Cubasis update – new features and sale time for Steinberg’s brilliant iOS DAW/sequencer

Download from iTunes App Storecubasis logo 3As regular readers here will know, my personal iOS DAW/sequencer of choice is Steinberg’s Cubasis. It’s undoubtedly a great app – and I think Steinberg have got the balance of features (just about) right for the iOS platform – but as I’m also a Cubase user on the desktop, Cubasis is a very obvious choice for me.

As iOS hardware has improved, so Steinberg have moved Cubasis forward, gradually adding now features and capabilities to the app with each update. And today a new update has arrived; v.2.2 is available as a free download to all existing users.

Alongside some routine under-the-hood fine-tuning, v.2.2 features some new features, a new IAP option and, for a limited time at least, SALE pricing; if you don’t currently own a copy of Cubasis you can pick it up at a 50% discount – just UK£23.99/US$24.99 – if you are quick off the mark.

Alongside some new features, Cubasis v.2.2 also includes a new IAP.

What’s new in 2.2?

The new features include a very useful ‘note repeat’ option that makes manual creation of MIDI parts somewhat easier. I’ll say a little more on this below. Equally, there is now also a ‘Track Duplicate’ option so, if you need to create a copy of a track – with all its settings already set up (including insert plugins as far as it possible; another advantage for using either the ‘in-house’ Cubasis plugins or AU-based ones), then that’s now also possible. This is a big timesaver. Note that the buttons for adding a new track – previously two buttons, one for MIDI and one for audio, have now be compressed into a single button to make room for the new DUPLC button.

Cubasis now includes the option to duplicate an existing track.

In addition, in the Drum Pad and Chord Pad feature, you can now copy pad mappings to another track. Again, this is a good workflow addition, especially if you use the Chord Pads as you only have to establish you set of chords once for a specific project and they can then easily be used on multiple tracks.

Oh, in a rather sensible acknowledgment that sometimes computer-based music systems do sometimes tie themselves in knots (desktops also it has to be said), Steinberg have added a ‘reset’ button to Cubasis which you can access from the iOS Settings app (so not within Cubasis itself) and that allows you to force Cubasis to load an empty project on next startup.

…. the Reset button…. for when things do go wrong :-)

Rise of the machines

So much for the freebies….  but the update also brings a new IAP to the Cubasis store. This is called Classic Machines and is currently priced at UK£3.99/US$3.99. This provides 10 new instruments based upon the sounds found in some classic 80s drum machines. In fact, you get twice that many new instruments because both ‘dry’ and ‘EFX’ versions are supplied. There are some obvious candidates included so there are sounds here based upon the 606, 808, 909 and Linn Drum amongst others.

I’ll leave you to guess which old-school drum machine each of the new virtual drum machines in the IAP are based upon :-)

Most hardened iOS musicians will probably already own a decent collection of 3rd-party drum apps. However, the sounds provided here are all solid and, while you don’t get much by way of sound editing options (other than what you might do via applying some effects), like the other virtual instruments built into Cubasis, they are super-efficient in terms of system demands. As a platform for idea generation, therefore, they fit right in with the Cubasis ethos.

… and this one?

That said, they are perfectly useable and the EFX options bring some nice further quirkiness. And at the pocket money asking price, I’m not sure any regular Cubasis users with an interest in EDM or Hip-Hop will worry too much about stumping up for the IAP. Incidentally, the demo video below auditions some of the sounds and also how the other new features introduced in v.2.2 can make it very easy to combine multiple Classic Machines to create your drum parts.

… or this one?

Repeat after me

Sound editing aside, the Classic Machines’ interfaces do include controls for one of the new features mentioned above; the note repeat option. In the upper-centre of the display is a row of note division buttons; engage one of these and any drum pad you hold at the base of the instrument will repeat in sync with your project at that note interval.

You can continue to hold a pad (or more than one) and change the interval selection on the fly. Equally, providing your fingers are up to the job, the horizontal slider beneath the note interval buttons can be used to change the note velocity as the notes repeat. These tools are great for rapidly creating drum parts and also very useful for generating those classic drum machine snare rolls.

