asked Feb 01 '15 at 20:10 by Zuralski (251)

edited Feb 01 '15 at 20:52

Hi, more of a general question/rant about the bitwig's ethos in relation to its product direction. I'll start by stating what IMHO is my preferred approach to product development (I am a product manager in my day job), and would be great if someone from BWS team could answer.

I do love most of the choices BWS team has made so far in developing the product. From UI to simplicity, to hidden complexity and modulation flexibility. I also completely agree with BWS modular approach and the possibilities this could bring in the long term. But I also believe in making great tools that are right for the job. (huge fan of so called "jobs to be done" frame work, if you want to do some googling). This is not necessarily about open vs close product/software, but about creating a few tools that become your go to tools, be it that trusted knife (not a swiss knife though!), screwdriver , spade, etc. This is about having some basic devices that are well thought out and work great all the time for vast majority of use cases: great compressor, chorus, reverb, EQ, distortion, bitcrusher, delay, etc. A good FM synth, good analogue style synth, sampler, drum machine. These are some of the basics that most users need 90% of the time. Sure it's nice to throw something esotheric like blur effect or rotary, but you should make sure that your standard devices are as good as can before adding extras or gimmicks. And when these basic devices are not up to scratch, please recognize this and make them better, rather than hide behind the "oh, you can combine x device with y and make your own z device" argument - which just sounds like a cop-out.

Now, creating a few great tools,that are "just right", but also building a platform that allows other people to build tools they feel are missing - to me this is what a company like Apple stands for. This is where I personally prefer iOS to Android platform. Android is supposedly "open" (whatever this really means) yet the user experience of the basics is substandard. Is Bitwig's aim to be more like Android or iOS, or something else? What is the vision and ethos of the product in the long term? Is it trying to be open and modular but not standing for anything or is it building a great few tools that users go to 90% of the time while also allowing users to build custom devices easily? I'm asking because judging from a lack of some basic devices as well as omissions in the existing devices, I'm not entirely sure.

I think BWS is spot on with a few devices so far: dynamics, reverb, delay-2, distortion, perhaps a few more. On the other hand, a lack of sidechain compression on the compressor device is a miss, as is a lack of visual interface on a lot of the envelopes (I get the argument about "listening" to sound, not just looking at the curve, but sure it's nice and useful to look at a curve). Then, there's a lack of vocoder and multiband compression. Sure, you can create your own multiband compressor using the mutiband fx-2/3 device, but you know, it's not the same. I can't quickly visualize the bands and the relationships between how large the bands are, how loud they are, how much each compresses the sound, how they are working together, as easily as I can using a plugin like izotope's multiband or even the crappy Ableton multiband (hate the horizontal layout of that thing!). Also, a lack of spectral visualization of the audio is a serious handicap here. So yes, multiband fx-3 device is amazing if what you want is to take that whole multiband idea to another level (you go nuts boy/girl!) but for 90% of users, I bet they just need a simple trusted mutliband compressor that does the job.

And then there are other parts where I feel like BWS has limited itself, where limitless approach makes more sense, e.g BWS Diatonic instrument is limited to only the most common modes. Why? It would be so much more awesome to be able to add other modes (arabic mode, flamenco mode, etc), which Ableton have solved neatly by having them in files as opposed to fixed UI elements. Same for groove templates (or lack thereof in BWS). Also, EQ - the bread and butter effect.. - perhaps I just can't find it or what, but it would be super useful to have a spectral analyser underneath the EQ curves. Like a lot of basic EQs have (Ableton, Logic). Again, your contra-argument might be, well, we want you to listen to the sound not just rely on what you see (I have noticed that this is an oft repeated answer from BWS on this forum). Sure, fair enough, but for example, unless you're a teenager, you won't be able to hear frequencies above 18kHz when you want to filter out some top frequencies to give your mix more headroom. Or bass below 30-40Hz on crappy 5 inch monitors, and you might not necessarily hear if there are a few rogue frequencies messing up your mix in the middle frequency ranges. We know that our ears get used to the sound very quickly (which is why mastering engineers don't listen to the same song hours on end), and totally relying on your ears is a recipe for disaster. That is why a bit of visual feedback here and there would be totally fitting and would go a long way :) Finally, maybe it's just me, but a lot of BWS devices look ideantical and it's very difficult to tell them apart in a chain Could you make the basic devices more distinct looking? Don't need to go overboard here, like apple have done with the UI in Logic devices (e.g. the Ultrabeat UI is definitely not too my liking), just make them a bit more distinct than a collection of knobs. Even physical modular racks have units that tend to look quite distinct, especially when they come from different companies. At the moment, BWS looks like a modular rack packed full of only Doepfer stuff, bland, boring and difficult to decipher what devices are actually included in the rack. A indistinct wall of knobs! (sorry if this sounds harsh)

So to summarize, my suggestion is, please if you can work on making the basic devices as awesome as they can be, adding a few devices that have been "obviously" missed, e.g. good multiband comp, a saturator, vocoder, a sine wave in the polysynth, groove templates, spectral analyser in eq, (also a granulator type sampler would be a superb addition, see granulator II M4L device).

