Bitwig Studio 5, modulation engine taken to the next level with MSEGs, and more

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NAMM 2023: Bitwig has announced Bitwig Studio 5 with an upgraded modulation engine (MSEGs…), a clip launcher overhaul, and more.

There are many digital audio workstations (DAWs) on the market. Many are based on the traditional linear system (Cubase, Pro Tools, Logic Pro…). So you create tracks the same way you used to record them on tape machines. There is another way of working, the non-linear design, where you create music patterns.

Ableton Live is one of the most famous DAW following this design. With Bitwig Studio from Berlin, Live has got clear competition. They haven’t simply taken over the workflow; they combine it with a “modular” engine that is very flexible. The still-young DAW is growing and growing. At NAMM 2023, Bitwig will show version 5 of Bitwig Studio with major new features.

Bitwig Studio 5

Bitwig Studio 5

The new version 5 introduces five different multi-segment envelope generators (MSEG), each with versatile characteristics:

  • segments: customizable envelope (Grid and Polymer module or as a modulator) with four play modes: one-shoot, hold, looping, and ping pong.
  • curves: LFO modulator and Grid module that can sync to the beat time or groove.
  • scrawl: an anti-aliasing draw-your-own oscillator for The Grid and Polymer Bitwig’s hybrid modular synth
  • slopes: pattern sequencer for The Grid with stereo phase options.
  • transfer is a waveshaper for transforming incoming audio or other signals in The Grid.

Each MSEG comes with a curve editor allowing you to draw your own shapes. There are also shortcuts for jumping to double time or triplets. All your designs can be saved as a BWCURVE file and loaded in another MSEG. A visual browser displays all presets and user content at a glance

Bitwig Studio 5

The developers also have completely overhauled the modulation engine in Bitwig Studio 5 by breaking the limitation that modulators are limited to devices. They are now also available in the mixer and project control as well. That means one LFO can modulate any device on the same track, as well as the track’s panning, sends, and other parameters. Move that LFO to the project level to add modulations to all devices, channel strips, and transport targets.

The Steps and Keytrack+ modulators and The Grid’s data sequencers also got resizable panels for cleaner editing and some helpful new functions. There is also a new wavetable LFO modulator/grid module for more advanced modulation signals.

Live Performance Updates

With a pattern-based DAW you also want to perform live. Bitwig has now revised this as well. Users can now set Next Actions to occur when a key or pad is released and when it’s launched. ALT triggers offer a second option for activating scenes or clips.

These features allow performers to decide how their set will unfold in the moment, as they can (for instance) tap a clip to launch it at the next bar line, or ALT-trigger to swap to the new clip immediately. Thavius Beck demonstrates this improved live workflow in a new explanatory video.

Project-wide normal and ALT-trigger gestures can be set in one place, and you can customize any clip or scene to have its own settings. That includes release options for both normal and ALT gestures, legato options for following the playing clip or the project transport, and a revamped Next Action section with simple loop counts.

Since all tracks now have their own remotes, the mixer offers a bird’s-eye view of the most important parameters. That way, building a customized set of mix and performance controls is easy. And new mapping options allow users to launch scenes and clips with any hardware.

New Browser

Bitwig Studio 5 also introduces overhauled browsers for a more streamlined experience and a visual way to access the content. Now, search results for plug-ins presets, and wavetables (etc., etc.) all live in one place. There’s also a customizable shortcuts pane that allows users quick access to their favorite sound packages, content types (e.g., wavetables, drum hits, or samples), or folders.

Other new features are:

  • Spanish and Korean language support for Bitwig Studio
  • The Keytrack+ modulator has an embedded curve editor so you can simply draw your settings or save/load them as BWCURVE files

First Impression

Just in time for the NAMM Show, Bitwig has a new big update. It’s almost a tradition for the Berlin-based company. At first glance, it looks like a solid update with a lot of new tools to dive very deep into sound design. Some things are always missing. A friend of mine who is a daily Bitwig user, he still waiting for ARA 1 or ARA 2 integration.

Bitwig Studio 5.0 is now in beta and can be tested by anyone with a Bitwig Studio license and an active Upgrade Plan. The installers are available in the user profiles. The official release is planned for Q2 this year. This is a free upgrade for all license holders with an active Upgrade Plan at the time of announcement.

Bitwig will be exhibiting Bitwig Studio 5 at NAMM Show on April 13-15 in Anaheim, California.

More information here: Bitwig Studio

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