I’ll take one DAW, to go?

Cubasis isn’t the first traditional-style DAW to appear on the iPad. But it could be the most complete offering yet. I’ll be testing it later this month, but I’m already impressed that the software appears to strike some balance between the traditional working methods of a DAW and the need for streamlined, fat-fingered control on an iPad. Most significantly, it also offers connectivity with other iOS apps and hardware, meaning it could be an ideal mobile sequencer for other apps and gear, and, allows you to integrate with desktop software and Steinberg’s own Cubase. Since many of us want to hang onto big screens and big collections of plug-ins and the like when we actually finish a track, that’s a big deal. I wanted to learn more about the workflow here, so check out some Q&A with a specialist from Steinberg below.

You’ll need an iPad 2 / iPad mini or better, but once you do, you can get a surprisingly capable DAW that’s more mobile than your laptop. The basic feature set, according to Steinberg:

Unlimited audio and MIDI tracks (depending on the device used)
Over 70 virtual instrument sounds based on HALion Sonic
Mixer with over 10 effect processors (insert and send effects)
Over 300 MIDI and audio loops
Virtual keyboard and virtual drum pads
Sample Editor and Key Editor
Export to Cubase, Dropbox, SoundCloud, AudioCopy & email
Core Audio and Core MIDI compatible hardware supported
Sequence other Core MIDI apps (MIDI recording only) and run Cubasis simultaneously via background audio
Import audio from your iTunes music library or using iTunes filesharing, use AudioPaste or set up a Wi-Fi server in Cubasis

The price is higher than most iOS tools, at US$49.99. (44,99 € including German VAT.) Then again, we’ve already seen one serious tool that can make a higher price point pay off, in the form of Lemur. And sometimes it’s better to spend more on one truly useful app than buy a bunch of apps that do half of what you need. Stay tuned for our review for a real judgment on that.

Workflow and integration with a studio setup seem to be the reason you would shell out for more. Steinberg talks to CDM about how those features work.

PK: What’s the workflow like when going from Cubasis to Cubase? How does the import work, via iTunes? What do you actually see when you open a file?

Steinberg: You can use the iTunes file sharing system or the Cubasis Wi-Fi Server to transfer the files to your Computer. Then you install the Cubasis project importer extension for Cubase (steinberg.net/cubasisimporter) and then you import the project file in Cubase.

What’s the relationship of Cubasis to Cubase under the hood? The sounds come from HALion Sonic; were there other Cubase technologies that made it into the iPad version?

Cubasis was done from scratch to be able to give users a fully multitouch DAW experience.

Is Audiobus something you’ve evaluated?

Audiobus is one of our top 5 feature requests, so we plan to support it as we support other standards such as AudioCopy/AudioPaste.

“Sequence other Core MIDI apps (MIDI recording only) ” — sorry, I’m not sure I understand the parenthetical note there. This means you can only record MIDI from those apps?

It means that you can play the virtual keyboard in Cubasis or play back a midi track and trigger the sounds of your other apps.

You can use MIDI sequencing with external hardware, too, no?

Yes, that’s possible too.


Stay tuned for our hands-on review.

And here’s the promo video – yes, with a somewhat funny awkward moment as this woman hands the narrator an iPad.

Amusingly, this to me is closer to Cubase for iPad than GarageBand is Logic for iPad. I like GarageBand on the iPad a lot, but Cubasis appears to come closer to what I’d want and actually use. Did Emagic’s old Hamburg neighbor one-up the folks who actually work at Apple? We’ll have to test and see. Pass me a Fritz-Kola and some edamame.

Gallery: (and is it just me, or does this look better visually than Cubase on desktop?)

  • http://twitter.com/a_w_young a_w_young

    Exciting, but why do all iOS apps have to export to goofy paid 3rd party services instead of just dumping raw audio files onto your device or an FTP server of your choice, etc?

    It’s probably my biggest pet peeve with attempting to work on the iOS platform with commercial apps

    • Geert Bevin

      You can dump raw audio mixdown and retrieve them from iTunes, all apps I tried worked fine like this. It’s kind of the standard way which is why they don’t explicitly mention it I guess.

    • http://twitter.com/a_w_young a_w_young

      Thanks for that. That’s “ok” I suppose.

      I just wish apps in general had more options I guess when it comes to this area of things. Android and iOS could both learn a little from each other, and could both certainly look to how people have used computers for decades again..

