Wednesday, September 15, 2021

DAW REVIEW: Bitwig Studio V4, 8 Track and 16 Track DAWs. Part One. Intro


Bitwig Studio is a modern music production platform offering a sleek and modern 'ground-up' developed graphic user interface alongside a number of ready to use instruments and synthesizers, effects and compositional features and tools. 

It is available as a full version with unlimited tracks and a full feature set, an entry level 16 track version, and an 8 track version which sometimes appears as a free 'magware' offer in publications such as Computer Music although it is not generally available as freeware. 

A set of 'essential' fully functioning instruments are provided in the 8 and 16 track versions. These include Drum MachineSamplerFM-4, and Polysynth.

Most of the instruments of the full Bitwig Studio version are available in the 8/16 track versions as 'demo versions and features'. So you can try out the features of the larger program but there may be functional limitations. For example, the Poly Grid (more on this feature later and in Part Two) is available for you to try in the smaller versions but you can't save your creations unless you move up to the full version. Rather a shrewd move on the part of Bitwig's creators this one. 

I originally chose Reason as my DAW of choice as it offered a 'virtual' recreation of a 'realworld studio' with virtual recreation of realworld studio devices and concepts. A rack, a recorder, and a mixer. and I was able to make the transition from a 'real' studio to a virtual one relatively easily. Bitwig's approach is to build a computer music platform with a graphic interface as a 'ground-up' design with no realworld counterparts. A kind of pure 'this is how music is done in a computer' sort of approach. 

As such, those who've only ever known the computer as a means of writing and recording music may take to it readily, those of an older vintage may find it's learning curve a little steeper.

The good news, however, is that Bitwig have produced an excellent 'Getting Started Guide' downloadable from Bitwig's website. I always look for something like this when checking out a major new piece of software. Avid and Akai Pro have great 'quick start' guides for their Pro Tools First and MPC Beats software packages, so full marks to Bitwig for this. 

The software hails from Berlin, and if you check out the instruments and features provided, I think it's fair to say that most of it's users would be involved in electronic music, or music that has, at least, some electronic foundation or major elements of some sort. Like all major music production platforms that offer external/3rd party VST support, it can really be used for any type of music, but I really feel this one is for electronic experimentalists rather than piano, guitar, singer/songwriters. 

This view is supported by the instruments that are packaged with it. Major bundled instruments include FM-4, a 4 oscillator FM synth, phase manipulation synth called Phase 4, a virtual analog polysynth called Polysynth, and a semi-modular multi-mode oscillator synth called Polymer. In addition, there is a drum sample player called Drum Machine and a multi-sample instrument player/creator simply called Sampler

Bitwig's Phase-4 Instrument with expanded view.

In addition, Bitwig also offers a range of synthesizer sources and effects/processing elements that can either be combined as 'instrument containers' or in a feature available from version 3 called The Poly Grid offering a kind of modular synthesizer or custom processor chains. All this is what BitWig describes as 'modular thinking' where all the supplied instruments and processors can be combined and chained in many different ways. It's ability to combine instruments and processors within Instrument Containers or via The Poly Grid moves Bitwig into the realm of virtual instrument creation. It's way ahead of many of it's rivals in this department. 

Like all music production platforms, Bitwig offers three major elements. A means of recording (audio) and/or sequencing virtual (internal computer) or external (Midi synthesizers and instruments), a selection of internal instruments and processors, and mixing elements that allow each track or musical element to be adjusted, processed, and refined to produce our final piece. 

Since it's the supplied instruments, sources, and processors, alongside the way these elements can be combined, that set BitWig apart from the competition, this is where we'll go to in Part Two and take a closer look at BitWig's instruments, Instrument Containers, and The Poly Grid.   

I now offer Bitwig based consultancy and training to anyone who requires it, either as a formal course, or informal tuition. Bitwig 16 Track, or Studio packages are also available via new or refurbished laptop or desktop computer systems. Contact me to find out how much you Bitwig based computer system will cost.  

In Part Two........

I'll take a look at Bitwig's major insturment devices including Sampler, FM-4, Drum Machine, Phase-4, and Polysynth. You'll find it at the link below. 


The information contained within this blog post is offered on an informal basis and is correct to the best of my knowledge. I accept no responsibility for outcomes arising from the mis/interpretation or use of this information and/or associated download files. Always download files via security/scanning software. 


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