All of the new drum machines include the Note Repeat functionality….

Note repeat is not just confined to the new drum machines though; you can find the same functionality in the Cubasis virtual keyboard. Tap the new Note Repeat button located in the keyboard’s top-strip of controls and a small panel opens on the right-hand side allowing you to select the required note interval. This is great for creating EDM bass lines, for example.

Oh, and Note Repeat is also available for the Chord Pads and the standard Drum Pads….  very cool.

The new Note Repeat functionality is not just available to the new Classic Machines; the Chord Pads, Keyboard and Drum Pads include it also.

Pad sharing

Talking of the Chord Pads, if you enter the Edit mode for them, as well as the usual options for editing the chord voicing on each pad, there are now also a Copy All and Paste All buttons. This allows you to access the new Chord Pad copying feature mentioned earlier. It works a treat and if your project does happen to feature some very specific chords that it has taken you some time to configure on your initial MIDI track, it’s nice not to have to repeat the process for another virtual instrument.

The option to copy Chord Pad setups is also anew feature in v.2.2

Given that my keyboard playing is pretty limited….  and that playing a virtual keyboard is never a really great experience, I use the Chord Pads regularly. Alongside the Note Repeat features, the option for copying Chord Pad setups is very welcome.

In summary

This is another cool update for regular Cubasis users with some welcome new features for free and the option of some new drum machine sounds if you want to splash out on the new IAP. Yes, I’m sure we have all got our pet features we would love to see Steinberg add to the feature set (mine would be Folder Tracks and Group Channels; I suspect neither are trivial to add though) but it is great to see Steinberg continuing to take the app forward in a positive fashion.

Cubasis remains, for me at least, the best ‘all round’ conventional DAW/sequencer we currently have under iOS, striking just the right balance between depth of features (given the iPad format) and ease of use. I also like the idea of the big brand and the longevity that perhaps suggests in what is such a core element of my iOS music making…  although I appreciate my view on that might not be shared by everyone.

I’d have no hesitation in recommending Cubasis even at the full price of UK£48.99/US$49.99. However, at the 50% off sale price, it is an absolute bargain. Steinberg have supplied a couple of demo videos to explain what’s new in the v.2.2 update so give those a look….  and, if you are still to take the plunge, hit the download button and grab ‘on sale’ it while you can…..  Top-notch stuff :-)


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    1. Good, especially the track duplication. But Cubasis needs something special to catch up with Auria Pro, and a few drum kits no one really needs isn’t it.

      • Hi Zen, yes, the new features are all welcome and the optional drum machine IAP, while it might not be such an obvious purchase for someone like yourself (or indeed myself) who have lots of iOS music making miles on the clock and a decent collection of 3rd-party drum apps, may well appeal to those in the earlier stages of exploring what iOS can offer…. or who just use iOS as a musical scratch-pad before taking ideas off to a desktop system for further development…. In those cases, the drum IAP could easily be a useful set of sounds to have and do seem to have a pretty low CPU overhead if you happen to be running on hardware that’s not the newest….. Best wishes, John

      • ‘Catch up with Auria Pro’
        Really? Have you ever used Cubasis? What DAW are you using on your PC or Mac?
        Bottom line, Cubasis is MILES ahead of Auria Pro in workflow, features and intergratiion with Cubase Pro 9. Auria does not.
        I do have both.

        • Hi Leslie…. it’s all context I guess. For those where iOS is their only music making platform, their iOS DAW/sequencer might well have to ‘do it all’. I’m happy to use iOS as a platform that starts some ideas that I then port to Cubase Pro 9. It suits me perfectly as a workflow…. but that kind of transition is not available to everyone obviously…. For some, therefore, the fact that Auria Pro offers (for example) more options in terms of group channels/audio routing and some of the excellent FabFilter stuff via IAP might be what tips them to favour that over something else on iOS…. Each to their own I guess based upon specific needs and preferred workflow…. Best wishes, John

    2. Rodolfo Ruiz says:

      Totally agree with Zen. I love Cubasis for its simplicity and MIDI editing features, but it needs -at least- a number of additions to become a serious DAW, such as:
      – Detailed Metering!
      – Bussing, more flexible signal routing, Aux channels, subgroups, fader groups, etc
      – Better audio editing (crossfades, transient detection, audio warping, etc)
      – Better mixdown features
      I guess that most Cubasis users will be happy with the new drums and don’t care too much about other pro features needed, but I still hope that they will be included in a future update.

