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Cubase 4 In 60 Minutes Review

Brandon Drury —  October 6, 2008

The Problem: Learning all the ins and outs of Cubase 4 can be a bit intimidating. Many people feel that Cubase is complicated.

The OTHER Problem: When you purchase instructional material to “enhance” the Cubase Getting Started guides, you usually get Ben Stein, only worse! After viewing some instructional videos that made we want to dig a hole in the concrete with my bare hands and wipe human feces on my face, the last thing I wanted to do was actually work in Cubase. I simply wanted to go bed!

Cubase 4 In 60 MinutesThe Solution: Cubase 4 in 60 Minutes

The guys at 60minSoftware.com have taken an interesting look at some very common problems. People don’t like reading their manuals. People don’t like boring instructional videos devoid of personality or fun. People often feel they have to master each and ever facet of their recording software before they can actually use it.

Cubase 4 In 60 Minutes solves all of these issues. The premise is simple. Don’t bother making a 16 hour series on how to perform each and every function within Cubase. It’s a given that Cubase 4 is over powered. In an overwhelming majority of cases, I’m probably only using 10% of Cubase’s possibilities. It’s nice to have those features when I run into a bind. I certainly need to know they exist. However, why burden someone who’s just trying to learn how to record a MIDI track with time stretching and other “crazy” features?

The Packaging
Cubase 4 in 60 Minutes comes in what looks like an enlarged version of the “fancy” VHS tapes. You remember. I’m talking about the kind of VHS tape case you actually had to open. Inside, you’ll find a DVD, a Keystroke card, the handbook (literally called “the handbook”…nice!), and Cubase 4 in 60 minutes The Pathfinder.

The Keystroke Card
The Keystroke Card is simple and awesome all at the same time. When I want to find a shortcut in Cubase I have to search through the manual or physically open the window for changing keystrokes in an effort to find it. It’s a pain. Having a quick reference card that I can keep on my desk is a huge help. It’s probably not going to solve world hunger, but it’s a very nice “real world” gesture.

The Handbook
“The Handbook” is very similar to the Getting Started guide included with Cubase. The difference is this thing is paper (not a PDF) and it’s not a billion pages long. In fact, it’s only 48 pages. It’s clear that a human being wrote this one. I’m not sure I can say the same thing for getting started guide included with Cubase. There are plenty of pictures that illustrate the concepts.

The Pathfinder
It’s hard to believe that there are so many powerful features in the Cubase 4 menu that you need a 40 page booklet to list them all (and briefly explain what they do). The Pathfinder lists all major (and minor) function in alphabetical order by the name of the function. For example, let’s say we want to register are software. I’ve heard numerous people say they had no idea how to register Cubase 4 LE. If we pop open The Pathfinder and turn to the “R” section, we’ll find that “Registration” is found under the “Help > Registration” menu. There is nothing revolutionary about this, but we’ve all forgotten where certain features were. As long as you can guess the right keyword, you’ll find it no time. I nice, clever gadget worth having.


The DVD
The first thing I did was pop the DVD into my DVD player. I planned on plopping down on the couch while I took notes. Scratch that idea. This video is designed to play on a computer. I guess I can live with that. I just need to find a way to put a couch in front of my computer desk.

The video fired right up in Windows Media Player and we were off. Immediately, you see two British dudes. (Yes, I can tell by looking!). The film quality is very good. It looks better than I would expect an instructional video to to be. Unlike other instructional Cubase videos I’ve seen they actually cut to our “instructors” and back to Cubase. For some reason, this made watching the DVD dramatically easier to watch.

I’d love to start making fun of the video with the usual things I’d rant about to my girlfriend as I watch an instructional video. Unfortunately, for me as the reviewer, I can’t say anything negative. The only thing I can really make fun of is the fact they are British and that opens me up to attacks on Missouri, USA upbringing. Damn!

We’ve got two dudes here on our video. It’s kind of a good cop / bad cop situation that is reminiscent of Mythbusters on the Discover Channel. You’ve got the more serious, shy dude who is the Cubase expert and then you’ve got the fun, idiot guy who is probably an expert himself but acts like a laymen. The second guy is very necessary for ADD sufferers like myself. I actually found him to be funny throughout the video and that certainly made a dramatic impact on not only the fun factor of the video, but the ability to convey information.

It’s clear that the video is unscripted. It’s just like you sat down with your buddy and taught him how to use Cubase. Your buddy gives feedback, cracks jokes, makes fun of your music, etc. There is a reason that buddies ask buddies for help instead of cracking open the manual. It’s easier and faster to learn this way!

Conclusion
For anyone just getting started with Cubase 4, I couldn’t recommend Cubase 4 in 60 Minutes more. It’s a great product! They’ve done an excellent job of explaining the functionality of Cubase 4 which you’ll use 90% of the time in only 60 minutes. I’m sure there will be some who want to learn about the more advanced features in Cubase. I’ve watched those videos too. It’s not worth it! Just read the manual for the hardcore stuff. Use Cubase 4 in 60 Minutes to get you going.

Ultimately, it would be nice if they introduced more volumes in the series that dealt with more advanced topics. With that said, I probably wouldn’t buy it. I don’t use those features enough to really care.

In the end, they score MAJOR points just for being FUN!!!! Great job!

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of RecordingReview.com and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.
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6 responses to Cubase 4 In 60 Minutes Review

  1. I know the old guy… it’s Guy Michelmore. I first knew him as a news reader (when I lived in England), and even remember his last day on the news when he announced that he was leaving to become a film composer. He’s actually a pretty successful one. I did my diploma in Media Composition with his company. I can’t say the text was particularly well written, but hey whatever gets the job done.

  2. I’ve read that Cubase 4 does away with DirectX plugins. So far I haven’t read anything that suggests there aren’t any real improvements over version 3. As far as learning to use Cubase, save your money… there are plenty of forums on the interweb that you can search to learn how to use specific functions.

  3. craig shoemaker August 3, 2010 at 10:52 am

    The Cubase manual is 2.5 centimeters thick, If Steinberg Cubase authors ever decide to print a trouble shooting manual for Cubase, it would have to be two meters thick.

  4. When you get to the inside of the Cubase manual, you’ll find that a major of the content is fancy stuff that needs explanation when you are ready. I’d guess about 8% of that is something most people would NEED to read in order to use Cubase.

    If a person has a strong apprehension towards learning, they are going to have a hard time in this field. I think the implication is other programs are much easier, but I’ve just not seen this in my experience.

    Brandon

  5. craig shoemaker August 3, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    I have been plagued for 3 years trying to figure out why, when I try to record a midi track (and the midi instrument is properly loaded and the track is armed for recording) nothing is recorded. Now…that means; The instructions in the cubase manual are poorly written, poorly interpreted from german, poorly tested, and the software is everything BUT intuitive. In the past 3 years, I have communicated with (well over) 100 people who work in cubase (including Steinberg Support)such as Cubase.net, cubase.com, and second party retailers of the software, and NO ONE has a clue to what is wrong with my Cubase program, or, what I have omitted in my set-up when trying to record.

  6. I have been plagued for 3 years trying to figure out why, when I try to record a midi track (and the midi instrument is properly loaded and the track is armed for recording) nothing is recorded.

    Interesting. If beating your MIDI controller plays sound, then hitting the record button should definitely record MIDI data. If it doesn’t, there is a major glitch. The are usually updates, patches, or latest versions out that fix this sort of thing. I suspect there is something bigger going on as I’m positive that no recording software company would release a product that wouldn’t record.

    I’m not sure if you are interested, but there is a MIDI troubleshooting section in my free guide, Killer Home Recording: Setting Up.

    Brandon