In this review, we will be going over Bitwig Studio 2.0 the first update of their premiere product Bitwig Studio – a music production software for Windows, Mac, and Linux that brings new features such as modulators, frequency analyzers, crossfades, VST3 and better integration of external hardware.
With Bitwig 2 they have made a few changes to their existing features and added some new ones for us to play with as well.
So let’s take a look at some of the changes and features that have been added in this new update.
First of the menu which has been reworked quite extensively with Tools that you can pin to the taskbar depending on what you are selecting at that time for example if you are selecting a clip you can add actions that help with editing that clip.
This feature is not just for clips however it is used for any instrument or audio track that you select even for the main menu which really helps to create a quick and easy workflow with Bitwig 2.0.
The Browser for adding devices to your audio or instrument tracks is really nice with a easy to use pop-up browser that lets you find all the VST plugins you have installed on your computer and even though I thought I had a good install ethos from the start of my production PC this browser showed me that it was actually kind of a mess showing me VSTs and effects that I didn’t even know I still had installed on my PC.
Keeping with the easy workflow there are also new notifications that tell you if Bitwig 2.0 is doing something at the moment like scanning plugins or files which pop up in a non-intrusive way to keep you up to date on what is happening.
Bitwig 2.0 gives us several new devices to play with including, Spectrum analyzer, Dual pan, Dc Offset, Phaser, Pitch Shifter, Tree Monster, Multi-note, Note length, Note echo, Note Latch, Note Velocity and a Note Harmonizer.
The Spectrum Analyzer is a dual trace spectroscope which can take the signal from the track it is on or from another external track for comparison between the two signals or to view the L&R or mid and side information of the track.
Dual Pan is a device for easy panning of the left and right channels with an equal gain and hybrid pan law.
A device to add DC Offset. This with an LFO nested in it can generate some fun sounds to play with.
The Phaser can go from 2 poles up to 32 poles with feedback controls and an adjustable high pass filter, the frequency is controlled via an LFO which is nested in the device by default.
The Pitch Shifter has a high-resolution frequency control and grain settings to adjust how the signal is processed the mix controls allows you to mix the shifted signal with the original signal thereby creating some interesting harmonies with ease.
Treemonster is a new ring modulation type effect that seems to be quite intimidating because at first you can’t really predict what sound this device is going to make and it just seems to be going all over the place but once you get used to it a bit and use it subtly it can add some nice textures to your sound. You might think that Bitwig already had a pretty powerful ring mod effect and you would be right but this thing is something different and well worth playing around with as it can give you some really unique sounds.
Multi-note is a midi device that allows you to sound multiple keys by just hitting one note this allows you to play the one-note chords of your choosing.
Note Length is a midi device that allows you to set the length of the note you are playing with a minimum length of 10ms up to 5 seconds or 1/16th to 16/16ths.
Note Echo is a midi device that repeats midi notes played by a VST so in essence, it is an advanced delay for midi notes. The delay times for this device can range from 10ms up to 5 seconds or from 1/16 up to 16/16ths and can go up to 32 repetitions or keep repeating infinitely. This is a really fun and powerful device to play around with.
Note Latch is a midi device that sustains the last note until a next one is received it has three modes to play with Simple which holds the current note until another note is received, Toggle which only triggers every other note it receives and Velocity which triggers every other note around a user defined velocity threshold.
Note Velocity is a velocity shaper with three breakpoints to play around with which is a really neat device which is really handy when you are using multi-sampled devices which have velocity layers.
Note Harmonizer uses a source like a chord progression that you have in your project and then the notes you play will automatically snap to a harmonically related interval of the chord that’s playing. This device is really fun when trying to spice up a static melody line or bass line.
Bitwig 2.0 has also updated a few of their older devices where several devices have gotten better visualisation features like a spectrum analyser and dynamic display panels which are really handy to see what you’re doing so you don’t have to just rely on your ears to know what is going which helps novices and experienced users as well.
Expanding on Polysynth’s feature set by adding oscillator mix, filter wave shaping and by adding new and improved unison capabilities you can set each oscillator in the stereo field individually giving it width you can control precisely, unwanted frequencies can be filtered out with a sweepable high-pass filter keeping your sound nice and clean when it needs to be.
Fades and Crossfades are a must have when you want to edit audio especially when you like to chop and edit your samples into something new so it’s nice that you are able to use them now in Bitwig 2.0.
Fades and cross-fades for audio clips are now available not only in the Arranger, but also in the editor window and for events in the audio clips themselves – with adjustable fade curves.
Bitwig 2.0 does support VST3 which does offer some significant advances like always being 64bit compatible, plugins can shut down when there is nothing to compute which saves CPU power, automation is sample accurate and sidechain options.
Bitwig 2.0 also uses plugin sandboxing which means that one plugin cannot crash your entire project which is great news for when you are using Bitwig in a live setting.
If you have outboard gear like synths or drum machines Bitwig 2.0 has now introduced six new devices that seamlessly integrate that gear with Bitwig 2.0 Midi CC, Midi Program Change, HW Clock Out, Midi Song Select, HW CV Instrument and HW CV Out.
The best thing about Bitwig 2.0, in my opinion, is the modulation system which is quite endless with 25 different modulators to play with and an unlimited amount of slots to place them in and the fact that you can put them internal and external devices (VST’s) makes Bitwig 2.0 an extremely powerful DAW to work with.
After being an Ableton guy for years the ease of use the functionality and modulation capabilities that Bitwig 2.0 offers makes me give some serious thought to making the switch between these DAWs as Bitwig is quickly becoming my DAW of choice, especially in the sound design phase.
- Modulation is extremely powerful on internal devices and your VST collection.
- Easy to use interface especially love the pop-up browser
- The hardware integration devices work well to make Bitwig a great hub for all of your gear.
- Not too many things, maybe the lack of some more advanced tutorials for new users.
Bitwig Studio 2 is available online and in stores now priced at 399 USD / 379 EUR.
Find more details: Bitwig Studio 2