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An Intro To Editing Audio On Linux 332

W-9z writes "Ars is running a guide to editing audio under Linux that I think is a great read for anyone trying to find new ways to flex that Linux muscle. There are some outstanding FOSS tools out there. They look at Ardour, Audacity, and SND. The author talks a bit about why Linux is a superior platform for this kind of work: 'FOSS software is, almost by definition, a work in process. If Ardour doesn't have a feature I need, I can code it myself. With this possibility, the software no longer defines what I can do -- it's just a point of departure.' It's an interesting companion to the /. discussion of video editing earlier this year."
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An Intro To Editing Audio On Linux

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  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Legendof_Pedro ( 900265 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:26PM (#13785480) Homepage
    Wow, I never knew Linux was so good for that kind of thing. In fact, I might just stop using SONAR (Windows) and switch to Linux.

    I guess that means that the 1% market share just got a bit bigger.
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

      by hummer357 ( 545850 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @06:44PM (#13786226)
      Also, another easy way -- next to Debian -- to use Ardour, Audacity, Jack, LADSPA or anything else, is to use Stanford's Planet.CCRMA [stanford.edu] project for Fedora.

      It contains just about any decent audio app for GNU/Linux, including the ones mentioned in TFA, but also has custom kernels with the real-time patches and everything.

      Definitely worth checking out!!

      h357
  • have to admit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CDPatten ( 907182 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:29PM (#13785513) Homepage
    I usually don't turn to linux for day to day tools, but I have to admit, it is pretty good for editing large audio. Tools are lacking, but its pretty stable doing.
  • Yeah (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "FOSS software is, almost by definition, a work in process. If Ardour doesn't have a feature I need, I can code it myself."

    But, what if you aren't a coder?
    • Re:Yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bcat24 ( 914105 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:31PM (#13785534) Homepage Journal
      Find someone who is a coder and bribe them with money/pizza/Mountain Dew/etc?
    • Re:Yeah (Score:4, Informative)

      by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:36PM (#13785602)
      Same thing that would happen with non-free software, except here you can hire any coder to fix it, and there you could only hire one company.
    • Re:Yeah (Score:5, Funny)

      by Ingolfke ( 515826 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:38PM (#13785614) Journal
      But, what if you aren't a coder?

      What are you some kind of ignorant n00b!? RTFM idiot! RTFC for goodness sakes. How hard is it to learn C, learn all 28 of the relevant libraries, learn how the code was implemented, write the code, test the code, and convince the maintainer to add the code to the core code base? You must be some kind of lazy ignorant wretch.
  • by rebeka thomas ( 673264 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:30PM (#13785527)
    A friend in the industry tells me he's converted at least a dozen pro audio editors to ardour, leaving behind pro tools and logic for good. This looks like it's one of the killer apps that's going to take linux far. We already have several that are making F/OSS well known in the wider world like apache, blender, gimp and the rest.

    What's insane is the pro proprietary companies charge prices in the four figures just for some of their software alone. Can't be justified when you have the same abilities free.
    • by mOoZik ( 698544 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:38PM (#13785616) Homepage
      ProTools is industry standard, period. No FOSS is going to conquer their market share. In fact, outside of the /. crowd, this will remain small. Lack of hardware support for most popular interfaces will doom it so, not to mention Linux's inflexibilities to the average user.
      • True, but Ardour does an advantage. It runs quite well on OS X where it can make use of any of the hardware available to OS X. I use it regularly my PowerBook. ProTools will remain a standard, though, but hopefully Ardour can make a dent.
      • by paulbd ( 118132 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:51PM (#13785756) Homepage

        its interesting that this was said about 1 or 2 "industry standard" video editing suites when apple released final cut (pro). final cut pro is now probably the most widely used video editing suite, even including all the big video studios. it has simply evolved to the point where it pushed the existing "industry standards" out of the way.

        i doubt that ardour can do this (and i wrote ardour so i know what i am talking about), but we'll give it our best shot, ok?

