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Roland SP404 Effect Section in Bitwig

Tutorial | May 20, 2021

In this video, I show how to recreate the magic effect section of an Roland SP404 sampler hardware device in Bitwig Studio. I explain how to make a chain device to contain all of the effects, and then I go through each effect step-by-step. I demonstrate how to create a beat repeater, a bit crusher, an EQ, a delay, a filter, a pitch wobble, and a low fire effect. I also show how to use remote controls to trigger the effects and how to synchronize them to the beat grid. Finally, I provide a free preset to download in the description.

You can watch the Video on Youtube - support me on Patreon

In this video, I create a Bitwig Studio version of the Roland SP404's magic effect section, requested by a Patreon subscriber named Peter Blanko. Here's the summary:

  1. Project Inspiration: The aim is to replicate the SP404's effects, commonly used in lo-fi hip-hop production, in Bitwig Studio.

  2. Analysis of Existing Ableton Live Rack: I review a rack created for Ableton Live, featuring effects like beat repeater, bit crusher, EQ, delay, filter, pitch wobble, and a low-fi vinyl noise effect.

  3. Building the Bitwig Preset:

    • Beat Repeater: I start by creating a beat repeater using the FX-Grid, focusing on tempo synchronization and smooth transitions between recording and playback.
    • Bit Crusher: Implemented with Bitwig's Bit-8 device, using logarithmic modulation for the mix parameter.
    • Isolate (EQ): I use Bitwig's EQ+ to create an isolation effect, controlled with an on/off switch.
    • Delay: A wobbly delay effect is set up, again using logarithmic modulation.
    • Filter: A simple filter is added, with macro controls.
    • Pitch Wobble: I create a tape-like pitch wobble effect using a delay and random modulation.
    • Low-Fi Effect: I simulate vinyl noise with pink noise, bandpass filtering, and amplitude modulation.
  4. Finalizing the Preset: The effects are grouped into a chain device, with macro controls for easy manipulation. The preset is saved for download.

  5. Conclusion: I emphasize that while it's challenging to replicate hardware effects exactly, aiming for a similar sound character can be more practical and creatively satisfying.

This tutorial offers an in-depth look at how to recreate specific hardware effects in Bitwig Studio, demonstrating the software's flexibility and my approach to sound design. The preset created is available for download, allowing users to apply these effects in their own Bitwig projects.

Questions & Answers

Maybe you dont watch the video, here are some important takeaways:

How can I recreate the magic effect section of an Roland SP404 in Bitwig Studio?

You can recreate the magic effect section of an Roland SP404 in Bitwig Studio by building a chain device containing various effects such as a beat repeater, bit crusher, EQ, delay, filter, pitch wobble and low fire. To do this, start by inserting remote controls into the chain device, then add in the various effects. Make sure to synchronize the switch between recording and playback to the beat grid and add in a fade in and fade out at the start and end of the recording. Utilize logic delay to delay the off signal and use the face signal to record the whole cycle. Finally, set up macros to control the parameters of each effect.

What is low fire?

Low fire is a vinyl noise effect that can be used to add texture to a track. It can be recreated in Bitwig Studio by adding a noise source such as pink or white noise and then processing it through an amplitude modulation and ring modulation.

What is the best way to synchronize the switch between recording and playback?

The best way to synchronize the switch between recording and playback is


This is what im talking about in this video. The text is transcribed by AI, so it might not be perfect. If you find any mistakes, please let me know.
You can also click on the timestamps to jump to the right part of the video, which should be helpful.

