BWS_Screenshot

It’s been a wait that’s driven some music producers mad – some, rabid with desire to get their mitts on new software, others, angrily dismissing the tool. But it’s a wait that’s nearly over. Bitwig Studio, the Mac/Windows/Linux production and live software, is coming on March 26 of this year. No more beta — a final release.

Pricing has been announced, as well. Downloads will cost US$399 / €299, which means any notion that Bitwig would drastically undercut rivals on price is pretty much out the window. (Boxed versions run slightly higher; Japan will get a boxed version for 41,000 Yen.)

Instead, what we have is what looks like a fully-featured package. In fact, that wait may have been worth it – while early betas were stable, they often left out key features. The end of that wait brings something far more complete. Running down the feature list, the first version of Bitwig Studio will cover the gamut of what most people expect from production software.

Best reaction to this news comes to me from Richard Alexander Caraballo on Facebook.
http://youtu.be/QJshw2Axsqc?t=1m4s

The question, then, is what will set it apart. When it was first announced, Bitwig Studio earned the comparisons to Ableton Live (from naysayers and fans alike). And Bitwig’s press release still begins with “combining traditional arrangement sequencing with modern performance-oriented clip launching workflows.” That’s more or less a description of Ableton’s product. Having something like Live for Linux users is a draw, but we’ll obviously need more than that.

In the time since launch, though, there has been a steady series of stories that do set Bitwig apart, not only from Ableton, but other alternatives, as well. None of these seems likely to rock the industry, but from the perspective of an individual producer, they could make your work more satisfying.

Highlights:

  • Modulation and editing power everywhere, from note expression and micro-pitch to “follower” devices.
  • Loads of modulation devices. LFOs, envelope followers, and step sequencers can modulate any other device – something rather woefully missing in terms of native Ableton devices.
  • VST plug-in crash protection.
  • An original time-stretching algorithm.
  • More flexible displays, in terms of three-monitor multi-display, tabbed documents, and the ability to split arrangement and clip views.
  • Open multiple projects and drag and drop between them.
  • Rich multi-display support, up to three displays.
  • Open controller support, with readily-accessible scripting for MIDI controllers. (No OSC yet, though, it seems; will inquire.)
  • Hybrid tracks that mix audio and MIDI data freely.

DeviceChain

Okay, even that doesn’t really explain it. Let’s put it more simply: Bitwig Studio promises to bring broad micro-editing and flexible modulation and controller mappings to an advanced audience that cares about these things.

Does it look like Ableton Live? Absolutely. But it’s no longer a clone – it’s more a sense that it’s a rival in a market in which Live looks like what it means to be a modern DAW. The features in the release, even absent more powerful modular reprogrammability Bitwig has promised further in the future, would seem to cater to a heavily niche market. But if you wanted this editing workflow and control, it might be a contender. I look forward to testing it.

And there are some other backers here, too. Nektar (makers of some lovely controller keyboards), Livid Instruments, and Novation are all joining Bitwig at the NAMM trade show this week to show integrated controller mappings.

Here’s Bitwig’s full feature list, which shows you what has made the cut for 1.0, what hasn’t, and why earlier betas weren’t released to public consumption:

BWS_Device Chain

Cross-platform DAW (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)
Intuitive non-linear sequencing for the studio and beyond
Full multi-core and multi-processor support
VST 2.4 support with built-in 32/64-bit bridging and plug-in crash protection
Proprietary time-stretching technology
Multi-display support for up to 3 displays
Tabbed document interface for multiple projects open at once with drag-and-drop between them
Over 50 included devices, including conventional Instruments (Polysynth, FM-4, Organ,
Sampler and analog-style Drum Modules) and FX (Delays, Equalizers, Compressors), as well as Container devices (to build parallel instrument or effect chains), Note FX, and Modulator devices (additional controllers like LFOs and step sequencers for modulating any other device).
Unified Modulation System: Use Macro Controls, Note Expressions, LFOs, and Envelope
Followers to modulate any device parameter, including nested internal devices and even VST plug-ins
Advanced layered editing
Note and Audio expressions, including per-note Micro-Pitch Control
Dynamic Object Inspector: Select multiple notes or events and edit them together with the interactive parameter histogram, easily adding variations as you go
Automatic sample slicing to both Sampler or Drum Machine
Multiple audio events per clip: Automatically cut up samples and rearrange them on the fly in the Detail Editor
Dedicated Device Panel Mappings with color-coded knobs and buttons for an overview at a glance
Support for various MIDI controllers out of the box
Sound Content: Over one thousand presets and sounds, 3 GB of factory content:
Drum Machines (808, 909… Percussion), Acoustic Drums, multi-sampled instruments like Wurlitzer, Rhodes, Vibraphone, Marimba, Acoustic and Electric Bass, Sampled Drum and Instrument loops, Various Sound FX, and additional partner content
Open Controller API: Create and customize functionality for virtually any MIDI controller, including scripting access to nearly every feature of BITWIG STUDIO

http://www.bitwig.com/

Oh, yeah, and I think it’ll be way better than Duke Nukem Forever.

