Cubase is a digital audio workstation, or DAW, software package that
allows you to record and reproduce live audio.
Additionally, this application generates audio using virtual instruments (VSTs), MIDI signals, and can also directly sync with other audio recording applications.
Cubase is designed to digitally mimic the traditional analog audio recording studio as far as the basic setup of the tracks and mixer, plus it has the benefit of many modern advancements and options that modern digital recording technology has provided.
Cubase is more than an audio recording application; this DAW also allows you to fully mix as well as master tracks using a plethora of preloaded plug-ins. You can install any number of third-party plug-ins, as required, to enhance productions.
Cubase is Digital Audio Workstation
Cubase allows three options to reproduce audio, via:
- live audio recording
- virtual instrument recording
- MIDI audio production
When you launch a new project, Cubase gives you the option to choose different recording, scoring, production and mastering templates.
Recording live instruments into Cubase is done using an audio interface, which is a hardware device that allows you to connect instrument and microphone cables to a computer. The purpose of this is so that the signals are converted from analog to digital audio. This is typically facilitated by using either Firewire or USB cables.
You can use external effects in the signal chain if you like, or you can use digital effects in Cubase later in the bus. You're not limited to 24-tracks like you are in old fashioned two-inch analog tape studios, as you can create hundreds of tracks ...so long as the computer’s memory supports it.
Virtual instruments, or VSTs, allow you to reproduce analog instrument sounds in a recording.
Essentially a VST is a plug-in, that has sampled audio, that is triggered by the DAW.
VST manufacturers record actual instruments, in high quality studios, and then write software that allows Cubase to trigger the sound at the note and velocity you program.
You can control MIDI instruments, as well as the VST, using an external controller such as a USB keyboard which is linked to Cubase using the Quick Controls option.
If you don’t have an external controller you can manually write notes and velocities in the Key Editor window. You can apply effects to MIDI tracks as well.
MIDI is an abbreviation of Musical Instrument Digital Interface.
Cubase works with many third-party plug-ins by using the Plug-in Manager to connect them to the DAW. Popular plug-ins include:
Rewired Third-Party Applications
Without this option you would be forced to mix down in one application and load the track into Cubase to mix with your other tracks.
When you rewire an application into Cubase, it will sync the tracks across all applications using its own internal clock.
You can control the volume and effects used on the third-party application within Cubase’s settings, just like you would apply effects and mixer settings to the regular Cubase tracks.
Cubase is a Video Audio Editor
Video producers can import video files into Cubase 6 to reference in real time as they edit the video audio.
Using the Warp Function you can sync audio tracks to the video to be exported into the video editing software to optimize the video’s audio or to lip sync in a music video track, for example.
Cubase is a Full Mixing Suite
Cubase offers a full mixing suite of tools to help you optimize tracks for both an initial mix as well as a final mastered production.
The transport tool in Cubase gives you many useful features including:
- Play, Stop, FF, Rewind in your track controls
- Track Markers to help you add comments to your arrangement, as well as to shuffle to predetermined locations
- Metronome with count-in option
- Tempo with automation capabilities to allow for time changes
- Sync to external source
- Output Meters for both MIDI and Channel outs
Cubase contains two different mixers window configurations including normal and extended views. The mixer displays many parameters including; volume, effects return channels, automation options, and panning, output channels, amongst other helpful options.
You can automate all of the mixer sliders as well as the FX settings so that you can go hands-free when monitoring and recording your music, as well as when you mix down.
Each track in Cubase can be expanded to show the different automation options for the track. You can manually edit the automation track or you can make settings as you record or monitor the mix that you can easily re-edit later as you adjust the mix.
You can apply FX to a track as an Insert or Send option, or you can create an FX channel and apply effects to a single track or group of tracks.
Cubase come with many basic FX such as a Multiband Compressor, Reverb, Modulation effects, Dynamics, and Delays.
Additionally, it is possible to install third-party FX as plug-ins to Cubase.
It is possible to have multiple options to EQ tracks in Cubase. Edit the built-in EQ in the channel settings window, or launch an EQ as an insert plug-in.
Cubase comes preloaded with basic EQs including a ten-band and 30 band EQ. You can install third-party EQs and use them from the same Insert menu.
Exporting a Mix
The Cubase mixdown window gives several options for mixing down. Select the file format type—such as .WAV, .MP3, .AIFF—sample rates and bit depth. You can also set the ID3 tags for MP3 exports.
Exporting options are the same whether it's a standard recording template or a mastering template.
Cubase is a Full Mastering Suite
Cubase offers basic mastering settings in its mastering suite templates to help the novice mastering engineer to begin making their mix large and loud.
Starting out with Multiband Compression, EQ and a Maximizer, you can adjust from these basic mastering settings. You can add other FX as inserts or as channel FX just as you do in the recording templates.