asked Jan 17 '19 at 04:06 by Ethnographer (41)

Now that the cat is out of the bag about what the “Native Modular System” in the 2012 announcement will actually become (and when), what more can Bitwig tell us about BWS3 and The Grid? More specifically: do we have a list of modules? The phase-based ones sound particularly interesting. We can already notice some about scale work (including quantization) but will they also allow microtuning? Will some existing devices give access to their internals à la Reaktor? Is there any plan to have a space to share our modular creations or will they be tied to projects? There are obvious modules about recorders but will the clever approach to wavetable/granular/multisampler/sampling also exist in The Grid? Will there be training resources about The Grid during the beta testing period or will we have wait months after the official release to get straightforward tutorials (as has happened with some previous features)?

One which is almost taken for granted but, just to be completely sure: those of us on the Upgrade Plan at the time of release won’t have to pay extra for BWS3, right? If not, this could really cause a whole lot of pain for many people involved and Bitwig should already telegraph some of these warning messages.

I’m cautiously optimistic as to what BWS3 can do to our favourite DAW. Now that we know more about it, a whole set of things can take a whole new meaning, including some points about the company’s longterm strategy. Even though people will compare this to features in other DAWs, there really is something unique about the platform/ecosystem and the impact is likely to be very different. Much of it is about workflow, but it’s really not just that. It’s also about experimentation. Devices for other DAWs are mostly about “spend sessions building your devices or get them from somewhere, then play with them when you’re ready to do actual music”. Because of the way BWS2 is already set up, this is really about a whole creative process. Much closer to using Max 8 with a very strong DAW as a basis than adding some “M4L” devices to a DAW project.

Literally cannot wait for the beta period to start. Might even plan some time to thoroughly test it and document my process. NAMM isn’t even started but my first inclination is to want for it to end so we get closer to a beta.

Any additional information about BWS3 and The Grid will be greatly appreciated.

There's a lively thread over at KVR that you might enjoy if you have not seen it already:

  — (Jan 17 '19 at 05:50) hrrld

Things will be more clear once Bitwig Studio 3 is ready for public beta. One thing we can confirm is: Bitwig Studio 3 will be free for all customers with an active Upgrade Plan.


answered Jan 17 '19 at 10:26 by Bitwig_Support (1.1k)

Now that NAMM has started, videos are trickling in, we’re getting some answers. The clearest one for me: yeah, it’ll be very cool. Some questions for which we probably won’t get answers during the beta:

  • How about MIDI FX? It sounds like there are plans for other “grid types” and MIDI FX would be an obvious next step. But it’d be useful to know more about the plans.
  • Since they all get the same modules, what’s the actual difference between the three grid types? I get that they expect different I/O, but given the fact that they all use the same signals, wouldn’t it have been possible to have one grid type adaptable to all sorts of use cases? In some ways, it feels like Cycling ‘74 tagging Jitter on to Max/MSP (and the original MSP addition to straight up Max). Makes historical sense, but an environment built from the ground up doesn’t have the same baggage.
  • Since we probably won’t get custom “faceplates” for our grids or other form of UI, is that something planned in the future or is that really not in the cards? It doesn’t matter much to me and the “remote controls” can already create some crude UI. But it can be a pretty big deal for people who want to share (and even sell?) their grids.
  • In case we don’t get an updated manual, it’ll be very interesting to experience the learning curve with these 120 modules. Some make immediate sense. But some are decidedly on the “geeky” side. The KVR thread has some interesting interactions about Chebyshev. It’s a “classic” in the computer music field (pretty sure people were talking about this in the late 1980s during my first forays into music programming). But it’s one which requires some pretty practical learning. One issue with BWS2, I find, is that there isn’t that much learning material, especially on tips and tricks like using the crossfader to create precise min/max points (another interesting interaction in that KVR thread).
  • If there are plans to help people share their grids, chances are that it won’t really happen during the beta (though that would be the best way to have a nicely curated collection by the time the official release comes out). What are the company’s plans, there? Do they have capacity to make neat things happen, there? It’s easy enough for people to share patches on Patch Storage and that could be a neat place for our BWS3 grid devices. But there’s a bit of community management involved, if you want people to really create something neat together. Sure, the Reaktor community has been able to handle things on its own without NI appearing to do much in terms of connecting with people. But that’s basically because users have appropriated the Reaktor User Library, making it their own and making it appropriate to their contexts.

