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.
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.
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.
€ 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.)