[00:00.000] Someone with the name of Peter Blanko wrote me on Patreon if I could recreate the magic
[00:25.240] effect section of an Roland SP404, which is a kind of a small sampler hardware device used
[00:33.160] for low-fi hip-hop all the time.
[00:36.440] And he mentioned that there are a lot of tutorials for Ableton Live on YouTube for this
[00:42.760] and a lot of content creators created some kind of presets for Ableton Live for this,
[00:48.720] the kind of rack you can download for free.
[00:51.320] But there's no tutorial and no preset for Bitwig Studio, so you ask me and I try to make
[00:58.880] this in this tutorial basically.
[01:01.280] So I try to explain how you can create such a device and you can also download then
[01:07.560] of course in the end complete preset if you don't want to recreate it.
[01:13.440] So yeah, I would say let's start and I show you what I mean exactly here because he
[01:18.440] sended me some examples in the form of videos.
[01:24.400] So this is here, my man will happen and he created a rack device for Ableton Live as you
[01:30.120] can see here and we have done a lot of remote controls where we can switch on and off certain
[01:36.000] effects here.
[01:37.000] It's a beat repeater, a bit crusher, I think isolate is just an EQ.
[01:44.240] And we have delay, a filter, a pitch wobble and low fire.
[01:49.480] I don't know what exactly low fire is but I think it's some kind of vinyl noise or something
[01:56.720] like this.
[01:59.760] So yeah, we try to recreate this here, maybe I give this just a small place where you can
[02:04.200] see.
[02:16.840] So you can use your hardware controllers, switch on off some of these effects and create
[02:24.400] nice little sequences in your low fire hip hop project.
[02:30.160] So yeah, we try to recreate this here in Bitwig Studio and I've downloaded some re-sample
[02:35.360] pack, really some random re-sample pack, the first one I found.
[02:45.040] Which is just a beat and some keys, some quads and yeah, we use this here, this group then
[02:52.240] to create a chain device which is just a container.
[02:57.280] It's a completely empty device of Bitwig where you can nest or just put in some effects
[03:03.440] and can group it together and then use the chain container here to right click and save
[03:08.600] it as a preset.
[03:10.200] So we have everything contained in one device or one container.
[03:16.720] At the front here, we click the small little button.
[03:19.840] We can now insert you some remote controls and maybe I just click the small little wrench
[03:24.920] icon here, click on the preset pages to plus, we have a new blank empty remote canvas
[03:32.240] here.
[03:33.240] So we can close this down and we can start to build our first device which is probably
[03:38.480] our beat for Peter and I'm going here for FX-Grid because FX-Grid has here this big stop where
[03:50.680] you can use triwet signals and if I click into this, we have now here an audio input, audio
[03:57.240] output and in between we try to recreate some kind of repeater and maybe I use the recorder.
[04:06.960] Record audio and we can playback audio and we probably going to go for a trigger so
[04:15.360] we can change the length because if you recall here the video, if you're also a length parameter
[04:24.080] where we can change the repetition length, so I'm probably going here for split this
[04:34.520] one so we can split here one signal to either recording or playback or it's like this.
[04:45.520] Use a value here, go into this so we can switch the inputs and as you can see it transitions
[04:51.880] smoothly between one and two but we want to have here the nearest interpolation so it
[04:57.560] switches, bam, bam, bam, bam and we probably need to do some kind of synchronization because
[05:12.080] the switch here, as you can see between recording and playback is completely unsynchronized.
[05:21.800] It's not synchronized to the beat grid so you want to switch to recording and playback
[05:26.420] exactly on the beat grid so we probably also want to utilize here the trigger signal for
[05:31.640] this so I'm going to use a sample and hold the chose this value here we are trying to
[05:39.200] dial in and then we go into the switch here and then we synchronize it to the signal.
[05:46.120] So now you can see when I switch here it's not instantaneously, it waits basically for
[05:53.880] a trigger signal so it's much better it's basically the switch between recording and playback
[06:04.320] happens exactly, a tempo synchronized okay what else so maybe you can try this out already
[06:16.320] so let's give this a go here so let's record
[06:42.600] and you can hear maybe we have because we are sampling at some random point and we stop
[06:49.840] sampling at some random point we have of course some kind of crackles from the zero
[06:56.800] crossings of some of the waveforms so we need to implement some kind of fade in and
[07:04.080] fade out at the start and at the end of the recording so maybe we try this to implement
[07:10.680] this with the ADS R and we're going to go for 0.5 milliseconds fade in and maybe 0.5 milliseconds
