Spectral Suite is a new add-on bundle with four new audio effects devices that expands Bitwig Studio’s sonic range into the spectral realm.
UPDATE: The will of the community won out. After massive criticism of the last Spectral Suite add-on, Bitwig decided to include the bundle in Bitwig Studio 4.4 as a free update. It’s very nice to see that Bitwig has listened to its community here and reacted to the criticism. Great move!
Article 05 October 2022
Bitwig Studio is one of the most modern DAWs currently on the market. Thanks to its modular engine you can customize in many areas. The young Berlin developers are pursuing a somewhat different financing concept. Instead of paying for classic big updates like Ableton Live or any other DAW, you pay an annual upgrade plan aka subscription here where you get new features, improvements, etc. over the year.
Today they released their first product available outside of its annual upgrade plan. It’s a set of new spectral effect processor devices that are exclusively available in the Spectral Suite.
Bitwig Spectral Suite
Spectral Suite as the name suggests are exciting new effects processor based on deep spectral analysis. They split the devices into four musical areas: loudness, harmonic content, transients, and frequency. Each equipped with specific parameters that fits to the processor type.
The devices work in the frequency domain, which separates the incoming sound into hundreds of frequency bands for analysis. The Bitwig algorithms then groups related signals into channels and from here, you can mix the channels as you normally would do.
All four Spectral Suite devices have an identical structure for each of their channels, and the same output section (with Pre FX and Post FX chains, as well as a Mix control for blending dry signal back in). The Suite contains the following devices:
- Transient Split divides percussive transients from tonal sounds: these gives you interesting new drum/melodic speration options for creative mixing
- Freq Slit distributes a sound across four channels, like a set of filter banks. Great in combination with other effect processors like delay, reverb…
- Loud Split separates the quiet, mid and loud elements within a sound
- Harmonic Split spreads harmonics into two groups, and collects non-harmonics into a third channel.
There is something special about spectral processing of audio sources. It allows you to dive to the root of the sound source and manipulate individual frequency bands. This opens the door to very complex timbres. If you have these capabilities integrated in the DAW, here in Bitwig Studio and not separately in a plugin, it makes the whole thing even more versatile. Especially when it benefits from a modular engine.
And with the option to expand the process with external plugins, you can achieve further effects like spectral delays, etc. That on the entire signal or on individual bands which becomes super complex.
Outer Spectra Sound Package
The new bundle also ships a new sound package called Outer Spectra. It includes over 70 audio FX presets for Freq Split, Harmonic Split, Loud Split, and Transient Split, which can be loaded as audio FX or (in some cases) as synths with spectral devices in the FX slots.
Spectral Suite strikes me as a very exciting add-on for Bitwig. It’s defintely one that significantly expands the sound possibilities of the internal modular engine in new directions. The fact that these four new devices are not included in the upgrade plan is certainly a downer. But I can understand the decision of the Bitwig developers.
You can see these as plugins that you can buy additionally. But you don’t have to in order to be able to continue using Bitwig Studio. Its main competitor, Ableton, is taking a similar approach with its devices. These packs are also available as a separate purchase in the official online store.
Bitwig Spectral Suite is now part of the Bitwig Studio 4.4 update. The new devices are free of charge for users of an active upgrade plan.
More information here: Bitwig
The decision to make this “Suite” an add-on is likely to have negative consequences on Bitwig GmbH, just as it had garnered enough goodwill to gain traction among a broader set of users.
The money they might get from selling these first-party plugins will likely not compensate for the reputation loss. Especially since the company handled the situation poorly.
Why should that damage the reputation of Bitwig? The upgrade plan is for getting updates to the DAW. These include smaller and major updates for the DAW. Ableton Live does this too with devices that are only available as separate purchases. Maybe people are expecting too much from this upgrade plan. Bitwig said early what it includes: minor and major updates for the software. The rest (possible new devices or sound content) is bonus but not guaranteed.
Spectral Suite, on the other hand, is an independent product, which has no advantages or disadvantages for DAW users. Without them, you can still use Bitwig to the same extent as before. The upgrade plan is not like Reason Studios’ Reason+ where everything from the RS catalog is included.
Perhaps they could have released it as a CLAP plugin?
This is not comparable to Ableton at all. They don’t have a yearly subscription plan. Add-ons exist but the yearly doesn’t. Bitwig can’t have it both ways. Maybe news sites should actually report how pissed off users are about this.
The upgrade plan clearly says it includes DAW updates (both major and small) but doesn’t say it includes add-ons. Ableton follows the same path with Live and its devices that are available as a separate purchase in the shop.
If Spectral Suite had disadvantages for existing Bitwig Studio users, I would understand it better. But not buying this suite does not give users any disadvantages. You can use the DAW to the same extent as before. And new devices and sound content is a bonus but it is not guaranteed for every release. It’s not Reason+ where you get the entire product catalog in a subscription.
This is the first case of an “add-on”. There was never any hint any “add-ons” – it’s new. “Bonus” is a retrospective projection (a filling-in with new as if it was always present).
The sentiment was always “pay subscription, get future features”. Now it’s “pay subscription, maybe get future features”.
Its not subscription, you will retain your license after a year but will not get updates and whenever you see something you want you can pay for the update.
Regardless of how it is spun, bitwig never had “add-ons” to the DAW outside of the normal pricing – new effects, plugins, presets, etc. have always been included. Having the 12-month upgrade plan was already different than other companies. Yes, you choose not to subscribe, but then you don’t get new features. The reality is that most people pay the 12 month plan for the upgrades. Adding this on verses including as part of the annual plan, will make many see it as nickel and diming us. I run a professional studio and have budget to easily purchase and I see this as just that. It is fine. It is their choice and their company. Maybe they need to do this to survive. But to be honest, this definitely breaks the very system they set out to create and be different from other companies on. For me, unless a project needs these, I will not buy them. But more importantly, I will note this. It will matter at some point to me too. This is just one less reason to pay the 12-month plan and another reason to think about bitwig use long-term for me.
A bad move move for Bitwig imo, this should have bee included in a (bigger) update, like 4.0.
I’m using Bitwig since late 2018, and have bought an upgrade plan every year.
Hardcore users and early adopters feel they are funding development, this way. One could argue that Bitwig made this in “our” time, so why should we pay for it again?
Addons like this will cause presets not to be compatible for every user, even if they are on the newest version, that is bad, and weakens the whole modular concept of Bitwig for me.
Dear Bitwig please learn from this, don’t stray too far from your roots, and fix this mistake.
very thin ice for this sort of defense. with that said, from 1.0 on there wouldnt be any instrument nor effects native to the daw. because ALL of them could be labeled “addon”. they already let down a good portion of users, including me by waiting for their great modular grid system til 3.0 after they decided to go for a gentle sort of x-scription system with the promise to dish out thick junks of new stuff. that one dried out very fast. the only positive thing left, if any user may ever see it as one, is that youre not forced to pay for the yearly update plan…IF they go down that road by selling extra plugins, they shoudl AT LEAST go it like cherry audio: put it out as vst/clap and dont get greedy. 79bucks – sale price *grin – for this 4 little thingies bound to bitwig only is VERY bold. i got cherry audios rackeffects suite for less than set and its usable in any daw and its more for less money.