Steinberg Cubase

Steinberg Cubase
Cubase 6 feature collage.png
Cubase 6
Developer(s) Steinberg
Stable release 6 / January 17, 2011; 9 months ago (2011-01-17)
Operating system Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows
Type Digital Audio and MIDI Software
License Proprietary
Website Product website

Cubase is a music software product developed by Steinberg for music recording, arranging and editing as part of a Digital Audio Workstation. It is one of the oldest DAWs to still enjoy widespread use. The first version, which ran on the Atari ST computer and recorded via MIDI only, was released in 1989.

On January 17, 2011, Steinberg announced that the new version, Cubase 6, was ready and officially shipping. The many new features[1] include: multitrack drum editing and quantizing, multitake comping, advanced tempo detection, drum replacement and VST instruments such as Halion Sonic SE and LoopMash 2. This version also supports 64-bit technology under Mac OS X and Windows 7.



Cubase creates projects which allow the operator to edit MIDI files, raw audio tracks, and other associated information like lyrics, and to present them in a range of formats including musical scores, editing console, event lists, etc. The operator can also mix the various tracks down into a stereo .wav file ready to be burned onto a CD in Red Book format or .mp3 burnt to CD or DVD as files or to be published on the Web.

While MIDI is a fairly ubiquitous standard for representation of digital music, there is no broadly accepted standard for the interchange of complete projects containing both MIDI and audio between Cubase and other competing recording/editing software (e.g. Logic Pro, Pro Tools, Digital Performer, or Cakewalk), so while actual pure recorded audio information can be exchanged, it is hard to import a whole project (with specific edits, instrument information and automation) in its native format from Cubase to another application and vice versa. The cross-platform OMFI format (which is supported by Cubase SX and newer version) resolves this issue to some extent.


Cubase 1.0 Atari

File:Cubase 2.01 Atari ST.png
Screenshot of Cubase for Atari ST, version 2.01 ( 1 989). Monochrome, 640ⅹ400 resolution.
Cubase (v.3) for Atari on a monochrome monitor.

April 1989

Originally called Cubit, but changed to Cubase due to copyright reasons, this was the successor to Pro-24. Cubase for Atari was MIDI only and ran on the Atari 520ST and Atari 1040ST. Although it would run on a colour screen, the best resolution was obtained by using the Atari SM-124 monochrome monitor which gave, for its time, an impressive resolution of 640ⅹ400.

The main innovation of Cubase was the graphic arrange page which allowed for the graphic representation of the composition using a vertical list of tracks and a horizontal timeline. This was much more intuitive and allowed much easier editing than the previous system of parameter lists. It has since been copied by just about every other similar product.


Cubase 1.0 is released for the Apple Macintosh[citation needed].

Cubase 2.0 Atari

April 1990

Only supports format "0" MIDI files.

Cubase Audio


Macintosh, this version relied on the TDM system from Digidesign for the audio portion.


Release on Atari Falcon 030. This version brings DSP built-in effects with 8-tracks audio recording & playback using only native hardware. It was an incredible solution for the price at this time. Later versions enable 16-tracks mode using audio compression.

Cubase 3.0 Atari


Cubase for Windows


Cubase Score for Windows


Cubase Score is released for Windows offering Key, List, Logical, Drum, and, of course, score editing and printing facilities. A GM/GS Editor is also included.

Cubase 2.8 for Windows

Cubase V2.8 — MS Windows


The Arrange Window was redesigned.

Features included the Interactive Phrase Synthesizer, CueTrax and StyleTrax: the "virtual Band".

Cubase Audio 1.6 Windows


Cubase Audio 1.6 supported the hard disk recording functions of Session8 and Yamaha's CBX D3/D5 Cubase Audio supported Digidesign's new AudioMedia III PCI card. Used in conjunction with AudioMedia III Cubase Audio gave 8 audio tracks, EQ and automation.

Cubase Audio 3.0 TDM for Macintosh


Cubase Audio 3.0 TDM had up to 16 Audio Tracks with TDM Support for up to 48 Physical Audio Tracks.

Cubase Audio 3.0 TDM contained all the new features of Cubase Score 2.0. It also had OMS II Support and MovieManager Support.

Cubase Audio XT 3.0


Cubase Score 3.0


Cubase VST3.0 Macintosh


Up to 32 tracks of Digital Audio. Up to 128 realtime EQs. Professional Effects Rack with 4 multi-effect processors. Plug in Interface for external Plug-ins, allowing external audio technology to be integrated into the Cubase environment. Professional Score Printing, up to 60 staves per page, 8-voice Polyphony. Had a bug limiting memory in the host system to 64mb on the PowerMac. Was eventually resolved with a patch.

