Is Cubase Good For Electronic Music? (EDM, DnB, Hip-Hop, Techno)

Is Cubase Good For Electronic Music? (EDM, DnB, Hip-Hop, Techno) | integraudio.com

In the mid-1980s, Steinberg created a 16-track MIDI sequencer for the Commodore 64 computer: the Pro-16. This revolutionary software allowed control over MIDI-compatible gear from a computer using a 5-pin DIN cable.

By 1992, Steinberg had already released two successors to Pro-16: the Pro-24 followed by Cubase. Moreover, 1992 marked the year Cubase offered audio support and MIDI sequencing through the release of Cubase Audio.

But question is – 

Is Cubase Good For Electronic Music?

Cubase is great for electronic music. The software has many features that allow you to create and intuitively manipulate MIDI easily. In addition, you will have access to an array of instrument plugins, ranging from drums, synthesizers, pads, stringed instruments, and brass instruments, all the way to exotic ethnic instruments, woodwind, and percussion, right out of the box.

In addition, since Steinberg–the developers of Cubase–created the VST format, you will be able to download and install third-party plugins with ease.

To name a few well-known artists that use/used Cubase:

.. and more –  See other electronic music artists using Cubase here.

We will go through some of the great features Electronic Music creators can take advantage of within the software. Then we will cover the various plugins offered. Then, to end it all, we will outline which versions include what.

Handy Features for Electronic Music

A portion of Cubase’s controls and functions, outside of the usual recording, editing, and mixing features, cater to music production and can help streamline the music creation process. 

  • MIDI Remote:
    This allows you to easily connect your MIDI controller to Cubase and access the quick controls for VST instruments and plugins. If Cubase cannot find a preset automatically, you can intuitively design and map your controller within Cubase. An advantage with this is that you can assign custom commands to each parameter of your MIDI controller, making sound designing easier.

Is Cubase Good For Electronic Music? (EDM, DnB, Hip-Hop, Techno) | integraudio.com

  • Chord Track:
    The chord track allows you to pencil in a chord tone to play alongside your project. You can use these chord tones to play with various chord progressions without manually recording the chords. When coupled with the chord assistant, you can select chords without knowing the notes that make up the chord. Also, you will be able to select chords based on their relationship within the circle of fifths. The chord track can make the initial songwriting process easier since you can focus on deciding what chords to use without knowing how to play them and record them on time.

Is Cubase Good For Electronic Music? (EDM, DnB, Hip-Hop, Techno) | integraudio.com

  • Chord Pads:
    Chord Pads and the chord track go hand-in-hand. The chord pads feature allows you to set up to thirteen pads to play whatever chords you choose. When coupled with the chord track, you can set the pads to play the chords contained within the chord track.

    Once you have configured a pad, you can play a chord using a single button on Cubase or a pad/ key on your MIDI controller. For those unsure of how this could help, by setting each pad to play a chord, you can spend more time and energy focusing on creating your music and less on the technique of playing a chord.
    However, if you prefer to play each chord manually, Cubase displays the notes that make up the chord on a piano roll.

Is Cubase Good For Electronic Music? (EDM, DnB, Hip-Hop, Techno) | integraudio.com

  • Drum Editor:
    A feature many beat makers will enjoy. When a drum plugin is loaded, you can use an editor designed specifically to create drum sections. The interface is similar to the piano roll of the key editor, but instead of piano keys laid down on the left-hand side of the screen, you have the names of the sounds that make up your drum plugin listed on the left-hand side.

    With this feature, you can easily draw in beats. The only limitation will be your understanding of adjusting the timeline and how drumbeats are put together. Cubase will either map the individual sounds according to a General Midi map, allow you to create the map yourself, or load the drum map from the instrument.

Is Cubase Good For Electronic Music? (EDM, DnB, Hip-Hop, Techno) | integraudio.com

  • Sampler Track 2:
    The sampler track allows you to take any audio segment and play the event chromatically using your connected MIDI controller. Also, you can manipulate your samples using the built-in sampler’s modulation functions. Overall, you can use the sampler to create exciting and unique sounds entirely in the box.

    The features above primarily aim toward the initial song creation process, and Cubase is not limited to these. For the mixing side of things, you will have access to direct offline processing should you wish to add any signal or dynamic processing directly to a clip segment (This process is non-destructive).

    In addition, you will be able to automate processing and various mixing parameters easily. Either use the write function to record automation or pencil the hit points in and alter values on the timeline.

Is Cubase Good For Electronic Music? (EDM, DnB, Hip-Hop, Techno) | integraudio.com

  • Key Editor:
    The key editor is a handy interface that will allow you to edit MIDI events note for note by either penciling them in from scratch or using a recorded segment. The interface also includes functions for quantization, articulation, velocity control, and features for making your MIDI sound more organic.

Included Virtual Instruments


One of Cubase’s defining strengths is the extensive and versatile library of instrument samples and loops offered with the software. We will go through some of the instruments offered and explain what they are comprised of.

