Cons Poor build quality. Ultimately, this is a controller that doesn’t quite live up to its potential. To the left of the display there’s a rotary encoder, while to the right sits a small but workable ribbon controller. It does have some cool features and the Reason integration is great, but that suspect build quality is a real problem and the documentation could be better – as mentioned, there were omissions in the Live 5 PDF we downloaded from the website, and many of the page numbers in the printed manual’s index are incorrect. Impressively, the controller currently comes supplied with its very own flight case.
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The lion’s share of the 3X’s top panel is filled with knobs and faders.
CME/Wave Idea Bitstream 3X review | MusicRadar
The Bitstream can be programmed from the front panel using its buttons and rotary encoder, but if you’re using it with a computer, it’s easier to set it up using the included software instead. Our Verdict First impressions are good, but less-than-perfect integration with the latest software and poor bitstrea let the Bitstream down. To the right of these controls things get a little more interesting; towards the top of the panel there’s an LCD display reminiscent of those found on workstation keyboards.
If you can’t be bothered with all this configuration nonsense, you’ll be pleased to hear that the software comes pre-packed with a bunch of settings for classic hardware and software. Cons Poor build quality.
It will only be included with the first units, though, so if you want one, get on the case as it were. With luck, there’ll be a ‘Mk II’ version that improves matters, but at the moment, there are far better control surfaces on the market. Ultimately, this is a controller that doesn’t quite live up to its potential. Useful for live performers.
However, there’s a heavy bias towards old hardware, so if you want to control your more up-to-date software, you’re better off using the 3X in Mackie Control emulation mode. It does have some cool features and the Reason integration is great, but that suspect build 33x is a real problem and the documentation could be better – as mentioned, there were omissions in the Live 5 PDF we downloaded from the website, and many of the page numbers in the printed manual’s index are incorrect.
3s these you’ll find a two-axis joystick, the highly unusual Automation section, a row of mute buttons and a dinky little crossfader.
Impressively, the controller currently comes supplied with its very own flight case. Documentation could be better.
To the left of the display there’s a rotary encoder, while to the right sits a small but workable ribbon controller. The sexy black exterior and uniform grey controls give it a ‘military chic’ vibe, while the rows of btstream and buttons are reassuringly high-tech.
Unfortunately, closer inspection reveals that the build quality is less than rock solid – on our review unit, the niggles ranged from the subtle the faders all pointing at slightly different angles to the ridiculous two of the foot stands were shorter than the others, so we had to make a paper wedge to stop the unit rocking during use!
CME – Product – Bitstream 3x Super MIDI controller
Thankfully, the unit can be USB-powered too, so you don’t need the wall wart unless you’re using it without your computer. There were other problems, too: It’s unusual in that it appears to have been designed as much for traditional MIDI users as it has for computer musicians – in fact, it even comes with a power supply, which is quite a throwback in these days of powered USB connections.
First impressions are good, but less-than-perfect integration with the latest software and poor construction let the Bitstream down. The Bitstream 3X is bitstrsam control surface that offers a little bit of everything. This is a nice touch, though the case does seem rather large when you consider how modestly-sized the hardware itself is.
At first glance, the Bitstream looks pretty cool. These are arranged in standard mixing desk style – you get a row of eight faders with a set of four knobs sitting above each one. Reason users, however, can rejoice – the Bitstream features a special Reason mode that intelligently maps your Reason modules, which we’re happy to report works very well indeed. Still, thanks to some foam padding, the Bitstream, its power supply and a USB cable can all fit in snugly, and the case will be a godsend for people who gig regularly or move about a lot.
This could make the 3X a potential prospect if you use Propellerhead’s software, but we’re not convinced that this functionality sufficiently justifies the sub-par construction.
It’s not particularly big, but it does display a fair amount of information and is certainly a useful feature. This is cross-platform and enables each of the controls to be bitstrream up as a CC or Note On. We had further woes trying to set the unit up to work with Ableton Live 5 and found that the instructional PDF on the website 3xx out some important information that we later located on the Wave Idea forum. Downloading the Mackie Emulation user libraries from the Wave Idea website gives you thousands of presets, but we found actually getting the Mackie Emulation mode to work properly to be a tricky task indeed.