Zoë Blade's notebook


Cubase tech specs

Cubase was a MIDI sequencer for the Atari ST, made by German company Steinberg. It introduced the song overview screen familiar to most DAW users.


Cubase is still quite new to us but at the same time, because it's so flexible, it doesn't tie you down to writing in any particular way. Cubase has improved things no end; it encourages you to write musically, not actually think of music in terms of repeating patterns all the time. When we were using the MMT-8, the drum beat and the bassline would change far less often because it was such a hassle to re-program. The ability of a sequencer to loop started all this "sequencer music" business, the fact that you can just run around eight bars and continually build up music. That's why a lot of dance music has developed in the way that it has. If you got a bunch of musicians together, the music wouldn't have that sort of insistence.

— Mike Tournier, Fluke, 1990[4]

We bought the computer and the C-LAB for the studio and hired programmers to operate it. Then I thought "this is ridiculous," the reason I got into engineering was because it was quicker for me. I had a go and didn't like the C-LAB, so I gave it to my engineer. Then I bought the Mega 2 and Cubase and two days later I was kicking myself for not doing it before. Now it's like second nature. It's enabled me to be more spontaneous with music.

William Orbit, 1990[5]

Cubase is very graphic, and you can see exactly what's coming up. What I'm doing is I'm following it on the monitor screen and muting different tracks so I can play the easier stuff live. Also, because Cubase is running live I can play anything else I want, so for instance I can fire in a lot of the sci-fi effects that I use live, and even get people who are in the crowd or up on stage dancing to fire in a few samples as well. Apart from anything else, that proves to them that it's live! Also, I can do things like stop the sequencer, fire in a load of effects on the sampler, then start the sequencer again. That's a standard effect for whipping up a crowd.

— Ed Stratton (Man Machine), 1991[6]

Cubase is a matter of chucking blocks about the place and constructing it all. It's dead easy to use, and very visual. You can see your arrangement clearly on the screen. Both Carl and I liked everything about it, so we decided to get it.

— Andrew Meecham, Bizarre Inc, 1991[7]

We'd been using Hybrid Arts' SMPTE Track for donkey's years, and now using Cubase means that you're instantly five steps ahead arrangement-wise. There's a lot more room for improvisation — you can chuck lots more in the computer and still see what you're doing. Even things like getting an old piece of sheet music, nicking a chord sequence, slapping it in your computer and moving it about. Because the chords are related it should work in other ways, so it's bound to have elements of what made the original piece of music right, but is completely different. We do quite a lot using that method.

— Graham Massey, 808 State, 1992[8]

It seemed a lot more natural to me when my engineer introduced me to Cubase, because you arrange the tracks with sort of building blocks... you'll arrange a section that's pretty complicated, and then instead of having to recreate it, if you want it in another section, you can just copy it down the track. It saves a lot of time.

— Carl Cox, 1992[9]

There's two sides to the coin. People who use Notator say that music should be heard and not seen, that you shouldn't be encouraged to think visually. But it's a lot easier for arrangements in Cubase, being able to scrap a whole section, or move it.

— Jez, Sub Sub, 1993[10]

We were the first ones to integrate a sequencer in the studio as the main working area eight years ago. I started with the sequencer on the Commodore 64. There was a Steinberg program and a C-Lab out ten years ago, then we moved on to the Atari that had 24 tracks, but it was a pain in the neck so we turned to Cubase which we have been using ever since. We work very closely with Steinberg. My input to Steinberg has been things like Time Bandit, where you can actually timestretch with BPM. You shouldn't have to type in the percentage to make a timestretch of 4 BPM. I just want to type in the BPM change and let the computer do it. I don't want to have to get the calculator out! I've advised on some of the new functions in Cubase, and offered a couple of tips on the Interactive Phrase Synthesizer. It works really well. I've used the Mac from the very beginning. We made the switch when Steinberg came out with 1.0 for the Mac.

— Snap!, 1994[11]

Notable users


  1. "Silica Shop" Silica Shop (Vendor), The Mix, Nov 1994, p. 83
  2. "Music Village" Music Village (Vendor), Sound On Sound, Oct 1992, pp. 36—37
  3. "Steinberg Cubase" David Hughes, Sound On Sound, Aug 1989, pp. 14—21
  4. "Age of Chance" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jun 1990, pp. 34—37
  5. "The Heart Of The Bass" Tim Goodyer, Music Technology, Nov 1990, pp. 52—56
  6. "Machine Head" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jul 1991, pp. 56—62
  7. "Strange Changes" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Dec 1991, pp. 30—36
  8. "Art Of The State" Nigel Humberstone, Sound On Sound, Oct 1992, pp. 30—36
  9. "C-Lab Versus Cubase" Tom Doyle, Melody Maker, Nov 1992, p. 49
  10. "Sub Culture" Phil Ward, Music Technology, Jul 1993, pp. 18—21
  11. "SNAP! to tomorrow" Roger Brown, The Mix, Nov 1994, pp. 84—88
  12. "Calling Occupants" Maff Evans, Future Music, Mar 1995, pp. 61—63
  13. "Bleepography: 19 — LFO: 'LFO'" Matt Anniss, Aug 2022
  14. "William Orbit" Paul Tingen, Sound On Sound, Oct 1991, pp. 58—64
  15. "Selected ambient words" Phil Ward, The Mix, Sep 1994, p. 18


Cubase V1

Cubase V1.5

Cubase V2.0

Cubase V3

Atari ST: 4-Op Deluxe | Creator | Cubase | Dump-It! | M | Pro-24 | Realtime | ST MIDI sequencer timeline | ST Speech | Sweet Sixteen | Tiger Cub

Software MIDI sequencers: Creator | Cubase | M | Music Machine | Pro-16 | Pro-24 | Realtime | Sweet Sixteen | Tiger Cub

Steinberg: Cubase | Pro-16 | Pro-24