NAMM 2019 HANDS-ON: Bitwig Studio 3’s Grid is a winner for modular beginners and experts

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NAMM 2019: Already known for its patchable approach to music creation, Bitwig Studio’s version 3 sees the arrival of a fully modular environment in the vein of Reaktor: The Grid. Bitwig gave us an exclusive hands-on demo on the show floor of this year’s NAMM Show.

Three types of The Grid are available: a poly version for creating polyphonic instruments; a mono version for single-note leads, bass and FX; and a signal-processing FX version.

Load one up on an appropriate track, and the main Bitwig Studio interface is populated with the entire grid. A basic, ready-patched example loads up - in our demo, an oscillator into a filter into an amp. This is especially handy, as it helps you instantly get to grips with the way that Grid devices are patched. 

At the top of The Grid sits a categorised menu containing over a hundred individual modules. Click through the categories, and mini icons of the modules appear. Drag down a module onto The Grid to load it in. With a bevy of modules - including oscillators, signal processors, modulators, control signals and much more - the list covers every component you’d expect in a fully-stocked modular system. 

Dropping a module over an existing one replaces it, with relative module settings left intact. Handy indeed. Bitwigs tell us that The Grid’s ease of use is a priority, and this becomes apparent when you disconnect or delete a module. The remaining components instantly patch themselves back together, so you’re never left with silence. Again, very useful.

In true Bitwig fashion, signals can be piped in and out of the system from elsewhere in the DAW, and shuttled in and out of CV systems when using a DC-coupled audio interface. And, of course, you can get Bitwig’s Modulators involved in the action for some proper mind-bending modulation fun.

We were left impressed by The Grid. For a novice looking to get started with modular synthesis, this could be the most intuitive and enjoyable learning platform in software, while modular experts will have no problem building their own synths and signal processors. We legitimately can’t wait to get to grips with Bitwig v3, which the company says will drop in Q2 of 2019.

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NAMM 2019 - all the news

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