      • I call B.S. on this one. Seriously, ProTools may have the most recognized *name* in the recording industry, but that doesn't mean it's the most widely used product for the job. What tends to happen with ProTools is studios know it "rings a bell" with people when they hear it mentioned, so they always list it as a capability their studio offers. But in reality, the ProTools rig often sits collecting dust. It's not a bad product at all, but flexibility and technology wise, it's been eclipsed by other pack
      • What lack of support (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Gordonjcp ( 186804 )
        *Every* professional audio interface that is worth laying out the money for is supported by ALSA. Between ALSA and jack, you can get stunning results even from crappy hardware. I can get below 5ms latency with an el-cheapo SB Live! card. I know a few people using ardour with extremely expensive cards, and getting a hell of a lot more for their money than with crappy ASIO drivers.
      • ProTools is industry standard, period. No FOSS is going to conquer their market share.

        Similarly you don't use a DTP package to make quick notes, so stuff like ecasound is great for stuff like increasing the volume on a large number of files from a simple command line entry, or cutting off the first 30 minutes of a radio podcast, or just simply mixing one track with another (two inputs, one output - very simple command, then you get back to whatever else you are using). Aquiring a version of ProTools by wh

    • by stubear ( 130454 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:44PM (#13785689)
      "What's insane is the pro proprietary companies charge prices in the four figures just for some of their software alone. Can't be justified when you have the same abilities free."

      $1000 is a drop in the bucket for most professional studios whose bread and butter work utilizes these tools. Photoshop is expensive but with the amount I make using teh software, it's nothing. if you're looking to purchase this software to goof off and do some amature stuff, then I can see you having a problem with the price. If you're a professional, these licenses are nothing in the overall scheme of things.
    • IMO, Ardour is my least favorite but has the brightest future.

      I know 2 Pro studios that made the switch from Pro Tools and both were financially unstable. Pro Tools still reigns supreme for me for the moment.

      The 4 figures for software is worth it when the $150/hour mastering engineer spends 2 days at the studio and works with what he knows. The 2 studios I know running Ardour have released relatively mediocre sounding albums that had great content. I can tell they didn't have a good engineer handling the
    • A friend in the industry tells me he's converted at least a dozen pro audio editors to ardour

      Indeed. I'm surprised the article didn't cover Sweep [metadecks.org], which has also been making inroads into some professional studios, and has some high profile supporters (Pixar being the obvious one).

    • A friend in the industry tells me he's converted at least a dozen pro audio editors to ardour, leaving behind pro tools and logic for good.

      Great, meanwhile, Pro Tools marketshare increases every year, especially with the upcoming version 7 release.

      Looking at Ardour, the interface is a complete rip-off of Pro Tools anyway, so it's difficult to imagine a studio purposely moving to a less-supported platform to use a Pro Tools-alike when they could be using the real thing, get support from the company, and hav
  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:30PM (#13785528) Journal
    On proprietary platforms, eventually you'll run into "you can't do that." On open platforms, you'll run into "you have to learn more to do that."

    That applies to so much more than just audio programs.

      -Charles
    • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @06:01PM (#13785842) Journal
      The problem with convincing people to use open source software is that when they hear "you can't do that" they say "Oh. Darn" and go on with their life. When they hear "you have to learn more to do that" they throw a temper tantrum then throw the computer out the window.
      • by torpor ( 458 ) <ibisum@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday October 13, 2005 @06:38PM (#13786169) Homepage Journal
        The problem with convincing people to use open source software is that when they hear "you can't do that" they say "Oh. Darn" and go on with their life. When they hear "you have to learn more to do that" they throw a temper tantrum then throw the computer out the window.

        Interesting observation. So, the proper respons might be more effective were it modified slightly: "oh, you can learn how to do that, if you want to..."

        i mean, 'can if you want', versus 'have to or its nothing' is quite a different kettle .. no wonder people fuse up over it. "do what you have to or have not" versus "can if you want to, or have not".
  • No linux has the audacity to play audio
  • by nifboy ( 659817 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:31PM (#13785537)
    If Ardour doesn't have a feature I need, I can code it myself.

