Tags: posts polarity-music Bitwig Bitwig-5.1.2 Routing Tutorial VST-Plugin xlnaudio Drums

Combine Bitwigs Drum Machine & 3rd Party VSTs for the best of both Worlds

Tutorial | Feb 16, 2024

Today I tackled the problem of using multi-out VSTs like XLN Audio XO with Bitwig Studio's drum machine rack. After some trial and error, I found a solution that allows each drum pad to trigger a separate sound in the VST. By setting up audio receivers and note FX devices, I was able to seamlessly integrate the VST drum machine while still maintaining the functionality of the native drum machine in Bitwig Studio.

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

In this video, I demonstrate how to integrate a multi-out VST drum machine, specifically XLN Audio XO, with Bitwig Studio's native drum machine, allowing each drum pad to trigger separate sounds from the VST. Here's a summarized walkthrough:

  1. Setup: Begin by setting up Bitwig's drum machine and adding return channels. Load the XO VST on one of these channels.

  2. Assign Sounds: Place a kick drum on the first cell, a snare on the third, and a hi-hat on the fifth. Then, direct these to separate buses (kick to bus one, snare to bus two, hi-hat to bus three) through the edit page.

  3. Configure Outputs: Open the multi-output page and add missing chains to allocate each drum sound to its respective bus.

  4. Audio Receiver Setup: For each drum sound, use an audio receiver in the corresponding cell (kick in cell one, etc.), selecting the appropriate bus from XO as the source. This routes the sound from XO into Bitwig's drum machine cells.

  5. Naming and Muting: Name each cell (kick, snare, hi-hat) for clarity in the note clip, and mute the original XO output to only hear the sound from Bitwig's drum machine.

  6. Processing: Apply EQ, reverb, or other effects directly on the cells as needed, utilizing Bitwig's processing capabilities alongside XO's sound engine.

  7. Note Playback Issue: Address the inability to use Bitwig's play buttons by inserting a note effect (e.g., note transpose) in each cell and configuring a note receiver in XO to accept MIDI from these cells. This ensures that note information triggers sounds correctly.

  8. Final Configuration: Once set up, this configuration allows for the integration of XO's sound engine with Bitwig's workflow, providing the flexibility of hardware drum machines with the extensive sound library and features of XO. The setup needs to be done once per cell, after which it can be saved as a preset for future use.

This method combines the benefits of Bitwig Studio's native drum machine with the advanced features of XO, offering a seamless workflow for electronic music production.

Questions & Answers

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

How can I use multi-out VSTs like XLN Audio XO with the drum machine rack of Bitwig Studio?

To use multi-out VSTs in Bitwig Studio's drum machine rack, first set up the drum machine and open the return channels. Then add the VST to one of the return channels, set up the individual drum sounds in the VST, and assign them to different buses. Next, open the multi-output page and add missing chains. Finally, use the audio receiver on each cell in the drum machine rack to receive the specific drum sound from the VST.

What are the benefits of using the drum machine rack of Bitwig Studio with a VST drum machine?

Using the drum machine rack of Bitwig Studio with a VST drum machine allows you to combine the features of both the native drum machine and the VST. You can work with the familiar interface of the drum machine rack while utilizing the audio engine and features of the VST. Additionally, you can process the audio on each cell in the drum machine rack, allowing for more flexibility and creativity in your productions.

What is one drawback of this setup and how can it be resolved?

One drawback of this setup is that the play buttons in the drum machine rack won't trigger the VST drum sounds because the note information only goes to the chains within the rack. To resolve this, you can add a note FX device, such as a note transpose or MIDI filter, to each cell in the rack. Then, use a note receiver in the VST to receive the notes from the drum machine rack's cells, allowing you to trigger the VST drum sounds with the play buttons.

How can I save this setup for future use?

To save this setup and use it in future projects, you can save it as a preset in Bitwig Studio. Set up the drum machine rack, VST drum machine, and routing as desired, then save the entire setup as a preset in the drum machine rack. The next time you want to use this setup, simply load the preset and replace the samples in the VST drum machine as needed.