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      You can also use a third-party utility to grab files from your iPad. So — iTunes and Dropbox. Beyond that, you’re running into the limitations of iOS.

    • Geert Bevin

      Just checked in Cubasis in detail and it also supports emailing a mixdown or using DropBox. You can also open it with any other app that supports the file format and manipulate it from there. This is actually possible for any file in the media manager, so it’s very flexible imho.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Actually, they do *explicitly mention that you can use iTunes*. You can sync via iTunes and then the files appear on your machine. (They say so in the feature list, and they say so again in our interview.)

      FTP would be nice, but I think Dropbox is a nice convenience for a lot of people. I’ve been using it and it saves some extra work.

    • http://twitter.com/a_w_young a_w_young

      I guess email, iTunes and Dropbox just feel more like inconveniences to me. Perhaps I just have different computing “ideology” if you will and am used to a very different workflow. I’ve never been a fan of dropbox, etc, which I’ve expressed in the past. I’m also fairly new to the iOS walled garden, but cloudish storage and the like stinks for us Canadians who have silly bandwidth caps and stuff. iTunes throughput seems to be the only option for now.

      A new file transfer standard would be pretty neato. If they can get people on board the way they did like audiobus or dropbox in the long term, save for lack of monetary motivation like the dropbox thing has, it could lead to some great things.

    • Geert Bevin

      As far as I see it, that’s already there, you can open the files with any other app on the device that supports the file type. There are some applications like GoodReader that supports almost anything and can connect to almost anything also, including FTP, SFTP, AFP, SMB, DAV, … That’s like on a regular computer no?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Okay, just so we’re clear – you’re complaining about iOS, not iOS developers.

      The only exception is FTP implementation. But with Dropbox and other options more popular, you can see why that wouldn’t be a priority for a developer of a music app with a big list of other things they might do.

    • http://twitter.com/a_w_young a_w_young

      Not so much, more of wanting some kind of open, non-proprietary 3rd party standard in lieu of only things like DropBox that charge premium fees for storage, etc.

      Wasn’t intended as complaint, just that there’s room for so much more innovation and I hope we see it soon. Then apps like this can jump on board.

    • foljs

      “””in lieu of only things like DropBox that charge premium fees for storage, etc.”””

      No, they don’t. Basic DropBox is free and offers a couple of gigabytes.

      Plus, FTP needs an FTP server. Not many common users can setup one (even with a simplified app) or know what one is.

    • Random Chance

      Sorry, cannot resist: Perhaps it’s time that people who use all this fancy high-tech stuff took some time and learn some of the basics. I’m _not_ saying, people should setup FTP servers or even use them for file exchange unless they know much more than the basics and that’s not the point. But what people could use is something like WebDAV or other things that usually come with any operating system and can be activated using less clicks than it takes to post a message on someones Facebook wall.

    • folderman

      “””Sorry, cannot resist: Perhaps it’s time that people who use all this fancy high-tech stuff took some time and learn some of the basics. “””

      Or perhaps it’s time the developers of OSs and apps give simpler tools people don’t have to “take time and learn”.

      What’s this, the middle ages?

    • http://twitter.com/a_w_young a_w_young

      I’ll also add:
      FTP can and does work exactly the same as Dropbox with the right app in place. It’d be nice if someone made something truely as simple with this model that just uses FTP behind the scenes. Panic makes the OS X app that allows you to setup similar things, but it is limited to OS X and they don’t really have a lightweight dropbox-like app, just extensions and things. Rambling = done 😉

    • foljs

      Cubasis does support dumping raw audio files…

      That said, nothing “goofy” about Dropbox.

      And, in the basic tier, it’s not paid either.

      Paranoid, much?

  • Digid

    Shame it doesn’t have proper automation, hopefullly that will change in a later version.

    • CooperativaEram

      And Score Notation is missing as well,i hope to see Audiobus connecting Notion-Progression to Cubasis soon.

    • folderman

      Score Notation? Really?

    • CooperativaEram

      Yes.Really.Notion,Symphony,Progression are already on Ipad,but no audio soft like GarageBand,FLStudio,BeatMaker2…etc has till here,as far i know,a score editor within.

