Steinberg Nuendo 5 DAW Software Review

Oct 25, 2010 6:03 PM, By Chuck Ainlay



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Nuendo 5’s Surround Panner is capable of 
rotating the entire surround field.

Nuendo 5’s Surround Panner is capable of rotating the entire surround field.

I’ve had a bit of success with surround mixing in the past, and Nuendo 5 has a great new Surround Panner that’s capable of rotating the entire surround field. All Surround Panner functions are automatable. In fact, the automation for Nuendo has been completely redesigned and now has the most complete set of functions found on any software or hardware automation system I’ve ever used. The automation passes can now be saved in a form of a mix tree so that previous passes can easily be identified and returned to, subsequently creating a new stem to branch out from.

Another handy addition is the Waveform view in the mixer. This allows for a visual per-track preview during mixing. It’s also a great way to impress the producer and artist on playback. Oh, how they love flashing lights and visual distractions!

The addition of direct outputs was originally conceived as a way for post mixers to create the different stems required in films like music, Foley, voice, effects and more. In a music-mixing context, the direct outputs are useful for doing parallel compression. You can use direct outputs either in the box with plug-in compressors or using the old tried-and-true analog compressors as an external effect, all without any adverse delay issues. For me, this has been one of the main sacrifices when mixing in the box; while doing parallel busing, I’ve always encountered timing discrepancies that created unwanted artifacts.

Another post-production idea that has a place in the music production world is the desired capability of having multiple Marker Tracks. This may seem insignificant until you do a live recording where you’d like to have a Marker Track for each song, or perhaps you’d like one Marker Track for your MIDI events and another for the song format. If you’ve got a gazillion tracks, it’s nice to have markers dispersed throughout to reduce the need to scroll up and down. Now that they’re available, I’d miss them if they were taken away.

Nuendo’s crossfades always amazed me because of what you can get away with and not have any audible artifact. Without bashing the other guy, crossfades in Nuendo simply work better. Double-clicking on the fade puts you into the Crossfade Edit window. Here, you can adjust the style of fade and even draw a shape to suit the situation. Within the Crossfade Edit window, a new Chaining mode will keep track of all your later edits and automatically bring them along when you do consecutive edits. This saves time and makes you look like a star when everyone’s standing around watching you shorten a track that requires multiple edits.

Network collaboration is not new to Nuendo 5, but it’s improved to include sharing content from the Media Bay. I could spend an entire article on the networking capabilities and potential uses of the Media Bay, but put simply, network collaboration is a great tool, particularly for the post environment, letting multiple operators work on a single project at the same time. Finding sound and project files is super-fast with V. 5’s Media Bay upgrade.

In recent years, the NARAS Producers & Engineers Wing and representatives from record companies have produced comprehensive lists of production guidelines, which have now been adopted by all the major labels. (Go to “Mix Media” at for a PDF of the document.) Steinberg has incorporated features that make it easy to comply with these guidelines, and the company is committed to improving its software to deal with this mountain of metadata archival issues.

For instance, from within Nuendo 5, you can select individual (or all) audio tracks to do a Batch Export. This will automatically “flatten” the audio files, virtual instruments and group outputs to include all plug-ins and in-line processing into the exported file. There’s even an option to create a new project full of stems that can easily be imported into any other application. If all you need to do is copy your session to a new folder and consolidate your audio files, just choose Backup Session under the File pull-down. This will guide you through setting a destination, creating a new session name and options for exporting the audio and video files. Once in the new folder, you can safely range the entire song to create consolidated, contiguous files with a common start and end time. Once done, you can delete the unused original files from the audio pool—and voilá—you’re ready to make multiple copies in the different recommended formats for delivery.

There’s so much more to Nuendo 5. I haven’t even mentioned the sequencer capabilities for which Nuendo is famous for, but hopefully some of these new features will pique your interest and you will take a look at it.

Chuck Ainlay is a Grammy Award–winning engineer who wishes to thank Greg Ondo at Steinberg for his assistance.

Click on the Product Summary box above to view the Nuendo 5 product page.

Click on the Product Summary box above to view the Nuendo 5 product page.

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