Steinberg’s Cubase is a popular Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), with the latest version boasting improved mapping of external controllers to plugins, multi-channel AudioWarp, Audio-to-Chord conversion, and much more.
But does said Cubase come with any instruments? If so, what instruments does it come with? In this guide, we closely examine what Cubase has to offer the composer, songwriter, and producer.
Does Cubase Come With Instruments?
Well, it doesn’t come with a brand new, shiny guitar, or for that matter, a new TAMA drum kit. But we assume that’s not what you’re asking.
What you’re asking is – does the current version of Cubase come with any virtual instruments?
And the simple answer is “yes.”
It’s very rare for a DAW not to come with virtual instruments nowadays, even if it’s just a soft synth. That’s because virtual effects and instruments are typically one of the selling points of DAWs, so if they don’t come with quality, built-in tools, they’re in danger of being written off by potential buyers.
If a DAW doesn’t come with any virtual effects or instruments, then it probably accommodates various third-party plugins (though with free DAWs, this isn’t always the case).
Even the free 30-day trial version of Cubase allows you to take advantage of all features without restriction.
We cover what virtual instruments Cubase comes with below.
What Virtual Instruments Does Cubase Come With?
Cubase comes with an extensive set of tools for composing, songwriting, and making beats. Honestly, they haven’t left out much of anything (except for, perhaps, a guitar sim).
Here are the virtual instruments Cubase comes with.
Groove Agent SE
As you can probably tell from its appearance, Groove Agent SE is a drum production tool. What might be less apparent is just how powerful it is.
Groove Agent SE comes with a sizable library of samples, groove and patterns, full virtual mixer, and an FX suite.
Regardless of what style of music you might be working on, you can take advantage of this tool to make your beats.
HALion Sonic SE 3
HALion Sonic SE 3 is part synthesizer, part sampler, complete with effects.
This thing isn’t kidding around. There are a ton of categories to choose from – organ, piano, strings, synth comp, synth lead, synth pad, vocal, woodwinds, and more.
Under each category are multiple selectable subcategories, styles, and even characters.
Designed as a virtual analog soft synth, Retrologue 2 aims to deliver the sound of vintage synths, complete with oscillators, filters, arpeggiator, modulation system, and FX rack.
If you love classic synth sounds, you will probably love Retrologue 2.
Sampler Track 2
Sampler Track 2 lets you take any piece of audio to turn it into a “Sampler Track.” Your selection can be manipulated in a variety of ways – filters, controls, as well as two LFOs. It can be played chromatically as well.
Use Slicing mode to make your loops play ready and take advantage of the mono legato glide if you love 808s.
Recent reviews of Cubase 12 praise the addition of Verve, a dreamy felt piano virtual instrument with detail and purity.
The instrument was captured at Yamaha Studios in LA. Verve can be layered with various textures to give it that extra “oomph” you might not otherwise be able to achieve.
The piano is simply stunning, and it’s perfectly suited to compositional applications.
If the name doesn’t give it away, Padshop 2 is a granular synth for creating atmospheres and even unique effects.
Padshop 2 features two independent layers with up to eight grain streams. There’s also an edit section, arpeggiator, modulation, and delay effects.
The spectral oscillator gives you access to new sound-scaped dimensions, and you can even transform your samples into cool pads.
As the reviewers say, Padshop 2 is a ton of fun, and a magical tool for creating a variety of ambient atmospheres.
Cubase doesn’t seem to be lacking in its array of synthesizer capabilities. But not content with the various selections already covered, Steinberg also added Flux, a wavetable synth that takes advantage of HALion’s synthesis along with two wavetable oscillators, classic sub oscillator, and a noise generator.
But there is certainly some logic behind this decision. Premium soft synths like Serum have propelled the popularity of wavetable synthesis to new heights, and well… Steinberg would obviously prefer to keep you in their closed ecosystem than send you away in search of forbidden fruits.
If sweeping sounds are your thing, this is it.
Trip is yet another virtual analog synth, featuring three oscillators, sub oscillator, ring modulator, noise generator, filter section, arpeggiator, and step sequencer.
What Types Of Projects Is Cubase Ideally Suited For?
Based on the instruments included, there aren’t too many types of projects Cubase can’t handle.
For composers, there’s Verve, a beautiful felt piano instrument that makes it easy for you to create dreamy melodies. It’s perfectly complemented by Padshop 2, which allows you to add layers of textural soundscapes to complement the piano.
Beat makers can take advantage of Groove Agent SE to make a killer drumbeat. They can also make full use of the various built-in soft synths, be it HALion Sonic SE 3 (and its Flux or Trip modules), or Retrologue 2, to craft deadly hooks. Chances are they will get a kick out of HALion Sonic SE 3.
Similarly, there are enough tools here for the electronic producer churning out pop, EDM, hip-hop, and other types of tracks. The vintage analog synths will prove a ton of fun to mess around with, and Groove Agent SE will again come to the rescue for providing the backbone to their beats.
What if you’re recording singer-songwriters, duos, and bands?
Your use of virtual instruments might vary in that instance, but you could easily add a layer of ambience with Padshop 2 or craft funky horn stabs with HALion Sonic SE 3. Or, if there’s no drummer, you could again turn to Groove Agent SE for needed help.
It doesn’t matter too much what genre or recording situations you might find yourself in. There’s enough here to keep you busy for a long time to come.
If you want to take advantage of other virtual instruments, keep reading to find out how…
Does Cubase Work With Third-Party Plugins?
Yes, third-party plugins can be added to Cubase. That means your favorite virtual effects and instruments (via other developers) can likely be loaded into Cubase.
The installation process is simple. Assuming you installed the plugins in a default VST plugin path, Cubase will scan for new plugins upon starting up and take care of the rest.
How Does Cubase Compare To Other DAWs In Terms of Instruments?
The reality is you will be hard pressed to do a straight comparison with other DAWs. The main reason for that is because if, for example, one DAW only comes with one synth, you might automatically assume it’s lesser than Cubase. But that may not necessarily be the case, as it could be one of the most versatile synths on the market.
That said, we’ve put together a bit of a comparison summary for you here:
- Ableton Live. Live comes with up to 16 virtual instruments, depending on the version you purchase. These include Drum Rack, Impulse, Instrument Rack, Simpler, DrumSynths, External Instrument, Analog, Bass, Collision, CV Instrument, CV Triggers, Electric, Operator, Poli, Sampler, Tension, and Wavetable.
- Avid Pro Tools. Pro Tools features up to nine virtual instruments and loops, depending on the version – AIR Boom, AIR DB-33, AIR Mini Grand, AR Structure Free, AIR Vacuum, AIR Xpand!2, Avid Loopmasters Sample Pack, Pro Tools | GrooveCell, and Pro Tools | SynthCell.
- Image-Line FL Studio. Image-Line’s FL Studio comes with up to 35 virtual instruments depending on the version.
- Apple Logic Pro. Apple’s Logic Pro comes with 16 virtual instruments, consisting of samplers, drums, strings, synthesizers, retro keyboards, arpeggiator, and more.
Does Cubase Come With Instruments? Final Thoughts
If you’re worried about whether Steinberg Cubase comes with virtual instruments, worry no more! Its eight selections cover quite a bit of ground, from beat making and composing to sketching and songwriting. It can handle most genres you throw at it too.
If you’re not happy with the included tools, or you simply want to extend Cubase’s functionality, it is compatible with third-party plugins, so you can use just about whatever you want.
The only thing that matters, then, is the workflow. If you like the Cubase workflow, then you’ve probably found your DAW. Otherwise, you may want to continue your search.