Spectral Suite is Bitwig’s first paid add-on for Bitwig Studio, focusing on sonic exploration in the frequency domain. It’s a nice-looking collection, and we’ve got a hands-on look from Mylar Melodies.
There are other plug-ins with a spectral display, so various tools that look like this. But take a look past the UI, and you have a uniquely balanced and complete set of effects here. In particular, while this is a paid add-on and not part of Studio proper, what you get is the ability to integrate these tools with a channel strip and continue with your effects chain inside the DAW – beyond just a crude filter or something you might normally use.
Each of the Spectral Suite uses a frequency domain analysis, then gives you additional channels of sound you can use with other Bitwig or third-party plug-ins.
Transient Split divides transients from tonal sounds.
Freq Split lets you distribute a sound across four channels, like a set of filter banks.
Loud Split very intuitively divides things up by “quiet, mid, and loud” sections.
Harmonic Split gives you two groups, with non-harmonic content in a third channel.
Let me say that again – apply any effects you want to any band/frequency/dynamic portion of a sound.
It’s really in keeping with Bitwig’s thoroughly modular approach because while other DAWs might give you a spectral delay, Bitwig effectively allows you to build your own – start with Freq Split and then add your delays as you wish.
It also reminds me of sophisticated studio techniques with a big bank of precise filters or processing hardware. So there aren’t any skeuomorphic dials, but imagine your own. (You could also go crazy with this as the front-end channel split for The Grid.)
Alex Theakston of Gear4music has done a wonderful demo of this – and you really need to hear it, not read about it. They wrote excitedly about the results; let’s watch – plenty of nice real-world examples here, too, to get you rolling:
Intro price is US$79, with bundles available if you’re due for an upgrade (or buying Bitwig Studio for the first time). There are a bunch of presets and clips included in the package.
The disappointing part of this, of course is – it is an add-on. And because it seems so logically integrated with the DAW, it’s a shame it’s not part of the existing Studio package; it makes Bitwig’s value offering less straightforward. I think the real question will be how that works going forward. Taking the obvious example, rRival Ableton Live with Suite has created a pricing tier that is fairly hefty – compared to the ability to use The Grid in the standard Bitwig Studio. But to me, is it worth an additional $79, if Bitwig Studio is your main DAW? Probably. And as a counter-argument, it’s great having the instant gratification – no subscription, no big suite to buy.
I had a chat with Alex about this and I agree with their take. We’ve seen other tools taking this approach – think SplitEQ and Physion MKII, Kilohearts Multipass, and other spectral and multiband tools. But the ability to do this in the DAW, get output channels, and then use whatever processing you want – now that’s really clever. (You could even use this to take sound content from your Bitwig Studio project and route to external desktop or modular gear.)
Closer-up with the UIs: