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VST means Virtual Studio Technology, so if you're totally new to all this and want to get an idea of what a Virtual Studio actually is we suggest you check out our Virtual Studio Guide before going any further.
When Steinberg released the first version of Cubase in the Spring of 1996, musicians, producers and engineers suddenly found themselves with a cost effective and easy to use tool that was capable of producing professional results. So when version 4.0 of Cubase VST made its way to us we were, to say the least, psyched.
More than capable of producing a full length album or film soundtrack, entirely within the digital domain, without all the expensive extras required in a tape based studio, this latest version of VST for Macintosh really makes full use of the raw horse-power that Apple PowerPC computers have onboard. Even with a computer as outdated as our Power Macintosh 7300/200, with its 604e processor, Cubase VST ran smoothly and efficiently, handling every task we threw at it without any problems whatsoever.
As with any audio and MIDI recording software it's recommended, whenever possible, to get a MIDI track down first before recording a new track of audio, or importing a pre-existing audio file from you hard drive. That way everything stays in time and makes the job of building the song up that much easier. But if have to start off with audio you'll be able to use any one of a number of tools which will make short work of getting everything all synced up ready for a final mix.
It's really very easy, in fact within a few minutes of recording an existing track from a CD into the Mac, we were able to use a number of different techniques for getting the MIDI track to stay in time with the audio track, at which point any number of new parts were then added. But getting audio into the Cubase environment is one thing, manipulation is entirely another. This is also where an easy to use interface starts getting essential.
As you can see from the screenshot on the left, which shows the EQ controls and fader for just one particular channel, the interface makes for easy access to all the available functions and is easily resized, depending on how deep into EQ settings you want to be, by hitting a button. A bank of highly graphical modular effects processors are also accessable from this window, again by hitting a button.
The digital effects come in the form of plugins, and are super easy to access, in fact we found the whole process of selecting and using various effects to be one of the easiest we had ever encountered.
Not only does Cubase VST come ready equipped with some useful and effective effects, but there are also some demos of other plugins that will give you a good idea of what's possible before actually ordering the full versions. Steinberg have done an excellent job making the software as easy as possible to use, and this does not mean that Cubase VST isn't as equally at home in a professional digital recording studio as software costing three times as much.
We're as relatively new to all this as anyone, but within minutes of installing Cubase VST were able to figure out how to select a track to import a pre-existing audio file to, cut and past drum loops and even create markers at the beginning of significant events, all without opening the manual or inserting the CD-ROM version, which really helps keep everything in the digital domain.
To contact Steinberg check out their entry in our Manufacturers department.