Then, when you have done this, feel free to give us all these promised bells and whistles (networking, online collaboration, extended modulation, etc etc). But please work on the basics first. Your users will thank you for it.

Hope you will consider this feedback, I mean it in a good spirit as I love BWS. Happy to elaborate if needed. Thanks again for the awesome work and your time reading this.

Hi Zuralski and Fredrik,

I agree with you almost completely. But a lot is already asked for by different people and via different channels. I think my requested general RFC/Feature list would have benefits for endusers and for bitwigHQ.

Users can bring in feature requests or changes (modded ofcourse) and you can share this list with end-users who can vote for features/changes. This way you know what lives in the user community without have to read all those posts at different forums. Just a thought though. You can find it here: http://answers.bitwig.com/questions/64/general-rfcfeature-list

link

answered Feb 04 '15 at 13:54 by Solidtrax (919)

edited Feb 04 '15 at 13:55

Completely agree. Just up-voted your post :)

  — (Feb 05 '15 at 12:13) Zuralski

And when these basic devices are not up to scratch, please recognize this and make them better, rather than hide behind the "oh, you can combine x device with y and make your own z device" argument - which just sounds like a cop-out.

I understand your point there but I think it's too early to judge. I agree, that it's a nicer workflow to let´s say have a ready made tremolo device instead of loading a LFO tool, inserting a tool in the FX chain and automate the gain knob. Although it´s not so difficult to just safe that as a preset with all the macro and parameter knobs you need. These very basic and obvious presets could be provided with by Bitwig though and maybe that is going to happen with 1.2 when the library gets a general overhaul as far as I understood.

The whole thing will get quite more interesting however, if the promised module system will be ready for all the users. Then like in Max for Live we can simply build our own tools and share them in the community. I think this will be the next big step for Bitwig and sounds far more tempting to me than readymade devices however good they are. It will still take some time though until this is going to happen. The last thing i heard was around 1-2 years… Until then i will build my own devices with everything that provided. This approach is already very powerful: E.g.

  • Split Low mids and highs into three chains put Mid/side splitter in each chain and end that chain with the dynamic device and you end up with a mulitband compressor/expander with mid/side processing.

  • Take the x/y device and put reverbs, blur-delay and EQ2 in each corner and build a device for enhanced stereo field placement. Use the x/y field to position a sound in front or back, left, center or right. If it is in the front the sound should have more high frequencies and be louder, if it gets shifted from the center position the sound arrives with a delay on one side and (maybe gets reflected by a wall in small rooms producing a second delay). The further the sound source is away the bigger this delay is and this bigger the room must be which is set by the reverb.

Its a bit tricky to set devices like this up first but just save them and they evolve over the time when you realise that functions are missing. And guess what it´s your unique device…

link

answered Mar 24 '15 at 23:19 by Ulrich (565)

Hi Zuralski, many thanks for your detailed feedback, this is great stuff! As you know we are currently on version 1.1, so there's a lot of things that can and will be improved. Some of the things you wish to see in Bitwig Studio are already in planning. And of course, many things that are important to you might be unimportant for many other users, so there's a fine balance to be struck.

To summarise and give some feedback on your points:

  • Sidechain compression: This is already there. Have a look at the Dynamics device.
  • Multi-band compression: Again, great feedback. This is something we will add to the wishlist for future features.
  • Sinus wave in Polysynth, Saturator and Vocoder: This is on the wishlist.
  • Spectral analyzer: Again, on our to-do list.
  • Arabic an Flamenco modes in the Diatonic Transposer: Interesting, a more dynamic way of working with scales (and indeed grooves) is an interesting proposition.

All the best, Fredrik

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answered Feb 04 '15 at 11:57 by fredrik (80)

Hi Fredrik, I think Zuralski means that the compressor is another dynamics device that has a different character. The attack time is a a bit slower on the compressor than the dynamic device f.e. .The same counts for the release time.

  — (Feb 04 '15 at 14:00) Solidtrax
1

hi Solidtrax, that's right, should've made it explicit :)

In general though - so awesome to see someone from BWS respond, and confirm that a lot of the recommendations are already being considered. Nice to see some engagement from BWS team :)

  — (Feb 05 '15 at 12:12) Zuralski

Indeed, that's just really great!

  — (Feb 05 '15 at 12:18) Solidtrax

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Asked: Feb 01 '15 at 20:10

Seen: 3,825 times

Last updated: Mar 24 '15 at 23:19