[07:23.840] fade out and the sustain is on full okay so maybe we put this here in between the recording
[07:36.800] input and maybe we need to trigger this here with this so now we have basically a fade
[07:48.040] in and fade out at the start and at the end but the problem now is that when we have
[08:01.360] here the fade out basically is not recorded I think because when this one here goes
[08:12.560] from the trigger signal from 1 to 0 then this one starts to fade out but at this point
[08:19.040] we already stopped recording basically so the fade out is not recorded so we need to
[08:26.560] make this fade out happen on the recording and we do this by delaying the trigger signal
[08:35.840] for the recording and this one does logic delay here allows us to delay certain type
[08:43.560] of signals and we want to delay basically the off signal so when it switches from high
[08:49.000] to low from 1 to 0 and we want to delay this exactly by the amount of this fade out here
[08:55.800] which is 0.5 milliseconds and we put this in here so only the off switch is now delayed
[09:08.960] this should be this should work I think.
[09:38.920] It should be fine the problem now is that when we switch this off there is no output
[09:44.680] because we are constantly recording mode on there is no output so we need to switch here
[09:49.680] to the tri-signal when we are recording so maybe go to select here so we only want to
[10:00.040] have output of the recorder when it is in playback mode this is going to happen when this
[10:09.480] one is ok we get this problem with this so maybe we can go here to this and then we use
[10:33.680] a tri-signal here.
[11:03.240] So this kind of works but I think it would be maybe better to change the trigger signals
[11:29.920] which is at the moment completely free so we can dial in every parameter but maybe this
[11:34.680] is not musical enough maybe we go for a second trigger and go to 16th notes and then we clock
[11:46.440] one tiles one signal with the other so put this in here and then we use a trigger signal
[11:55.600] the 16th note grid here so when we change this note here basically we are not that free
[12:01.760] anymore we are still on the 16th note grid then at the end so maybe this sounds a bit
[12:07.360] better.
[12:36.920] I will change to gate signal here.
[13:03.680] Maybe I switch the slot to delay on here.
[13:30.440] Let's put it on here.
[13:44.040] So this setup kind of works but not really because we have now two problems.
[14:13.960] We go to oscilloscope and analyze the signal here.
[14:24.200] When we switch this clock one tiles to trigger mode you can see the trigger signal is or
[14:29.840] starts exactly at the right point in time but the signal itself is not long enough it's
[14:35.600] just a short burst so the recorder basically stops instantaneously after we trigger the
[14:42.480] recording it stops again so we only record the first I don't know 20 milliseconds of
[14:50.560] the audio input and if we put this here to gate mode then we have the problem that the
[14:56.160] trigger signal for the clock quantizer switches the signal off before the end of the cycle
[15:03.480] so this is also not what we want and when we go here completely to this signal you can
[15:08.720] see it's much much longer so we need to use kind of a different signal to change this
[15:19.560] and I think the best way to do this is probably the face signal which gives us the whole cycle.
[15:32.080] So we start here and then we have the end and we can act on all of the signals.
[15:39.320] So at first we need to create a scalar here so we can change the speed of this probably
[15:47.000] and then we need a math on logic device logic modules we can compare it and we want to
[15:58.880] have it smaller and then the constant smaller than 1 so we get the off signal at the start
[16:17.440] here and the rest we want to use to record so this could be a better signal I think and
[16:25.920] when you change the speed yeah this should be much better so let's use this here instead
[16:37.120] of this one so now we caught your default sequence
[17:00.560] oh we need of course here also this one here and we change the speed here to add
[17:22.560] and we need on delay here again I think this is better
[17:52.560] so we can change it to the right
[18:15.600] go to 16 nodes so I think this is
[18:44.640] the better option here yeah it's fun to play around with okay so this is the first device
[19:08.560] called this for Peter okay the second device is what does the alpha here is the length
[19:18.160] repeat on off okay crush this is probably a bit crusher bit 8
[19:35.280] we set up a macro for this we can change what's what's gonna change here
[19:42.320] crush
[20:07.760] and we maybe use here the new feature where we select the module the the modulator and then go
[20:14.640] to mix and maybe use exponential here look or it make you can see it just by just by
[20:23.280] dialing in a small amount we are already here at the present so the mix in is going faster
[20:31.120] then then the rest the modulation and if we go here to exponential then it's the other