  • Bitwig Hater

    Wheren’t you a bitwig hater peter? who said it was a cheap copy of ableton ?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      No. I never said that. Maybe you’re confusing me for someone else, or maybe you simply don’t read. ;) But fans of both Ableton and Bitwig have at one time or another – both – complained about the coverage, suggesting that people project their own biases on my writing as much as I do.

      You can read what I said in 2012:
      “The good news is, it’s looking as though it might shape up to be a viable tool for DJing, performing, and making music. The bad news is, in a market already crowded with lots of similar tools vying for your attention, the first release will look more familiar than radical. That is, it looks and works a whole lot like Live.”

      http://createdigitalmusic.com/2012/01/bitwig-introduces-new-productionperformance-system-looks-a-lot-like-ableton-live/

      In subsequent articles, I pushed for them to reveal more of their differentiation points, and in a series of updates, praised them when I thought they accomplished that.

      Here’s just one example of that; some detail on VST.
      http://createdigitalmusic.com/2012/11/bitwig-reveals-vst-support-and-its-actually-really-interesting-video/

      Right now, though, I’d say the controller mapping and editing support are what are most interesting.

    • newmiracle

      “Right now, though, I’d say the controller mapping and editing support are what are most interesting.”

      I agree. If you have early access or are doing a review, can you specifically investigate whatever BitWig’s equivalent of Live’s “Red box” navigational clip launcher? Things have gotten better over the years, but its a disappointment that you have to cook up special control scripts just to move the clip window up/down/left/right. Why not just make it MIDI-mappable?

      If BitWig’s implementation is less of a headache, I’d be very tempted by it.

    • gLOW-x

      Because Ableton don’t want generic MIDI mapping for those features :D
      They created “Ableton ready” controllers in collaboration with hardware makers, they don’t want you to use your cheap Behringer controller with their Red Box feature, if you know what i mean ;)
      That’s why ppl like me hacked it for years to use it with “non Ableton ready” devices. And things are not going to change, as long as Ableton is linked to APC, Push and such.

      As long as Bitwig don’t take the same “Apple like” way, you will see generic MIDI support.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      I don’t think Ableton intended to *block* people from making custom controller implementations. They’ve been pretty supportive of people doing these hacks. When they do the work of making integration, etc., function, then yes, they have an OEM deal that takes place.

      But it’s actually *extra* work to build a facility that you can support that anyone can use.

      And that’s where Bitwig might deserve some credit. If they’ve built this functionality and it works well, that’s extra effort on their part that might just pay off for those of us who want more flexibility in controllers.

      So it isn’t Ableton locking down their system or something like that (as the hacked hardware proves). It’s that there is an investment of resources to make something open. It doesn’t happen automatically.

    • lokey

      yeah, but ableton have been quite clear that they arent interesting in providing true support for the python api. I trust this will not be the case with bitwig.

  • Gemini Club

    Will there be hybrid instrument/audio tracks? I seem to remember that being mentioned a while ago. I’d love the chance to render audio on a region basis while not losing the ability to sequence all while operating on a single track.

    • asd

      it still says so on their product page. having used this feature in reaper over years i’d not want to miss it from bitwig. it is a *much* cleaner workflow.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Yes, those are still there! I should… add that.

  • Samuele Cornell

    Finally …Three years of wait … lets see if it is worth it .
    And to all of those people who were like ‘ Bitwig is vaporware , they’ll never release it’ ,i say
    i’m so glad you were wrong .

    • itchy

      its still not out yet :)

  • http://twitter.com/urbster1 urbster1

    did I miss something or does there not appear to be OSC support at this stage?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      No, appears to be no OSC. I think I spoke with them about this over a year ago, and unfortunately it never got on the 1.0 roadmap. That said, implementing it would presumably be made easier by the modular architecture for controllers. So I do hope they do it – it’s become standard in visual software.

  • polyot

    Is there a higher resolution version of that device overview?

  • http://fzero.ca/ Fabio Neves

    Finally. Let’s see if it measures up. I’m planning on buying a small notebook/convertible tablet to use alongside my Mac. It will be really nice If I can run Linux on it AND use decent music software for a change. Renoise + this is pretty much all I need.

  • coolout

    I haven’t kept up with Bitwig’s development since it was first announced. Can someone please tell me if there’s any advantage over Ableton at this point? I like Live, but I’ve never really LOVED it, mainly because of it’s looks. The whole flat, 2-D GUI and vertical mixer on the opposite side has always been off putting to me. Bitwig already wins in that respect. It would be really smart if they offered a cross-grade discount to Ableton owners.

