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HBF’s Tech Round-up: BitWig Studio, Blue ll, Akai’s Rhythm Wolf, MetaFilter

It’s time for our monthly tech round-up from our resident tech guru, James Trigo. This month’s edition features Bitwig’s new DAW, Rob Papen’s synth plugin Blue II, Akai’s Rhythm Wolf and Waves’ new filter plugin, MetaFilter.

Convincing people to switch from their current DAW is going to take something quite special, but German based company Bitwig is attempting just that with their new software release, Bitwig Studio. Supported on Windows, OSX and Linux, Bitwig Studio has a touch of Ableton about it, due in part to some x-Ableton guys involved in the development. It borrows features such as clip and arrangement view, only with Bitwig both can be viewed on the same screen as apposed to needing a second monitor. As well as time-stretching, MIDI controller support and plenty of bundled effects and devices such as Polysynth, FM-4, Mid/Side splitter, and a multiband reverb, the software has a nice way of being able to modulate almost any internal devices parameter as well as 3rd party VSTs. Available from the Bitwig website from £259.99, only time will tell if it’s got what it takes.

Almost 10 years since it was first released, Rob Papen’s synth plugin Blue is now ready for the follow up, Blue ll. As with most Rob Papen products you get a lot of synth for your money, dubbed ‘Cross-fusion synthesis’ due to it’s mix of FM, subtractive and wave shaping synthesis Blue ll includes, 6 oscillators, 27 different filter types, sequencer, arpeggiator and 35 different effects to choose from. As with many of these softsynth powerhouses the interfaces can be pretty daunting, Blue ll is supposed to of made this more intuitive but download a demo and see for yourself. Available now from the Rob Papen site for €149.

http://www.robpapen.com/blue2.html

With the sub £300 analogue hardware market heating up in recent months, Akai don’t want to be left of out of the party by recently announcing their new drum machine/bass synth, the Rhythm Wolf. Providing 5 basic drum sounds, kick, snare, open hat, closed hat and metallic percussion, each drum sound can be shaped by tuning, amplitude envelope or volume. It’s also kitted out with six pads, a built-in 32 step sequencer and swing function. The bass synth has switchable sawtooth or square oscillators with filter envelope and can connect via either USB or MIDI. A gate trigger gives you the option to use the Wolf with your old synths and thankfully the hardware has dedicated outputs for both drums and bass sections, making it more usable in the studio. At an estimated $199, summer can’t come soon enough.

Last up is Waves new filter plugin, MetaFilter. Powered by Waves’ Virtual Voltage technology the device is a kind of uber filter with 3 separate modulators that can control cutoff, resonance and delay time. A 16-step sequencer, LFO, envelope follower and side-chaining option offers plenty of ways to modulate your audio, and once mapped the plug-in can be controlled from a MIDI device, so there’s lots of options for using it live and in the studio. It’s available from the Waves site for $200 but if you get there quick it’s on for an introductory price of $99.

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