      • Hi Rodolfo, as I mentioned in the post, I think most Cubasis users could think of a few personal choices for features they would love to see added (Group Channels and Folder Tracks from Cubase would be my personal favourites)….. However, (and in part related to Zen’s comment about Cubasis playing catch-up with Auria Pro), I’m not quite sure that Steinberg really see Cubasis as a ‘does it all’ DAW/sequencer….

        Part of that might well be a marketing thing (iOS Cubasis users graduate up the Steinberg product line as their needs progress?; no need to do that if Cubasis does everything). Part may also be a view that iOS as a platform isn’t quite yet ready for that ‘does it all’ DAW/sequencer. I think there is an element of truth in that…. but the simpler feature set gives you the bulk of what you would use most often in making a piece of music while still allowing the software to run on something other than the latest and greatest iOS hardware.

        Whereas Cubasis (like Garageband for iOS with Apple) is at the introductory end of Steinberg’s DAW/sequencer offerings, Auria Pro is, I think, WaveMachine Labs only DAW/sequencer platform. I think Auria is brilliant and I admire what WaveMachine Labs have chosen to do in pushing the feature set as far as they can…. it’s ambitious and cutting edge…. but also very demanding on the hardware and, for those either just getting started with personal recording, or those just using iOS as part of their workflow before moving ideas to a laptop/desktop system for further work, perhaps just more than is required….? Again, it’s simply a combination of the design decisions made by the company and the audience they wish to appeal to.

        We are, therefore, blessed with some very useful choices between the various DAW/sequencer platforms available under iOS – Cubasis, Auria Pro, Gadget, BeatMaker 2 (and 3 when it arrives), Garageband, MultiTrackStudio, etc., etc… – and the fact that there is something that suits the needs of different users is great. Technically, in terms of technical specification, Auria Pro is well ahead of the competition…. but perhaps best suits the needs of those who want a desktop DAW feature set on an iPad….. that’s probably a fairly small niche market (those iOS music makers wanting to do it all under iOS) within an already niche market (iOS musicians as a whole). I’d be surprised if Steinberg were aiming at exactly the same audience at present…….. whether we will ever see a ‘Cubase for iOS’….? Well, that might depend upon whether (a) the iOS hardware continues to improve (so Steinberg think the hardware can deal adequately with the software) and (b) the App Store pricing model and the desktop software pricing models merge to a greater extent than at present (so the iOS sales don’t undermine the desktop sales)….

        Anyway, it’s most certainly interesting times to be using iOS for music production….. there are some truly excellent tools and some great options to choose between….. Best wishes, John

        • I think you are right, John, when you suggest that Cubasis is intended as a taster, merely a device to point prospective buyers at Cubase. If so, then Steinberg have missed the point of IOS, and missed a great opportunity.

          I wonder what it would do for sales, if Steinberg did an exclusive deal with Kontact to license the various sound modules available. The equivalent of Auria Pro’s deal with Fab Filters. Alas, their ambition and imagination would appear to be firmly nailed inside a cheap box.

          Some people think they are helping the developer to keep going buy purchasing the drum pack. But to my mind all they are doing is encouraging mediocity. Cubasis could be so much more. The fact that it isn’t shows the company lacks the will to take on their biggest rival. Economically, they may well be right. But creatively, it’s a disappointment.

    3. Love this update and Classic Machines iap are fantastic.
      The best DAW for iOS just got better again.

    4. Main reason I use Cubasesis ON IOS is the perfect integration with Cubase Pro 9 on my Mac
      Works like charm :)
      Auria DOESNT

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