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.

[00:00:00] Another Friday, another problem.
[00:00:02] And today it's about the drum machine of Bitwig Studio.
[00:00:05] So Simon said, "Ap polarity, can you do a video
[00:00:08] on how to use multi-out VSTs like XLN Audio XO,
[00:00:12] the drum machine rack of Bitwig,
[00:00:14] so that each drum pad can trigger a separate sound in the VST?"
[00:00:18] And I tried to come up with some kind of solution
[00:00:21] and every time I had a solution, there was another problem.
[00:00:23] So in the end I said, "Fuck it, I do a video."
[00:00:26] So here's the video.
[00:00:28] We want to use here a drum machine,
[00:00:30] a native drum machine device of Bitwig Studio,
[00:00:33] in combination with the VST drum machine.
[00:00:37] So this is some benefits
[00:00:39] and I tell you in a minute what kind of benefits.
[00:00:43] So first we set up here this drum machine
[00:00:46] and open up here the return channels.
[00:00:48] And on this return channel,
[00:00:50] we actually put here a VST, a drum VST, XL, in this case.
[00:00:55] You don't need to use the XO.
[00:00:57] So then we select here kick drum on the first cell,
[00:01:04] a snare drum on the third cell,
[00:01:09] and a hi-hat on the, I think the fifth, yeah, fifth cell.
[00:01:16] And then we go to the edit page here
[00:01:19] and we send the kick drum to bus one,
[00:01:23] the snare to bus two, and the hi-hat to bus three.
[00:01:28] That's it.
[00:01:31] You can close it down and we open up here the multi output page
[00:01:35] and add missing chains.
[00:01:37] So now we have here the kick drum, the snare,
[00:01:40] and the hi-hat on bus three.
[00:01:43] So now we use the audio receiver on cell one, C1.
[00:01:47] This is the kick drum, right?
[00:01:49] So we use here audio receiver,
[00:01:52] audio receiver, and we rename this cell to kick.
[00:01:57] And in here, we select the drum machine,
[00:02:01] drum machine chains, XO, XO chains, bus one, post, right?
[00:02:06] So now we receive basically from bus one of XO,
[00:02:11] the kick drum inside of the cell
[00:02:13] of the native drum machine of Bitwig Studio.
[00:02:16] So we can create now here some kind of note clip
[00:02:19] and we see the name basically of the cell,
[00:02:21] which is the first benefit.
[00:02:23] You can name these cells here
[00:02:25] and see it inside of the note clip.
[00:02:27] And then you can trigger here the kick drum.
[00:02:30] And now you can hear basically the kick drum coming
[00:02:33] from the cell because of the note receiver
[00:02:35] or of the audio receiver.
[00:02:36] And you can also hear the audio out of the master of the XO.
[00:02:39] So what we want to do is to just mute this here.
[00:02:42] Right?
[00:02:46] So now you're only here to kick drum
[00:02:48] coming from this note receiver.
[00:02:50] And we can duplicate this here to D one
[00:02:53] and call this snare.
[00:02:55] And here we'll receive drum machine, drum machine chains,
[00:03:02] XO, XO chains, bus two, post.
[00:03:06] So now we have here the snare.
[00:03:08] Right?
[00:03:14] We have also the name here.
[00:03:15] Okay.
[00:03:16] Then next is the hi-hat in here.
[00:03:19] Name this hi-hat.
[00:03:22] Receive drum machine XO, XO chains,
[00:03:28] bus three, post.
[00:03:33] Okay.
[00:03:34] Okay.
[00:03:40] Nice.
[00:03:41] So now you can use processing,
[00:03:45] eq-ing and so on directly on the cell.
[00:03:49] So it's, it works exactly like the native drum machine,
[00:03:53] except that you use basically the audio engine of XO
[00:03:56] or all the features of XO.
[00:03:58] But the drum machine itself,
[00:04:00] you can work exactly like you used to
[00:04:03] with the drum machine without XO.
[00:04:05] So you have here now the audio on this cell.
[00:04:08] You can process it.
