Bitwig vs Ableton w/M4L

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swartzfeger
KVRist
121 posts since 18 Feb, 2011 from Pittsburgh

Post Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:10 pm

Hi all, new to Bitwig and loving it. I won’t go into all of the reasons for wanting to transition from Logic, but quickly — I’m mostly a guitarist, and realized that what I’m hearing in my head can’t (easily) be achieved in Logic. Logic’s EXS24 sampler is terrible, for starters. This led me to discover Ableton (more specifically, Ableton w/ Sampler + M4L).

This led me to discover Bitwig, and I got a copy of 8 Track which has been a revelation coming from Logic. Despite the irksome things that Bitwig lacks, it truly is fun once again to explore and create and sound design. Modulating is a blast and I can do 10x as much in 10x less time than I could in Logic via automation.

This led me back to comparing Bitwig to Ableton w/M4L. Looking into Max, everything I want to do is right there with devices/libraries. Things that would require half a dozen AUs and clunky automation in Logic (and still not quite nail) is right there with M4L.

For those that transitioned from Ableton to Bitwig, how much do you miss M4L? Are you able to duplicate most of what you want with chains in Bitwig?

I get most of the knocks on Ableton... the low contrast UI, the clip/arranger view, the other complaints etc.

But as far as practical day-to-day usability, can you honestly say you don’t miss M4L? Do differences between things like Resonator and Resonator Bank cause you fits or have you adapted your workflow with little/no compromise?

I’m sort of torn on this... a full Bitwig license will cost me about as much as buying a used non-edu 10 Suite transfer, so the cost is a wash.

I love Bitwig’s modulation. And I’m beyond stoked for 3.0 and Grids, I can finally start to dive into the things I wanted to discover with VCV, but with all of Bitwig’s awesome features.

Another minor plus in favor of Bitwig — this is probably a year+ off, and may never happen, but I’d rather cut my arm off than never have to drop $$$ on another MBP and ditch Apple after almost 30 years (I thought I’d never say this or get to this point). The fact that, if I find an interface to replace my Apogee that’s comparable and will run on Linux has me pretty buzzed that I could run Bitwig too.

On the flip side, I’d be happy as a pig in mud with M4L. Part of me is tempted to get a used license for $300, call it a day and start diving into M4L.

Any thoughts, opinions, experiences etc are appreciated. Bitwig has a $100 off Waves special until March 24 so I’m probably going to pull the trigger either way before then.

Thanks!

brownerthanu
KVRist
286 posts since 11 Dec, 2002 from Los Angeles

Re: Bitwig vs Ableton w/M4L

Post Sat Mar 16, 2019 2:49 am

Ableton with M4L is very powerful. I’ve used it a ton and like it. But I love the relative simplicity of Bitwig. For me it’s faster and more fun. I don’t need all of the insane power of M4L. I just want to quickly throw modulators on everything. It’s the right amount of complexity for me.

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antic604
KVRAF
2035 posts since 4 Jan, 2017 from Warsaw, Poland

Re: Bitwig vs Ableton w/M4L

Post Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:52 am

Live + M4L is more powerful, likely more than Bitwig 3.0 with The Grid.
But Bitwig is more fun, more inviting and much faster to set up complex chains.

Like @brownerthanu said - it's the right amount of complexity for most people, but not for all. Think which group you're in :)
Bitwig 2 // Reason 10 // Cubase Pro 10 @ Surface Pro 4
my music - https://soundcloud.com/antic604
other stuff - Psytrance in Bitwig Studio tutorial

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Tj Shredder
KVRAF
2018 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: Bitwig vs Ableton w/M4L

Post Sat Mar 16, 2019 4:02 am

I can‘t have it complex enough and free enough. I don‘t miss M4L at all, never owned Live, but I own Max/MSP for decades. I could send audio and Midi back and forth via Dante or Soundflower... - but I rarely do it. Bitwig and Max are completely different mind sets and lead to completely different results and that is good as it is...

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pdxindy
KVRAF
14952 posts since 3 Feb, 2005 from in the wilds

Re: Bitwig vs Ableton w/M4L

Post Sat Mar 16, 2019 6:11 am

I was a Live user from well before M4L ever showed up through 9.X. I did not upgrade to Live 10 so my experiences are through the end of the v9 cycle.

I have no interest in learning how to build stuff in Max. Max or M4L is way too complicated for my interests. So I was strictly a user of existing devices, whether included or from the user library. Regarding the user library, it was an annoying time suck. Lots of the devices there are not up to date, are buggy or basically a work in progress that never was finished. There is no management of it. It is up to the user to spend their time figuring all that out.

M4L is also just an add-on. It is not an integrated part of Live. It shows... it uses a fair bit of cpu and it cannot do anything about the basic limitations of Live and it allows Ableton to not attend to some basics in the core application because smart users figure out ways around them with M4L.

