Bitwig Studio 4 brings with it a number of important updates, enhancing both traditional DAW features and pushing creative boundaries as well. The additional title is Comping.
In typical Bitwig fashion, this feature is part of the clip and is achieved by cycle recording in the Launcher or Driver. Takes results are edited in the Details Editing Panel at the bottom, and automatic color coding keeps things clear. Grab areas can be selected, cropped, and renamed, and different grab areas are easily swapped in and out of a region.
There are also individual area boosts and the option to slide the position of each or all grabs. Furthermore, any overload on the clip is added to the built-in Takes – very handy. Using Bitwig’s Layered Edit Mode, you can also apply the same edits on multiple clips collectively.
What sets Bitwig Studio apart from many of its competitors is that it offers two key concepts (Launcher and Timeline) side by side in the same track. Not only is this easy to understand, but it also supports drag-and-drop functionality, better integrating the creative, performance, and layout aspects of
In fact, drag and drop is featured throughout Bitwig, as is a deeply integrated modulation system with 36 Modulators. This is further developed through The Grid and the ‘any signal connected everywhere’ methodology. Here the composite (Poly Grid) or effects (FX Grid) are patched together from the 175 available modules.
Of course, no DAW is complete without a selection of instruments and sound effects (Bitwig has 90 in total). You are also equipped with an extensive Library of Sounds, Samples and Presets. Other features include built-in time measurement (Scale) powered by zPlane’s excellent Elastique. There is also support for MIDI polyphonic expressions (MPE).
Next, the operator. These add a new and very powerful dimension to how and when MIDI or audio events are triggered. The four options – Chance, Repeat, Occurrence, and Recurrence – are pretty easy to understand once you get started. Accessed via a panel in the Inspector, you can trigger them individually and have up to four simultaneous operations if desired.
The first two options (Chance and Repeat) control whether an event plays and how many times. Occurrences consist of nine ‘conditions’ and affect how one event is played against other events or in a repeating loop.
Occurrence also includes a Fill Mode condition (on or off) associated with the Global Fill button. This allows you to create a series of events that only play when the button is engaged, and also define a series of events that do not play.
In essence, the fill often works within a track. And yes, you guessed it, Fill Mode can be mapped to a MIDI controller or actually automated via its own lane. Great tool.
In addition to supporting OSX, Windows, and Linux, Bitwig 4 also runs on Apple Silicon machines. There is also proper language localization for Chinese, Japanese, and German, including all labels, in-app documentation, and interactive help.
Bitwig Studio 4 offers some great new features and shows how a new approach to an existing concept like comping can lead to better functionality. In a future update, we’d love to see the Bitwig team apply this feature to pitch editing. However, Bitwig’s forte remains its innovative features, and v4 pushes these into ever more weird and wonderful directions.
MusicRadar’s conclusion: Bitwig Studio 4 isn’t a terrible update, but the new features are brilliantly implemented and it’s a highly innovative DAW.