[20:40.000] way around you can see we are at 50% here but this mix now is already at 25 maybe so we
[20:47.840] go here to look or it make so this is the crush one this was pretty easy
[20:58.960] um then we have isolate and I think um do you see here
[21:10.720] it's a low fire low fire is the vinyl pitch wall crush
[21:14.160] I think isolate is just just an EQ if I'm not wrong um we probably goes for djq
[21:30.880] and dials in here some mid bands
[21:45.600] I mean we could maybe maybe use your on off switch with this macro
[22:10.800] and this is called isolate switch this on and we go over the on off switch also the logarithmic
[22:24.560] so it's it's on pretty early on as you can see are we not even hit one percent or two percent
[22:32.320] and then the device is already on and then we bring the low down and the high down so we smoothly
[22:42.640] transition into this isolate
[23:12.800] so
[23:25.120] it's very too much okay then what's the other ones isolate delay it's
[23:52.080] probably it's probably a vinyl delay some kind of yeah let's let's try it out like
[24:00.960] let's make something wobbly lacrosle bring it in
[24:30.960] yeah we can also use here for the mix knob already look arrhythmic so we are
[24:37.800] mix in pretty fast but the feedback goes up the normal speed
[24:46.280] oh maybe the other way around
[24:57.240] and maybe at a small little wobble
[25:57.240] so we have to delay then we have filter and pitch wobble okay so filter should
[26:13.440] be also easy probably macro put it down so maybe we don't go
[26:35.160] off all range so we have still some audio going on
[27:01.840] so this is the filter maybe pitch wobble is also easy we already made
[27:08.160] something like this so maybe we go also for delay and go to 10
[27:16.520] in the seconds no feedback oh you go to 14 and left all just modulate this a bit
[27:35.640] here or maybe go for I mean it should sound like a set tape I
[27:46.280] should I would say so maybe go to randoms we have more like random modulations
[28:16.280] so I try not to modulate too much so we have and we need to compensate you for
[28:30.480] the 40 milliseconds so we use a time shift device in the seconds minus 14
[28:39.920] we put this also in the chain device we have only applied a time shift to this delay
[28:49.480] and have the whole chain so this is pitch wobble okay so you can decide how much
[29:15.960] you want to influence here the pitch but I think just just just tame it down a
[29:23.480] bit don't modulate too much it sounds better this way I think oh yeah we have now
[29:41.320] here because we are mixing in the dry signal and the pitch wobble signal we get
[29:46.800] some kind of chorus sound here with a mix in at this point so we need to make
[29:55.440] something different here let's see maybe we just bring you the modulation down
[30:05.200] which then should go through the delay and touch test now feedback no filtering
[30:10.960] nothing happening here so maybe we delete this remote control go completely for
[30:18.320] this one here and now we can also go here
[30:46.960] now decide how much you want to have the walkman yeah basically mess up the signal
[30:56.320] okay so what's the last effect many can see you can play around with this for hours
[31:06.520] oh now we have here the low fire which is basically a vinyl simulation or it's
[31:12.240] kind of a kind of a noise effect so we have now here the signal and we bring in
[31:22.840] probably some noise pink noise white noise stereo and we use an AM
[31:52.840] so maybe the the noise here is to maybe we need to filter out the noise a bit
[32:09.360] before we go into the amplitude and ring modulation here we go for bandpass not too much
[32:39.360] so I don't want to let you to loudness with the random what because why not it's not always
[32:53.280] making noise
[33:23.280] so much
[34:13.280] Okay, let's try this.
[35:01.280] Maybe something like this.
[35:17.280] So now we call this here SP404 and right-click save preset version 1 because you can
[35:37.800] put it around for hours and find the right sweet spot for everything, maybe you also aim
[35:52.720] for more like a real emulated sound so you need to analyze how the SP4 sounds in reality
[35:55.040] and then your model, your preset exactly like the real one.
[36:00.960] But I think sometimes it's much better to go just for a sound that you like in a kind
[36:07.480] of the same direction because you don't nail it 100% anyway, so it's hard to recreate
[36:18.760] the sound to 100% anyway, maybe make this low.
[36:30.760] Okay, so this is basically our effect device here we can then use on our low fight tracks
[36:37.680] and I try to recreate this here live with just with one take recording in Bitwig Studios
[36:44.800] so maybe you can see how this works and yeah, you can download this preset here in the
[36:50.280] description below.
[36:55.680] It's free for everyone, doesn't cost a thing and you can also watch the video which you
[37:01.360] probably already have now to learn something how you can create such devices, okay.
[37:09.560] So that's it for this video, thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next one, bye.