The Livid Base and Bitwig Studio
Bitwig is now available and included in the release are some pretty in-depth scripts for Livid’s current range of controllers.
Here I’m going to talk through the integration of the Livid Base with Bitwig Studio. I’ve had this controller throughout the beta testing and as such have seen its integration into Bitwig Studio grow over the past year, to the point were it now takes centre stage in both my compositional and performance work.
The way the Base integrates with Bitwig Studio is somewhat similar to how the push works with Ableton Live; you can launch clips; adjust track volume and send levels; sequence and play instruments and control Bitwig’s ‘devices’. These modes are split across four pages: clips, sends and returns, device and instrument. On top of this each page has a ‘shifted’ page allowing you to access more controls.
First though a look at the hardware itself. This is a really well-built controller with a fair bit of weight to it when you consider its size. It has a metal body with a plastic faceplate, overall it feels really rugged and as though it can take a bit of a beating. Further more the lack of any moving parts on this controller means there’s less to physically damage while also making it really easy to transport.. In terms of controls there are 8 digital touch faders +1 master fader; 8 touch buttons, 8 function buttons and a grid of 32 velocity sensitive pads. All controls feature RGB LEDs which provide a good amount of feedback and certainly enable the controller to work as well as it does in tandem with Bitwig Studio.
The first page you’ll be presented with is the clip page, accessed by pressing function button 1, this works much as you’d expect and anyone familiar with either the Ableton Push or Novation Launchpad will feel right at home here. For those of you who haven’t previously used a grid controller for clip launching, this mode allows you to play and record ‘clips’, these can either be loops or one shots and both midi and audio can be used, of course in Bitwig Studio you can also combine these and use hybrid tracks. It is also possible to launch scenes (multiple clips) in this mode by holding down the one of the track select buttons, this will turn the far right column into scene launch. Of course you will more than likely have more than 8 tracks so function buttons 5-8 act as your navigation buttons when in this mode. It’s also worth pointing out that the master fader remains as the far right (green) fader across all pages.
As with all modes there is also a ‘shift’ page when in clip mode. To access a shift page you simply hold down the function page of whichever page you want to shift . . . simple. Once on the shift clip page you are able to stop clips, and solo/mute/record arm tracks. The faders remain as track level control.
Navigating to page two you will find the sends page. Not much changes on this page other than the faders now give you control over send amount and send volume/return. The track select still acts in the same way as in clip page, however the main pad display will differ depending on whether an audio or midi track is selected. If an audio track is selected the pad bank will act once again as a clip launcher. If a midi track is selected you will get either two blocks of 16 pads (pictured) for drums or a scaled keyboard as per the device page and function buttons 5-8 will act as launch clip, create clip and clip up/ down.
There are two shift modes when in sends mode, shifting will allow you to make momentary assignments for the top buttons and the pads – shifting in this mode is also dependant on whether an audio or midi track is selected. If a midi track is selected then holding down function button 2 will allow you to select the scale and root note of the pads, as well as being able to set the vehicle offset of the pads. Still further automation recording and record overdub are also accessible. The second midi shift mode can be accessed by holding down a track select button, this will once again bring about the clip & scene launching page. If an audio track is selected then shifting using function button two will once again bring up the solo, mute, arm and stop clip page. Shifting using the track select buttons will change the faders back to volume control.
Page three is ‘Device Control’. This allows for control over Bitwig Studios many devices – both instruments and effects can be controlled in this mode. The pads will either give you a scaled keyboard, as pictured below, or two octaves of drum banks. Buttons 5-8 are as they were in midi send and return mode. The faders give you control over various parameters within the devices.
The parameters are split into banks of 8 so, for example, the Polysynth has 10 control banks, each with 8 parameters, giving you a total of 80 controllable parameters. The Bitwig devices all have a ‘default’ bank giving you access to the most commonly used parameters. These can also be mapped to control third-party plugins.
Shifting in this mode is again dependant on whether a midi or audio track is currently selected. Thankfully the shifted pages, and ways of accessing them, are the same as in send/ return mode. the only difference being that, when shifted using function button two, function buttons 5-8 allow for navigation through devices and parameter banks.
All things considered, for me personally, this is the most capable controller for Bitwig in live situations but certainly also holds its own in the studio as well.
If you would like to order a Livid Base, we recommend ordering from Soundware
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