So, the photo to the right is the USB hub I plug in to my laptop when I want to run Cubase. This isn’t due to it lacking USB ports; it has 4, (2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0).
The issue is that I have an external audio interface, (Line 6), plus I either use an Edirol MIDI interface or an M-Audio Keystation for recording keyboards, both of which require a USB port. So that leaves me 2 USB ports. Then, not being that comfortable with the trackpad on the laptop, I like to use a mouse. Which leaves me one USB port to plug in my e-Licenser for Cubase.
You may be beginning to see the issue.
As I’ve documented here previously, I run some Waves software, including the Vocal Rider & CLA Signature Series. Waves no longer use an iLok, so the licenses are stored on a common-or-garden USB stick. Now, you wouldn’t necessarily record keyboards whilst using the Waves plugins, so I could still get by with 4, but Cubase does tend to keep pointing out that the licenses are missing when loading, which is a tad irritating. However, Slate Digital still use an iLok, so at that point, I run out of USB ports. And that’s on my laptop, which is officially a Beast. If I was trying to make do with one of the other laptops in our house, (or the Lenovo ThinkPad I have at work), I’d be stuffed long since, as they feature 2 or 3 USB ports at maximum.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could run all your licenses on one system? I use plugins from a number of companies. IK Multimedia and Native Instruments each have their own license managers that download to your computer to authorise software. A number of others use a web-based system to authorise your computer and Toontrack deserve an honourable mention here for having the most transparent authorisation system, (and the easiest in use – it all but does it for you), but that’s still a bewildering array of passwords and user IDs to keep track of just for the privilege of not having all your eggs in one basket.
And it’s not that it isn’t possible. That e-Licenser doesn’t just hold the licences for Cubase. I have the KORG Digital Legacy plugins and the licenses for them sit on the e-Licenser. If you run ProTools, you’ll need an iLok and if you run Cubase, you need an e-Licenser. Surely the third party software providers could get their act together and offer their software with variants to suit the dongle and DAW you have, rather than us, the consumer, having to cover all the bases? I know the need for an iLok put me off buying from Waves until they abandoned it and I had to think long and hard before eventually getting one to run the Slate Digital plugins.
After all, everyone abandoning their own interfaces for MIDI didn’t do the musical instrument industry any harm.