Launched at the 2008 Winter NAMM show, Cubase Essential 4 is the new entry-level, cross-platform DAW from Steinberg. If you want something a bit more accessible, the company also offers Sequel, but if itâs a full-on DAW you require, this is now the German companyâs most affordable solution.
As you might expect, the software is based on the full version of Cubase 4. This being the case, it offers plenty of that applicationâs functionality.
HALionOne is a General MIDI compatible sample player with patches that are derived from Yamaha MOTIF waveforms, while MediaBay is Steinbergâs sound management utility. Instrument Tracks make it easier to call up and use virtual instruments, while Track Presets can be employed to store complete track/channel settings.
One Cubase 4 feature that you wonât find in Essential, though, is the Control Room, a system that gives you a great deal more monitoring flexibility.
Thankfully, thereâs plenty of other new stuff to offset this disappointment: a comprehensive set of VST3 plug-ins; the guitarist-orientated (and self-explanatory) Amp Simulator; real-time timestretching and pitchshifting courtesy of AudioWarp; and the Arranger Track, which will suit people who like the concept of pattern-based music creation.
Cubase Essential 4 is certainly significantly better than Cubase SE 3 â the application it replaces â and at $149/Â£120, itâs also pretty affordable. Itâll enable you to get a feel for how a âreal sequencerâ works, and its feature-set is rich enough that you should be able to create productions from beginning to end.
Of course, there are other options available at the entry-level - Cockosâs Reaper, Cakewalkâs Sonar Home Studio 6 and Mackieâs Tracktion 3 should also be considered â but advantage of Cubase Essential is that the skills youâll learn from using it are easily transferable to other, more powerful software. This isnât a deal-breaking issue, but itâs certainly one to keep in mind.