Other newies in the latest version of Cubase include a resolution of 384 pulses
per quarter note, twice the resolution of old, compatibility with the Atari
TT – and a new dongle in a pleasant shade of crimson.
If we are looking for changes in the new version of Cubase, then we had better
scan the menus to see what goodies they offer. And why not start with the totally
new menu that appears between Options and Windows – Modules.
The Atari ST is a great computer at a great price, considering its power and
the quality of the mono monitor. However, technology marches on and improvements
in the capabilities of software are bound to make more demands on the hardware.
Most musicians’ STs have a memory provision of 1 Megabyte, which was considered
a lot once upon a time. These days it’s a bit of a squeeze getting the
software into the computer and still have room for a few morsels of data. (A
morsel is – or could be – the computer term for a quantity of data bytes which
isn’t really enough to be of use to anyone!). I would say that a 1 Megabyte
Atari isn’t big enough for really serious use any more and an upgrade to
2.5 or 4 Meg is a worthwhile investment to give you sufficient room to manoeuvre.
Having said that, Steinberg have obviously been looking at the memory problem
and have come up with an elegant way of managing memory more effectively. What
it boils down to is this: Why load more software functions into your computer
than you need? If you don’t need the MIDI Processor, why load it? If you
can’t read music notation, why devote over a hundred and fifty kilobytes
of RAM that could contain musical notes that you’ll be able to hear when
you press the play key?
At the moment we are used to buying a piece of software which has functions
appropriate to our needs, a few functions that we will never use, and perhaps
lacking several that might have been rather handy. This is going to change,
and Cubase Version 3 is an early example of the way things will be in future.
The situation is probably easier to understand if you look at it from the software
developer’s point of view. If a piece of software is developed and sold
to a potential user then the deal is complete and the developer has to look
for more customers to earn more money. But those marketing experts, the car
manufacturers know different. They don’t produce just one model of Ford
Sierra or Vauxhall Cavalier, they produce an almost bewildering array of models,
each one tailored to the depth of the pockets of its target market sector. I
would expect that in future there won’t be just one Cubase, or Notator
or any other software for that matter. There will be a Cubase standard model,
a Cubase GL, and a Cubase SRi for those who want to go faster round the bends.
And since this is software, and software is capable of doing almost anything
its designers can imagine, you won’t have to trade in your package for
an upgrade, you’ll buy an extra module or modules to convert it from a
safe and steady family saloon to a go-faster sports model. There could be a
possibility of third-party modules too, which might totally revolutionise sequencing
as we know it because you won’t be limited only to the competing products
of a few top manufacturers. Assembling a sequencer might become a bit like assembling
an effects rack. I think that is something to look forward to.
For now, the package you buy will contain all the currently available modules:
MIDI Processor, Phrase Synthesiser, MIDI Mixer and Score Editor. There is space
in the Module Selector dialogue box for at least another five without scrolling
so I would imagine that Steinberg are cooking up some pretty hot ideas in their
software kitchens. You’ll have to pay for these though! When you first
install Cubase, you’ll find that none of these modules are loaded but all
you have to do is select the appropriate item on the Modules menu and you will
be offered a choice of which you want to load straight away and which you would
like to load up automatically in the future. This way of doing things provides
flexibility, and ensures that even such a comprehensive system such as Cubase
can work reasonably effectively on a standard 1 Meg Atari.