5 new things you can do in Bitwig Studio 5

Bitwig Studio remains one of the most equipped, flexible DAWs on the market, capable of everything from arrangement and beatmaking to sound design and live performance.

And with new features and workflows introduced in Bitwig Studio 5—Bitwig Studio’s 20th major release—Bitwig continues to back this up.

In this article, we’ll give a brief overview of five new additions to Bitwig Studio 5, and how you can use them in your next production. Head here to learn about the full DAW and start a free trial.

1. Control your sound with the new MSEGs (LFO and envelope hybrid)

The MSEG feature in Bitwig Studio 5

LFOs and envelopes are some of the most versatile tools in music production, and their respective weak spots are often where the other shines.

You can create interesting, cyclical movement with LFOs, but you’re frequently limited to very simple shapes. Envelopes often have more complex shapes, and they’re great for non-repeating movement like a pitch envelope on a bass sound, but they don’t create the repeating modulation that LFOs can.

Bitwig Studio 5 introduces a new type of modulation source to bring the best of both worlds: the MSEG (“multi-segment envelope generator”). With five different types of MSEGs, Bitwig Studio 5 lets you easily draw custom envelopes, automation shapes, and looping patterns. Plus, you can save any shape that you draw as a .bwcurve file that also opens in any other MSEG device.

Learn about the five types of MSEGs (Segments, Curves, Scrawl, Transfer, and Slopes) in Bitwig’s overview video below:

2. Make movement with the updated modulation system

Bitwig Studio's updated modulation system

Bitwig Studio offers one of the most malleable and powerful modulation systems out there, letting you assign any source (MSEG, audio, CV, etc.) to any device or plugin.

Version 5 takes that philosophy up a level, now allowing you to assign modulators to mixer and project controls too. Want to assign an LFO directly to track volume and pan? How about using an MSEG to adjust the project tempo over time? Moves like these have never felt simpler.

And if you need to go deeper, modulators like the MSEGs, Steps, and Keytrack+ now have resizable pop-out windows that help you dial in the exact settings you need.

3. Get expressive with new performance gestures

Bitwig Studio's new performance gestures

Even though it excels as an arrangement and production tool, Bitwig Studio also has a full clip-launching workflow that’s perfect for live performance. If you’ve used a clip launcher before—especially with a MIDI controller—you’re probably familiar with the workflow of pressing a clip to launch it, but Bitwig Studio 5 breaks this mold with new approaches that give you maximum flexibility when performing.

In this update, Bitwig introduced a new “on Release” feature. Now, you can separately specify what happens when you press a pad on your controller and what happens when you release it. Should the associated clip stop? Should it return to whatever was playing before? Now you can control this behavior on-the-fly without touching your mouse.

So great, now we can control how a clip launches, how it releases, and how quantized our input is, but what if we want this to occasionally be different during a performance? This is where the new ALT-trigger option comes in, a separate group of launch / release / quantization settings that you can toggle with MIDI. You can adjust these ALT-trigger settings on a per-clip or per-scene basis, or for the entire project.

The default approach is to have the main trigger mode act like a typical clip launcher, while the ALT-trigger mode can be set to swap in new clips legato style (changing to the other clip as soon as you press the pad), with the ALT “on Release” setting set to return to the previously playing clip.

This lets you use the main trigger mode as expected, while letting you use ALT-trigger to briefly bring in other clips on-the-fly, making your performance more varied and engaging.

Bitwig’s Clip Launcher also includes a “Next Actions” feature, which allows you to specify automatic behavior after a clip ends, including the ability to automatically launch other clips in your project. Got an idea for how your performance should go? Use these Next Actions and Bitwig Studio can carry some of that weight for you.

Check out the clip below to see these performance features in action:

4. Find what you need in the rebuilt browser

The rebuilt browser in Bitwig Studio 5

Having to stop your creative flow to search for a preset, device, etc. can be inspiration-breaking. Bitwig Studio 5 keeps you in that flow with a rebuilt browser, allowing you to search for plugins, presets, wavetables, and more all in one place. Not only are things much easier to find, but the browser ecosystem is customizable through shortcuts, favorites, and collections.

Here are each of the features corresponding to the labels in the image above:

  1. All sources—including sounds by type, packages, your folders, etc.
  2. Current source—including hybrid sources, like Drum Hits (drum presets and samples)
  3. Quick sources—customizable by drag‑and‑drop
  4. Minimize option
  5. Favorites view filter
  6. Filters
  7. Recent searches and snapshots
  8. Free search entry
  9. All search results
  10. Favorites and collections indicators
  11. Current selection
  12. Show presets for devices, plugins, etc.

Watch this video to learn a few tips for using the new Bitwig Studio browser:

5. Explore a new demo track and sound package

Album artwork for the two demo tracks

If you’re new to Bitwig Studio or just want to see the newest updates in action, Bitwig Studio 5 now includes the new demo track “Hey Now” by rising South African producer Chee. This session shows what a finalized track in Bitwig Studio 5 should look like, showcasing interesting sound design, clever use of Bitwig devices, and an overall great track.

Looking to dive even deeper into these recent updates? You’ll also be able to download the latest Sound Pack “Freeform” for free, which showcases the MSEG-focused concept of turning any shape into sound. This pack features curves for the new MSEG devices, wavetables for the Wavetable LFO, presets for instruments and effects, and note / audio clips.

Ready to try these updates to Bitwig Studio for yourself?

In yet another update, Bitwig Studio 5 continues to expand its dense collection of features and workflows. In addition to all of these new tools, Bitwig Studio still comes packed with over 90 different instruments, audio and note effects, container devices, signal routers, presets and sounds, a modular sound design environment, straightforward hardware integration, and so much more. All that’s left is for you to put all of this together in your next track…

Try Bitwig Studio free for 14 days, and then Rent-to-Own it for $15.99/mo until you own it outright. Comes with a free year of updates as part of your lease:

October 17, 2023