Even on iPhone, a powerful way to navigate your arrangement and markers, trigger custom shortcuts and macros, and even control separate cue mixes. Images courtesy Steinberg.

Even on iPhone, a powerful way to navigate your arrangement and markers, trigger custom shortcuts and macros, and even control separate cue mixes. Images courtesy Steinberg.

Give Steinberg some credit. The company has been in the music production software game since the 80s, and they’ve managed to be arguably the first production tool to provide a complete picture of how mobile integration can work.

And mobile could make a big difference. Traditional computers have done more or less the same stuff that they have for years – sure, they’re quicker and more reliable, but the way of working with them remains the same. With an iPhone or iPad, you can add an easy-to-use touch interface, or load entire sessions in a format that can be easily taken on a bus or plane or reclining on a couch for a different view of your music.

Steinberg now has answers for its Cubase users for each of these roles.

With Cubasis, they’ve got a Cubase-compatible DAW that runs on the iPad. For some musicians, it’ll likely be an all-in-one solution for simple recording and arrangement. But, as we discussed with Steinberg in a look at workflow possibilities, it may also be a way to have a more mobile version of what you’re doing on your traditional Cubase setup. I can easily imagine times in a creative process when that’d be useful. Sometimes, starting a track means getting away from the computer to un-stick your creative juices. Sometimes, it’s in the middle of a project that you want to get away. And sometimes, you have to get away. (Bus from New York to Boston, you definitely aren’t unfolding your MacBook Pro. And that’s before we get to battery life problems.)

But there’s no reason the iPhone and iPad have to go to waste when your computer is on. (Bet there’s a solid chance you have one charging by your laptop or desktop right now.) There are already some nice iOS apps that unlock keyboard shortcuts. In the case of Cubase iC Pro, you get customizable shortcuts that you can set to your favorites – no memorization or fancy custom keyboards required.

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There are three basic modes:
1. The Project page, which gives an overview of your session for navigation.
2. A Mixer, which you can set to up to 4 independent cue mixes
3. Customizable key commands and macros

The Project page does more than you think it might. You get transport, marker settings, metronome settings, and also tap to tempo, but you can also zoom in and out with pinch to zoom (useful if you don’t use a trackpad or multitouch mouse).

Because the Mixer sets up to four independent cue mixes for people on headphones, it’s a perfect solution for taking an iPhone into a recording and letting musicians set levels independently. It integrates with Cubase’s Control Room environment for handling all the talkback and cue settings that in other DAWs might require a lot of setup or special hardware.

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And, of course, you can set up quick triggers for commands and macros. 100 presets are provided to get you started; you can choose the ones you want and set custom colors. It means some extra setup time, but could be a boon to perfectionist productivity nuts.

The simplified approach also means all of this fits comfortably on the iPhone, not just the iPad. On the other hand, it’s not an entirely-complete control solution for the iPad, so some may find other controller apps to be preferable. Given the plentiful Mackie Control-based apps out there, though (Android even has options), it seems this minimal, Cubase-integrated approach is a good start for Steinberg.

Cubase iC Pro Product Page

€ 14.99 / US$16.99 in the App Store.

And yes, this is in addition to a free iC control app. It seems well worth the extra cash, though, for Cubase users; iC had only transport controls and marker shortcuts in an arrange view. (Oh, and it was rather ugly. Let’s just move on.)

Video

Gallery

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  • http://twitter.com/SoilSound SoilSound

    Looks great! One question – Where is Apple in all of this? Are they sitting back and quietly taking notes for Logic 10? One can only wonder. ;-/

    • Gwydion

      Very good question!

  • markLouis

    > Traditional computers have done more or less the same stuff that they have for years – sure, they’re quicker and more reliable, but the way of working with them remains the same

    Peter, isn’t that a little misleading? What I mean is, outside the hobby market, aren’t almost all musicians working more directly with video and audio together? So computers, now, are handling audio tracks within video programs like Sony Vegas or maybe Nuendo and others and instead of doing the “same old thing” with audio tracks aren’t many pros looking at syncing audio effects to video effects within programs handling audio and images at the same time, even integrating video effects driven by or synced to content within the audio track all designed together? Is it accurate, at all, to think of the “old style” mixing of creating an audio track and “finalizing it” and then importing it into a video program as an out-moded process, replaced by working with sound and images at the same time? I’ve certainly done it both ways, but I prefer to work within a video program if it contains the audio tools I need.

    • Vitor Jesus

      Isn’t he referring to the keyboard and mouse? And the associated workflow? Even with traditional mixing desks, you have to be on a chair interacting with them. Glued to the desk, the computer, the LCDs.

      What Apps like these bring to us is the possibility to interact in ways we weren’t able to. The video does a good job showing that. Being able to leave the computer and just go to the other room and adjust some levels is very liberating.

      Joining the power and versatility of computers with the touch-interactivity and extreme portability of mobile devices :)

    • markLouis

      I didn’t mean to belittle these apps. They look like fine pieces of software.

      I was struck by Peter’s choice of words. Any computer–traditional or touch–just does what a person uses it for. If the computer is doing the same old things, then it is because the person using the computer is doing the same old things. Touch devices will do the same old things, too. But traditional computers–this is just an example, one for instance–have the power to do something like let Dragon Stop Motion software take an audio file and use the audio content to drive lip-sync automatically. That kind of interactivity–between audio and video–strikes me as more interesting than whether a person is moving a mouse or touching a screen.

    • Random Chance

      There is another more pertinent reason for being glued to a chair in front of the mixing desk or virtual equivalent thereof: It’s usually arranged to be the listening sweet spot. If I am adjusting levels I surely do not want to be in another room or in another place in the room where my monitors are, but in the sweet spot. As a certain fictional engineer would say: “You canna change the laws of physics.”

      I’d rather take a laptop with me and work completely in the box than to tether myself to a fixed workstation while using a mobile device as a controller gives me the illusion of freedom. And yes, I have tried stuff on Android and stuff on the iPad and as far as I am concerned it’s not there yet in terms of useability.

    • Vitor Jesus

      Wasn’t thinking about those critical adjustments. And how many times have all of us mixed with headphones, at least at some part of the mixing process?
      Many bedroom producers don’t even have listening sweet spots. They just have that listening spot.
      From what I understand, you can plug headphones on your iDevice and listen to “your” mix. No need to be listening to the speakers on the other room (I know that it is a good exercise).

      And thinking about the laptop (which I also prefer, while having an iPad filled with music apps), these apps might even make more sense on the move, when I don’t have my MIDI controllers. But I have my iPhone and probably my iPad. Being able to use them both to help me control my DAW can only be a positive thing. More over when I certainly don’t have as many pixels available on the small laptop screen (no dual LCDs setup).

  • Grollo

    Ok let’s start a class action for people with big fingers!

  • Andre Brown

    I realize this is a Mac/iOS focused site and that’s cool, but I can’t help but point out Cakewalk Sonar X2a on Windows 8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlvzxgT-owM&feature=youtube_gdata_player
    Sonar x2a is optimized for multitouch on all Windows 8 machines. Will Cubase, Ableton, Reason, and others follow Cakewalks lead?