Ok, so technically I'm not leaving Live for Bitwig just yet, but since a week I'm a proud and happy owner of the letter (bought Live 9 Suite in Jan '17) and I gotta say I'm impressed by how well-integrated and cohesive it is compared to Live. Some of the features standing out are:
- hybrid tracks and bounce-in-place
- initially I only thought this will be useful for doing some complex off-line editing for segments of my otherwise MIDI tracks, but the side-effect of it is that I can use performance hungry VSTi-s and keep them as MIDI in Launcher, copy the clips to Arranger, bounce-in-place and they consume much less CPU; I know Live has freeze (& flatten) but it's great to be able to use it only for segments of the track - it's much faster, I can have it working on the same track, etc.
- at the beginning it's overwhelming and some simple things achieved easily in Live (e.g. modulating certain range of parameter or choosing chains in racks based on velocity, note or selector) require a bit more work and change of mindset in Bitwig, because it's one step lower in terms of abstracting those things; but once you get the hang of it it's so much more deep and flexible and eats no CPU in contrast to loading MaxForLive to just use simple LFO...
- no arbitrary restrictions to what you can and can't do in a specific view
: editing of samples, automation / modulation, etc. can be done from either Launcher or Arranger
- layered editing of clips
, i.e. I can see several MIDI and 1 (I think, haven't tested more?) audio clip overlaid over each other and can edit them in relation to each other,
- groups within groups
, which is a blessing for effect-heavy music,
- ability to have both Launcher and Arranger side-by-side
makes it easier to drag & drop clips between them and to combine playback from both views to test ideas on the fly,
- ability to have a proper, vertical mixer in Arranger
with list of plugins on each channel (yes, I know the options.txt hack for the latter),
- properly working high-DPI screen support on Win10
- I don't have to choose anymore between Live's blurry GUI or properly sized VST windows!
- properly working zoom
(CTRL+two fingers up/down) and much more intuitive scrolling with two fingers either vertically or horizontally,
- dedicated touch screen interface
, with bigger controls, optimised layouts and some clever ideas - I'll probably stick to normal keyboard & trackpad on my Surface Pro 4, but you got to appreciate their work there which is likely geared towards live performance rather than studio work,
It's worth mentioning, that my workflow might be untypical for Live, because I use Session only as a storage for short ideas, whereas the real mixing and matching of those ideas to form a complete track takes place in Arrangement. Therefore, as such I don't 'jam' in Session nor record that 'jam' to the timeline. As a result I don't see a point for a controller like Push or Launchpad and instead prefer regular MIDI controller with 'normal' keys, pads and knobs. I don't use script for my controller (even though it is supported) and instead map everything manually, to get the control I need.
Hope Ableton is paying attention to what's happening in Bitwig, because lots of those things I mentioned are - or seem to be - simple fixes or additions, many of which have been requested for ages by now.