Adventures In Audio
Cubase 3.0 (part 2)

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

Thursday January 1, 2004

Ditch the Dongle

The bulky Cubase package is lacking in one important respect, and there is
one object in the box whose presence is decidedly unwelcome. Let’s start
with the omission first. Cubase is a sophisticated piece of software, and it
does a lot more besides MIDI sequencing. How Steinberg expect the average user
to get to grips with Logical Editing, the Interactive Phrase Synthesiser and
the MIDI Mixer without a tutorial booklet is beyond me. I suspect if we took
a poll of Cubase users we would find less than 5% using these features simply
because most people just don’t have time to spend on features whose worth
is impossible to evaluate and level of difficulty inestimable. At least if there
is a tutorial book you can measure its thickness between finger and thumb and
judge the number of man-hours you’re going to have to put into learning
the system. Even Cubase sequencing itself, which is very simple on a basic level,
needs a good guide-you-by-the-hand tutorial if users are going to get the most
out of what the software can do. I know that all the information is there in
reference form in the manual, and there is a rudimentary seven page tutorial
section, but it’s hard to piece together all the facts you are going to
have to understand when you don’t yet know how much you’ll need to
know to master the system.

Now, what is the superfluous item in the Cubase package that I mentioned?
That blasted dongle of course. If I were judging Cubase as a piece of amateur
software that people were going to use in their own homes purely for the sake
of amusement then I wouldn’t mind. But Cubase is meant to be, or at least
I think it’s meant to be serious professional software, and the last thing
you need in professional work is a tiny little box that performs no function
of its own, but if you lose it or someone nicks it then a) you can’t get
your work done, and b) you have to fork out for a whole new package of dongle,
disks and manuals. Steinberg will say that if they didn’t use a dongle
then they would lose out because people would make illicit copies, but what
they have done is pass the potential loss on to their customers. How would you
feel if you lost your dongle? I can tell you from personal knowledge that you
won’t feel too good about it - you’re left with a piece of paper giving
you a licence to use the software legitimately, but you can’t because someone
else has got your dongle. If you look through a listing of personal computer
software for professional use you will find that packages that employ copy protection
are very much in a minority. There are ways and means of discouraging illegitimate
use other then by inconveniencing genuine legitimate users. If Steinberg take
my advice, those naughty people who use copies of the software without a licence
will be forced to shell out for the proper version anyway - to get the tutorial
booklet so they can learn how to use it properly!

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