VST Plug-in Handling and Options

Importantly, Bitwig Studio can handle VST plug-ins separately from the program itself. By segregating plug-ins into separate sandboxes or processes, the chance of a plug-in crashing other parts of the program is greatly reduced. In many cases, a plug-in crash will happen discreetly, allowing audio to continue playback seamlessly.

If a plug-in does crash, its interface in the Device Panel will be replaced with a notification.

By clicking Reload Plug-in, the plug-in will be freshly called up again. Clicking Reload All Plug-ins will reload every crashed plug-in and leave those that haven't crashed alone.

In the Settings tab of the Dashboard is a page of settings for Plug-ins.

The primary setting here is the Plug-in Hosting Mode, which determines how isolated each plug-in process is. As the left-to-right spectrum of options indicates, the settings are progressive with those on the left potentially using less RAM and those toward the right offering greater safety. The options are:

  • Within Bitwig hosts plug-ins along with Bitwig Studio's audio engine. This keeps the required computer resources to a minimum, but this also means that one plug-in crashing would also crash the audio engine.

  • Together still hosts all plug-ins, well, together but does it separately from the audio engine. So a crashing plug-in would take the other plug-ins with it, but Bitwig Studio's audio engine should continue running.

  • By manufacturer hosts all plug-ins into groups based on their manufacturer. This can be particularly useful when a software creator intends for their various plug-ins to communicate with one another.

  • By plug-in hosts each instance of the same plug-in together. So if you use a particular plug-in on multiple tracks, loading those plug-ins together may save a significant amount of computing resources while also ensuring that a plug-in should only crash when a copy of the same plug-in does. (In other words, no plug-in's stability should be compromised by another plug-in.)

  • Individually hosts every plug-in instance by itself. This ensures full isolation for each plug-in process, meaning a plug-in crash should not affect anything beyond itself. This will require more computing resources, but that is the trade-off.

[Note]Note

A project currently loaded on the audio engine is not automatically reloaded when the Plug-in Hosting Mode changes. In that case, only new plug-ins added will follow the updated setting.

To force the entire project to use a new plug-in hosting mode, either reopen the project or reload the audio engine.

And the list of plug-ins below allows you to select any plug-ins that should run Individually, effectively overriding the global setting above. The search box just above the list allows you to quickly find plug-ins from the list.

Finally, if you are using a multitimbral plug-in, its performance may be improved by forcing it to use MPE (multidimensional polyphonic expression) mode. This option is available by right-clicking on a plug-in's device header.

This modern MIDI specification interfaces well with Bitwig Studio's per-note modulation capabilities. Many plug-ins (and probably more of them in the future) opt for this mode on their own, but during this early-adoption phase, enabling Force MPE Mode may help get the most out of your plug-ins and any fully-equipped hardware controllers. This option and additional settings are also available from the device's Inspector Panel (see Plug-in Inspector Parameters).

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