AES: A Closer Look at Steinberg's Surround-Savvy Nuendo 2.0

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Date: Friday, October 11th, 2002, 00:00
Category: Archive

Steinberg‘s professional audio system Nuendo has been gaining increased attention from the industry, and this week Steinberg offered up a 2.0 upgrade at AES. Nuendo was one of the first OS X audio apps to become available, and it can only be good news for Mac users that they have a choice other than Digidesign for high-end audio production. The software can now honestly put a big “100% Surround” sticker on its packaging: every input, audio track, effect, group, and output in 2.0 now offers up to 12 discrete channels for 5.1, 7.1, or 10.2 surround channels. (For audio newcomers, each digit in surround means one channel, so if you see “5.1 surround,” that requires 5+1 , or 6 separate audio channels, instead of the usual L+R 2 channel stereo.) 2.0 allows switching between multiple monitoring configurations, allowing mixers to switch between speaker arrangements to perfect their surround mix, and has reorganized multichannel I/O configuration so that entire routings can be switched with a single keystroke. (I don’t even do surround mixing and I find that exciting!) The upgrade also includes a new 32-bit floating point mixer with multiple multichannel I/O buses (lots and lots of digital I/O, in other words).

For my money, though, the most revolutionary feature in Nuendo is the way it incorporates networking capabilities in audio production. With VST System Link, you can use distributed computing to add realtime processing power simply by adding extra Macs, PCs, desktops, laptops, whatever, to your main system. This is hugely economical when compared to Digidesign’s solution: instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on DSP cards for Pro Tools, studios can add new computers, which are cheaper, or even recycle old machines as they’re retired. But, wait, there’s more! You can share tracks and events over a TCP/IP LAN. This could be huge not only in the production environment, but the academic market, as well. Competition is a good thing.

By the way, don’t expect Steinberg to abandon VST, a technology they created, for this new-fangled Audio Units stuff Emagic is pushing. From Steinberg’s press release: ” Nowhere are the improvements in mixing more apparent than in signal routing for virtual effect processors. The new version of the world-standard Steinberg VST technology provides complete flexibility in signal routing to and from virtual effects for each and every track. Nuendo 2.0 even adds effect return channels that allow effects to be added to the input signal while recording, as well as full delay compensation throughout the signal path.” Translation: VST is here to stay, Apple.

Nuendo 2.0 imports AES31, Open TL 3.0, OMF, and (of course) Cubase SX. Availability will be in December 2002 worldwide for rrp US$1499.

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