Even though I use Ableton as my main DAW for over a decade I was in love with Cubase. I went to the Steinberg user group in NYC and wrote many of my great songs using Cubase. Steinberg has always been one of the most innovative music software companies and lately they are shining again. Cubasis for iPad is amazing and with the power of the iPad Air it’s actually a viable way to make full on tracks. Steinberg also showed off a little recently by adding Leap Motion tech to Cubase allowing you to wave your hands in the air Minority Report style to control your DAW. They just released Cubase 7.5 and one feature I really think is stellar called TrackVersions. TrackVersions allows you to create different versions of parts in a neat manner. One “trick” I use when making music is to always try out 4-5 things per transition or part. I love the idea of being able to keep this different options labeled and inside the track. With Ableton I end up with a very long page full of muted ideas.
“Create, rename and manage parallel versions of the same track or tracks and use them to compare takes or create alternative versions of your recordings while keeping all track settings. Interfacing perfectly with existing track handling features like lanes, the flexible new TrackVersions feature will significantly speed up your workflow when working not only with audio but also MIDI, instrument, chord, tempo and signature tracks.” – steinberg.net
For more info: steinberg.net
I’ve yet to see a full fledged sequencer for iOS that I really want to use. Today the grandfather of sequencers Steinberg bring us Cubasis. Good or not it uses what we musicians know as the traditional sequencer metaphor. I’m really looking forward to try this out but at $49 it’s more than an impulse buy. If it runs smoothly and it’s fun to record and create full songs with this will be very welcome!
“Cubasis is Steinberg’s streamlined, multitouch sequencer for the iPad. Specially designed for quick and easy operation, Cubasis makes recording, editing and mixing a breeze. You can also open your Cubasis projects in Cubase under Windows and OS X! Cubasis places touch-intuitive production tools in your hands, opening up a new world of possibilities for your creativity.” – steinberg.net
For more info: steinberg.net/en/products/ios_apps/cubasis
If you read this blog you would believe I’m a Ableton Live fanatic. That is true however I once loved another. After my early days with Dr. T’s KCS on Ataris and Amigas I went Mac and Cubase VST. Cubase VST was the biggest revolution in music tech that mattered to me personally. It enabled me to start recording vocals direct to hard drive. It’s the reason in 1996 I start my own record label Things to Come Records. With VST (Virtual Studio Technology) I was able to create what I thought was fairly new and unique at the time: techno electronic mixed with 80s style New Wave and EBM.
Enter the 00s and Cubase became too buggy for me to use. It got to the point I was hitting save after each change I made. I was also rendering “safety” versions of songs in case project files would stop loading. Once Ableton Live came out it was over for my friend from Hamburg. That all said, I have friends that use Cubase today and they tell me it’s more stable. I also give credit where do and Steinberg brought so many innovations to the space it’s really amazing. Most importantly I wrote mountains of music using Cubase.
Steinberg has put up an interesting website called Steinberg Museum where you can see the history of the company. There are some tasty flashbacks in the building. Screenshots, interviews and old adverts are all fun for sequencer geeks like me. Check it out now: http://museum.steinberg.net
“Come in and tour this virtual museum which documents the story of Steinberg from its beginnings in the early 1980s.” – museum.steinberg.net
Are you or were you ever a Cubase user?
This entry was written by interviews, political and tagged Cubase, Cubase VST, Hamburg, museum, Steinberg. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
In 1994 I performed my first live show in Europe at a huge event called “Hellraiser Immorality”. It took place in Amsterdam and there was well over 30,000 people going crazy. I was with John Selway and we were performing under the name Disintegrator. I remember being pretty shocked how large the event was. I remember there was an ecstacy testing booth (to make sure your pills were “safe”) and a place to get your head shaved! As far as my memory serves me Robert Hood was also playing that night and several people from the classic techno label R&S. I remember Hood had some issues because he didn’t play hard enough for the Dutch crowd. I remember R&S because of certain things I saw backstage (I was innocent back then!).
There was a Dutch act called Haarlem Hardcore Source also performing that night. It turned out they were fans of our music and I noticed a strange red box in their live set up. When I asked what it was they told me, “A home brew TB-303!”. Then to my amazement they offered it to me… for free! You simply don’t turn down offers like that. It didn’t have the interesting sequencer of a real 303 but the basic sound was extremely close. With careful Midi programming (back then on Atari Cubase) you could fake the slides and accents that made the 303 so wicked.