As for questions we’ll likely be able to answer once we get our dirty hands on the beta:

  • Is there any other new feature in BWS3?
  • What’s the CPU load of these modules? Looks pretty good in the vids (even just before the crash in the Sonic State one).
  • Will we get “modularized” versions of (some) of the existing synths, as was promised from the start? Sounds unlikely to me but we may get template grid devices which do some of the same things as the existing devices. A way to “open the lid” on Phase-4 would be fascinating.
  • Speaking of phase, how do the phase modules work? Some of it isn’t too hard to grasp, conceptually. But it’s a different thing to get direct experience with them and listen to the possibilities.
  • Will there be a way for adventurous coders to develop their own modules? Sounds very unlikely, but it could lead us in completely new territory.
  • We’re getting some hints already but it’s still not completely clear how granular the modules are. Some sound like they really do “one thing well” while others are a tad bit more complicated without being complex. Sounds to me like the level of granularity is simply optimal, but that remains to be experienced.
  • People have been asking about sampling modules. Given how innovative the existing Sampler device is, it sounds like it’d be a real shame if we didn’t have sample-based modules. There’s an audio in module (and we can route any signal to any module). But the three sample playback modes are so clever that modules for those would be a huge win (and could get quite a bit of praise from reviewers).
  • An even simpler question which came out is about the oscillators we’ll get. So far, it sounds like it’s limited to the usual pulse, saw, sine, triangle (and those are prominently featured). Phase and wavefolding modules will really help in shaping those. But, related to the sampler question: how ‘bout wavetables? Even with the Sampler device, there hasn’t been a big push to build libraries of wavetables (like the ones built on waveforms from Adventure Kid or even all the ones coming with Serum presets). There’s an opportunity, here, which may have less to do with the ability to use an arbitrary set of waveforms and much more about ways to manage them.
  • There are some visualization modules but it’ll be interesting to see how we can bring them together with the audio modules. An obvious case would be about spectrum and EQ. We got something like this in existing devices, but how much can we play with this?
  • A key moment in the Plugin Boutique vid (around 2:45), is when Dave just deletes a wave folder module and the audio doesn’t glitch. It’s a bit hard to tell with the ambient noise but it sounds to me like audio did drop for a split second, which would make a lot of sense. But it sounded quite graceful, which isn‘t what I expected. It’ll be interesting to hear what happens when we do complex manipulations.
  • A question which should be pretty obvious given everything else in BWS2: do all of these modules work as they should with MPE control? I really don’t perceive a reason why not, but I haven’t read any explicit mention of MPE in The Grid.
  • There are mentions of controllers but it’s a bit unclear to me how they’ll work with the new environment, especially in terms of MPE devices. Been having a pretty decent experience using my ROLI Lightpad M Block as though it were a Seaboard Rise. But the Lightpad has some other really neat features which could work extremely well with The Grid. Haven’t heard anything about a collaboration with ROLI and Bitwig. Plus, the task of writing cool controller scripts has been left to the “community”. But there’s a real opportunity, here.
  • We do know The Grid will support third-party plugins and some form of embedding/nesting. But how does it work in practice?

At any rate, this is all very exciting. I just can’t wait to beta test this new system and will do my best to report on it as much as possible. (Which is hard to do with two jobs and other commitments, but this is too stimulating, for me.)


answered Jan 25 '19 at 16:02 by Ethnographer (41)

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Asked: Jan 17 '19 at 04:06

Seen: 829 times

Last updated: Jan 25 '19 at 16:02