Cubase VST3.5 Windows


Windows Cubase VST provided up to 32 tracks of digital audio, 128 Equalizers in real time, a fully equipped effects rack with four multi-effects processors, a master section and an open PlugIn interface for additional real time effects and mastering tools. VST for Windows also supported Active Movie compatible PlugIns.

Cubase Audio VST 3.5 + Wavelab 1.6 + Waves AudioTrack was bundled in the first "Producer Pac"

Producer Pac package

Cubase VST3.5.5


Other new features include updated implementation of the DirectX PlugIns which allows you to organize the list of installed PlugIns according to personal preferences. Support for Recycle Export Files (.REX-files). This allows the use of 'recycled' sample loops right in VST audio tracks without using a dedicated hardware sampler. VST Audio Engine can now be disabled while VST is running (from within the Audio-System Menu) or by launching the program while holding the Shift key, this is also used in schools

Cubase VST24 3.6


96 tracks, Submixers, ReWire, 8 FX sends and eight Aux. VST/24 3.6 supports the entire functionality of Yamaha's DSP Factory card

Cubase VST24 3.7


This was the very first version that supported VST instruments. Not only was it the first Cubase version that allowed the use of VST instruments, but it was the first sequencer ever to support that format (since Steinberg invented the VST Instruments interface).

Cubase VST24 4.0 Macintosh


Macintosh only. Cubase VST24 4.0 now offers 96 tracks of 24 bit, 96 kHz digital audio with Digidesign Pro Tools 24(TM) digital audio hardware systems.

Cubase VST24 4.1 Macintosh

Cubase V4.1 — Mac


Macintosh only. Downloadable as a free upgrade to owners of VST24 4.0. Introduced VST 2.0, ASIO 2.0, DSP Factory support, TDM support and more. In addition, the Cubase VST/24 Mixer/EQ section included an extension with 5 new real-time processing modules — Compressor, Limiter, Auto Gate, Auto Limit and Soft Clip. A number of VST elements could also now be controlled remotely via external devices such as the Yamaha 01-V.

Cubase VST32 5.0


Cubase VST32 5.1


Was available individually and as part of a Producer's Pack featuring Recycle loop editor and Rebirth virtual instrument (non-VST format), programs developed by Propellerheads but distributed by Steinberg. The Propellerheads products came on Mac & PC compatible CDs, but the disc and serial hasp for Cubase were PC-only.

Cubase SX1.0/Cubase SL1.0


Cubase SX1.0 was released as the next generation after Cubase VST. It was based upon a contemporary sister program, Nuendo V1.0, and was a total rewrite over the previous versions of Cubase. Although bringing vast improvements in both stability and feature quality, there were many features from Cubase VST that didn't make it into the new version, much to the annoyance of users upgrading from previous versions.

One notable improvement of Cubase SX was its sound. The sound of Cubase VST was considered inferior[citation needed] to its competitors and Cubase SX corrected this with its inheritance of Nuendo's audio engine.

Cubase SX1 gained responsiveness, having a bare minimum of intrusive copy protection code. Notably the copy protection code was embedded in the Key Editor where users could move MIDI Notes. The cracked version of SX1 was identifiable by its tendency to crash if a user moved notes in the Key Editor. One of the caveats of Cubase SX1 was the loss of the Dynamic Events, a major feature of Cubase VST.

Cubase SX 1.0 was the first Cubase version not to open Cubase VST songs and projects. Cubase SX 1.0 allows you to import VST projects and save them in the new *.cpr format. However the import feature doesn't work very well.

Cubase SX 2.0/Cubase SL2.0


Cubase SX2.0 was hailed by many as a huge leap in functionality. One of the most innovative features was called Timewarp. This allowed users to record music either as midi and/or Audio in freetime, without click or metronome, and then move the bars and beats grid to the music, automatically creating a tempo track. The Timewarp tool actually allowed the user to move the gridlines.

Cubase SX2.0 also saw the introduction of Full PDC (Plugin Delay Compensation). Many plugins, particularly those which run on DSP Cards such as UAD-1 or Powercore cannot process their audio within a 1 sample time period and therefore introduce extra latency into the system. Unchecked this will cause some audio channels to end up out of sync with others. PDC is basically an internal algorithm that checks all the various latencies introduced by such plugins and creates audio delay buffers to allow the audio from all channels to synchronize.

Cubase SX 3.0

Cubase SX3.0 — MS Windows


One of the major features to arrive with Cubase SX3.0 was Audiowarp. Audiowarp allowed Audio to remain in sync with the project even after changing its tempo. It also allowed the user to apply 'tempo anchors' to an imported audio file in order that it would sync to the tempo of the project regardless of the original tempo.

Audiowarp was largely successful, but had a major flaw in that it didn't work with variable tempo projects. This was because the tempo map it copied to the Audio file when musical mode was enabled was derived from the fixed tempo setting of the project rather than the tempo track.

Nonetheless Audiowarp was an important addition to the musical features of Cubase and despite the caveats, having the ability to change the tempo of a musical piece and have the audio tracks follow this new tempo was an important facility in music production.

Cubase SX3.1


  • Cubase SX 3.1 was released on August 31, 2005.
  • Cubase SX 3.1.1 was released on October 20, 2005.

Cubase 4.0

Cubase 4.0.3 — MS Windows


Cubase 4.0 marked the end of the SX, SL and SE designations, with SX becoming Cubase 4, SL becoming Cubase Studio 4 and SE becoming Cubase Essentials 4. It also marked the end of DX Plugin support. Whatever technical or economic reason Steinberg had for dropping the use of DX Plugins in Cubase 4 it had a big impact on customer satisfaction. In addition, there was no prior announcement before release to allow users to plan ahead. It was up to a user on the Cubase forums to announce that DX Plugins were no longer supported in the program.

Cubase 4 was the first Cubase version not to support the import of Cubase VST songs and projects. To give the ability to import older Cubase VST projects and songs Steinberg decided to make the previous Cubase SX3 and Cubase SL3 versions available as a download.

Cubase 4.0 brought a GUI change. In general the GUI was darker than the previous version, Cubase SX3, and on the whole was warmly welcomed, although some elements are considered by many users to be a little too dark on some monitors.

With this version the preset system was changed. The FXP (Preset) and FXB (Bank) files were discontinued along with the drop-down menu XML presets. They were replaced by a preset system that integrates in a new feature, the Media Bay, which allows deeper categorisation and management of presets at the expense of ergonomics/speed.

Cubase 4.1


Cubase 4.1 was released on October 23, 2007. Apart from a host of bugfixes, V4.1 added some new features, including Sidechaining, Free Group Routing, Project Logical Editor, and Recording from Sum Objects. Existing Features were also improved including the Play Order Track and the Audiowarp which is now integrated into the Audio Sample editor.

Cubase 4.5


  • Cubase 4.5 was released on September 3, 2008.
  • Cubase 4.5.2 was released on September 11, 2008.

Cubase 5.0


  • Cubase 5.0 was released on January 27, 2009.
  • Cubase 5.0.1 was released on April 8, 2009.

Cubase 5.1

  • Cubase 5.1 was released on August 24, 2009.
  • Cubase 5.1.1 was released on December 12, 2009.

Cubase 5.5

  • Cubase 5.5.1 was released on June 21, 2010.
  • Cubase 5.5.2 was released on November 9, 2010.

Cubase 6.0

  • Cubase 6.0 was released on January 17, 2011 and was designed to run on 64-bit Windows 7; its predecessor could run up to the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system but it works on Windows 7 also.

Cubase 6 features the new VST 3.5 standard that introduces new features such as Note Expression. With Note Expression, the limitations of MIDI controller events are circumvented, enabling articulation information for individual notes — even in polyphonic arrangement (e.g. chords).


Cubase has existed in three main incarnations — initially Cubase, which featured only MIDI, and which was available on the Atari ST, Macintosh and Windows.

After a brief period with audio integration, the next version, Cubase VST, featured fully integrated audio recording and mixing along with effects, added VST support, a standard for audio plug-ins which has led to a plethora of third-party effects, both freeware and commercial. Cubase VST was only for Macintosh and Windows — Atari support had been effectively dropped by this time, despite such hardware still being a mainstay in many studios. Cubase VST was offering a tremendous amount of power to the home user, but computer hardware took some time to catch up. By the time it did, VST's audio editing capability was found to be lacking when compared with competitors such as Pro Tools DAE and Digital Performer MAS.

To address this, a totally new version of the program, Cubase SX (based on Steinberg's flagship post-production software Nuendo) was introduced, which dramatically altered the way the program ran. This version required a steep learning curve for users of older Cubase versions. However, once the new methods of working were learned, the improvements in handling of audio and automation made for a more professional sequencer and audio editor.

A notable improvement with the introduction of Cubase SX was the advanced audio editing, especially the ability to 'undo' audio edits. Early versions of Cubase VST did not have this capability. Cubase SX also featured real-time time-stretching and adjustment of audio tempo, much like Sonic Foundry's ground-breaking ACID.

