NAMM 2023: Bitwig Studio 5 is alive - the creative DAW is now a modulating monster

NAMM 2023: Bitwig has announced Studio 5, the latest version of the DAW that should possibly be even more people's first choice of music production application than it already is.

Better still, the company has neatly packaged all of these updates into five main areas – pure coincidence, we feel. There's an all-new browser, modulators added to the mixer, Remote Controls on the track and project, new clip launcher features and, perhaps most importantly, additional MSEGs (Multi-Stage Envelope Generators). 

Like the best things in music production, MSEGs (pronounced 'm-seg') are a little hard to understand, but actually easy if you just think of them as different ways to modulate. They enable you to create custom envelope or automation shapes, loop patterns in different ways and, according to Bitwig, to do "just about anything else". 

With version 5 of Studio, you get five (that number again) MSEGs: Segments sounds like the ultimate envelope shaper, and can be applied to any parameter with different ways to loop; Curves is all about creating geometric patterns and triggering beats as a "unique LFO"; Scrawl is a 'draw your own oscillator' for Studio's The Grid and Bitwig's Polymer synth; Slopes is a pattern sequencer for The Grid; and finally, Transfer is a waveshaper for transforming incoming signals in The Grid.

The modulation theme continues with more control over Studio's mixer - now the software's 40+ modulators can grab anything on the mixer and tracks within it. Should you wish, then, one LFO can modulate every device on a track and the mixer parameters – panning, volume and so on – as well. (We're not quite sure how useful that example is, but maybe there's a whole new strand of Berlin techno going to appear because of this feature alone.) 

Next up – and we're still only three of the big five in - are updates to Studio's clip launching. Instead of just launching one clip or a series, and then another, you can now select alternate launching and even release modes. This enables you to change time signatures, return to previously played clips, alter the legato and make use of other options that all make a project performance that much more flexible and less rigid. 

Remote controls on tracks and projects looks like being yet another way to modulate stuff on individual tracks as you can now more easily create custom templates for what is controlled by your modulators, per track. It's an additional feature that says to us that Studio has become the modulating monster of DAWs. 

Finally - phew - the browsers in Studio have been updated to basically let users get to whatever they need - plugins, presets, wavetables and so on - faster by improving search and navigation options. 

We think you'll agree that's an impressive, if perhaps complex, update to Studio and we'll have a review as soon as we can.

You can learn more about Bitwig Studio 5 on the Bitwig website. The software is currently in beta, and can be tested by anyone with a Bitwig Studio licence and an active Upgrade Plan. The official release is planned for Q2 this year, and will be a free upgrade for all licence holders with an active Upgrade Plan at time of announcement

Get more of the latest NAMM news from our NAMM 2023 main page.

Andy Jones

Andy has been writing about music production and technology for 30 years having started out on Music Technology magazine back in 1992. He has edited the magazines Future Music, Keyboard Review, MusicTech and Computer Music, which he helped launch back in 1998. He owns way too many synthesizers.

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