FAQ: Is Bitwig 32 or 64 Bit? And what about Plugins? And... Here is how it all works

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5709 posts since 9 Dec, 2008 from Berlin

Post Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:55 pm

Since this seems to confuse people to no end and goes into endless tape-loops of urban legend: here comes the unofficial guide to understanding the deeper Bitness of Bitwig Studio:

There is only one version of Bitwig Studio and on Windows it is installed by default into Program Files (x86).

"But wait, this is 2015 and I totally need my DAW to be 64 Bit to do ze fat beatz!!!" PANIC MODE ON :hyper:

Yes, and you get it - Bitwig is clever, unusual and very very helpful:
The Bitwig Studio GUI is 32 Bit using Java. This makes cross platform development easier, the GUI does not benefit from 64 bit anyway (64 Bit mainly allows to use more memory, the performance gain is negligible) and the cool thing is, you only need one main executable.

"But this is not what you said, you said I get ze full 64 Bit dope"

The Bitwig Studio GUI process, when started, looks at your operating system:
If it is 32 Bit, it loads the 32 Bit Audio and Midi Engine.
If it is 64 Bit, it loads the 64 Bit Audio and Midi Engine, which allows you to use all the memory you have installed and and runs at full speed and maximum efficiency.
The audio and midi engine is where all the time and memory critical stuff happens.

If the audio engine is programmed in 32 or 64 Bit does NOT change the audio quality.
The internal audio resolution and quality is the same, not matter which engine is used!

"Oh, that's nice. So I don't have to worry about 32 vs. 64 Bit....
But what about Plugins? What bitness do they need to have for ze fat beatz?"

Again the Bitwig Studio devs came up with a great solution:
It simply does not matter, Bitwig can handle both.

But it get's even better:
In Preferences -> Plug-in Management you can select how plugins are handled.

"Each plug-in" is the safest mode. Each plugin, no matter if 32 or 64 Bit, is running in it's own little sandbox (you can see it in Taskmanager as "BitwigPluginHost..."). If a plugin crashes, only this one plugin crashes, no other plugin and not the application. The GUI then shows you buttons to restart the plugin.

"32/64 bit" is medium safe. All 32 Bit run in one sandbox together and all 64 Bit plugins run in another sandbox. If one 32 Bit plugin crashes, all 32 Bit plugins crash, but not the 64 Bit ones. Again you get a button to restart the plugin(s) that crashed. Since less sandboxes are running, you save a bit of resources.

"Only as bit-bridge" is optimized for performance, but not as secure. All plugins that have the same bit depth as your operating system run directly inside the audio engine without sandbox. Let's say you have a 64 Bit OS and a mixture of 32 and 64 Bit plugins installed. All the 64 Bit plugins run directly in the audio engine with this option selected. If one of those crashes, the whole audio engine crashes with it - but not the GUI, you can simply restart the audio engine (but of course audio playback will stop) - so this is how useful it is to have the GUI separate from the audio engine (see above).
All 32 Bit plugins in this case will run together in one sandbox and behave as in the mode before.

For the most common 4-core CPUs, the performance difference between those modes is very small or almost zero. Recently it was found though, that people with many cores may actually benefit from using "Each plugin", since it seems to spread the load more evenly.
So I would highly recommend loading one of your heavier projects and test, if "Each Plugin" or "Only as Bitbridge" gives you better performance (make sure to restart Bitwig after changing the setting).

"Not bad, but I really need all the performanze in ze world but also need this one crashy supperdupper plugin...."

Don't fear: below the three buttons for the sandboxing mode there is a list where you can set individual sandboxing for each plugin you have installed. So just set the checkbox for the plugins that uses to crash all the time...

" But I use this plugin that can talk to it's siblings and show the data from all of them, how do I get ze heavy beatz to zem?"

Use the third mode, "Only as bit-bridge" and make sure the plugins in question have the same bit depth as your OS, then they can talk to each other no problem since they all run inside the audio engine.

"Nonononono, this is all not good. I have read on ze interwebs that Java is bad and slow and and and and..... we're all doomed!"

This is one of those urban myths we are here to destroy: Java is just fine. It is a very good language in capable hands and the BWS devs are that. One of them even worked for Sun on developing the Java virtual machine (as I learned from his LinkedIn page) so you can assume he knows what he is doing.

Our friend Moss provided some links to back this up:
This is the programming languages top ten:
http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/soft ... -languages
Look who's number one... :-)
And if you want more beef check this in-depth myth buster article:
http://www.eduonix.com/blog/java-progra ... ogramming/

"But I don't want to install Java on my machine - it's bad and insecure"

You don't have to. Bitwig Studio comes with it's own Java virtual machine in a subfolder of the installation. So it does not matter if you have Java installed or what version. And since it's not generally installed, it's not available in your browser (which is the possible insecure part), only BWS can use it.

"But on OSX I get asked to install Java 6, which is old and deprecated and bad and..."

AFAIK this is a quirk of OSX, which seems to think that a Java program needs this old and obsolete thing (the last official Java version Apple supported).
It actually is NOT needed since BWS brings its own, but OSX has it's own ideas that Bitwig can do little about...

I hope this clears some things up a bit. :-)

Now back you go to do zome fat beatz!!! :phones: :party: :tu:


"Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there." - Rumi
ScreenDream|Thomas Helzle 8) Twitter

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Topic Starter

5709 posts since 9 Dec, 2008 from Berlin

Post Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:27 am

Some more info on performance:

- Bitwig does multithreading per track (like all DAWs AFAIK) so if you only have one track in your project but use a lot or very heavy plugins/devices, you may get very high DSP-meter load although only a part of your CPU is shown as busy in Task-Manager.
In this case you can try to spread the load on multiple tracks rather than layering plugins in one, or use effects in a send/effects track instead of in the same track as the instrument.
In such a case it can also help to enable the internal multithreading that some plugins offer, for instance Diva, Kontakt and some others. But always try it out, it may behave different in different projects.

- If you see funny things like a small project using more DSP power than a bigger one, that can either have the same reason as above, but it's also possible that your computer is throttling your CPU when the load is lower, so it's running at less MegaHerz and therefore uses more of the available cycles compared to when it's running at full speed, where more headroom is left.
Another such thing is automatic load balance that some power settings use, which can lead to the CPU constantly switching between different speeds which often leads to spikes or audio dropouts.
I would generally advise to use your computer at highest available performance settings and even disable the sleep mode (since many devices do not really wake up graciously from sleep).
If it's a laptop, make sure you plug it in and also disable all power savings and screensavers etc. that may disrupt your audio.

- As I wrote above, make also sure to test if the plugin setting "each plugin" or "only as bitbridge" performs better on your machine. It can make quite a difference, especially if you have many cores. Restart Bitwig between those tests, you can't change the parameter on the fly while the plugins are loaded.

Overall, Bitwig performs very well on a good machine, so if it doesn't for you, it may be a good idea to investigate.

I hope this helps!


"Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there." - Rumi
ScreenDream|Thomas Helzle 8) Twitter

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