    Unless, of course, you don't know how to code it yourself, either because you don't have the technical know-how or the willingness to invest time investigating and learning how it works.

    This is becoming a pet peeve of mine when people espouse the benefits of FOSS; it only applies to tech-geeks. Great, programmers can do things with it that they can't do with closed-source. Now how about everyone else?

    • Call Rent-A-Coder.

      Mark my words: one day, this too shall come to pass....

    • Everyone else has their pick of tech-geeks to hire to do it for them, instead of relying on a single company to decide to add the feature.
    • > Great, programmers can do things with it that they can't
      > do with closed-source. Now how about everyone else?

      First off coding is something anybody can learn and is improved by simple practice. Now there is no "anybody else" if people would just take the effort to learn a little.

      But I fear for society in a world where people refuse to learn because they don't want to, instead of can't.
      • First off coding is something anybody can learn and is improved by simple practice. Now there is no "anybody else" if people would just take the effort to learn a little.

        It also takes time to become skilled, especially enough to pick up another project, read the code and then code a new feature for it. Frankly that's actually a reasonably significant time investment that most people simply won't have time to make. I know I'd rather spend my time making music than learning to code so I can implement a fea

        • by njh ( 24312 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @06:13PM (#13785933) Homepage
          BByak, one of the lead developers for Inkscape knew nothing of programming until he wanted a better tool for his graphics business. He simply started with something simple, and learned the kinds of patterns needed for writing programs. It's not that hard if you are an intelligent, creative person. Try it sometime, you'll be surprised.

          (all the musicians in my band are computer programmers or scientists - and that is purely coincidental)
      • First off coding is something anybody can learn and is improved by simple practice. Now there is no "anybody else" if people would just take the effort to learn a little.

        So is playing a musical instrument, or learning how to do complex tax forms, or writing a sci-fi novel. The point is that for most people it's not worth learning to add the feature and actually coding scripts is moderately simple to learn, but writing complex code and modifying other people complex code, particularly when moderately comple
      • First off coding is something anybody can learn and is improved by simple practice. Now there is no "anybody else" if people would just take the effort to learn a little.

        Bullshit. Anybody can learn to write "Hello, world," just like anybody can cut a tree down with an axe. But not just anybody can write a high performance 28-tap comb filter, any more than just anybody can hack a stump into a work of art with a hatchet.

        Even if a person was theoretically capable of doing it themselves, it would take mont

      • by RatBastard ( 949 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @06:04PM (#13785865) Homepage
        First off coding is something anybody can learn

        BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You don't know many "regular Joes", do you? Most people don't have the time or energy to devote to learning to program. And by the time the average non-inclined person gets good, they've long since given up and paid money to some company that made a product that does what they needed and have left Linux and the FOSS comunity behind and haven't looked back.

        But I fear for society in a world where people refuse to learn because they don't want to, instead of can't.

        People don't learn specialized (and to them esoteric) skills because they DON'T HAVE THE TIME! Most people have lives. They have things to do. Kids to feed. Jobs. Houses to keep in order. Lawns that need to be mowed. Friends. Relatives. Etc... It's not that people won't learn (well, the current state of the educational system does make it harder to learn new things, but I digress), it's that they have things they'd rather be doing instead of mastering a specialized set of skills to add some functionality to someone else's unfinshed work.

        Have you taken the time to learn how to fix every problem you might have with your car? I'm willing to bet money you know the absolute basics, at best. You can put fuel in it, check the radiator, fill the tires, change a flat, you might know how to check your fluid levels and maybe refill anything that's low. But can you rebuild the transmission? Fix the breaks? Probably not.

        Is it because you are lazy? No. It's because you have better things to do with your time. Please, for the love of Pete, stop thinking that everyone should have the same interests as you. That's the attitude that's kept Linux off of most desktops for the last 12 years.