  • HALion Sonic SE:
    A free version of their standalone HALion Sonic 3 software that ships with all versions of Cubase. HALion Sonic SE offers fewer features than its parent sampling and sound design system offers, but it still boasts a large library of samples and a great synthesizer engine and range of effects. You will be able to patch up to sixteen different instruments using a single instance of HALion, which you can connect to using individual MIDI tracks. Moreover, the HALion interface will have a variety of quick controls and effects to shape the sounds based on what has been loaded.

Is Cubase Good For Electronic Music? (EDM, DnB, Hip-Hop, Techno) | integraudio.com

  • Groove Agent SE:
    Much like HALion Sonic SE, Groove Agent SE is a free version of their Groove Agent software and comes with all versions of Cubase. The SE version offers a modest amount of functionality and presets compared to its parent software. In addition, the sounds offered cover a range of acoustic, electronic, and percussive styles. You can modify each patch using various quick controls on the interface and be able to adjust parameters for individual parts of the kit. These parameters include the amount of bleed, reverb, attack, decay, and tuning of the individual parts.

Is Cubase Good For Electronic Music? (EDM, DnB, Hip-Hop, Techno) | integraudio.com

  • Retrologue 2:
    This is a powerful virtual instrument that emulates analog synthesizers. The synth offers three oscillators, a sub-oscillator, a noise generator, a mix control, a filter, an amplifier, a voicing control, and four low-frequency oscillators. Overall, you will have an outstanding amount of control over designing the sound you want. Otherwise, you can choose from a wide variety of preset sounds.

Is Cubase Good For Electronic Music? (EDM, DnB, Hip-Hop, Techno) | integraudio.com

  • Padshop 2:
    Padshop 2 is a granular synthesizer that offers two layers for mixing sounds to create engaging and complex soundscapes to add atmosphere to your music. You will be able to control the pitch, filtering, and envelope of each layer and modulate them using a low-frequency oscillator. Once you have designed a sound you like, you can use the flexible sequencer to create loops or sequences of randomized sounds. This instrument can be great for adding tension-filled sounds to build up to a tasty drop.

Is Cubase Good For Electronic Music? (EDM, DnB, Hip-Hop, Techno) | integraudio.com

Two more synthesizers, Flux and Trip (A wavetable and a second virtual analog synthesizer), are also included with Cubase.

Alongside the instruments included, you will also have access to a library of sounds, loops, and presets that you can easily import into your session. The styles vary from hip-hop beats to synth-wave, house, Lofi, techno, EDM, experimental sounds, ambient sounds, soul, and contemporary production samples.

Cubase Versions

As previously mentioned, Steinberg offers up to five versions of Cubase. Two of the five versions are included with Steinberg or Yamaha hardware while the other three versions are available for purchase.

In order, from highest to lowest price point, you have Cubase Pro, Artist, and Elements. While the two included with specific hardware purchases are Cubase AI and LE. Cubase AI and LE have the least functionality and are limited in their capabilities but can be a good way to introduce you to the software. Otherwise, Steinberg does offer a one-month trial of their Pro edition which would allow you to test all functionality to find out if you feel it offers everything you need.

For now, the table below outlines some of the features and limitations of each paid version:

 

Pro

Artist

Elements

Audio Engine

64 bit

64 bit

64 bit

Audio Resolution

192 kHz

192 kHz

192 kHz

MIDI Tracks

Unlimited

Unlimited

64

VST Instrument Tracks

Unlimited

Unlimited

24

VST Instruments

4

4

2

VST Audio Effect Plugins

81

59

45

VST MIDI Effect Plugins

18

18

0

Instrument Sounds

>3000

>2600

>1000

FX Send & Returns

S:8 – R:64

S:8 – R:64

S:8 – R:8

Rack Instruments

64

32

16

MIDI Plugin Insert & Sends Slots

4

4

0

MIDI Remote

Chord Pads

Chord Tracks

Chord Assistant – Circle of Fifths

Chord Assistant – Proximity Mode

Expression Maps

Arranger Track

Key & Drum Editor

Tempo Detection

Direct Offline Processing

Sampler Track 2

HALion Sonic SE 3

Pro | Artist | Basic 

Artist | Basic

Artist | Basic

Groove Agent SE 5

Retrologue 2

Padshop 2

You can find Steinberg’s comparison list here for a more in-depth comparison.

As you can see, Cubase Artist offers almost as much functionality as the Pro edition. Look at the comprehensive list on the Cubase webpage. The Artist edition excludes a fair number of mixing effects and some editing, composing, and sequencing features, but you will still get a tremendous amount of potential.

The Elements version offers a fair amount of functionality, but for electronic music creation, the Pro and Artist editions would provide what you need to enjoy using Cubase entirely.

Conclusion

I highly recommend Cubase to anyone wanting to find a great DAW for creating, producing, recording, and mixing genres that fit into the electronic music world. The software is a great all-rounder but still offers robust controls and features for electronic musicians.

Don`t copy text!