Bitwig Studio is one of the few DAWs that have integrated devices and plug-ins designed to run CV out to Eurorack. The problem is that getting the CV into and out of the computer can be troublesome without the right hardware. The Expert Sleepers ES-8 USB audio interface is precisely the right hardware and Bitwig have created a limited edition to push it as an ideal companion.
ES-8 Bitwig Edition
It’s a great idea. The ES-8 is the only dedicated solution for routing CV between Eurorack and computer. A handful of audio interfaces can do it, but they tend to be thin on the ground and would still require a lot of cables and adapters to get the signals to the right places. The issue is that regular audio interfaces contain filters that filter out very low or static DC frequencies – that’s exactly what control voltage is. The ES-8 is “DC coupled” meaning that it lets through CV without any problem.
It provides a 4 in, 8 output CV solution for Bitwig’s hardware CV devices. You can modulate your Eurorack directly from within Bitwig. You can sequence and combine hardware tweaking with software instruments, arranging and editing. And you can modulate your software from your Eurorack. It also handles regular audio so it’s the perfect way to record some multitrack Euro into your DAW.
However, it’s expensive at €445. It doesn’t have any microphone or guitar level inputs that you’d normally find on a regular audio interface. On a Mac you could combine it with your existing audio interface and make an aggregate device. On Windows you can fudge combining it with your audio interface with ASIO4ALL but it’s not an ideal solution. If you are just doing Eurorack then it’s awesome, but when it comes to adding live instruments, you get a bit stuck.
I would have liked to see Bitwig and Expert Sleepers come up with something simpler and cheaper. Maybe a 4 in/out at half the width and half the price. But as it is it’s the best module for the job currently available and I hope it gets more people to bring Bitwig into their modular.
- ES-8 Bitwig Edition webpage.