spatial audio in Bitwig

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bananaplug
KVRer
2 posts since 29 Jun, 2018

Post Fri Jun 29, 2018 4:48 am

Hi there,
I'm interested in getting into Bitwig but first just wanted to check how possible / straight forward it is to work with audio spatialization and multichannel panning etc? I need to be able to work with around 10 discreet channels for an upcoming project. The only thing I found on the website was mention of a surround sound tutorial by Thomas Helzle but unfortunately both the links seem to be dead. .
many thanks !

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mgw38
KVRian
1283 posts since 26 Jul, 2015 from Philadelphia

Re: spatial audio in Bitwig

Post Fri Jun 29, 2018 4:50 am

Afaik Bitwig only does stereo tracks.

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Tj Shredder
KVRAF
2010 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: spatial audio in Bitwig

Post Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:10 am

bananaplug wrote:The only thing I found on the website was mention of a surround sound tutorial by Thomas Helzle but unfortunately both the links seem to be dead. .
many thanks !
You will find it here:

https://www.screendream.de/code/toms-surround-panner/

SLiC
KVRAF
3255 posts since 2 Dec, 2004 from North Wales

Re: spatial audio in Bitwig

Post Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:54 am

Tj Shredder wrote:
bananaplug wrote:The only thing I found on the website was mention of a surround sound tutorial by Thomas Helzle but unfortunately both the links seem to be dead. .
many thanks !
You will find it here:

https://www.screendream.de/code/toms-surround-panner/
Thats really very useful;- things like this should be linked from the bitwig site!
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bananaplug
KVRer
2 posts since 29 Jun, 2018

Re: spatial audio in Bitwig

Post Fri Jun 29, 2018 6:25 pm

Ok thanks for the replies and updated link. yeah a shame more channels are note supported natively, I've really been enjoying playing around with the demo but unfortunately that's a bit of a deal breaker for me . Wonder if it's something likely to be supported in future releases? Will have to keep checking back .

Highlife
KVRer
1 posts since 14 Sep, 2004

Re: spatial audio in Bitwig

Post Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:31 am

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Is there any news to this feature request? I also would like to work with spatial audio in Bitwig.

Unfortunately, the original link is broken (https://www.screendream.de/code/toms-surround-panner/ (https://www.screendream.de/code/toms-surround-panner/)).

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ThomasHelzle
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5279 posts since 9 Dec, 2008 from Berlin

Re: spatial audio in Bitwig

Post Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:36 am

I took my blog down due to the EU privacy laws - it would have been just too much work to make it all compliant and my tutorials were mostly rather outdated anyway.

The situation is like this:

Bitwig can only do Stereo Tracks.
So all the Ambisonic stuff needing lots of channels per track is pretty much out of the question.
If you want to do this, I would recommend Reaper and the APK toolkit.
As a spatial visualiser I use Waves NX.
It really is the only thing ever I use Reaper (and Waves) for... ;-)

But.

If you are okay with 4.0/5.1 Surround and are willing to deal with some slight inconveniences, it works very well.
I do everything I do in BWS in quadrophonic surround or 5.1 and find it very easy.

The basic principle is this:

- You create one Grouptrack in which you put all your instrument-, audio- and effect tracks.
- At the end of each device chain you have a panner which consists of a FX-Layer device that uses it's Sends to route the audio to the basically 4/5 surround channels on the global level (more on this in the next post).

- On the global level - and this is the trick that makes it all work - you use 3 main effect tracks to send your audio directly to your outputs. The first is "Front", the second is "Center/LFE" and the third is "Rear" (that is the Windows-order of channels).

- The master is unused.

- The cool thing about Bitwig Groups is, that they can have their own private effect tracks that all other tracks in the group can send to - and these effect tracks can send to the global effect tracks that I use as outputs.

So in effect, I use the Send-Return system of the Group Tracks for routing my channels.

That is the basics, I'll go make some screenshots and continue in a later post.

