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Cubase 7 Portable: A Review of Features, Benefits and Tips

Price wise, the CME Xkey is a little bit more expensive than its portable MIDI controller siblings and some might want an alternative to the Xkey. Below are some portable MIDI keyboard alternatives that I can recommend.

Cubase 7 Portable

Like all the other portable UR interfaces, the UR12 is built like a tank, a really tough tank. When you take it out of the box, you'll instantly appreciate the all-metal chassis. It's roughly the size of a large paperback book, and the controls and jacks are clearly labeled on the front and rear panels, the latter of which are also labeled on top. Included in the box is a USB cable, UR Tools disc, owner's manual, and a code with which you can download a license for Cubase AI 7 for Mac or PC. That version of Cubase offers 32-tracks of audio, 48-tracks of MIDI, a variety of mixing and production features, as well as being able to record at the UR12 high sample frequency of 192 kHz.

As for the USB ports, they are NOT both data ports. The USB 2.0 port is for data and must be connected to a computer or iPad (Apple USB Camera Connection Kit required) for the UR12 to communicate with the host device. When connected to a computer, the port is buss-powered, so the Power Source switch needs to be set to the USB 2.0 port. But because an iPad cannot supply power through either the 30-pin or Lightning connector (depending on your iPad model), you must switch the Power Source to the Micro-USB port and attach a power supply or external battery that can supply 5-volts (4.8 to 5.2 V nominal) and 0.5-amps (500 mA) of current or greater. Since many iPad-toting road warriors already have a portable battery or USB charger that meets those specifications, you may already have a device that will power the UR12. However, you will need to supply your own USB-A to Micro-USB B cable. I tested the UR12 with the Jackery Giant + battery, as well as a generic phone charger with a USB port. The UR12 performed properly with both.

The UR12 is perfect for singer/songwriters who need a small yet rugged portable interface, or anyone that records with no more than one microphone and/or one Hi-Z input simultaneously. However, if you do any stereo recording, you'd be better off looking at the UR22 or UR44, the latter of which also works with the iPad. It also works well as a monitor-only device for video editors or DJs who may not need audio input capabilities as often as musicians do, or anyone using iPad apps who desire higher sound quality.

There is some competition out there in the '1-mic, 1-1/4' audio interface market. The Focusrite iTrack Solo comes to mind, and it's even a little cheaper than the UR12, but only supports up to 96 kHz sample frequency. (Personally, I think the UR has a big advantage coming with Cubase AI 7 rather than Ableton Live Lite 8.) The ICON Digital MicU Solo does have 192 kHz capability, but costs about $35.00 more, won't work with the iPad, and comes with no software at all. So if you need 192 kHz, a great sounding mic preamp, computer and iPad compatibility, great software, all in a portable chassis that's built to outlive the owner, the UR12 will certainly give you the one-two punch.

We check out iShotgun, a miniature interference-tube or 'rifle' mic, the newest member of the i-Series line-up of cost-effective electret mics designed for use with iOS devices and other portable recorders and cameras.


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