    • by RatBastard ( 949 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:49PM (#13785742) Homepage
      Agreed. Most users are NOT programmers and wouldn't know a function if it bit them on the ass. This whole "do it yourself" mantra is just justification for things not being finished. I have used so many "0.9x" versions of software on Linux that never get to 1.0 it makes me sick. Is it too much to ask that a developement team actually finish a release before sending it out in a non-dev package? Or is it assumed that everything Linux is a developer release? If that's the case Linux is doomed as the vast majority of users don't want to program, don't give a damn about programming and wouldn't be good at it in the first place.

      After years of being sick of Windows and repeatedly trying to get into Linux I finally bailed last year and bought a Mac.
    • Great, programmers can do things with it that they can't do with closed-source. Now how about everyone else?

      You're exactly the same place you were if you had chosen a closed-source app. You can ask -- or possibly pay, if it is important enough -- someone else to implement it for you.

      The apps being reviewed aren't some half-baked trash that no one but hardcore geeks use. They are complete, polished and professional. They just happen to include the ability to EXTEND IT YOURSELF IF YOU HAVE THE SKILL. For
    • Unless, of course, you don't know how to code it yourself, either because you don't have the technical know-how or the willingness to invest time investigating and learning how it works.

      Then outsource it. [rentacoder.com]

    • Imagine for a moment that this was comparing cars, and the Microsoft model had its hood so famously welded shut. With the FLOSS model car, yes, I can fix it myself, but more importantly, I can pay someone else to fix it, revise it, etc. That's the significance of the language plugins and FLOSS in general. How many people actually work on their own cars? Not very many, other than changing oil. But how many people would be happy buying a car that could only be serviced, or enhanced, by taking it to teh d
    • Now how about everyone else?

      Learn how to! Programming is not difficult, to say otherwise means that you have bought the lie which has made His Billness so wealthy. You need: literacy - which includes the ability to perceive the information in the transparent lines hiding on the last page in most computer books :-) - a reasonably logical mind; a good memory so you can remember the lore; the ability to organize your time; and to be a stickler for details.

      There are so many really good books and papers, to s

  • by a whoabot ( 706122 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:32PM (#13785554)
    fervent software [ferventsoftware.com]

    Offers a Linux distribution based on Debian designed for audio work.

    http://ccrma.stanford.edu/planetccrma/software/ [stanford.edu]

    Offers packages to be installed over Fedora for audio.
  • Superior? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRealSlimShady ( 253441 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:33PM (#13785559)
    The author talks a bit about why Linux is a superior platform for this kind of work: 'FOSS software is, almost by definition, a work in process. If Ardour doesn't have a feature I need, I can code it myself

    It's only superior if you have the ability to code the feature you need. There's a huge assumption there that someone who is skilled at using a DAW is even inclined to code new features for an application. Personally speaking, I lack the skills to approach that, so a superior platform is one that lets me do what I want without having to code the feature. That's not to discount the value of being able to do that, but really, most modern DAW's are extensible in some way or another (be it via VST, or some API). Having said that, Audacity rocks!

  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) *
    My brother owns a recording studio, and Linux wouldn't compete in that arena. For a home studio, these apps + a SB Audigy are fine, but no talented band, producer, editor or mastering engineer will look twice. The midlevel sound cards don't approach the quality and power of the high end (even rotools HD) vehicles.

    For me, I want to see Linux drivers adapted for the high end hardware. Windows isn't an issue as most high end studio apps offload the processing to the hardware. The software is just a window
    • by paulbd ( 118132 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:46PM (#13785706) Homepage

      Unfortunately you don't really know what you're talking about. Or maybe fortunately.

      RME Hammerfall and HDSP series (26 channels), M-Audio Delta 1010 (10/12 channels), AudioScience (8 channels) and at least 4 others fully and well supported on Linux are at least equal to the quality of ProTools HD. In fact are generally up with the best you can buy (for all digital interfaces, quality is most defined by your A/D + D/A converters, which have nothing to do with what you install in the computer. They cost significantly less than PT HD hardware. I leave it up to you to figure out why that is.

      Linux does have a gaping hole right now with Fireware-based external audio interfaces, which is soon to be filled in by the FreeBob project. Linux also cannot support h/w from several manufacturers who refuse to provide information required for drivers (MOTU is a particularly blatant example). Note that you cannot use your PT h/w with non-PT software, at least until very recently and even then only on OS X with particular caveats. Wanna take another guess at why it costs so much?

      Disclaimer: author of Ardour, the RME Hammerfall & HSP drivers, and an RME reseller

      • Wanna take another guess at why it costs so much? Two words: captive market.
      • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday October 13, 2005 @06:30PM (#13786072) Homepage Journal
        Hammerfall is top notch and I didn't realize it had solid Linux support, so I'll look into it. I know numerous people who had problems with alsa and HDSP even very recently.

        M-Audio Delta I know has been supported for years (4Front? Can't look it up easily from my PDA) but I didn't think it was pro quality. Did they get ADAT support stable yet? I figured they lost the battle with PT at the highend and were going to chase the LT market. I've seen numerous studios dump Midiman over the years due to product constraints and limited end user support.

        AudioScience seems very friendly for the not-for-profit studios (and churches) on a budget, but I think the higher end hardware is priced out of the picture. Radio stations and high budget companies seem to love it. I don't know anyone in my area using it in the studio, Win nor Lin.

        I guess that's my problem with many of the companies I've seen supporting Linux: end user support problems. PT's end user support is fantastic even for small budget studios. The interface is known by every producer and engineer.

        For me, initial cost means little. Low training costs, good support, and user friendliness are just as important as sound quality.

        Ardour is a good product with, IMHO, the brightest future. We've screwed with it, and I believe are integrating it in a cheap portable studio.
    • In the end though, a 4track tape is enough if you have talent. Most bands don't.

      The same could be said about people that own recording studios. A talented sound engineer can make do without the high-end equipement, just listen to some of the many amazing albums made a generation ago.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Traction2 [mackie.com] is built using JUCE [rawmaterialsoftware.com]. JUCE is an all-encompassing C++ class library for developing cross-platform applications. Both of which were built by Jules of Raw Material Software [rawmaterialsoftware.com]. On April, 25th 2005 JUCE was released with Linux support.

    There is talk that this powerful, unique, and user-friendly audio application could be ported to Linux. If anyone else wants to support such an idea, e-mail Mackie or see this thread [kvraudio.com] on KVR.
    • partial linux support, if you read the fine print. as in "a few easy classes work on linux, but none of the hard ones. i hope someone will find the time to implement them for linux".

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Link please?

        Here is a quote from Jules on Sep 29th, 2005

        "Yeah, there's a few things not done in the linux port yet - audio and file choosers are amongst them.

        (actually, I think those might be the only major things still missing from the linux port.. sorry if they happen to be the exact things you need!)

        Haven't got a timeline for doing them, I just fit things in when I get the time to do it, but they'll happen eventually."
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:36PM (#13785595) Homepage Journal
    great read for anyone trying to find new ways to flex that Linux muscle.

    Real men flex their muscles by editing raw sound:

    % cat /dev/audio > /im_the_man/raw.snd
    % hexedit /im_the_man/raw.snd

  • FOSS!=Linux (Score:3, Interesting)

    by amliebsch ( 724858 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:36PM (#13785601) Journal
    Is there some reason why FOSS audio tools will not work in Windows? I'm just puzzled, because I don't understand the jump from "here are some great FOSS audio tools" to "this is why Linux>Windows." I used FOSS on Windows all the time; it it was coded well it works perfectly fine. Or are these FOSS-tools platform-dependent on some specific distro of Linux?
    • Re:FOSS!=Linux (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )
      Two major likely reasons:

      1) FOSS people tend to be Linux people. Many of them are highly idealistic, hence why they opt to do FOSS. That idealism leads to sometimes a fanatical level of hatred for Windows. That means that they aren't very inclined to port to Windows. However it also usually mean a severe lack of knowledge about Windows. Windows IS different than Linux and unless you cop out and use Cygwin, there's some porting work a head of you to make a Linux app in to a Windows app.

