Today I learned that Bitwig Studio has an 8-track license, which I happened to get a hold of (there are occasional offerings and bundles it comes with, and I stumbled upon one of those).
Since Stimming uses it, I was more than a bit curious to check it out, and given I have been dabbling with Elementary, I decided to install the
flatpak for version 3 and try it out on my new Linux laptop.
That worked OK (with ALSA audio, by the way), but since the
flatpak was quite old I upgraded to version 4.0.1 (via
.deb packages) and spent a few hours playing around.
This is by no means a review, just a few notes and quick impressions:
- Touchscreen controls just worked (I will be trying this out on the Mac later, but thought it amusing that I quite like the interaction model on Linux).
- The UX is very smooth. I’m a Logic guy and have dabbled in Ableton, and it was easier to find my way around this than Ableton. Only niggle is that UI element control sizes are on the small side by default.
- I really like the effect stacking UX (which to me is one of Logic‘s current weak points, and the only thing that made me curious about Ableton). Zero trouble getting the hang of it, or the mixer, or any audio post-processing options I could reach.
- 8 tracks is an OK limitation for doodling, but I really wish I could use some of the built-in instruments from the 16-track and full versions.
This last bit was what stuck with me. I can browse through and audition what seems like most of the baseline built-in instruments and that makes for a great demo (and might be a good upsell strategy), but it is incredibly frustrating not to be able to use them in my tracks, especially given Apple’s current pace of near-monthly add-on releases1 for GarageBand.
All in all, this is worth a second look, and I will try it on my Mac after Summer break and see what I can do with some of my usual VSTs.
But it could be so much nicer if dabbling with the built-in synths was a real possiblitly. Feels like a missed opportunity to win people over.