In general, I found M4L unreliable. I had frequent crashes when using it more than just a bit, even when only using Ableton included devices. So much so that I finally pretty much stopped using it. Ableton Live by itself was really solid when not using M4L. I found it frustrating that I was forced to use M4L just to have a basic LFO. So not only do I not miss M4L, I was glad to be rid of it.

Bitwig is far more elegant. The Grid appears to be a level of complexity that I will actually use it. The Grid is also an integrated part of Bitwig and not an entirely separate environment with a whole new logic to learn and remember. There is no need to use it to be able to do modulations.

stash98
KVRian
754 posts since 16 Feb, 2005 from tittyland

Re: Bitwig vs Ableton w/M4L

Post Sat Mar 16, 2019 7:27 am

There’s some M4L stuff that I really liked. Euclidean rhythm generators for one. But I mainly used it’s LFO plugin, and Bitwig’s is so much better than that.

mholloway
KVRian
1052 posts since 11 Jan, 2009 from Portland, OR, USA

Re: Bitwig vs Ableton w/M4L

Post Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:05 am

pdxindy wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 6:11 am
I was a Live user from well before M4L ever showed up through 9.X. I did not upgrade to Live 10 so my experiences are through the end of the v9 cycle.

I have no interest in learning how to build stuff in Max. Max or M4L is way too complicated for my interests. So I was strictly a user of existing devices, whether included or from the user library. Regarding the user library, it was an annoying time suck. Lots of the devices there are not up to date, are buggy or basically a work in progress that never was finished. There is no management of it. It is up to the user to spend their time figuring all that out.

M4L is also just an add-on. It is not an integrated part of Live. It shows... it uses a fair bit of cpu and it cannot do anything about the basic limitations of Live and it allows Ableton to not attend to some basics in the core application because smart users figure out ways around them with M4L.

In general, I found M4L unreliable. I had frequent crashes when using it more than just a bit, even when only using Ableton included devices. So much so that I finally pretty much stopped using it. Ableton Live by itself was really solid when not using M4L. I found it frustrating that I was forced to use M4L just to have a basic LFO. So not only do I not miss M4L, I was glad to be rid of it.

Bitwig is far more elegant. The Grid appears to be a level of complexity that I will actually use it. The Grid is also an integrated part of Bitwig and not an entirely separate environment with a whole new logic to learn and remember. There is no need to use it to be able to do modulations.
Hate to say it but I totally agree with the above assessment of M4L, every single part.
It's the sort of thing you WANT to love, but it just never happens. It's janky as hell. Live 10 *did* add improvements with integration, it's worth noting because it makes loading of M4L devices faster and they feel more "integrated' into the normal Live program. But it's still janky, imo. The UI's vary wildly, scrolling the device bar makes the (max) UI's flip out and blink rapidly, and....well yeah. It's just kind of a messy, overcomplicated playground.

BWS approach to modulation and (hopefully) the upcoming grid is much more elegant, for sure.
www.dwifh.com - old-school industrial music by DEAD WHEN I FOUND HER

Biscotto
KVRist
198 posts since 29 Jun, 2009

Re: Bitwig vs Ableton w/M4L

Post Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:33 am

I moved to BWS from Live.
But M4L is extremely powerful.
I would not listen anyone here including me when it comes to personal preference.

I still use Studio One to finish my work....

You must absolutely experience the difference between DAWs, if you can, and think if some of the “enthusiastic” statements have any values whatsoever when it comes to the real world of the user needs and chemistry with a software and it usually develops and crystallize only after long time of working with it and “your” music.

I spent countless hours in demo mode and never paid attention to anyone but me and my music world.
If Live gets a particular edge beneficial to me I’ll use it again without hesitation.

Tools are just tools.
Bitwig - Omnisphere - u-he - Reaktor

Taika-Kim
KVRian
958 posts since 15 May, 2002 from Finland

Re: Bitwig vs Ableton w/M4L

Post Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:55 am

Bitwig is great, and Ableton is great too. Pick one, learn the depths of it and do some music.

Many people, guys especially often for some reason, are obsessed with finding the "best" choice for things, and spend inordinate amounts of energy fretting over these imaginary oppositions and hierarchies.

I'm not sure where this comes from. Does the availability of choice cause anxiety and a fear of missing out, so people try to manage this by narrowing their opinion to one choice only and creating a narrative where they see this as the best and most correct choice?

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antic604
KVRAF
2035 posts since 4 Jan, 2017 from Warsaw, Poland

Re: Bitwig vs Ableton w/M4L

Post Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:46 am

Taika-Kim wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:55 am
Many people, guys especially often for some reason, are obsessed with finding the "best" choice for things, and spend inordinate amounts of energy fretting over these imaginary oppositions and hierarchies.