      2) Competition. Often,
    • Re:FOSS!=Linux (Score:4, Informative)

      by s4m7 ( 519684 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @07:36PM (#13786636) Homepage
      Audacity being the one major exception that I can think of where a FOSS pro-grade audio app will run on windows, Audacity also has a weakness on the linux platform that the other FOSS Linux-only tools don't have: compatibility with the Jack Audio Connection Kit.

      Jack also runs on OSX but for some reason beyond my research/understanding does not run on windows. Jack allows you to route audio and midi data through virtual channels between other jack compatible clients, making it an extremely powerful audio environment. Rosegarden and Ardour, the two most critical apps to doing pro-audio on linux, are generally dependant on jack (rosegarden will do midi-only without jack) and therefore Linux (or OSX) would be required to use either of these (very powerful and professional) tools.

      that clarify things?
  • Audaity (Score:2, Interesting)

    There is a Windows version too. If you think you're not into music editing, well, ever get an mp3 that was just too low in volume? Audacity can easily fix that - amplify, under the effect menu. Not suprisingly, Audacity is also open source. Not a big download either, but you will need to get the LAME codec to import/export mp3s. There's a link on the Audacity page to the codec and it tells you how to load it into the program. Just do a search; the Audacity home page should be enar the top.

    Not to get into

  • Not exactly. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I don't know about the author of this article, but I am certainly NOT an audio engineer, so I could not "code it myself". In fact, most end users probably aren't even developers. And even if you are a developer, you will have to spend a good deal of time getting intimate with the architecture and framework of the application. Sure, you can hire somebody to code something up for you, but that's not the same as doing it yourself. If you're going to pay somebody to change something, why not request a featu
  • by flinxmeister ( 601654 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:46PM (#13785707) Homepage
    An engineer friend of mine just recorded 80 tracks of audio simultaneously using protools (dual G5 mac)...over an hour solid. It was a large live event with no second chances, and it went without a hitch.

    I think one huge advantage of the commercial apps is the associated hardware. The DACs and off board procs do far more than a single workstation could do, and unfortunately open source hardware can't really be free. For big tasks, professional recording is much more than software.

    There may be a way to cluster some slave workstations or something to provide the required horsepower, but some time-sensitive situations are going to require that such a system be very, very stable.
    • And this has absolutely nothing to do with free software versus non-free software. There's nothing preventing someone from developing this stable extra hardware, documenting it, and allowing any programmer to write software to talk to it.

      Also, you're confused about the term "commercial [gnu.org]". Free software (a matter of liberty not price) is commercial software too the moment anyone uses it in commercial activity (distributing a copy of it for a fee, modifying it for a fee, building services on top of it for

    • This is why Pro Tools owns the market. The other apps run all their processing on the CPU, while Digidesign does what gamers have been doing for the past ten years, use dedicated hardware to run all that processing and free up the CPU as a host. Back when Pro Tools was getting big, this was really the only way to do the kind of recording that is done in the pro audio world.

      There may be a way to cluster some slave workstations or something to provide the required horsepower, but some time-sensitive situati
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MaestroSartori ( 146297 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @05:48PM (#13785729) Homepage
    I spend a great deal of time doing home audio stuff, and I was interested to read the article. I've used Ardour and Audacity for a little while in the past, but I find I'm still using my Windows audio apps (Ableton and Soundforge, if you're interested). Why?

    Well, the article itself touches on a few of my reasons. Ardour, specifially, is very "Linuxy" in its interface layout and design, reminding me in many ways of the old Dos version of 3D Studio. It definitely looks like a programmer-designed UI, it's very stark and bare-bones, and things are never quite where you expect them to be. It's clearly a Cubase/Logic inspired design and layout, but without the years of fine-tuning those have had to get to their current states. I prefer Ableton's more unorthodox approach anyway, but that's just me :)

    The other is, as always, hardware support. Getting less important now in some ways, for some uses (I use quite a lot of virtual instruments, so not a huge deal for me) the lack of hardware DSP support is a killer. Proprietary developers are to blame here, in fairness, but it's still a problem.

