Is Bitwig Studio The Next Ableton Live?

Here’s something we weren’t expecting – developers at Bitwig, a Berlin music startup, have introduced a new music performance and production system, Bitwig Studio.

Bitwig Studio is in development and officially ‘coming soon’ – but it already looks familiar. Sort of what you’d expect Ableton Live 9 to look like……

Which isn’t too far-fetched, since Bitwig was actually founded by some former Ableton employees.

Here are the features for this new live performance and production DAW:

  • Multitrack recording – Record and produce your music in an intuitive workflow. Bitwig Studio’s arranger is a mix of editing power, ease of use and flexibility.
  • Arranger clip launcher – A non-linear environment that lets you trigger clips in real-time.
  • Mixer clip launcher – An alternative view of the clip launcher aligned with the mixer, optimized for live performance and DJing
  • Generic tracks – Tracks accept any kind of material. Audio and notes can live on the same track. You can bounce note clips to audio in place.
  • Clip automation – In addition to traditional track automation, automation can also be recorded and packaged inside clips, both on the clip launcher and the arranger.
  • Per-note automation – Pitch variations can be applied to individual notes directly in the piano roll. You can also edit a note’s panning, timbre and volume curves.
  • Simultaneous multitrack editing – Edit contents of multiple tracks together. You can see them all juxtaposed and isolate only the ones you want to edit
  • Multiple audio events per clip – An audio clip can contain multiple audio events. You can chop and edit audio files inside a clip non-destructively and loop it all as a package.
  • Real-time time stretching – Bitwig Studio’s proprietary technology lets you match any audio material to the document tempo and get everything in sync.
  • ‘World-class’ sound devices
  • Device nesting – Devices can contain other devices, and the whole package can be saved as a preset. Many of preset instruments and effects use nesting in new and powerful ways.
  • 32/64 bit VST support – Use your VST plug-ins. In case of a plug-in crash, a protective mechanism prevents the application from crashing and you from losing your work.
  • Metadata-based browser – Find your musical material quickly. Add tags and search by content type.
  • Open multiple documents – Exchange musical material between documents. Drag and drop, copy and paste back and forth.
  • Multi-monitor support – Bitwig Studio offers flexible screensets to take full advantage of your monitor configuration
  • ‘Slick’ user interface – Bitwig Studio’s user interface has been designed with the goal of making your music creation experience ‘fun and intuitive’.

These are the key features for Bitwig 1.0. Can you find the things that you can’t currently do in Ableton Live?

Bitwig has several more interesting features under development. These are planned for a later release:

  • LAN multi-user jamming – Multiple users can jam on the same document, and everything can be captured in the document’s arrangement
  • Multi-user music production over the internet – Multiple users can compose music on the same document from different locations. Bitwig Studio keeps everything in sync.
  • Native modular system – Create your own instruments and effects or modify existing ones. Design their appearance and share them with the world.

Check out the demo and features for Bitwig Studio and let us know what you think of it. Could it give Ableton Live some competition?

69 thoughts on “Is Bitwig Studio The Next Ableton Live?

      1. So? What makes you think anyone can patent a GUI design? How do you think Windows managed to survive despite copying Apple’s OS x.x system line? Don’t be so naive.

          1. LOL? Apple invented the Lisa.

            * Apple has stock ownership of Xerox which allows them to go on a company tour where they see the Xerox Parc GUI, which is basically just a white square on a gray background. It is the world’s first GUI but it’s fucking shit. Xerox doesn’t want to invest in the project and explicitly allowed Apple to copy it.
            * Apple gets inspired by the white square called a GUI, and begins designing the Lisa operating system. It’s beautiful (for its time).
            * Apple engineers from the time say that they had thought about a GUI for a long time before seeing the Xerox design, and that it had only very minimal impact on their own work.
            * A few years after the Lisa, Apple creates the Macintosh and refines the Lisa OS even more, calling it Macintosh OS.
            * Steve Jobs shows the Macintosh to his friend Bill Gates ahead of the official release, and Bill Gates immediately begins ripping off every single design feature of the entire OS, even down to the design of the clock and calculator. Every little detail is being photocopied by Bill Gates. He then gets generic PC manufacturers to sign licensing deals where they make the hardware and Bill makes Windows.
            * The rest is history. Windows was (and still is today) the copycat. Deal with it.

  1. This looks awesome. I hate the name though.

    What I’m wondering is whether this is the real reason Ableton stopped new development a couple of years ago. They made some announcement that there weren’t going to be any new features in Live until they fixed the existing bugs.

    Did they ever issue an update on that?

    1. Well, there are still plenty of big bugs in Live 8 so I guess they won’t be introducing new features for a while.

      This is looking really promising! I hope they make it through the inevitable 1.0 issues and survive to give Ableton a real run for its money.

