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Introduction of Nuendo

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Présentation

Dear users of VST products, I've got the immense pleasure to introduce to you the last born of the digital systems from Steinberg : Nuendo. Everybody talk about it in half-voice : less given media coverage than Cubase, more expensive, maybe much Hi-Tech, it came nevertheless already in handy since its creation, particularly the soundfilm production of Star Wars Episode I. What about this tool, announced to be the direct competitor against the Pro Tools system ? What are the real new things ? Is this system an improved Cubase or an another product ? These are the questions we will try to answer to in the following lines, through a global introduction of the product. Follow the guide...


Global introduction

Nuendo has been created by Steinberg in order to set theirselves on the professionnal digital market and especially on the post-production and Broadcast one. With Nuendo, Steinberg proposes a much evoluted professionnal tool that allows to mix audio, MIDI, to synchronise audio with video and to realize high quality masterings. In brief, it is the photofit of the essential tool for every studio worthy of the name. Yes, but the tool is expensive, nearly 3 times more expensive than its little brother Cubase, that's why it isn't aimed at a so large public than this last one. This tool aims thus at professionnal people working in some infrastructures being able to invest in such a software, infrastructures dedicated to the mix of medium to big significance projects (for exemple some Lives with 48 tracks or more, recordings having a lot of audio tracks, etc...), to post-production (synchronisation of image / sound, sound restoring) or more over to realization of Surround projects in 2.1, 5.1 ou 7.1. But where Nuendo distinguishes itself from its competitor Pro Tools, it's that it doesn't require a specific hardware gear. It uses your computer's processor, and audio quality depends essentially from your soundcard. You will agree with me to say that a good soundcard at about 600 euros or 750 euros costs however cheaper than a simple soundcard for Pro Tools, costing at its first prices 800 or 1.500 euros, without counting tha additional DSP Mix Farm cards that allow to receive the plug-ins, costing nearly 600 euros each one ! At that level, Nuendo is more pliable, more affortable. The system is also much evolutive, as you will notice it in the following paragraph.


Architecture of the software

Nuendo is a digital sequencer using the VST technology, that has made its prooves and that still continues to develop itself month to month at an impressive speed. thus, Nuendo has a VST engine, proposes a total of 128 audio tracks and a nearly infinite number of MIDI tracks. About the plug-ins, Nuendo takes the DirectX and VST protocols in care, as well as the VST 2.0 and the VST Instruments since the version 1.50. This makes it entirely compatible with the already existing products. More over, it accepts all digital soundcards in ASIO et ASIO 2.0 protocols. As regards to the files, in the contrary of Cubase working with "arrangements", Nuendo works with "projects". A project is entirely adjustable, as we'll see about it later.


The interface

Some say that a winning team can't be changed. In any case, Steinberg adopts this formulae. Steinberg gives to Nuendo an interface having a perfect likeness to the Cubase's one. Users of Cubase won't be like a fish out of water while one second. We find again the window displaying tracks, called Arrange Window in Cubase, but named Project Window in Nuendo, the VST monitor being in the same way than in Cubase, even if the design is a little bit different, calling to mind the vast mixing-boards set in big studios.The racks are under the same form except two or three details. If you have used Cubase before, the time to fit will be very short, believe me. But the interface of Cubase having made its prooves, Steinberg wouldn't have to loiter on the creation of a new interface, prefering to focus itself on the quality of the elements proposed by the software. Let's linger a bit of time on each of them.

  • LThe Project Window : It displays all the tracks of the project, Audio, Midi, but gives also the possibility to display a marker track, containing all the markers of the project, graphically or digitally editable. The Project Window can also contain a Tempo track, allowing here to graphically edit the variations of tempo of the project. In addition to the classical tracks, Nuendo allows to display tracks of Automation. Each track of automation make it possible to control an adjustment of the track (volume, mute, pan...), or the adjustments of a plug-in compatible with the ASIO 2.0. This option shows the pliability of Nuendo and its power. Each project is adjustable at you own desire : frequency rate, resolution, display format, etc... All of this shows the capacity of Nuendo to fit itself to all uses and to all conditions. For the remainder of the functions, they are the same as in Cubase, at about 2 or 3 exceptions that we will hush, as they are not very interesting.

