VST

Audio Assault releases Multi Transient plugin

Audio Assault has released Multi Transient, a multi-band envelope shaper plug-in for Windows and Mac. Multi Transient is a powerful tool for tone shaping, control the amount of attack and sustain for every band, including … read more

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Cableguys updates FilterShaper to v3.2

Cableguys has released version 3.2 of its FilterShaper filter effect plug-in for Windows and Mac. FilterShaper 3 takes a giant leap into unconventional sound design with two powerful filters, freely editable modulation curves, and an … read more

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discoDSP launches Black Sale – 50% off plugins & soundsets

discoDSP has announced the launch of its Black Sale, offering a 50% discount on its products for a limited time. The Black Sale includes discoDSP plug-ins, bundles and soundsets. discoDSP Black Sale discoDSP Bundle (Corona, … read more

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iZotope releases Iris 2 sample-based synthesizer

iZotope has released Iris 2, a sample-based synthesizer instrument that combines the power of a sampler with the flexibility of a modular synth. New features include a robust modulation system, sample pools that can load … read more

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Bitwig Studio 1.1 Adds Lots of Details; Can It Escape Ableton’s Shadow?

bitwig_opener

Bitwig Studio has been quietly plugging along in development, adding loads of engineering improvements under the hood. Version 1.1 is the largest update yet.

Here’s the summary of the update:
https://www.bitwig.com/en/bitwig_1up

Minus the marketing speak, the exhaustive changelog (here, for Mac): http://www.bitwig.com/dl/8/mac

It’s an impressively long list of enhancements in quantity, though most of the changes are fixes and enhanced hardware and plug-in compatibility. For instance, you can side-chain VSTs, and there are new options for routing multiband effects and multi-channel plug-ins.

The big enhancements:

  • More routing for audio and MIDI
  • VST multi-out sidechain support and multi-channel effect hosts
  • Updated controller API
  • New Audio Receiver, Note Receiver, Note MOD, De-Esser devices

And you can genuinely deactivate devices to save CPU, something Live lacks, as well as take advantage of “true latency compensation.” (Whatever that means – that will require some testing. Bitwig’s explanation of what makes their tech different is that it actually works. That sounds good.) Some other features play catch-up with Ableton Live – tap tempo and crossfader, modulation and timestretching. But it’s a welcome update.

And as we’ve tangled recently with Ableton Live’s spotty controller support and the weird gymnastics required to make controllers work, it’s worth scolding Ableton for not making their hardware integration work better. Bitwig, with a sliver of the development resources and very little incentive for hardware makers to add support, is quickly adding controller support simply because it’s easier to do. This could be a model for Ableton, particularly as its user base and the diversity of hardware for it continue to expand.

If you’re on desktop Linux (yes, I’m sure someone is out there), the choice is easy: Bitwig is a terrific, fun piece of software with lots of rather nice effects and instruments. It’s fast and ready to go out of the box. And there isn’t much else native on Linux that can say that (Renoise springs to mind, but it has a very different workflow).

The problem is, if you’re not on Linux, I still can’t work out a reason I’d recommend Bitwig Studio over other tools. And, of course, the elephant in the room is Ableton Live. I reviewed Bitwig Studio for Keyboard, and found plenty to like. But the problem was, Bitwig Studio has competition, and as I wrote for that magazine, to me it comes a bit too close to Live to be able to differentiate itself:

While Bitwig Studio improves upon Live’s editing functionality, it replicates even some of Live’s shortcomings: There’s no surround audio support, nor any track comping facility…

Compared to Ableton Live Standard, Bitwig Studio’s offerings are fairly comparable. But at that price, Ableton gives you 11GB of sound content, more complete plug-in support, more extensive routing, more controller compatibility, and video support.

Even that doesn’t really sum up the whole story for me – controller compatibility, at least, is a narrowing advantage for Ableton because of Bitwig’s superb scripting facility. The problem is, if you want a change from Live, you want software that works differently (Cubase and the like for traditional DAWs, Maschine for drum machine workflows, Renoise for a tracker, and so on). If you want a Live-style workflow, you’re likely to choose Ableton Live.

You can read my whole review for Keyboard and see if you reach a different conclusion, though:

Bitwig Studio reviewed [Keyboard Magazine]

And as I’ve seen a handful of people start to use Bitwig, I’d be curious to hear from you: what was the deal maker that convinced you to switch? What is Bitwig offering you that rivals don’t?

The DAW market remains a competitive one, and it’s clear there’s always room for choice. Bitwig’s development pace at least continues moving forward. But I’ll keep repeating: I’d like to see this tool stray from its rivals.

And for me, the main thing is: once that review was done, I found myself returning to Ableton Live and finishing tracks, and not Bitwig Studio – even if I sometimes cursed Live’s shortcomings. Even if that is simply force of habit, it seems I’ll need more to kick that habit. And, unfortunately, you can’t judge software based on its forthcoming features.

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zplane updates PPMulator to v3.2.1

zplane.development has released version 3.2.1 of PPMulator, a PPM metering effect plug-in for Windows and Mac. PPMulator is a cross-platform plug-in meter for digital audio workstations which exactly mimics the look and feel of a … read more

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Amaranth Audio updates Cycle synth to v1.7

Amaranth Audio has released version 1.7 of Cycle, a spectral vertex synthesizer instruments for Windows and Mac. Cycle has a visual workflow for synthesizing sound at the waveform and spectrum level. Using points and lines … read more

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Overloud updates REmatrix reverb plugin to v1.0.8

Overloud has released version 1.0.8 of REmatrix, a multi-layer convolution reverb effect plug-in for Windows and Mac. REmatrix features five individual convolvers and an effect chain working together to create complex and unique spaces that … read more

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Loomer updates String & Aspect synth instruments

Loomer has released version 1.14.13 of its String ensemble string synthesizer, and version 1.7.19 of the Aspect semi-modular synthesizer instrument Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. Changes in String v1.14.13 AAX 64-bit Native plug-ins for … read more

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Kazrog updates Recabinet to v4.0.1

Kazrog has released version 4.0.1 of its Recabinet cabinet simulator and amp modeling effect plug-in for Windows and Mac. This is a maintenance update that addresses CPU usage and other issues with the initial 4.0 … read more

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