a Favourites button to save time accessing your most-used files and having them at your fin- gertips. One update I really love is the retooled met- ronome. The metronome is now completely customizable. You can change the sound of the click and incorporate dedicated patterns they provide, or use the Click Pattern Editor, where you can modify any facet of a click pattern, which can then be saved and added to the pattern library. The patterns can also be easily used between time signature shifts. You now have the option of being able to render the MIDI or audio click to a dedicated audio track. Nice! Insert slots have been doubled, now allow- ing for up to 16 VST effects on each audio track from the original eight. The retooled insert sec- tion now has a draggable separator line to allow for instant and dynamic allocation of the inserts to a pre- or post-fader assignment. Four of the effects have been updated. The regular compressor now has a Dry Mix control as well as a High Ratio (8:1) selection. The Tube Compressor supports a whole new look, remi- niscent of another major brand of compressor, and now features a Character Knob that adds a bit of top end when used, plus a Mix control and a side-chain option. The Vintage Compressor also sports a new look, once again based on another famous brand of compressor, and it now has a Mix Control added to it as well. This leaves Mag- neto, which simulates the saturation and com- pression of recording to analog tape and, like the others, has a new look for its MKIII upgrade. There are now Production Presets that offer up plenty of useful effect chain recommenda- tions for the master tracks covering a wide variety of musical styles. The video engine finally gets replaced and is now compatible with many of the current video codecs and external video cards. This was some- thing I have been hoping for and I’m glad to see it revamped. Direct offline processing has been beefed up and lets you use plug-ins without having to insert them on a channel for real-time use. This allows events to be processed non-destructively while keeping the CPU load to a minimum. HALion Sonic SE3 includes the new FLUX wavetable synth with some cool sounds. One can never have enough synthesizers! The Sampler Track now supports the ability to drag and drop MIDI events into it, which are then turned into audio. There is now an A/B option to easily compare any changes. Under the Preferences Menu, there is now a greatly expanded Colour Scheme interface that allows for far more choices to customize the look of your Cubase. Lastly, Steinberg has promised to add support for Softube’s Console 1 in the near future for all you Softube fans. Summary Once again, Steinberg has done a great job and made this a worthy update to the program. I feel the changes are certainly worth the price of admission and warrant a purchase now instead of holding out for the next full version update. Eric Price is a grizzled industry veteran who continues to press on despite everything he believes in.