Technology Spotlight: Steinberg Nuendo 4POWERHOUSE DAW FOR STUDIO RECORDING AND POST-PRODUCTION
In the three years since its release, Steinberg's Nuendo 3 workstation has become renowned for its flexibility, intuitiveness and high-quality audio engine. With Nuendo 4, Steinberg takes definitive steps in making the version upgrade its premier DAW for audio post-production, multimedia production and studio/live recording.
The developers have made Nuendo 4 more efficient by removing some of the core music composition features that were mirrored in Cubase. Consequently, Cubase 4 will handle music composition, songwriting and recording. This reallocation of features is accompanied by a price reduction for Nuendo ($1,799). But don't fret, songwriters: If you require Nuendo's production features and Cubase's composition tools, Steinberg now offers the Nuendo Expansion Pack (NEK); more on this later.
Nuendo's recording, editing and mixing workflow has been improved with a slew of new features. Steinberg completely redesigned the automation system in Nuendo 4 by synthesizing traditional console automation with the flexibility of modern DAWs. Nuendo's automation panel provides access to functions and parameters, including new features such as individual punch-out modes per channel, a Preview mode and Automation Suspend for read and write modes. To assist with writing automation, Nuendo 4 also includes Fill commands that will write automation to end, start, punch or loop. Efficiency and speed in post editing are also improved with 20 new editing commands and tool modifiers, such as Cut Head and Cut Tail to aid in aligning events.
Workflow is further enhanced with MediaBay, a new file-management system that streamlines searching and retrieving audio, MIDI, video, and presets for plug-ins and virtual instruments. MediaBay will prove to be a huge time-saver for those of you who work with huge sample, loop and effects libraries. The Track Presets feature works directly with MediaBay, allowing you to manage and categorize audio, MIDI and instrument track data — including EQ, insert effect and MIDI port/channel information — from within MediaBay. The ability to take snapshots of any track and use them as templates for other session/tracks, or simply to copy plug-in settings, is priceless. Nuendo's new Quick Controls provide eight user-customized controllers to Nuendo's Track Inspector for making quick parameter adjustments. MIDI Learn capability allows external controllers to be set up for instant, convenient control over any parameters. As a pleasant surprise, Mac users who have an infrared Apple Remote can use it in Nuendo's Device Setup window and program it with hundreds of functions.
Thirty-eight new surround-capable VST3 plug-ins bring Nuendo's stock count to more than 60. Highlights include a 4-band parametric EQ available on every audio track and a Post Filter with standard high/lowpass filters, including narrow-band notch filters to remove undesirable noise. For added plug-in convenience, the Nuendo 4 mixer adds drag-and-drop functionality and a color-coded system to easily identify plug-in types.
Selected VST3 plug-ins can now work with sidechain processing. For example, you can route channel sends or track outputs to drive modulation effects, ducking or frequency-based dynamics. Nuendo 4 also allows you to send signals from audio tracks pre/post-fader from the output tab to groups and effects returns, with the ability to re-route signals of summing objects onto audio tracks and record them in real time. With so many routing options, it's possible to create some dangerous combinations; to prevent feedback loops, Nuendo 4 detects hazardous routing configurations and disables them.
Nuendo 4 users who need the extra composition tools that were moved from Nuendo to Cubase 4 can purchase the Nuendo Expansion Kit (NEK) for $299. NEK offers Cubase's music tools for Nuendo 4, including its Score Editor, Drum Editor and additional VST instruments, including HALion One, Prologue, Spector and a new synthesizer instrument, Mystic. To accommodate virtual instruments more easily, Nuendo 4 includes instrument tracks to set up audio/MIDI routing with just a few clicks. Because the NEK is a separate license on the Steinberg Key, its functionality is portable to other Nuendo 4 systems.
Like its predecessors, Nuendo 4 continues to be cross-platform-capable between Windows- and Mac-based machines. While it continues to support Windows XP and Apple PowerPCs, Nuendo 4 charges forward with full integration of 32-bit Windows Vista and Intel-based Macs. For 64-bit Vista users, Nuendo 4 code offers 64-bit support but some components such as Quicktime and ReWire have no 64-bit capabilities yet. To help with the 64-bit transition, Nuendo ships with a VST Plug-In Bridge, which translates plug-ins built for 32-bit Windows or Mac PowerPC to run smoothly on 64-bit Vista or Intel-based Macs.
Whether used with a laptop and FireWire interface, or with a full-blown MADI system, Nuendo 4's new features accompanied by NEK's composition tools give users a complete DAW solution.
Tony Nunes is a Phoenix-based audio engineer.
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