The new releases at NAMM 2017
Bitwig Studio heads up the huge stories from this year’s industry show
The release of Bitwig Studio in 2014 meant that, for the first time, neo-DAW Ableton Live had some direct competition. Here was an upstart DAW straight outta Berlin, combining brazen recreations of Live’s signature elements with its own innovations, such as the brilliant Unified Modulation System, and a polyphonic automation feature, Note Event Expressions. Our 9/10 review in 203 concluded that “Bitwig Studio is a fantastic, forward-thinking DAW in its own right – and this is only version 1!” Well, it’s time to prepare our testbench once again, because Bitwig Studio 2 has arrived!
The range of Devices has swelled, with a whopping 24 new Modulators, including Random, Select-4 and Math. New audio Devices are Spectrum Analyzer, Pitch Shifter, Phaser, and Treemonster, an “organic zerocrossing amplitude controlled ring modulator with a life of its own”. For note processing, there’s Multi-Note (a “chorder"), Note Echo, Note Harmonizer, Note Latch, Note Length and Note Velocity.
The new MIDI CC and MIDI Program Change units should be handy for controlling external MIDI hardware, and the DAW can now transmit MIDI timecode. But what if you’re more into barmy CV-controlled analogue goodies? Well, the ’wigs have got your back with HW Clock Out, HW CV Instrument and HW CV Out – these send CV clock, note and control signals respectively.
Many pre-existing Devices have also been refined for version 2. Most notably, Polysynth sports new oscillator and waveshaping modes, improved unison, and a high-pass filter.
Other additions include fades/crossfades, VST3 support (including per-note expression, which most DAWs outside of Cubase don’t support), slicker tool-switching, a front-end Dashboard screen, notification system, and more.
A new license model has been adopted, provoking heated forum discussions. Bitwig Studio 2 costs $399 (upgrade, $169), including free updates/upgrades and priority support for 12 months. The software will work after this point (it’s a perpetual license), but you’ll need to renew your plan for further updates. It’s out February 28.
As well as new features galore, Bitwig Studio 2 has had a subtle visual makeover