On Grid Signals

In addition to being exposed with literal, virtual patch cords, signals in The Grid are different from other signals in Bitwig Studio.

Signal Types

While any signal can be connected anywhere, there are certain signal types within The Grid, often indicated by port color but always identified in each module's help view.

  • Logic (yellow). A bistate signal, often for triggering an event or setting a state. For in ports, any signal level at or above +0.5 is treated as high logic, and anything below is assessed as low logic. Logic in ports are only sensitive to these state changes so jumping from 0 to +0.5 will register, but a slow ramp from +0.5 to +1 means nothing. For out ports, a high-logic state is expressed as +1, and a low-logic state is transmitted as 0.

    For short, we may sometimes refer to a trigger, which is the transition from a low-logic state to a high-logic state. This signal is often used to start a function.

  • Phase (purple). A unipolar signal from 0 to just below 1, often for driving data lookup. For in ports, signals are wrapped into the range. For example, a value of +1.02 would be used as +0.02, and a value of -0.3 would be treated as +0.7.

  • Pitch (orange). A bipolar signal used by Bitwig for specifying pitch. 0 represents "middle C" (C3) with each change of ±0.1 representing an octave, so a typical signal range of -1 to +1 represents twenty octaves.


    While pitch signals in The Grid are generally used as is, outputting notes via the Note Out module only allows the permissible MIDI note range (see Note Out).

  • Untyped signal (often red). The most common signal type, of unspecified range and function. Inputs of mixers or filters or math modules, virtually all outputs that aren't implementing either logic, phase, or pitch signal characteristics — they are all most often untyped and thereby follow the color set for the module they are on.


    Generic signal modules are normally red, with typical control modules defaulting to turquoise. So ports of either color are untyped signal ports. And when a module has multiple untyped in ports, those ports will adopt the color of an incoming patch cord.

  • Secondary untyped signal (blue). When a module has two kinds of untyped signal in or out ports, the secondary port is shown in blue. For example, a merge module might have multiple primary in ports (using the module color) for the various signals to route and one control input (colored blue) for selecting which input is passed thru.

Stereo By Nature, and 4x Faster

Every signal in The Grid is stereo. This means that whenever you see one patch cord, you are actually seeing a stereo pair. So yes, every audio cable is stereo, but so are all pitch, phase, and trigger signals as well. Altering any of these various control or timing values will affect the corresponding audio.

In addition to common stereo placement functions (found in Mixer, Pan, and Stereo Width modules of the Mix category), a number of modules are configured to make working in stereo easy and interesting:

  • Most Oscillator modules (Pulse, Sawtooth, Sine, Triangle, Wavetable, Sub, Phase-1, and Swarm) have frequency offset values, set in Hertz (Hz). When this value’s polarity signal (± when the value is positive, when it's negative) is clicked, the frequency offset is inverted for the right channel. In the Phase category, the Phasor module (a good starting point for building your own oscillators with other Phase and Data modules) also has this same option.

  • The LFO module (under LFO) and S/H LFO (under Random) both have a purple phase parameter, which defaults to 0 º. And to the right of that phase control is an offset control for the right channel, which starts at +0 º and is thus grayed out by default. Both parameters are visualized on the LFO module.

  • In the Mix category, Stereo Split and Stereo Merge allow you to separate and reconstruct a signal as left–right and/or mid–side pairs.

  • Also in the Mix category, LR Gain provides independent level controls (±200%) for the left and right channels of any signal passing thru.

  • In the Random category, Noise also has a stereo option (via the clickable on-panel stereo icon). This creates independent signals for the left and right channels.

  • Several modules in the Level category (Value, Attenuate, Bias, and Bend) and in the Phase category (Ø Bend, Ø Pitch, Ø Shift, and Ø Skew) have an Inspector parameter called Stereo-ize, which inverts the value used for operation on the right channel. The same is true for the Pitch constant module (in the Pitch category).

  • Flanger+ and Phaser+ (Delay/FX) both have a specialized Stereo-ize option, which inverts the right modulation signal. This works whether that classic modulation signal is coming from the default internal LFOs, or if you have connected a signal to the Mod In port.

  • The Ø Reverse (Phase) module as well as Invert and Reciprocal (Math) and a few additive processors in the Pitch category (Octaver, Ratio, and Transpose) have a Stereo-ness parameter, which sets whether the processing is applied to the entire signal (Mono) or if it is just done on one channel (Left or Right).

In addition to being stereo, all signals within The Grid also operate at four-times (400%) your configured sample rate. This is to ensure maximum fidelity not only for the final output, but also for any audio-rate modulation or other synthesis techniques that might be employed.


A few modules have in ports that flatten any incoming stereo signal to mono. This is often because the result has to be mono (such as CC Out, Note Out, and Modulator Out [I/O]), or because stereo operation would be unnecessarily complicated (Sampler [Oscillator] and Recorder [Delay/FX]). Specifics can be found within Bitwig in each module's in-app help entry (see Interactive Module Help).

Working with Modulators

Modulators are already a way to control parameters within Bitwig Studio (see Modulator Devices). Just as nearly all device and plug-in parameters are accessible with modulator devices, all Grid device and module parameters can be controlled in exactly the same way.

In addition to their signal out ports, some Grid modules can also act as modulators. Many typical "control" devices — LFOs, envelopes, the StepsData sequencer — have an on-board modulation routing button. And the Modulator Out module (in the I/O category) can take any Grid signal and use it as a modulator.

