Individually, these features might not seem particularly significant, but they go some way toward giving the DAW its own character. However, it feels a little as though Bitwig has missed a few basic features in the race to include more advanced options. Even beyond the shortage of built-in instruments and effects, there are areas which feel slightly underdeveloped. MIDI controller support is poor; the Mac version can only handle VST plugins (although, in its defence, the vast majority of Audio Unit plugins are also available in VST format) and, perhaps most notably in terms of encouraging users of other DAWs to make the leap to an entirely new software environment, there’s no ReWire support. Since Bitwig can’t be ReWired to other DAWs, that means you’ll have to commit to it fully or not at all. The combination of a non-linear or modular-based DAW such as Ableton or Reason with a traditional linear DAW such as Logic or Cubase has become commonplace in recent years. You could argue that it’s even more important for a new DAW to offer ReWire support than an older one; the ability to use Bitwig alongside an existing DAW would no doubt help to bridge the gap for many potential users.
Trying to break into the top tier of the dance music software market, dominated by long-established DAWs like Ableton, Logic and Cubase, is a formidable challenge. Bitwig must be commended for making a very good effort. Bitwig Studio is the best new DAW for quite some time, but whether it lives up to the standards of the existing products on the market is a different matter entirely.
It’s impossible not to compare Bitwig with Ableton. It’s the closest comparison and the direct link between the two companies makes it inevitable that people will want to know which one’s best. Ableton users will immediately be able to find their way around Bitwig. Whether that’s really the point is debatable. Will Ableton users be converted to Bitwig Studio immediately? Probably not. Bitwig’s improvements on the Ableton formula are currently relatively minor and there are a number of notable omissions.
At £259.99, Bitwig is nearly twice the price of Logic Pro X. Ableton Live 9 Standard is only slightly more expensive at $449/€349. Those two much more mature packages probably represent a more sensible purchase for most users at this stage. Nevertheless, Bitwig Studio is incredibly impressive for a version 1.0 release and the company’s future plans look equally promising. Expecting Bitwig to outdo the likes of Ableton, Logic, Reason or FL Studio at the first attempt was always going to be foolish, but it’s easy to believe that they’ll become a major player in the DAW market within a couple of major updates. If that sounds like damning with faint praise, it shouldn’t; the DAW market can’t be conquered overnight, but Bitwig have done a seriously good job here. We look forward to seeing what’s in store with version 2.
Purchase: Bitwig Studio
The Final Word
An impressive first attempt. Bitwig adds an interesting new option to the DAW market but only offers small hints of its own personality.
Gear/Software is sponsored by
SoundID Reference from Sonarworks is a speaker and headphone calibration software delivering consistently accurate reference sound. With SoundID Reference you can mix with confidence, stop second-guessing yourself and trust every decision. With a quick and intuitive setup guide, you’ll be able to calibrate your headphones or studio in less than 15 minutes. You can try it out 21 days free or get it delivered to your studios within 3-5 days. Head to sonarworks.com & start trusting your mixes!
Sonarworks is loved and used by over 100’000 recording studios worldwide including many Grammy Award-winning engineers recording A-list stars (like Lady Gaga, Madonna, Rihanna, Adele, Coldplay, and more) and has also been used in Oscar-winning movies, award-winning games, TV shows, and global events.
Find out more on the Sonarworks website.