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SX and Wavelab 4
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.
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
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 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
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
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.
Read the full
review in July 2003's Computer Video magazine.
Reviewed in July's
Cool 3D Studio
Dazzle DVD Creation Station 200
Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator 6
Cubase SX and Wavelab 4
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