In addition to being usable outside of The Grid, modulators also have a place within Grid patches. Grid modules often have more parameters than in ports. To control parameters that don't have in ports, you can use modulators.

The only thing to know is that modulator signals operate differently from Grid signals. While Grid signals run at four-times the current sample rate and are stereo (see Stereo By Nature, and 4x Faster), all modulators are mono and operate at your current sample rate. This is true for all modulators, whether they are dedicated modulator devices or Grid modules, no matter what their target is.

Voicing Management in The Grid

Instrument voicing modes and related topics were covered in a previous section (see Voice Parameters for Instruments). Before spending a few words on how these settings affect FX Grid, it is worth taking a look at how voice management is generally handled in The Grid.

Various Grid modules have a parameter called Affect Voice Lifetime. When this parameter is enabled, the module is included in the calculation for whether each voice is still sounding and should be kept alive. Modules that have this parameter include:

  • AR, AD, ADSR, and Pluck (Envelope). For each of these envelope generators, a voice will stay active as long as the envelope has not reached the end of its release (for AR and ADSR) or decay (for AD) stage — or, in the case of Pluck, whichever gets to zero first. Affect Voice Lifetime is enabled for these envelopes by default, making them the first determinant of how long to keep voices alive.

  • Note In (I/O). When this module's Affect Voice Lifetime is enabled, a voice will be kept alive for as long as its note gate signal is on (in a high-logic state). Affect Voice Lifetime is enabled by default.

  • Gate In (I/O). Identical to the behavior of Note In, Affect Voice Lifetime will keep any voice on while its note gate signal is on. For Gate In, this parameter is disabled by default.

  • Audio Out (I/O). When this module's Affect Voice Lifetime is enabled, a voice will be kept alive until it has fallen below the Silence Threshold setting for the designated Hold Time. The Affect Voice Lifetime parameter is disabled by default.

Only when all conditions being considered have finished is a voice extinguished. For example, only one envelope needs to be active to keep a voice alive. And enabling an additional Affect Voice Lifetime parameter can only keep notes to the same length or allow them to go longer; it will never shorten them.

Voicing "FX Grid"

FX Grid is a special device. While it is an audio effect, it is also fully responsive to note messages, allowing for the creation of effects that trigger an independent voice with each note that is played. It does this by including the voicing options of Bitwig Studio's polyphonic instruments (see Voice Parameters for Instruments). All of the same voicing modes are available; they just act a little differently in this different context.

  • True Mono is the default mode for FX Grid. In an instrument like Poly Grid, this mode always keeps the voice on, which can create a droning instrument (when envelopes aren't employed). Similarly with FX Grid, this mode always keeps the voice on, which is perfect for a traditional effect processor that should respond whenever audio of any level enters.

  • Polyphony (whenever Voices is set to 2 or more) requires an incoming note signal to trigger each voice. Otherwise, the effect will not sound. This also means that voice management will be used to determine when each voice should be ended.

  • Digi Mono is also available. It works as previously described (again, see Voice Parameters for Instruments) and also requires note signals to produce any sound.

Since note signals are required to articulate sound in both Digi Mono mode and when using polyphony, notes can be received at the input of the device. This default behavior is useful on an instrument track that is already being driven by notes, but this doesn't help on an audio track.

To change the default note source on an FX Grid device: go to the Inspector Panel for the device and change the Note Source setting. This will reroute not only the various I/O modules that receive device input but also all pre-cords (see Module Pre-cords).

Things are greatly simplified by a special Auto-gate option, which is in the Inspector Panel beneath the Note Source chooser. With this option enabled, a simple envelope is invisibly applied to any FX Grid patch (including the Filter+ and Sweep devices) so that an incoming note on signal will immediately trigger and enable that voice for the length of the note. And at note off, the voice will fade out for the set Auto-gate Release Time.


The Auto-gate option has no effect on an FX Grid set to True Mono, so the setting is safely on by default. This makes it possible to try an audio effect patch either in Digi Mono or with full polyphony — without editing the underlying patch.

Finally, the Voice stacking setting works as it does with instruments and can be used in any voice mode. So a direct audio processor in True Mono mode could be stacked — and use the Voice Stack Spread ± modulator to distribute different settings to each voice in the stack — without the need to use note signals at all.

Voicing "Note Grid"

As a note effect, Note Grid is also unique in a few ways. Like FX Grid among Audio FX devices, Note Grid is the only Note FX device that can work polyphonically. Said another way, all Note FX devices handle notes individually, but only Note Grid allows modulators to work in a per-note (or polyphonic) fashion. And with Note Grid, you can also make polyphonic Grid patches where you act on each note individually.

As a polyphonic device, all of the same voicing options are available (see Voice Parameters for Instruments), and they are worth revisiting in a few potential contexts of Note Grid.

  • Polyphony (whenever Voices is set to 2 or more) is the default mode of Note Grid. This requires an incoming note signal to trigger each voice, which is a perfect match for the device's "note processor" default preset. Within a simple note-processor context, the number of Voices determines the maximum number of notes that can be output at a time, so set this as high (or low) as you'd like.

  • True Mono, on the other hand, does not require note input to stay alive. This makes it ideal for "note generator" patches, where internal triggers generate notes via one (or more!) Note Out modules. This mode is also ideal for systems driven by control change messages (CC In) without notes.

  • Digi Mono is also available. As before, it is technically polyphonic and requires note signal to produce its overlapping mono output.

Finally, the Voice stacking setting is applicable here as well, allowing multiple notes to be created for each trigger, in any voicing mode.

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