[00:04:09] Can maybe put your reverb on the snare.
[00:04:17] (upbeat music)
[00:04:20] Okay.
[00:04:21] Nice.
[00:04:25] So like I said, one benefit is you have the names
[00:04:29] from these cells inside of the note clip.
[00:04:31] You can see this.
[00:04:32] You use the XO itself as an audio engine
[00:04:36] and all the features like here, this space,
[00:04:40] this sample space.
[00:04:42] You can exchange everything and everything works,
[00:04:45] you know, perfect.
[00:04:47] And you can process the audio on the cells itself.
[00:04:51] So it works like the native drum machine.
[00:04:53] There's one problem left.
[00:04:57] And that is that you can't actually use
[00:05:00] here these play buttons, right?
[00:05:02] So if you hit these, nothing happens
[00:05:04] because the note information actually goes only to this chain.
[00:05:09] It never reaches the XO in here.
[00:05:12] So we have to do another kind of routing.
[00:05:14] So if you want to use these play buttons,
[00:05:17] you have to do this one time
[00:05:19] and then maybe save it to the preset.
[00:05:21] So you have to do it, you know,
[00:05:22] you have to don't do it every time.
[00:05:25] If you don't need this, then you don't need to do it.
[00:05:28] That's the logic behind this.
[00:05:31] So to actually receive notes from the XO here,
[00:05:35] we have to put some kind of note FX inside of these cells.
[00:05:38] So you can just use maybe a note transpose
[00:05:42] or a MIDI filter, completely open, whatever,
[00:05:47] but it needs to be some kind of note effects.
[00:05:50] So here I'm using just a note transpose.
[00:05:52] And then I renamed this to kick.
[00:05:59] You can see your kick, name kick, right?
[00:06:01] And then you go to XO and use here a note receiver,
[00:06:04] note receiver,
[00:06:10] and we receive from the drum machine cell kick, kick, right?
[00:06:15] And you can see only the kick drum here, the kick cell,
[00:06:18] because the kick cell is the only cell
[00:06:20] that has at the moment a note FX device in there, right?
[00:06:25] So that's why.
[00:06:27] And then we have to disable here the inputs,
[00:06:29] input mutes because we also want to receive notes
[00:06:32] from the note clip, right?
[00:06:35] So then we duplicate this and receive here,
[00:06:39] wait a minute, we have to put here
[00:06:42] a note transpose also here and call this snare
[00:06:48] and put this on here, call it hi-hat.
[00:06:54] Okay, so now we can receive here the snare,
[00:06:59] duplicate this and receive here the hi-hat.
[00:07:07] Okay, so now we can trigger basically these cells
[00:07:11] with these play buttons and everything works
[00:07:14] like the native drum machine.
[00:07:17] And you don't need to do this every time.
[00:07:21] You probably only have to set this up once for every cell
[00:07:25] because XO here itself only uses eight pads, right?
[00:07:30] So you have to do this eight times here
[00:07:32] and then you save it as a preset, maybe in a preset.
[00:07:35] And then the next time you open it up
[00:07:38] and you only have to exchange the samples inside of XO
[00:07:42] and everything works like before.
[00:07:45] Then you can also close at the return channels
[00:07:50] and it looks like completely native device
[00:07:53] except that it uses XO basically in the background.
[00:07:56] So it's all the benefits from both worlds.
[00:08:01] There are no drawbacks.
[00:08:03] Okay, so that's basically my solution for the problem
[00:08:07] of Simon and maybe it helps you too.
[00:08:10] So if you like the video, then please like the video,
[00:08:13] subscribe to the channel, ask questions in the comments.
[00:08:17] I try to answer them all and thanks for watching
[00:08:21] and I'll see you in the next video, bye.
[00:08:23] [no audio]