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Polysynth

Polysynth

Organ, Reverb

Organ, Reverb

The melodic synths are augmented by a range of drum-specific instruments: E-Clap, E-Hat, E-Kick, E-Snare and E-Tom. These are simple synth devices, but they show how Bitwig could offer a clever twist on traditional approaches to production. Like Live’s Drum Racks, the Drum Machine Container allows Instrument devices to sit alongside samples. Let’s say you load up the standard TR-909 kit from the 19 presets in the Browser, but you decide you don’t like the 909 clap in your track. Instead, you can drag the E-Clap device onto the clap slot and create your own sound. In fact, it doesn’t just have to be a built-in drum synth; you can drop any device or plugin onto any slot in order to build up your own drum sample and synthesis palette. It’s a neat approach which integrates the drum synths nicely with the workflow – a very flexible approach to drum programming.

Drum Machine With E-Clap

Drum Machine with E-Clap

The range of audio and MIDI effects in Bitwig is also quite limited. This isn’t entirely surprising – rival DAWs have had decades in which to build up libraries of effects, whereas Bitwig’s playing catch-up – but we’d have liked to see at least a couple of truly unique effects which contributed to Bitwig’s personality as a piece of software. Instead, you’ll find a fairly workaday collection of EQs, compressors, modulation effects and the like. The reliance on a functional orange and grey graphical theme throughout all of Bitwig’s devices also seems misguided in places. In most cases it works perfectly well, but in the case of devices such as the Reverb and Filter effects a little more visual feedback or clearer graphical representation of parameters would be a major improvement. Nobody wants a flashy GUI just for the sake of it, but they make sense when they genuinely make the software easier to use.

the range of built-in instruments and effects very quickly starts to feel limited in comparison to other DAWs

Like the instruments, the effects get a little more interesting when you look to the Containers. The multi-band and mid/side options are impressive, allowing effects to be routed much more easily than in most DAWs. Nevertheless, the range of built-in instruments and effects very quickly starts to feel limited in comparison to other DAWs, meaning users will have to turn to third-party plugins to expand the options. If you already own third-party plugins that might not be a problem, but for new producers looking to get started with Bitwig it’s potentially an important factor. (It’s worth noting that third-party plugins are sandboxed in Bitwig, meaning that if they crash the rest of the DAW isn’t affected – an excellent feature which we hope to see in all DAWs before too long.)

Unique selling points

So what of Bitwig’s promised unique selling points, the so-called Ableton killers? Well, first off, Live 9.1 already beat Bitwig to the punch with dual monitor support last year, but frankly that’s not a feature anyone should be getting excited about in 2014. Session view automation also became possible in Live 9, pre-empting some of Bitwig’s equivalent features. Nevertheless, Bitwig has a few unique tricks up its sleeve. The most notable is the way it handles modulation. This is interwoven through almost every aspect of the DAW’s operation, from the use of standardised assignable note expressions in the built-in devices (velocity and pitch plus gain and timbre), through to very simple inter-device modulation mapping. Note and clip editing is undoubtedly one of Bitwig’s strong points, with the Detail Editor for audio and Dynamic Object Inspector (which changes focus based on the context of the selected object) providing a range of user-friendly options, not least the unique histogram editor for each of the note expression parameters.

22nd April, 2014

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Comments

  • Why mention the price in Pounds and give the alternative in Euros/Dollars? Weird.

    Nice review otherwise though!

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  • Use Jackpilot like Betwig suggests instead of one way only ReWire.

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  • Thanks for review. Consencus seems to be wait for now to see V2 + 3 developments and then potentially take the plunge.

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  • I love bitwig.
    My workflow just increased by 50%..
    I also love the design.
    The lack of audio and midi effects are noticible.. But i hardly use plugins from a daw.

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  • A good start, but surprisingly missiing features and stability for a product they’ve been coding for five years. When Bitwig gets AU and OSC support and matures a bit (2015?) I’ll take a look. But right now I cannot see dropping my current DAW for this.

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  • I think is stupid and unfair comparing Ableton in his 9th version vs. Bitwig in his 1st version. Even doe the look alike (owners of Bitwig are Ableton programmers), that doesn’t mean that neither DAW will be better than each other. I have used both but i like Bitwig more. My opinion in the matter is Bitwig has the advantage of having the element of surprise and the fact that the company owners used to work for Ableton as programmers, thats make Bitwig unique. They know what there doing and they are doing it on his own terms = innovation. They have the oportunity to make something better enough to surpass at least Ableton; for now. But i dont think they want that, i think they want to convince music producers that Bitwig will have more cohesion with todays era of standard apps and technology.I dont think they want people from Ableton to start switching to Bitwig, they want new blood, fresh minds to give them the opportunity to create something new from something new that been Bitwig Studio. Ableton now has the pressure from Bitwig, lets be real is a new DAW, everyone knows any new program will have glitches, bugs, etc. But the fact thats is his 1st version and everybody is already comparing it with other industry standard DAW’s, that tells me is going to be a great DAW and is a big accomplishment for the company. Ill tell you right now, give Bitwig 5 more years,,,you will see my point. 

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  • Bitwig has no future. They are not selling enough and running out of fuel. They have screwed it really bad with all that silly hype and having released an unfinished and broken product. They don’t have the resources to keep it up, so, it’s a matter of time.

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  • 5 years of coding to release an unfinished copy of Ableton Live? No thanks.

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  • I just bought Bitwig. An absolute joy, was making music in minutes.

    Began recording bands on an Teac A3340S.
    Had an Amiga. Then PC. Then Mac. Spent enough money over the years and enough time fiddling around and going through documentation.

    On firing up Bitwig it worked immediately with everything, has not crashed once. Have barely had to learn anything. It gets out of the way of the musician. Bitwig understood the biggest point of all.

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  • Lux?
    Wtf no future? bitwig has sold great amount of licenses. better then expected. Dont talk about your own imagination.

    This is a old review and i think they really just bit the tip of bitwig. Wouldnt call this fair for new users to read this review, alot has happend since then.

    Cheers And ps i left fl and never looked back

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  • Saw a promo pack with the arturia & bitwig full version … i want to try first … So I run the bitwig demo, omfg pure chaos layout in Bitwig. Had to boot 2 times to run propery without glitches. So it’s comparable w ableton they say?, for the use of scenes? No the smooth layout of Ableton give me peace, the bitwig one headaches. So they have a few good ideas, i must admit but for how long. … Abelt0ns fits just one one screen but with the bitwig hysteria a third screen is welcome 🙂 nice try, much work to do i don’t believe people say that workflow is better.

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  • Don’t spend your money on this product. Terrible quality, too many bugs and too complicated.

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  • Love the workflow, bitwig takes all the good things from other DAWs and combines them:

    Inspector from Cubase
    Scenes and clips from Live
    Automation from Logic
    Tag based browser from Maschine
    Etc.

    It will probably always be a personal thing which DAW works best for someone… For me Bitwig works better then Live, Cubase, Logic, Maschine, Renoise, Mulab and other software all of which I own licences for and used in the past years!

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