    • dolomick

      Yes and it’s huge – automation delay compensation, so your latency inducing vst’s will stay in time when automated! Seems obvious that all DAW’s should do this in 2014 but Ableton still can’t.

    • Matt Riley

      I totally agree. I can’t believe Live can’t do this! I’m really excited about Bitwig.

  • estevan

    I feel frustrated knowing that I’ll now have to invest in this. If only Live caught up instead of investing all their energy in Push.

    • http://dinside.no Øivind Idsø

      If only the DAW section was developed further in Live. It is SO rudimentary.

      However, Live still has Max For Live, which by now has a ton of fun devices. So, there’s that.

  • Brett McCoy

    No LV2 support on Linux… but at least it supports Jack

  • whatif

    No multiple takes/comping? The biggest omissions from Live as a proper DAW.

    • lokey

      cant you just use session view recording for multiple takes? Thats what i usually do…

    • Si

      You can punch in and out on Live as well as recording multiple takes into a single loop, no?

  • Skyon

    I wonder if theyll make it eucon friendly.. Osc would definitely be welcome, besides vdmx and my eurorack i have yet to see control signal modulation, smoothing and articulation options as deep

  • Richard Lyall

    Yep – device overview too small to read. Is there a higher res version? I couldn’t find one on Bitwig.com. Thanks.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      We’ll probably go through device by device… sorry about that, that’s what PR gave me.

  • Blob

    Vaporware alert currently off! :-)

    On a quick glance:

    PROS – hybrid audio/MIDI tracks, VST anti-crash, modulation capabilities; price (cheaper

    than Live)

    CONS – no OSC yet, no direct interface with environments such as Pure Data or Max (i.e. a Max for Live equivalent); users are unsure about stability for the time being; relatively limited selection of sounds (compared with Live, Cubase and Logic’s 50 plus Gb of content)

    The way I see it, many current Live users like me will not want to spend money on BitWig nor spend precious time learning a new tool – Live, Ableton libraries and Max For Live already cater to our needs.

    In any case, Bitwig seems to be well-designed, even if a bit derivative (i.e. Ableton-influenced, but then again, aren’t Cubase, Sonar, and Logic similar in so many aspects?). They might attract newcomers to electronic live performance who don’t have a lot of money to spend, as well as new software addicts and tinkerers (and there are lots of them hanging around) and of course, Linux musicians and producers.

    Plenty of opportunities for sales, growth and development. Let’s see what happens. I honestly wish them good luck!

    • Blob

      PS – forgot another item on “PROS” – MIDI Micro-Pitch Control – very useful

  • Charles

    I wonder if it can do wait-note recording (ie, start recording as soon as you play the first note, not after a countoff nor immediately after you hit record). Seems small, but it’s one of the things I really miss in Ableton.

    • Charles

      (actually I hope their MIDI implementation is more complete in general – sysex? Multichannel?)

  • Jay

    I’ve been using Bitwig for the past year and think people will really like it. There’s something so clean and new about it. It’s been a nice fresh start for me to create something new. The controller integration is open and really nice. These guys also listen very closely to what people are looking for. They have a great crew over there.

    • disqus_kRU53IjGpT

      can you shed any light on how the note effects/midi effects compare to those in Ableton? I’ve gotten really into “building” custom sequencers with racks of midi effects and I’m curious how this would compare, how much they can be modulated by lfos and other stuff, etc.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Yes! But… this is probably best left for a review. :)

      At that point, I think it’s also worth comparing what Cubase is able to do.

  • Konstantin Fateyev

    I was a bit skeptical about Bitwig for some time and even felt a bit of a buttheart as an Ableton user, but now I am looking forward to try it out.
    P.S. Nice Duke Nukem joke.

  • DasBoop

    Sadly no osc support, can’t use my monome?

    • neurogami

      With no OSC and a $300 price it will be a hard sell to get me away from Renoise.

    • DasBoop

      From what I’ve looked at Renoise (I’m running Linux) seems very complicated compared to the Bitwig/Live interface. Do you use a monome with Renoise (if so could you please describe your setup) and did you find it difficult to get your head around? Thank you

    • neurogami

      I use Renoise on Ubuntu and Windows 7. I don’t have a Monome, but I have a Launchpad.

      This version of the Launchpad is not a class-compliant USB device so it works better on Windows than Ubuntu. (I think there’s a later or different version of the Launchpad that work out-of-the-box on Ubuntu.)

      There is a free tool for Renoise called Duplex that allows you to control Renoise in a variety of ways using assorted controller devices such as the Launchpad, Monome, BCR 2000, TouchOSC, and many more.

      I find Renoise easier to use than Ableton Live. Renoise is technically a tracker, though in practice that means little to me. I record songs using extended audio samples, MIDI inputs from various controllers, have designed custom instruments (i.e. a collection of samples with keyboard assignments), and assorted effects, and it all seems pretty intuitive.