    1. Well what “does” ableton actually do for you?
      Most DAW’s do what ableton does (except for swap between views) but in their own way.
      So, you’re either saying that bitwig must have a session and arrangement view or saying that it should do things how it’s done in ableton.
      Bitwig has both views. But I hope it does things it’s own way allowing us to work better, faster and easier than in ableton. Otherwise why switch?

      1. Try telling Apple that.. they’re suing people left and right for “look and feel” of both UI and actual hardware with a bucket-load of bogus patents. But I think these guys are fine. They sure must have thought of this stuff before going about making this product.

    1. Sorry to add, but it may also make sense why just about 2 years ago Ableton stopped coming out with a new version and only fixed updates…. their creators left.

  2. I’m a Live user, and I like the looks of this. Just from the video it already looks like it is worth checking out.
    Live 9 will probably cost me $200 or so to upgrade to, if the start-up Bitwig has the same functionality and is priced reasonably why not spend the $200+ on it instead.
    I am not using Live because of it’s built in instruments or stunning sample libraries.
    64 bit support, strong VST implementation (including in automation), flexible midi device support, multi monitor support, and great sound are musts for me.
    Bring on the competition!

    1. As can be seen on his LinkedIn page, the founder of BitWig was with Ableton for 2 years prior to founding Bitwig and he is also part of an electronic music duo. Sounds a bit like the Monolake/Ableton story all over.

  3. I’ll certainly try a demo if they release one. Still this isn’t convincing me. For the time this is stable enough Ableton will come out with a v9.0 of live. I don’t see the unique selling points of this software it will have to differentiate a bit or do some serious dumping on the price. I’wondering if the market is really big enough to sustain all these products…

  4. Way to go Bitwig… 🙂
    If Ableton can’t hold the pressure, so be it…
    Will buy it the moment of release 😉
    BTW; when is the release…?
    Hope it’s not vapourware…

  5. I finally gave up on Ableton when it became apparent that they can’t count to 64 and switched to Cubase. I really like the Live workflow, and would switch to this in a heartbeat if it has proper 64-bit support so I can use more than 3G of the freaking 32G I have on this machine…

  6. This looks good but people have invested a lot into Live with peripheries like M4L or the APC 40. Live is very stable and the most modular sequencer to date.

    I wonder how Bitwig got the online collab to work when Ableton could not. Ableton tried it but then withdrew the service saying essentially it was embarrassingly crap.

    1. maybe some of the people behind bitwig were in charge of the Ableton Share feature and when they left, the company just stopped working on it because they didn’t have the right people for it.

  7. HAH, the office of Bitwig is like 2 streets far from Ableton’s office in Berlin. Ableton is Schonhauser Alle, Bitwig is Schwedter strasse. I wonder if the were looking at each others buildings from the window with one of those pirate telescopes 🙂

  8. This has to be Live 9 and they’re just messing with everyone. I don’t know about Germany but in the US anyone who has skills and knowledge that are integral to a company’s product have to sign a “non-compete” contract saying they can’t go to a competitor for so many years after leaving the company…

    1. Yes, I’m also a bit curious about this. Either their non-compete-contract has already run out or they didn’t have anything like it when they originally joined Ableton. Which would be kind of strange…

      Also, there is this teaser movie using scenes from Downfall where they openly make fun of Ableton. I’m not completely sure wether I like a company that acts that way in public…

      1. The only other things I can think of is that Ableton has some kind of debt problem (maybe they bought a huge office tower during the good times etc.) and now they are just going to switch over to another company and let Ableton go bankrupt. Or maybe they will buy out
        Bitwig and rebrand this into Live 9 to avoid some tax problem, maybe buying the finished product from an outside firm works out better on taxes than hiring in house developers in Germany? Still I think when Winter NAMM officially starts Ableton will announce it was a joke and it’s really Live 9.

  9. Reminds me of Newtek and Lightwave years ago. Some of the key people left to make Modo and Newtek hasn’t done anything significant with lightwave in nearly a decade.

    That being said, I’m surprised so many people don’t see unique selling points of this software! I see several. It’s a new cleaner code base, the network collaboration, the modular synth with distributable configs, easy to use, and it’s got all the solid bread and butter features we would expect in a daw these days. Put that out in a competitive price and you have a serious winner. There is also rich ground here because there isn’t a fresh version of Live, a new version of Logic will be here any day but will undoubtedly be a huge paradigm shift, and most other daw makers are lining up behind more traditional tracking or film scoring paradigms (Like Studio One). There is going to be a lot of competition for users between Logic, Live and Cubase in the next year. And if the price is right, lots of users will step up from things like GarageBand and iPad apps.

    Everything is about to change in the world of DAWs.

    1. How do you know Bitwig has a cleaner code base? Unless you are one of the guys who left Ableton and went on to Bitwig I have serious trouble figuring out how you can actually say anything substantial about their respective code bases.

