Steinberg Cubase SX and Wavelab 4 review and test

Self Help | The Magazine | Downloads | Links | Tips & Advice | Help! I'm new | Contact Us | Subscribe | Home  

Inside the magazine
Self-help message board
Article reprints
How to contact us
Web links directory
Software downloads
Tips and advice
Fire-wire campaign
Subscribe today
Help Me, I'm new!
Fair pricing petition

In Software Downloads:
Adobe Premiere 6 (trial)
Paint Shop Pro 7 (trial)

Tips and Advice:
How to get started with computer video editing

Fire-wire Campaign:
Join our ongoing campaign

Steinberg Cubase SX and Wavelab 4

Steinberg is in a strong position as a one-stop shop for music and audio software. We take a look at the company's most recent offerings, and give the latest versions of Cubase and Wavelab a thorough CV test.

Steinberg, with its long-established Cubase sequencer, is one of the big players in music software. The cross-platform Cubase and the company's Windows-only audio editor, Wavelab, have recently undergone major overhauls, so we're looking at both new versions and giving an overview of some of Steinberg's other software.
For Windows users, there is another, very timely reason for looking at Cubase. The buyout of Emagic by Apple during 2002 has led to the discontinuation of the Windows version of Logic Audio. With the recent release of Logic V6 as a Mac-only product, many users of the Windows version are now considering whether to stay with Logic and move over to Macs or stay with Windows PCs and switch to a different sequencer.
Steinberg has itself been the subject of a recent buyout by Pinnacle, but this has not resulted in any major change in the company's product line so far. The question, therefore, is has Steinberg hit the market with Cubase SX at just the right time for a large number of disaffected Windows Logic users? And, if so, is SX up to the job? We installed the Windows version on a Win XP Pro PC, plugged in the USB copy protection dongle and put SX through its paces.

Cubase SX
Cubase VST (Virtual Studio Technology) was already a very mature, powerful and popular Midi + audio sequencer before SX was released. However, Steinberg clearly felt it was due a major overhaul and, apparently, SX is essentially new code, owing more to the company's more recently created program, Nuendo, than the previous version of Cubase VST. Nuendo is aimed at the post-production audio professional and has gained some considerable praise as a serious alternative to Digidesign's ProTools. Steinberg appears to have integrated some of Nuendo's key features into the Cubase overhaul and, on paper at least, the feature set of SX is very appealing.

The Windows-only Wavelab 4 has also experienced an interface overhaul. Underneath the polished graphics, though, is an equally well polished audio-editing environment. Wavelab was first introduced in the mid-90s, so it can be taken as a given that - as a straight audio editor - it will deal with all the sorts of routine editing tasks that might be expected. But how does it stand up as an audio editor within a video-editing context?
Hardware permitting, Wavelab is capable of dealing with a huge range of file types, sample rates and bit depths (up to 32-bit/192 kHz), and also supporting MME, Asio or WDM drivers.

Cubase SX and Wavelab are impressive products, and capable of excellent results. With the demise of the Windows version of Logic Audio, we think it likely that Cubase SX will become the leading Windows Midi + audio sequencer. Cakewalk's Sonar is certainly worth a look, but SX probably has the edge for the professional user. For Mac-based musicians, the choice is more difficult - mainly because there is more of it, with Logic, Digital Performer or ProTools being the obvious contenders. SX is very good, but probably not good enough to tempt those familiar and comfortable with other packages into the upheaval of a switch. But, if Steinberg can address the criticisms made above, Cubase SX would be a first class tool for those looking to write music to picture on Mac or Windows PCs.
While Syntrillium's Cool Edit is worth considering as an alternative to Wavelab, the obvious competitor is Sonic Foundry's Sound Forge. For basic editing, there's little to choose between the two. But, Wavelab has the edge for those wanting advanced CD-burning. Red Book CD burning in Sound Forge requires purchase of another program - CD Architect - which is excellent in its own right, but not cheap. However, where Sound Forge scores heavily is in its ability to work with video files. That contributed to its recent capture of an Editor's Choice award (review, March 03, p43) and is likely to be the deciding factor for CV readers.

John Walden

Read the full review in July 2003's Computer Video magazine.


Recent features...
View the archive

Reviewed in July's issue:

Ulead Cool 3D Studio
Dazzle DVD Creation Station 200
Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator 6
Steinberg Cubase SX and Wavelab 4
Wacom Volito

In July's news:

Power of X upgraded
Better, cheaper Mac DVD authoring
Third-generation Hitachi DVD cams
Western Digital Serial ATA HDD
Sony MiniDV pocket cam
ADS FireWire/USB 2.0
FCP 4 packs a pro's punch
Canon big-money competition

Contact Us | Subscribe | Home (c) WVIP. Maintained by Mark Newman.