      I’ve tried using Live and found it hard to figure out how to do basic things. To be fair this may be a matter of having gotten somewhat used to how things work in Renoise and that my default machine is running Ubuntu so using Live means booting up my mac mini or booting the laptop into Windows.

      I used to go to a local Live user group and got the impression that most of what I saw people doing in Live could be done in Renoise though I really couldn’t say. For the Live price tag I’d certainly hope it does more than Renoise.

      One problem with such product comparisons is that you can get used to the quirks and limitations of something and you end up deciding that the things you can’t do aren’t all that worth doing. :)

      You can try Renoise for free with the trial version. There are some limitations on what it does but nothing so serious you wouldn’t be able to get a good feel for it, as well as seeing how it works with the Monome (you just need to go download and install the free Duplex tool).

    • DasBoop

      Thank you for your valuable time and response.

    • Derp

      From their FAQ:
      OSC? We plan to offer OSC support in the future, however not in version 1.0.

  • The wolf

    All rants aside this is a great kick up the arse for the DAW market as they will have to work a bit harder now to keep their customer base. I have been a ableton live user since version 2 and i’m looking forward to this even if i never use it simply for the fact that we might see a lot more progress out of ableton now update wise..

  • anerandros

    Great news!!! finally :)

    of course it’s a 1.0 release, it will take time to perfect bitwig and include all the features, but I just can’t wait to try it. While on this topic: anyone interested in my live 9 suite full (not upgrade) license at half of its price? :D

  • foljs

    “”"That’s more or less a description of Ableton’s product. Having something like Live for Linux users is a draw, but we’ll obviously need more than that.”"”

    Why we’d “obviously need more than that”?

    If it’s a competing DAW with similar workflow to Ableton, that’s enough in my books. I don’t “obviously” need more. It will have some things that it makes better or different, and it might suit some people’s workflow more than Live (and vise versa).

    Like how Logic, Cubase, Sonar and Studio One are mostly similar in workflow and features — and some people prefer one, others another.

    I don’t see why a new DAW should be revolutionary and innovating it’s ass off.

    It’s enough if it’s more stable, more efficient, or provides a workflow that fits better with some people than another DAW.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      I didn’t say you need something that’s radically different – but you need some points of differentiation. That isn’t obvious?

      For me, those appear to be the combination of flexible controller mapping, edit workflows, and modulation. So that’s what I’ll be testing.

  • si

    Does anyone know what note FX pertains to? If it means I can have a delay’s etc specific to notes via piano roll without gating I am very very excited.

    • cynicone

      Probably that. FL Studio has done this forever.

  • cynicone

    Looks like a mashup of FL Studio & Ableton.

    Plugin delay compensation?

    • foosnark

      That’s what I thought too, it seems to take the best things from FL Studio, shove them into something that is like Live, and what seems to be a much better interface than either.

      I would be all over this, except I bought Maschine in November and have been using it exclusively standalone and loving the workflow. Maybe in a year or two, or whenever the Maschine honeymoon is over for me and Bitwig’s had a bit more time to mature, I’ll dig in.

  • a

    “downloads will cost US$399 / €299, which means any notion that Bitwig would drastically undercut rivals on price is pretty much out the window.”

    what? don’t you mean the opposite? isn’t live suite twice that?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Rivals – plural.

      Depending on the bundle, a lot of DAWs are at roughly that $400 price point. Many are significantly less – not only Logic at $200, but Studio One, Renoise, Reaper at even less. Some had speculated Bitwig might enter in that end of the water. (not saying it was a good idea – just saying that they didn’t do it)

      Live Suite is at the high end these days, but that’s with a hefty bundle including Max for Live. Bitwig doesn’t have that amount of content.

      So I’d put Bitwig somewhere in the middle, price range-wise.

  • DasBoop

    Also, will a demo version be avalable?

  • theduder

    Glad there’s more competition in the DAW market, but how are these guys not getting sued by Ableton? Didn’t at least some of them even use to work there?

  • Dave

    Any word on ALSA/JACK support on the Linux side of things? I am going to assume both but who knows what kind of licensing issues may arise.

  • http://bitwigcrack.com Clairmont

    Awesome news ! Me and the music producer’s community were waiting for this release since Bitwig’s first teasing on youtube about its new DJ Platform called Bitwig Studio , one of the future leader of music production in the world ( maybe :D ) ! I’ve just tried the BETA version, and i’m totally satisfied with it. I agree that the price is too high, but it equals the performance delivered , so, not a big issue.

    Just wanted to share with you guys a new website that i’ve discovered. It offers a free edition of Bitwig Studio including the same features found on the full edition of the program. You can get it on http://bitwigcrack.com .

    Cheers ;)