Cheers,

Tom
"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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ThomasHelzle
KVRAF
5279 posts since 9 Dec, 2008 from Berlin

Re: spatial audio in Bitwig

Post Fri Dec 28, 2018 6:19 am

So here we go:

First the Track Structure:

Image

As you can see, the surrounding (every pun intended :tu: ) Group Track called "Surround Master Group" is not used for anything other than grouping and all the sub-tracks have no output either.
All of that is handled by the sends we'll see later.
The important thing is, that all the green (Intrument) and yellow (Audio) tracks can send to the blue (Effects) tracks AND to the global Effect tracks.

The Global Effect Tracks:

Image

So these are the global "Returns" or Effect tracks as they are called in BWS.
The first red one receives the left and right channel for the front pair, the fifth green one receives left and right for the rear pair.
For convenience I split off the Center and Sub, so I can put additional filters etc. in there, then pan them hard left/right and set the output of that effect track to the combined "Center & LFE" Effects track.

The additional "Binaural" track is a special case where I create a binaural signal from Front and Rear using Waves NX for my headphones.

The master is completely unused.

The Surround Panner:

Image

My first panner in BWS 1.x was rather limited and tedious to use, then I used a panner I created in Reaktor for a while, but with Reaktor on every track, things start to get heavy, so with BWS 2.x and it's brilliant modulators, I was able to put it all into one FX-Layer device.
Over the years this thing has grown into a rather versatile tool.

Basically it uses a Vector-8 modulator to position the sound source.
It is quite involved, since I wanted to be able to optionally have the Center included or not in the pan. It has an overall Master "Volume", a knob for "Mono-Stereo" which basically is the spread of the soundsource that will be positioned.
Everything else is for modulation of the position.
"LFO Rate" controls the speed of two LFOs with a phase offset that allow to move around in a circle. "LFO Depth" is the amplitude (which is always relative to the manual position of the yellow dot in the Vector 8 modulator).
The "Rnd" controls do the same for randomly meandering around and the "Step" controls allow to set specific positions in time with two step modulators.
The last row contains some intermediate helper modulators that aren't for the user to touch.

All this structure does it to distribute the audio to the three layers for Front, Center and Rear.

How that works I'll show in the next post.

Cheers,

Tom
"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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ThomasHelzle
KVRAF
5279 posts since 9 Dec, 2008 from Berlin

Re: spatial audio in Bitwig

Post Fri Dec 28, 2018 6:37 am

And on we go...

The Mixer:

Image

This is the core of how all of this works.
The layers of the panner in each track show up as sub-tracks in the mixer if you unfold the double-arrows.
Again, the main track fader isn't used.
Now here you can see how I "route" the audio for both effects and dry signals.

First the dry channels:
- In the Front sub-track I send to the "Front" and the "Sub" effect tracks/outputs on the global level (see above).
- In the Center sub-track (which I don't use much) I only send to the "Center" global effect track/output.
- In the Rear sub-track I send again to "Rear" and "Sub" of the global effect tracks I use as outputs.
- I create my sub on the fly from the front and rear channels, so this is all rather simple.

Now to the effects channels:
- In this case I send part of the signal also to the first group-effect-track called "Breeze2". This track in itself again has my panner on it and sends to the global sends the same way as we saw above.
I often use only one stereo reverb for front and rear and position it with the panner. For more sophisticated setups I would create two reverb tracks for front and rear and sent to them separately and would probably have their settings different.
But often I find one reverb enough.
Same with the other effects.

The way I implemented it now, the three faders for the sub-tracks are what I use for mixing. This is also the reason why I did not use them for the panner directly, since that made it rather hard to deal with them, when the automation of the panner was always moving them around.

And finally the Output:

Image

On export, you select those three channels and off you go... :-)

I use Audacity to combine them into multi-channel WAV or FLAC.
Since Bandcamp does not support surround sound, I put these into the bonus content for each album.

And that's basically it.