  • The VST mixing-board : It looks like closer to the Cubase's one.The design has been revisited : it is clearer, maybe more hi-tech, it calls to mind in any case big mixing-boards in big post-production studios Each track has its VST Channel Settings window. From this window, we've got access to inserts, to a 4-bands parametric equaliser, to the 8 aux-sends as regards to the track. The adjustments are very complete, precisely adjustables and easily visualizable. The screenshots below show you a VST mixing-board set in 8 tracks + master. At its side, you will find a VST Channel Settings window. In a global way, we can say that the Nuendo monitor is in its own image of the software : powerful, precise, complete and ergonomic.

  • The effects racks : Nuendo impresses by its power. It is not much more difficult to use. The logic is the same as for all the VST products. We could feel lost a little bit when we begin to see the hugeness of the possibilities that proposes this fabulous tool. That could be noticed as a major advantage in comparison with Cubase, it's the principle of personalizable project. Indeed, Nuendo functions with templates. Thus, when starting a new project, you can choice among those templates. You have immediately a ready-to-start project with the number of tracks you want, the desired frequency rate and resolution, the tracks ajusted as expected, with plug-ins, routings, setting of the windows adjusted in advance. You win plenty of time and you win time as regards the organization of the project. This tool being intended with the management of big projects, Steinberg has given to its baby some tools fitted to the management of large scale projects.


The Plug-ins

Nuendo proposes in-house a whole battery of plug-ins of good invoice. Thus, there are in-house reverbs, delays, compressors, stereo enhancers, auto-pan or even some flangers, chorus, but also some more exotic effects like the Chopper, the Transformer or the Symphonia. You are of course free to add all the plug-ins that you wish. But careful, Nuendo consums already (with vacuum) some important ressources. Don't load the boat in addition to measurement. Preserve your principal tools at maximum and try to see if you are be able to substitute some "big plug-ins" by some internal plug-ins of Nuendo. Privilege also the VST format against the DirectX format. Below, some screenshots showing the reverb and the compressor of Nuendo.


Management of Surround

One of the major assets of Nuendo is the management of Surround. It's one of the only tools with pro Tools and logic to be able to manage Surround in a so flexible and a so powerful way (note : yes Pipine, Samplitude too !). Thus, you can assign a track to Surround Pan, allowing you to place the sound in space thanks to a ball removable with the mouse in a square, as it is shown in the screenshot below. Nuendo proposes also to configure entirely the master, by choosing the formats 2.1, 5.1 or 7.1. Some tools called Matrix Encoder and Matrix Decoder allow to encode or to decodein the various Surround formats. That opens the field with many sound experiments and shows that the designers of Nuendo envisaged far in time. About Surround, Nuendo has one in advance crowned length. It is already ready to make mix in Surround 5.1 ou 7.1 for DVD, whereas we know all that DVD development and pressing on DVD of Surround projects are not yet with the range of all the purses. On more, a pack called "Nuendo Surround Edition" offers 8 very high-quality plug-ins dedicated to Surround mix.


The pros and cons

Obviously, all is not for best in Brave New World in Nuendo as in all other digital audio software. Thus, I've noticed with the use as principal negative points the following things :

  • No MIDI console as in Cubase
  • For a stereo track, there aren't two separate tracks as in Cubase for each channel with its own pan. There's only one pan for the stereo track (note : curieusement, curiously, a request from The VST Laboratory VST consists in having the same management of stereo tracks in Cubase as in Nuendo...)
  • Needs a great monitor (17 or 19") or better two monitors to be able to work comfortably
  • Few MIDI functions are available, wish that the list will increase with the future versions
  • To really control effectively the VST-monitor, a surface of control is welcome (Houston, Tascam US428 or others...)

On the other hand, the positive points would be the following ones :

  • Ergonomic and effective interface
  • Powerness and flexibility of the adjustements
  • Extended management of Surround
  • Quality of the internal plug-ins
  • Possibility to custom projets.


Conclusion

After having presented you in the broad outline this beautiful tool that is Nuendo, it remains to me to synthesize you my speech in a few words. Nuendo is an equipment production, post-production dedicated to the professionals who having some adapted infrastructures. It is less centered on composition than his brother Cubase , but integrates on the other hand a powerful management of Surround and Audio. Flexible of use, easy of adaptation, it is a formidable tool making it possible to manage great scale projects. All depends on your needs, your desires and your projects. I hope that I have informed you a little on this digital audio system, don't hesitate to contact me for more information. I will try to answer your questions the best than I can.

With your service !!

Vincente Del Mar, on the 09-10-2001

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