Cubasis is, for my money, the best ‘all round’ DAW/sequencer we currently have under iOS and, while Auria Pro most certainly provides a more desktop-style feature set, Cubasis offers a slick interface and a well focused feature set that lets you get on with the core tasks of recording and mixing audio/MIDI music productions. And, as a Cubase user on the desktop, Cubasis makes a perfect platform for capturing initial ideas that can then easily be moved across to the desktop if they make the grade as something worth developing further.
A further update to both Cubasis and Cubasis LE has arrived on the App Store today and, as Steinberg have finally rolled over their numbering to v.2.0, then I think it is fair to expect some pretty significant changes and new features are going to be delivered :-)
And they are…. Indeed, there is a pretty impressive list of new features and additions that are included in v.2.0. There are, of course, some minor changes to the user interface (a ‘refresh’ is how Steinberg have described it and that seems about right; existing users will still feel right at home) and some under-the-hood refinements to ensure smooth operation with iOS10 (also very welcome).
However, there are also some highlight new features. Top of the list is perhaps the new real-time time-stretch capability. providing your audio loop contains tempo information embedded within it (and all the factory loops supplied with Cubasis now do), you can tempo-match it to your project with ease. There are three different algorithms available (each of which bring a different balance of CPU overhead and sound quality) but, having tried it with a few loops, it does seem to work very well indeed and the quality of the results is good.
This is allied with a new pitch-shift feature and, while this is not a real-time process, it does give you some considerable control over the amount of pitch-shifting and even includes options for formant adjustment. If you were happy to engage in the required editing, you could perhaps use this for pitch correction, however, it is more obviously useful for creating pitch changes in pre-recorded audio so create variations (for example, chord shifts) or for matching one loop with another…. Again, the quality is very good and this is a most welcome addition to the feature set.
The addition of both time-stretching and improved pitch-shifting did get me wondering just how far Steinberg might be willing to take Cubasis down the VariAudio route that Cubase offers. The core audio processing technology is now present within the app and, for example, I wonder if they have considered a implementation of VariAudio’s pitch correction technology? Even if this was non-real-time, it would be a big step forward from anything else we currently have available under iOS for this task.
Steinberg have also added a new channel strip effect that combines a high/low cut filter, noise gate, compressor and saturator. All the effects used here are based upon similar effects within the desktop version of Cubase and are very much a step up from the default plugins included in the previous version of Cubasis. I particularly like the saturator – it adds a real analog warmth to almost any sound :-) It’s also worth noting that you can flip the order of the Channel Strip and Studio EQ within the insert section of any channel to suit your own preferences. Oh, and when any of the processors within the Channel Strip are bypassed, they are really bypassed; there is no CPU overhead applied just by having the effect inserted.
A further new effect is of the more creative variety; Spin FX. This is very much based upon the effects included within LoopMash so it will appeal to electronic musicians looking for some ear-candy DJ-style effects. Steinberg offered a similar ‘effects-only’ version of the LoopMash effects within Cubase some time ago and it is a lot of fun to use here.
What else? Well, I haven’t yet had an opportunity to full dig in but there are new presets included for both Micrologue (76 to be exact) and a series of seven MicroSonic ‘tape’ instruments which can bring a rather nice 60s Mellotron-style vibe and sound very good indeed. Oh, and you now also have a ‘MIDI auto quantize’ option that can provide an undo-able quantize as you record MIDI parts.
I purchased Cubasis on the first day it was launched at the full price and, as I’ve also been a Cubase user for many years on the desktop, Cubasis is pretty much my go-to DAW/sequencer on my iPad. Perfect? – no, not yet, but it is very good indeed and I’d have no hesitation in recommending it even at the full price of UK£39.99/US$49.99. This latest update is another welcome step forwards…. Yes, I’m sure we can all instantly find a list of features we might like to see added in Cubasis v.2.1 (and top of my own list would be workflow enhancements such as Group Channels and Folder tracks) but this is a great update and, of course, free.
However, v.2.0 also comes with a final benefit for those who have not yet climbed aboard; for a limited time only, it is available at 50% off the usual price. You can pick up the app for just UK£18.99/US$24.99…. and the upgrade from Cubasis LE and the available effects IAPs are also available at sale pricing.
At this price, Cubasis is absolute bargain and, given Steinberg’s long-standing reputation, it’s also nice to know that you are buying into one of the leading music tech brands. Top notch stuff and, when I’ve delved a little deeper, I’ll post a more detailed review of the update…..