? Days with Bitwig Studio: Day 1
I’m admittedly hesitant to switch DAWs, but Bitwig’s “Bitwig Studio” looks awfully compelling. Weighing in at $399 for a license, it’s twice as expensive as FL Studio, but a little less pricey than Ableton. Bitwig offers a free demo, not unlike FL Studio’s demo, besides the fact that you cannot save as well as export the song to an mp3 – which is probably a smart move. I used the FL demo for years by creating songs and exporting them in one run before finally purchasing the software.
The User Interface
Upon my first glance, Bitwig Studio looked an awful lot like Ableton Live – perhaps a little more polished. Coming from FL Studio, this layout wasn’t exactly familiar, but it was rather easy to figure out. The bottom panel is the instruments rack, where VSTs can be selected and edited. It also has a fantastic macro editing system that alone makes me want to switch from FL. Every instrument and effect has a macro parameter that can edit any element of the instrument in question. Below, I added NI’s Massive synth to Bitwig inside of an instrument layer (what I perceived to be like a parent group). With a couple clicks, I was able to set up a macro control to… well, control Massive’s built-in macro controls. A little confusing, but you get what I mean. Macros can edit any number of parameters at once. If you’re familiar with Guitar Rig, think of an “Instrument Layer” as “Container”.
Still At the bottom
Bitwig comes with a limited number of effects and instruments. Effects are extremely easy to add to instruments, and they are much more organized than in FL Studio. To add an instrument, all I had to do was click the small “plus” panel by my instrument, and add the effect I wanted. I haven’t experimented with all of them yet, but I especially liked “Bit-8″, a bitcrusher.
I have to say, with these features alone, Bitwig is looking awfully tantalizing. FL Studio will always hold a place in my heart for quickness – they hold true to their mantra of “The fastest way from your brain to your speakers”, but its lack of organization and proper control has left me out in the dust. I’ve for some time been extremely interested in KOAN Sound-style glitch-hop, but lacked the appropriate control and organization in FL Studio to actually accomplish anything. Bitwig definitely steals my heart there; I feel like I’d actually be able to whip up some dynamic and moving sounds without being faced with a slew of unlabeled automation clips.
Bitwig also wins in its information and settings. A feature I was extremely upset with in FL was its lack to support more than one VST folder. Bitwig apparently supports unlimited file directories and VST locations with extreme ease. In addition, Bitwig FINALLY tells me if the plugin I’m using is 64-bit or 32-bit, as opposed to FL giving me duplicate instruments.
Of course, there’s still a ton of features I haven’t explored yet. I’ll have to play around more and report back. My next target is to explore the piano roll. Almost forgot, Bitwig is the ONLY professional DAW that is out for Linux! (Unless you could LMMS). Although you probably won’t find many VSTs, it’s an awesome decision to support the OS.