Bitwig Studio 3 Promises Fully-Modular Approach To Sound Design

Ahead of the 2019 NAMM Show, Bitwig has announced Bitwig Studio 3, an update that promises to deliver a fully-modular approach to sound design.

Bitwig Studio 3 introduces a new approach to working with sound, The Grid. The Grid is an open modular environment, built into three new devices: Poly Grid, Mono Grid and FX Grid.

As a new, native element in Bitwig Studio, The Grid is accessible in myriad ways:

  • Grid devices can be nested or layered along with other devices and plug-ins, and they are controllable via MIDI mapping and from the Open Controller API.
  • Song position is available as a sample-accurate signal, locking a patch in The Grid to the project’s timeline.
  • Arranger or clip-based automation can be added for any parameter in grid patches, even in combination with Bitwig Studio’s existing modulators.
  • Grid modules like envelopes, LFOs, and sequencers all have modulator outputs as well. And just as Bitwig Studio’s modulators can control any parameter in The Grid, any grid signal can be used to modulate child devices.
  • With dedicated grid modules for sending any control, trigger, or pitch signal as CV Out and receiving any CV In, hardware can be seamlessly integrated with The Grid.

The Grid

Features Of The Grid:

  • In The Grid, all signals are created equal — and 4x-oversampled for the highest sound quality. All signals are interchangeable so any out port can be connected to any in port.
  • Every signal is stereo. That includes control signals, which indirectly affect audio. And plenty of modules can Stereo-ize signals, adding variety where needed.
  • With The Grid’s quick workflow gestures, new modules can be dropped directly onto ports, automatically wiring them into your patch. And for signals that are needed regularly, we have the option of pre-cords. These clickable icons appear beside in ports, allowing common connections to be made wirelessly.
  • Phase is the place. After pitch, timbre, and loudness, phase is the essential element of sound, capable of driving basic time functions, complex modulation synthesis, and so much more. With a dedicated category of phase modules, we have made these concepts freshly accessible and newly relevant for modern music production.

Bitwig Studio 3 will be previewed at the 2019 NAMM Show, and is expected to be released in Q2 2019. See the Bitwig site for more info.

24 thoughts on “Bitwig Studio 3 Promises Fully-Modular Approach To Sound Design

  1. This actually looks like a version of MAX that people may actually be able to use….modular creation for musicians not programmers. Bitwig is really pulling ahead of the competition at quite a rate with 3-4 updates a year, suburb work, well done.

  2. This looks right up my street.
    Though it also looks exactly like one of those deadly sonic toys where I say: “I’m just gonna tinker with patching for a few minutes … ” /19 hours later still sat hunched and red eyed making incredible boopSnARF-sqeeiddle-DORP-noink-noik-Waowaow-beep-boop-… noises

    I agree that this is what I hoped Ableton would do. As powerful as Max is, it does not have the immediacy and intuitive fluidity of a modular patching environment. The model used in this example is closer to that of a synth, it allows us to make use of existing knowledge.

    max makes use of a certain kind of visual programming metaphor. I mostly find myself saying “how do I instantiate an array, or How do I cast a var?” . Mistyping a var or not knowing the LOM methods or getting the deferment wrong generally results in enigmatic silence … and lots of red debug text in a console window.

    In a modular audio environment a patching mistake means : A weird unexpected boopSnARF-DORP-noink noise. Or connecting an out to an out shows a red cable. An invitation to debug is happening in both cases, but in a modular audio environment the Learnability is implicit, any mistakes and failures are teaching directly.

    1. Max MSP comes with BEAP and Vizzie, no need to learn any programming (visual or not), you just connect modules, just like any “modular patching environment” like Bitwig, Audulus, MuLab, etc…

      Max MSP also has many free Packages, some contain “low level” objects for programming, but many contain pre-built modules you can just drag’n’drop and connect, like BEAP or Bitwig.

      For example the “Bach” package has objects that creates a classic score notation that can be used to draw or
      display MIDI Notes, no need to program a score notation from nothing.

      There is also OSCiLLOT, which has a free Lite version that is actually pretty usable:

  3. I haven’t been following Bitwig, but wasn’t this an advertised feature of v1? Either way, I’m tempted to try this out although I’m pretty much married to Ableton/Push.

      1. They did actually claim it was going to come in V2. That is until V2 was actually a few months away at which point they pulled the whole claim from their website and changed it to ‘later’

        1. Well I recently started using Max4Live to experiment with some programming in Live, and whilst video’s like this make it look like a piece of cake, finding the correct documentation and the correct way of hooking things up to each other is pretty challenging. And that comes from someone who is a professional software developer.

          I like the flexibility of max, but I don’t consider it highly approachable.

          1. You just right-click an object for links to both Help (the interactive help system) and Documentation (old-school text documentation) for that object.

            Max’s Help system is amazing, it is interactive and has actual patches as working examples.



            Seems “highly approachable” actually means “things I’ve seen before in other software and can recognize and use just like in those older software”, which is ironic considering certain claims people make to hype Bitwig, like “innovative”, “moving the industry forward”, etc.

    1. It remembers me of Audulus (but much less “neon”).

      The little “cv” sequencers, the little “and” logic boxes needed to trigger the envelopes, the mixer…

    2. This is not the same as MAX at all, it is designed from the ground up to work with the highly intuitive ‘unified modulation system’ (I think that was part of the delay ) it is ‘just for music’ and integrated in to the DAW…it will be simpler, faster and more like a modular synth (looking at the relative spec’s, a more advanced OSCiLLOT with more direct integration and supported by the DAW developers natively so ore modules/functions will be added with future DAW upgrades which come every 3-4 months). But most importantly, I am still getting my 12 months of free upgrades since I paid for V2 so I am getting this free 🙂

  4. Part of the difference with Puredata, Rack, Max, Reaktor, etc. is the tight integration with the rest of the workflow. Even if you have a remarkably approachable way to build pattern generators and synths, the way you integrate it in the DAW can be decidedly clunky.
    For those of us who already work in Bitwig, it’ll be more than merely familiar. It’ll fit right in our workflows.

  5. Here’s guessing that BW3 will still refuse to support Audio Unit plugins, which means they’re not exactly going to be gaining many converts from Logic.

      1. There are a few (admittedly not many), but the main issue is I’ve got a system setup with tons of AUs ready to go, and it would it be extremely long winded to try and duplicate it in VST form. It also makes it harder to remain in sync if I wanted use both Logic and Bitwig. On the other hand, if I fire up Reaper, I can use all my AU plugins without a second thought.

    1. OK, saw more details about Signal, seems while it is capable of doing audio (has MIDI in/out, audio in/out, math modules), its focus right now seems to be modulation/automation and CV, quite far from a modular synth.

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