Yes, you have our attention. LF-Ogling this one could raise an eyebrow or two.

We’ve been waiting for Bitwig betas to start to look like something that’s ready to use, and for Bitwig Studio to start to set itself apart from a certain, popular live performance / clip-launching DAW that’s made a few blocks away in Berlin. (Cough.)

But at last, it looks like that wait is over. Bitwig is performing tricks we haven’t really seen in this sort of tool before – and the complaints we’re hearing most from the ever-ornery Internet crowd has changed from “been there, done that” to “oh – we want in on this now.” (Maybe a good problem to have. Seriously, look at their Facebook page, though. People are getting … uh … antsy. Ah, the ever-friendly, ever-cheerful, ever-patient Internetz.)

First, let’s talk modulation. The latest video, at top, shows an active beta and has some of the most powerful, unique functionality we’ve seen yet. Ableton Live, Renoise, and others all feature some sort of Device Rack, and these are capable of basic routings and macro controls. But Bitwig extends the concept to endless modulation of anything, anywhere – assign an LFO, assign velocity, morph between controls, whatever. It’s the sort of modulation architecture you’re used to in many modern synths, but now available for the entire DAW.

Next, we’re hearing praise for Bitwig’s open API for controllers. While it’s possible to hack unique controls in something like Ableton Live, it tends to involve mucking about with Python scripts, and it isn’t easy to test. Livid Instruments earlier this month posted a video of some of their results with Bitwig — the same stuff they showed CDM at Musikmesse back in the spring, evolved. They caution that this isn’t something that they’re using as a musical demo, but it does show what’s possible with grid controllers – and they had kind words for how easy it was to use an “open and supported” scripting language.

Bitwig tells CDM that Native Instruments’ Maschine and Novation’s Launchpad are explicitly supported for step sequencers, but as Livid has shown, JavaScript opens that up to other hardware, too.

Finally, our friend Thavius Beck has been enjoying the beta enough to cook up a really lovely music set, slicing away with Bitwig Studio’s sample-dicing support.

Could you do this in another tool?

Absolutely. But we look forward to hearing from Thavius how the beta is going.

And all in all, this is the sort of competition we want in this space. While most development focus has kept to conventional DAWs, it’s great to see tools like Renoise and Bitwig Studio. As a great fan of Ableton Live and user of the tool from the beginning, I’m all the more eager for real rivalries and new ideas.

I’m really impressed with the direction I’ve seen Bitwig going. At this point, to me, it’s really about shipping. But rest assured, we’ll keep our tabs on those betas.