    • Lee Faulkner

      Agreed … theres NO excuse for not implementing a simple Track Level envelope …. like every other version of Cubase and Auria, not at the price. I don’t want Read/Write mixer move recording… or envelopes for every effect parameter. Just a Basic Volume and Pan rubber band. It’s just a lame choice to exclude it.
      Otherwise, the whole thing is pretty great.

  • CooperativaEram

    Great,on Ipad3/4 64 poliphony voices.Just one thought,IkMultimedia,Korg,Roland,Yamaha,Spectrasonic,Steinberg…everybody on Ipad..
    now where is My Logic?And where is Native Instruments,with Kontakt Player,Absynt,Fm8?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-David-Williams/1585754160 Christopher David Williams

      I just want imaschine HD.

    • CooperativaEram

      I want Kontakt mini,Absynth mini and Fm8 mini…but Native isn’t hearing …

  • http://twitter.com/iOSMusician iOS Musician Blog


  • http://www.oliverchesler.com oliverchesler

    I’ve been making little songs with it the past 24 hours. It’s a lot better than you think probably. Quite fun to use and you can really make some music with it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-David-Williams/1585754160 Christopher David Williams

    Please make cubasis at least 24 bit. The notes say it records in CD quality. 16 bit 44.1 kHz? WTH? Oh yeah, audiobus is a necessity then, I will buy it. P.S. the price is great. ..

    • Henry

      16 bit, 44.1kHz is Standard CD quality audio. All music is mixed down to this format when it is mastered for CD replication/duplication. Some even prefer to track recordings in this format to reduce dithering and quantization when mixing down and mastering.

    • Matrix

      It does support 24 bit/96 kHz audio resolution along with Automation, Sampler, etc.

  • Dissapointed smurf

    This app is a joke, way overpriced for such a limited sample based toy. The sequencer is one of the worst I’ve seen on IOS. The virtual instruments, are not really instruments you can’t tweak a thing,..they are just simple sample playback devices. If you want some more release on a kick,..no can do, you have to set it for the whole kit,..what’s the idea behind that ?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Svet-Atanasov/537162189 Svet Atanasov

      to track!

    • MusicVet

      Your comment is inaccurate and obviously biased. It’s also old at this point. Either way I wanted to chime in. As a 25 year music industry vet (music on all networks) and a user of countless software and hardware though the years but dedicated Cubase user, Cubasis with AudioBus is a helluva app. Standalone or how I use it, with Cubase, it’s amazing what can be had on an iPad. How music USED to be created with hardware and the the initial software in the 80s, 90s, the stuff out today allows ease of creation like never before. And for peanuts! If you think $50 for this app is too much for a real tool that allows you to make music that could make you money, then just keep piecing loops together and making faux music. Ipad plus Cubasis plus some plugins – if this is all I had – it is all I’d need to make quality music good enough for broadcast quality. Amazing.

    • beatsbybeethoven.com

      this comment coming from someone named dissapointed smurt… mmhhmm this app is amazing and you can change the release on the kicks try doing some mixing

  • http://twitter.com/FendrGuitPlayr Mike Bennett

    It was only a matter of time…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Svet-Atanasov/537162189 Svet Atanasov

    whine whine whine! in fact it is a great app, stripped down to what an iPad user would want. Else, you can use the full version on your Mac. Stop whining!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-Jensen/100000107159347 Raymond Jensen

    This app is really overpriced, the instruments and modeling is aweful, but it has tons of potential because the interface isn’t dumbed down, its a shame really because i was hoping this would take daws on ios to the next step.

  • Deutscher

    I tried Garage Band, Music Studio and Sample Tank. I didn’t satisfied with their sample qualities. And their GUI are not user friendly except GB. Then I wanted to try Steinberg’s Cubasis. It’s price is really high but after I start to use it, it is worth to pay such money. User friendly, clean interface, very nice sample instrument quality then I expected. Included instruments are well selected! There are no unnecessary instruments. You can make almost any type of music. And finally, ofcourse it’s Steinberg quality!! Highly recommended who seachs a quality DAW on iPad.

  • Deutscher

    Yesterday, I made a comment here but it was disappeared?

  • Supadon

    Can anyone help me I’m tryin to import music from my itune library into cubasis how do u do dat

  • beatsbybeethoven.com

    does anyone know how to export files as mp3’s or waves using this.. i use the share but it only gives you the file as a .cbp file which is not compatible with anything.

    • Matrix

      Just go to Media > Mixdown > Create Mixdown

      Watch tutorial videos on YouTube