I stayed friends with the HHS crew for some years. I went out to Haarlem and recorded a 12″ with them called “Future Fuckers United“. The title made sense back then for some reason. HHS doesn’t exist anymore but one of the group members William Jordens is a well known DJ in Holland known under the name The Rapist! William also works with Multigroove which throws huge events and has his own event business called Your Dance Company. He books me several times a year. How’s that for a friend? The red clone now lives with a friend of mine in NY who records under the name 8-bit. Over the years I also owned two real TB-303s but they were stolen in the 90s. These days when I am looking for the acid sound I open Audiorealism’s Bassline 2. Using the software let’s me have as many 303s as I like. I challenge you to be able to pick a real one vs the software especially inside a mix.
This entry was written by hardware, live performance and tagged , Cubase, ecstacy, live performance, Roland TB-303. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
Today I would like to talk about the biggest epiphany I had when it comes to recording entirely inside a computer. If you take one thing away with you by reading this blog this should be it. In 1996, Steinberg released Cubase VST which stands for Virtual Studio Technology. For the first time, someone with a limited budget and a PC could record audio to the hard drive and have access to a virtual effects rack and software synthesizers. People today call this mixing “in the box”. This had profound implications, so much so I would compare it to the release of the Tascam 4-Track Portastudio. Recently, laptops have become so powerful that they themselves can be full virtual studios anywhere you are.
Almost weekly I am asked for mixing advice. Usually after a few probing questions I discover that 90% of the people unhappy with their sound are making the same mistake. They are completely overdriving their internal summing bus! Take all your song’s individual channel faders and bring them at least -12db and keep the Master fader at 0dB at all times.
Look at your DAW’s mixer. Now imagine the volume of your individual channel fader’s adding up from left to right heading to your Master. If you keep your channel faders close to zero surely your Master will go over odB and clip. As we all know any clipping in the digital realm is very bad.
Why not keep your channel faders all hot and turn the master down? Because you will still be overdriving cheap plug-ins. Well written plug-ins can handle a hot signal but some of the coolest freeware and to be honest some big name effects clip internally when even a warm signal is shot at them. The worst part about this happening is there is no visual warning. All you know is your mixes just sound like crap.
If you ran a test overdriving one plug-in and pushing a channel fader too hot you may not notice anything. But keep your levels low in a complicated song with over 10 channels and you will definitely notice a major improvement.
If this is news to you don’t stress about it. It took me a while to wrap my head around it. To give credit where it’s due I first came across this advice when reading an article in EQ magazine by Craig Anderton. After I read it I emailed him to clarify some questions I had. He was graceful enough to answer me and I then did some searches online and found this was huge discussion on several high end pro-audio forums. Forum members at Tapeop, Gearslutz and the Digidesign sites were rambling on about audio levels and mixing ITB. Most of the threads were over 50 pages. Everyone was learning the same lesson.
How did I choose -12db as a start point? First, each DAW has a different summing engine so your own number may differ. I use Ableton Live and originally I was starting projects with channel faders at -6db. However, I constantly had to adjust them all down as I built the songs up. I settled at -10db but recently I noticed something very interesting. In Live 7 they introduced Drum Racks and a Slice to Midi feature. A group set of faders becomes automatically available to you for the individual drum sounds of audio slices the new features create. Guess what? The channel faders are automatically set to -12db! It seems Ableton headquarters has also caught on how to make their DAW sound better. Interesting no?
In Ableton Live if you hover over the Track Volume slider you can see the exact dB it’s set at by looking at the Status Bar located bottom left of the screen. If you click on a channel faders small left facing triangle you can then use the up and down arrows to nudge the volume in small increments.
As I mentioned in this post something to keep in mind is when you add EQ to a sound you add dBs. If you add +6db of high end EQ to a vocal you may want to adjust the channel fader. Lastly, I add a limiter to the Master and set it at -0.1 to catch anything that manages to spike a little too loud. Anyone with a Mac has Apple’s free AU limiter built-in.
I think you will really enjoy mixing quiet a lot more once you try this method.
photo credit: oooh.oooh
This entry was written by Ableton Live, plug-ins and tagged Ableton Live, Cubase, mixing, plug-ins, volume. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.