  10. It looks like they took the features people want in Live and just made software with those enhancements and moved a few things around. The track controls are now on the left in arrangement view. I really can’t see how this is legal but then again other DAWs copy from each other all the time. But this looks exactly like Live. Maybe it will light a fire under Abletons butt to get some work done.

  11. This does look amazing! But I’ll probably stick with Ableton, even though it looks/works like Ableton. Like alot of people on here, I’ve sunk an a** load of money into Ableton and it fits well into my workflow. If they offered a competitive upgrade, then I’d probably consider it.

  12. ableton is the best program of its kind so far, but unfortunately that doesn’t really say much, as it has been the only one of its kind. however, it doesn’t take very long before you start realizing all the really obvious and necessary things that it doesn’t do. it is incredibly modular but it is very poorly configurable at the same time. if they had taken the time to seriously consult with real musicians and producers (meaning, actually listen to them rather than just note what they have to say), they would have discovered within the first few days what needed to be changed. i am certainly not an audio wizard, and i could list at least 10 incredibly obvious things that the first version should have never left the drawing board without. yet here we are on version 8 and we’re dealing with basically the same animal. unfortunately for the competition, hardware companies definitely have a vested interest in their ableton controllers, so i am not sure if bitwig has too much stacked against them. i wish them luck and i will definitely try out their program when it comes out!

  13. I emailed Ableton not too long ago to ask them whats going on with Live 9 release. They replied with this email here.

    Dear Robert,

    Thanks for contacting Ableton Customer Care and your interest in our company.

    We are doing very well and are extremely busy working on exciting things that we are looking forward to showing our users when we are ready.

    Please understand that we can’t disclose specifics until we’re ready for a public announcement (make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter!).

    So please don’t worry, your favorite company is doing fine and doesn’t want to ruin the surprise for everybody 😉

    Drop me a line or give me a ring if you have any further questions.

    All the best,

  14. I do think it’s strange that I noticed their website looking to fill C++ programmers and a whole slew of other positions etc…. I really think these guys leaving allowed things down on the live 9 upgrade. Safe to say I think, after the wait we have had to endure.

    1. i think you need to read that article again. Steinberg remix, is a licensed, cut down version of ableton. ie, steinberg licensed a cut down version, of ableton.
      ableton was created by ableton.

      i would wager this bitwig is live 9.
      either way i dont care.

  15. It¨s all about community: not just windows or mac users talking anymore. Now the power of linux users can join to say something about how they feels the music. And i trust them. Because there is a particular concept of these people: they want to be free, That´s a nice perspective if you think, at the time of create music 😉 Come on musicians, go opensource. Here in latin america we can’t pay so very expensive software, however we want to groove it too 🙂 Be patience… it is just a matter of time… haha, yeah, haha !!!!

  16. Hmm. Not an overly impressive demo/trailer video. Obvious resemblances to Live. Built-in modular instrument creation sounds nice, but there’s also Max for Live. Multi-user implementation is good, but could take a while to stablize. Still, probably a necessary step for any DAW that wants survive into the near future. So credit to them for attempting to implement it.

    Frankly though, the interface/workflow, from what the video presented, isn’t really that much different or any more attractive than what Live has to offer. Personally I think Live actually looks better.

  17. I tried to like Live but on my system it’s just a crashy piece of shit…I hope FLStudio performance mode gets solid…Live GUI looks more cramped than NI stuff even on a 46″ monitor…

  18. I just put Live in the trash this week and have given up on Ableton for good. I can’t believe they STILL can’t do destructive sample editing, sysex, or edit/view multiple midi parts at the same time. And the crashing IS atrocious. The UI feels dated, and the arrangement page is very primitive.

    Very much looking forward to what these Bitwig people can do. In the meantime, it looks like Cubase and Geist will have to do.

  19. There is much discussion about not being able to copyright a GUI in the comment section. How about the entire concept of arrangement view and the way it works which no other DAW has. Ableton is from Germany, where is Bitwig from ? Oh yeah, Germany. I mean it’s not as if ex-Ableton employees made Bitwig, Oh wait, they did.

  20. Since the time I waiting a REAL Linux support for Ableton… now i wating for the demo, thank U bitwig for leting people decide their system, linux is a gold mine, it is super stable, no virus and and and, it’s free !! no need to pay to upgrade a buggy and superloud Crosoft 32bit to 64bit just for use u’r 8G ram and have a 64bit buggy and not less superloud os that’s suck u’r new ram superhard…

    U make the difference ! i hope soon ! 😉

  21. As @apeirophobe points out (albeit snarkily), we’ll soon get that “Native Modular System” in BWS3. What people may not have realized at the time BWS1 came out is that the strengths of the whole modulation workflow is something qualitatively different from adding Max “devices” to a clip-launching DAW. Took a few years to build the full system to make a vague dream into a reality but we now have a clearer idea of Bitwig’s longer-term strategy.

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