I'm not sure where this comes from.
How is that any different from being a fan of sports team/club, fan of music band or car brand, etc? We - as men - want to belong to a group and want "our" group to be the best.
Bitwig 2 // Reason 10 // Cubase Pro 10 @ Surface Pro 4
my music - https://soundcloud.com/antic604
other stuff - Psytrance in Bitwig Studio tutorial

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lunardigs
KVRist
333 posts since 6 Jun, 2016 from Austin, Texas

Re: Bitwig vs Ableton w/M4L

Post Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:35 pm

Taika-Kim wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:55 am
... Many people, guys especially often for some reason, are obsessed with finding the "best" choice for things, and spend inordinate amounts of energy fretting over these imaginary oppositions and hierarchies.
Hah! I think this is true for the most part.
I get into these discussions with other musicians all the time. For me, I ask aloud 'what is this thing we're doing called music--what's the meaning of it?' Of course, the answer are all over the map. I don't think anyone really knows.
Yet, I do know my perspective of music has changed substantially from when I was kid. It's become far more technical, for one. This of course can become a giant distraction from what I'm really after. Like anything though, it's a double-edged sword.

fold4
KVRist
39 posts since 2 Jan, 2019

Re: Bitwig vs Ableton w/M4L

Post Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:49 pm

antic604 wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:46 am
Taika-Kim wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:55 am
Many people, guys especially often for some reason, are obsessed with finding the "best" choice for things, and spend inordinate amounts of energy fretting over these imaginary oppositions and hierarchies.

I'm not sure where this comes from.
How is that any different from being a fan of sports team/club, fan of music band or car brand, etc? We - as men - want to belong to a group and want "our" group to be the best.
It's not different. All of these are based more in emotion than logic (well, it's possible to be a fan of a particular car brand for practical reasons, it's just not common, in my experience.) None are necessarily bad unless they're presented as logical.

I think the point, with which I agree (and expect you do also,) is that there is no objective best. There's what's best for you.

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JHernandez
KVRist
397 posts since 7 Dec, 2017

Re: Bitwig vs Ableton w/M4L

Post Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:52 pm

I don't know, I see women fretting over the best X too. People in general. There's a market for people that want the latest and best styles, electronic/gadgets, creams, makeup, name brands, ect. People line up for blocks and or stay overnight to get the "best" deals or latest iPhones, for example.

I think it's just a human thing. Some people want the best, others just settle for less. The X and what it means to any given person usually determines the effort.
-JH

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antic604
KVRAF
2035 posts since 4 Jan, 2017 from Warsaw, Poland

Re: Bitwig vs Ableton w/M4L

Post Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:55 pm

fold4 wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 12:49 pm
I think the point, with which I agree (and expect you do also) is that there is no objective best. There's what's best for you.
Yes, that's what I meant :hug:
Bitwig 2 // Reason 10 // Cubase Pro 10 @ Surface Pro 4
my music - https://soundcloud.com/antic604
other stuff - Psytrance in Bitwig Studio tutorial

fold4
KVRist
39 posts since 2 Jan, 2019

Re: Bitwig vs Ableton w/M4L

Post Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:08 pm

Regarding what's been said about Max For Live being unreliable, unstable, etc. This has not been my experience. Not even a little bit.

The level of complexity at which you use Max is up to you.

I think it's perfectly possible to just use third party Max creations, you don't need to build your own. Though it was cool to be able to fix a bug in someone else's creation by opening it up and figuring out what it was doing wrong! Still, I don't know if I'll ever build something from scratch.

Once The Grid is released to the general public I expect you'll find people making things and sharing/selling them just as with Max For Live.

I do agree that the M4L user library is iffy. A lot of half finished ideas. Some amazing commercial packages, though.

I am not really the target audience for the original question, not having transitioned from Live to Bitwig. I'm not convinced The Grid will be able to do everything Max can. It seems unlikely since Max goes way beyond modulation or modular synth/effect creation. Unless you can program logic inside The Grid there will be things I use Max for that cannot be replicated.

For me Live is fun to use. I don't come up against the pain points others complain about, or when I do they affect me less. This doesn't make their complaints and issues invalid.

Bitwig may yet win me over, make me get over what I'll lose by not having Max. I've only just recently got it. The future is undecided.

You don't have to be in a hurry. As I recall these $100 off sales happen 2 or 3 times per year (more often than you'll get a sale on Live, for sure.) But if Bitwig is working for you and you're not yet actively using something in M4L which Bitwig can't now and possibly won't in the future allow you to do, I don't think you can go wrong giving it a serious try. Choosing Live because maybe in the future you'll want to use Max for something you can't do without it doesn't seem like the best way to decide.

Choose the one you like best right now, the one that lets you do what you currently want to do. You can always switch later if you change your mind. You may lose a little money selling the one second hand. Think of it as money spent doing something you enjoyed.

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