Blah blah, more holiday greetings, oh and — yay, some software asking for an update. But lo, a miracle – this one is just there to give you a free vocoder.

Yes, I have to admit at first I was annoyed by a YouTube video that was just telling me “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” (Feiertage is the somewhat neutral German term if you want the holiday, right? Not to start a War on Christmas or anything.) And I also swatted at the update notification when I launched Bitwig Studio, swapping as I do between different DAWs, because updates – bah, humbug.

But Bitwig actually has a very cool vocoder in this release. And… that’s it. They’re just giving it to you, automatically in the update, one small enough (183M) I downloaded it over my phone in the studio. This is how it should be, no?

It’s 3.1.1 we’re talking about, hot on the heels of microtuning-enabled, enhanced version 3.1 which just came out of beta.

It’s also relevant that this is an internal vocoder, because it can then take advantage of integration with Bitwig’s own routing for modulation, audio, and pitch – the thing that tends to make using plug-in vocoders annoying.

I just downloaded it, plugged it in on a track and – oh yeah, this thing works right away (even auto-routing carrier/modulator) and sounds utterly brutal on percussion at 8 bands.

From the release notes:

  • Chains for both the Modulator (signal analyzed; defaults to device’s audio input) and the Carrier (signal filtered with the Modulator’s spectrum).
  • Simply add the Audio Receiver or Note Receiver devices into the chains to configure routing as you please.
  • Formant and Brightness adjustments, to twist and skew the spectrum.
  • Between 8 and 80 bands for each section, and the option to go full stereo.
  • Slope and Bandwidth controls, for band-pass tuning.
  • Attack and Release times for the envelope followers, plus a Freeze toggle to hold modulator levels.
  • Default preset with noise as carrier, and 20 more presets.

People already like it; here’s Polarity Music with a tutorial:

I am pleased. This is a ton of stuff to play with to avoid any seasonal depression.

And kudos to all my neighboring Berlin-based software and hardware engineers and support staff, working for makers big and small. It’s been at times a very strange year here in the German capital, but also I really appreciate the work everyone does. Gluhwein on me.

Bitwig Studio 3.1