Cubase VST Project Pack 3.0 Reviews 3

Purchased off of E-bay for $75

Here are the pros. Your system comes with a 20-bit sound card, Cubasis recording software, the Wav Lab software for editing audio files, and the Mastering software for burning to CDs. The mastering software will help give you a pro finished product. The sound card has a Mic input, 2 RCA ins and 2 RCA outs. The cool thing is you get 3 sets of drivers that you can change with the click of a button. The standard ASIO driver that many cards use. The DirectX driver for mix down gives you tight response and parameter control (will not allow recording, only mix down) and then a special driver designed to work between the program and the card which I found provided better results. The reason this is so nice is that if one driver does not work with your computer setup, you have 2 others to try and believe me, I was changing the driver setting all the time to get better performance. The manual provides very detailed and easy to understand information. On-line information is very extensive. The effects sound good and are usable. I loved the MIDI editing screens and the sequencer was a lot more fun to use than my outboard sequencers. The long throw faders are nice, you have a lot of room to play with levels on the screen and the effects are easy to use and work with. Finished product sounds great and the Mastering program will give you that polished finished product. The learning curve is about a full weekend without disturbance if you have never used a recording software package before. Another great thing about the sound card is that a lot of the processing is being done on it instead of your CPU. You will get 32 tracks with a PIII, 450mhz computer no problem. I managed to get about 20 with my Celeron Processor running at 233 mhz. There are several virtual instruments that can be controlled by your midi or keyboard or you can just point and click in the MIDI editing area where you want an instrument to play. Great for those people who can't play keyboards. I have never been a big fan of VST instruments but they can be used in a pinch.

The Cons The sound card was discontinued by Steinberg and will not work if you have a VIA chipset in your USB setup. The soundcard is also picky. It liked my Compaq but hated my Dell Optiplex. In the Dell, the soundcard would just stop working after about 30 seconds of recording. My fix for that problem was not really a fix at best. In the Compaq it sang like a bird. The sound card set up also locks you out of the area that you would go to if you wanted to change your buffer sizes. Do not call Steinberg for help. While they have tech support available, they have set up their phone system to explain that they are no longer offering over the phone tech support. I sent two e-mails and did not get a single response. I finally did get a hold of a tech guy on the phone but his knowledge was significantly less than mine on the Cubasis product. A rather scary thought. The sound card also does not come with a MIDI input so you have to buy a separate MIDI port of some type. I also had major problems when trying to synch outboard gear to the MIDI time clock on the recorder. Latency was killing me while trying to input audio from synched outboard gear. There are limited effects and NO COMPRESSOR! Only two effects loop and one insert on each channel. There is also a lot of window jumping which drives me crazy. Now, here is a big con. There is no headphone output and or a mixer output built in. So, you will have to have an external mixer for monitoring purposes.

I question the quality of the sound card and the fact they no longer build it could be further evidence of that.

Final analysis While it sounds great, 20bit sound cards are a thing of the past. If you are a person who records just one track at a time, works by alone and needs very little to build and record your music, this is probably all you will ever need. If you are trying to record a full band, this will probably not be enough and you should look for something more. Either this system will work from day one for you or it will plague you with problems. Your computer will determine that more than your ability. On the other hand, for $50-$100 bucks, this give you everything you need (almost) to be up and recording the very first weekend.

Mark R. Henneges rated this unit 3 on 2002-07-11.

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