In September 2006 Steinberg announced Cubase 4 - the successor to Cubase SX3. Notable new features include 'control room', a feature designed to ease the creation of monitor mixes, and a new set of VST3 plug-ins and instruments.

There are also lighter economic alternatives by Steinberg, originally named Cubasis, later becoming Cubase SE and then Cubase Essential at version 4.

File format

From Cubase 1.0 (1989) to Cubase VST 5.1 (2001) the file format used by Cubase was .all (Cubase song) and .arr (Cubase arrangement) files. It was only possible to open files on a Cubase version identical or newer than the version that saved the file. The upgrade to a new version of Cubase was not a big issue.

Starting with Cubase SX 1.0 (2002) the file format was changed to .cpr (Cubase Project File) and .npr (Nuendo Project File). It is possible to open files on a newer and, in some cases, the older version. For example a file saved in SX2 will open in SX3 and work perfectly if the vst set is the same. There have also been reports that a project from SX3 will open in SX2[citation needed].

Cubase SX 1.0 was the first Cubase version not to open Cubase VST songs and projects. Cubase SX 1.0 allows you to import VST projects and save them in the new *.cpr format. However the import feature doesn't work very well.[citation needed]

Cubase SX 3.1.1 (2005) was still able to import Cubase VST songs but with many limitations.

Some of the important data not imported from Cubase VST songs:

  • tempo
  • some tracks parts
  • mute/un-mute track option

Cubase 4 was the first Cubase version not to support the import of Cubase VST songs and projects. To give the ability to import older Cubase VST projects and songs Steinberg decided to make the previous Cubase SX3 and Cubase SL3 versions available as a download.[2][3] But, because of the limited import capability of Cubase SX, Cubase 4 users are forced to use Cubase VST to work on old Cubase VST files or to manually export single tracks and then create a new project in Cubase 4.[3]

It has also been reported that there are backward compatibility issues between different Cubase versions using the *.cpr format.[3]

VST Instruments

Cubase VST 3.7 in 1999 introduced a virtual instrument interface for software synthesizers known as VSTi. This made it possible for third-party software programmers to create and sell virtual instruments for Cubase. This technology has become the de facto standard for other DAW software when integrating software based instruments on the Macintosh and Windows platforms. A new version of VST, VST3, was introduced with Steinberg's Cubase 4 which introduced sidechaining amongst other features. Cubase 6 includes VSTs such as HALion Sonic SE, Groove Agent ONE, LoopMash 2 and VST Amp Rack.

Copy protection

Most versions of Cubase use dongles for copy protection, which allow license transfer between host machines, although current OEM[4][5] variants use software based protection. The Atari versions of Cubase used the cartridge port for this purpose, while Parallel port dongles were used up until Cubase VST5.1 on the PC and Mac.

Cubase SX V1.0 introduced the use of cross-platform USB dongles combined with a system of code encryption licensed from Syncrosoft[6][7]

The Syncrosoft protection process allows software developers to insert what are known as 'Dongle Calls' in the software to enable the program to check the dongle and the relevant license is in place before the user can use various functions. In Cubase SX1.0 the employment of dongle calls was limited to the movement of MIDI notes in the Key Editor. Users of cracked copies of SX1.0 could be identified when they complained of a bug when they moved these notes.

The dongle calls, however, were applied to many more functions with the release of Cubase SX2.0 including re-routing audio channels, inserting/removing plugins, changing ASIO buffer size and many other functions regarding the Audio Engine. Users began to complain about the program being unresponsive as after initiating these functions they had to wait some time before the program was released back to them. This 'lockup' increased exponentially in proportion to the size and complexity of the project. On Windows systems when Cubase is temporarily locked up due to the copy protection system, clicking in the GUI could cause a phenomenon known as WWNRS (White Window Not Responding Syndrome). Basically random windows would lose their contents, go white and the Windows taskbar and titlebar will show 'Not Responding'.

Further the original USB Dongles (supplied with SX1.0) which were physically longer than the newer versions were shown by a user to take longer to process the copy protection code and thus cause the program to be even more unresponsive. Subsequently Steinberg placed a page on their site explaining this for the benefit of the users.[8]

The copy protection unresponsiveness continued through Cubase SX3.0 and into Cubase 4.0 but since Cubase V4.1, the problem has been largely eradicated.

On December 1 2008 Steinberg announced that it had acquired the eLicenser technology and know-how from Syncrosoft.

See also


External links

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