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, signal 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.

  • 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.

    [Note]Note

    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.

A number of modules are configured to make working in stereo easy and interesting:

  • 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 for the left and right channels of any signal passing thru.

  • In the Level category, Value, Attenuate, and Bias 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).

  • Most Oscillator modules 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.

  • 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 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.

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.

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 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.

  • Gate 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). 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 includes 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).

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.

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