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New channel strip
Cubase's new channel strip is designed to make it easy to dial in “radio-ready”, hard-hitting production values. Or so the developer proclaims.
It certainly has the right tools for the job. Here, Cubase's familiar allotment of EQ and effects inserts and sends is bolstered by a six dedicated processors of the sort that you'd expect to find on a classic studio console. Each of these effects is reduced to a smattering of controls needed for most basic tasks.
The Channel Strip is available in both MixConsole and Channel Settings views. It's a little much to take in when scrolling in the MixConsole. Even with everything else hidden or collapsed, there's a bit of scrolling needed to access a fully loaded strip. We think we'll prefer working with it in the Channel Settings view.
There's a noise gate with threshold, attack and release controls, along with Q and Frequency knobs. A Saturation section offers both Tube and Tape modes, each with drive and low and high frequency filtering. A dynamics module provides a limiter, brickwall limiter and a maximizer for adding that oh-so-popular loudness to your tracks. An envelope shaper provides control over transients and there's the slick 4-band StudioEQ with its keen spectrum analyzer in tow.
Another dynamics module rounds things off. This one offers Vintage, Standard and Tube compression modes, with all of the most-needed functions you'd expect from each.
These effects are interchangeable. You can re-order them as you like, simply by dragging them about. All of the effects sound good, though the Tape Saturation module required a light touch. It's capable of adding far more distortion to our tracks than any actual tape deck we've ever used. Nevertheless, it sounds pretty good and, with a little discretion, you can dial in decent settings for just about any material you throw at it.
And in case you don't feel like rolling your own, Steinberg has tasked producer Allen Morgan with producing preset Channel Strip, Tracks and FX Chains. The presets are useful and, even if they don’t do the job for you off the bat, they can certainly help get you into the ballpark.