This system works perfectly for my needs for years and the more sophisticated BWS becomes, the easier things get.
The main breakthrough were groups and the idea with the sub-sends, before that, I had to do everything with audio receivers which was a major pain.
The modifiers in 2.x were another major step forward.
Next stop: Full modular environment please! :tu: :D

I would of course not recommend it for major Hollywood productions but for "normal" surround it is a pleasure to work with.

Here's my default template:
http://screendream.de/work/Bitwig/Toms% ... mplate.zip
You will of course have to set all the outputs in the global effects tracks to the corresponding channels of your soundcard for Front, Center & LFE and Rear.
And just replace the effects with whatever you use.
The Binaural output track needs Plogue Bidule and Waves NX, if you don't have/need that, just delete it and save your own version of the template once your done.

Cheers,

Tom
"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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Tj Shredder
KVRAF
2010 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: spatial audio in Bitwig

Post Sun Dec 30, 2018 9:48 am

Thanks a lot!

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shadiradio
KVRist
445 posts since 28 Mar, 2014 from Los Angeles, CA

Re: spatial audio in Bitwig

Post Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:52 pm

Thanks Thomas - I guess I'll continue to use Reaper where I have to (ambisonics, podcast & dialog editing) until BWS covers some more bases. There's no way I can enjoy using anything other than Bitwig for music composition now though.

equinoxide
KVRist
158 posts since 17 Jul, 2015

Re: spatial audio in Bitwig

Post Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:04 am

shadiradio wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:52 pm
Thanks Thomas - I guess I'll continue to use Reaper where I have to (ambisonics, podcast & dialog editing) until BWS covers some more bases. There's no way I can enjoy using anything other than Bitwig for music composition now though.
What advantages does Reaper offer for podcast editing? Audio editing in Bitwig is a treat imo so just curious as im getting into podcast editing.

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mgw38
KVRian
1283 posts since 26 Jul, 2015 from Philadelphia

Re: spatial audio in Bitwig

Post Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:44 am

If you are doing Ambisonics, I recommend looking into Cubase 10. It has native Ambisonics support meaning that it does not just provides 16-channel tracks like Reaper, but it actually understands the Ambisonics audio format.

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shadiradio
KVRist
445 posts since 28 Mar, 2014 from Los Angeles, CA

Re: spatial audio in Bitwig

Post Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:54 am

equinoxide wrote:
Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:04 am
What advantages does Reaper offer for podcast editing? Audio editing in Bitwig is a treat imo so just curious as im getting into podcast editing.
I agree for most things, working in Bitwig is a treat. I made a little gif of some things I can't live without when editing long form linear stuff (dialog, podcasts, etc). The comping example is a little weird because I left the track height small, and it's not a real example, but you get the idea.

Image
  • Fast ripple editing (essential for timing)
  • Crossfades on clip overlap (Bitwig is light years ahead in so many workflow areas, and I have no idea how they somehow managed to make fades more tedious than almost every other DAW)
  • Easy time stretching of clips (Bitwig has this, but you have to do it by modifying tempo in the inspector, ultra tedious)
  • Easy clip gain (same, have to use inspector)
  • Comping (useful for dialog, incredibly useful for music)
  • Per-clip FX slots (I don't show an example, but it works as you imagine)
  • Edit in external audio editor (I don't show this in the example, but you can specify an editor for destructive audio editing, and bounce back and forth between that and Reaper). I don't even have a workaround in Bitwig, because it doesn't let go of the file handles while it's open, so you can't open the source files it's using without quitting Bitwig. In the gif, when Reaper's in the background you can see the clips say "offline" because it lets go of them. You can edit the wavs, tab back, and they instantly reload/activate.

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shadiradio
KVRist
445 posts since 28 Mar, 2014 from Los Angeles, CA

Re: spatial audio in Bitwig

Post Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:55 am

mgw38 wrote:
Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:44 am
If you are doing Ambisonics, I recommend looking into Cubase 10. It has native Ambisonics support meaning that it does not just provides 16-channel tracks like Reaper, but it actually understands the Ambisonics audio format.
Thanks, that's great to know for potential future projects (especially if I work on some VR games in Unity, which also natively supports ambix sound sources).

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