I posted a while back about how I was locking down my installation whilst I was working on an album, but my good intentions went out of the window when EZDrummer2 launched and I have added to my collection of plugins since then. That said, I’ve deliberately put back installing the 64-bit version of the Korg Legacy Collection, as I’ve used the Wavestation on several songs and don’t want to mess things up by switching from my current installation of the (jBridged) 32-bit version.
But I’m upgrading to Cubase 8 mid-stream and here’s why. It addresses the problems in my workflow.
Simple as that – it does what I want. There are three key features that have made me go for it now, rather than after the album is finished, (although at the current rate of progress, we could be on Cubase 20 if I waited, but that’s another story…)
The most compelling feature is actually one that was introduced in Cubase 7.5 and is one that you’d almost miss if you read the Steinberg website – Re-Record mode. I’m a perfectionist, and although I keep trying to convert myself to the use of lanes and comping, (why do I think it’s fine to do that for vocals, but not for song-length guitar parts?), I still find on occasion that I get Red Light Hypertension when I hit “R” and get all fumble fingered playing something I can play effortlessly at any other time. Having to stop, reset the punch-in marker, delete the unwanted take and go again just makes things worse. Replacing “Space-I-Delete-1-R” with a single keystroke is worth the upgrade alone.
Second is the Render-In-Place option. I’ve recently posted a video showing how to export from Cubase, but one feature of the Batch Export is that it only exports stereo files, rather than mono files from mono tracks. I don’t do small arrangements and a lot of my virtual instruments are sample-based, so the CPU demand is heavy. The opportunity to render these to an audio track, unload the sample instrument and disable the MIDI channel before starting a mix is going to seriously reduce the demand on my PC, giving me much more freedom to use what plugins I want during mix-down without worrying about the whole thing choking.
Finally, the VST Bass Amp. I’ve written before about my struggles to get a good low end using amp simulators and the only one I’ve felt didn’t have an in-built HPF was the Virtual Bass Amp from Studio Devil. I need a good bass amp simulator, as bass-playing duties on the album are being handled by the Jazz Bass in the Bornemark Broomstick Bass instrument, which is a sampled Jazz Bass without any amp sounds. The sound I’m getting at the moment is good, good enough that I’ve not gone looking for a better one, but I’m open to the possibility that it could be better and an “in the bundle” amp, (well, you can’t say it’s free), just makes the upgrade more attractive.
Oddly enough, the performance boost by the rewriting of the audio engine, better Windows handling and all the other improvements don’t put me off either. Losing the artificial distinction between instrument tracks and instrument channels, (another Cubase 7.5 improvement), is also going to be a welcome feature when it comes to mixing. So there’s a whole bunch of positives for the upgrade, but the key is that it will make life easier now. And that’s why I’m upgrading.