    Probably most importantly for me is the real killer, and I suspect the reason most audio folks won't move to Linux for some time to come (and coincidentally the reason so many of them use Apple machines): we don't want the software to get in the way of the creation of music any more than it has to. At the moment, many parts of Linux are unhelpfully complicated, especially to non-technical people.

    A final thought, based on the quote from the article repeated in the summary:

    If Ardour doesn't have a feature I need, I can code it myself. With this possibility, the software no longer defines what I can do - it's just a point of departure.


    Quite apart from ignoring the fact that almost every major audio app can use various forms of plugin, which have relatively easy to obtain SDKs, and that various generic programmable plugins (like MaxDSP) exist for which one can do the same, it ignores maybe the most obvious point of all: not all musicians are programmers.

    • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Informative)

      by paulbd ( 118132 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @06:05PM (#13785877) Homepage

      Well, the article itself touches on a few of my reasons. Ardour, specifially, is very "Linuxy" in its interface layout and design, reminding me in many ways of the old Dos version of 3D Studio. It definitely looks like a programmer-designed UI, it's very stark and bare-bones, and things are never quite where you expect them to be. It's clearly a Cubase/Logic inspired design and layout, but without the years of fine-tuning those have had to get to their current states. I prefer Ableton's more unorthodox approach anyway, but that's just me :)

      Ardour's UI is based almost entirely on ProTools, which most casual users of audio s/w have never used, and many have never even seen. The people who use ardour professionally (and there are a few!) comment that its UI is the most efficient they have used, including ProTools, which most people say is the most efficient in the proprietary world because of its extensive use of keyboard shortcuts. Ardour's development and design has been geared toward learning as much as possible from the years of fine tuning done with other DAWs, although we have been a little hampered by some issues with our GUI toolkit (GTK+ v1). We are currently about 60% done porting ardour to GTK2, and plan to be quite focused on usability issues after that (among many other things).

      Re: h/w DSP support: first, DAC's don't have anything to do with this, and even when they are internal to the audio interface, they use no CPU cycles - they are always h/w! But more generally, see: my position [ardour.org] on this issue.

    • t's clearly a Cubase/Logic inspired design and layout

      No, Ardour looks nothing at all like Cubase or Logic. Its interface is almost a 1:1 riff on Pro Tools.

      I'd love for a freeware app to look like Cubase/Nuendo. Still the best DAW interface out there, in my opinion.
    • The other is, as always, hardware support. Getting less important now in some ways, for some uses (I use quite a lot of virtual instruments, so not a huge deal for me) the lack of hardware DSP support is a killer. Proprietary developers are to blame here, in fairness, but it's still a problem.

      I agree with you here. If it weren't for the MIDI spec being so mature and some other specs that the industry it self has developed to prevent hardware wars (VST, SMPTE, SDS), there would be very little open source a

  • As TFA says, there are lots of audio editing apps out there. I'm looking for apps that can create the sound as well. I know about the Beast [gtk.org]. Any one have any other ones they know of and like?
  • Great start but... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cskaryd ( 448412 )
    ...I'd like a similar post like "An Intro To Editing Video On Linux." Nor production quality, but something I can edit the commercials out of the shows I record. A product like Womble MPEG-VCR [womble.com] for Linux. Yes, I know how to use Google, but I've never found anything remotely capable of doing what I want. I can hack together MEncoder commands, but that is a pain. This is one of the few areas where a GUI is better than the CLI.
  • Edit audio (Score:3, Interesting)

    by squoozer ( 730327 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @06:05PM (#13785878)

    I'm lucky if I can get audio to work properly half the time. With some applications only talking to OSS, some to only Arts and some others only speaking directly to ALSA (with about a million other variations on this theme) I'm happy if I can get the damn machine to play an MP3. We really do have an wealth of sound applications just a shame they don't play nicely together. Looks like this is going to continue in the future as well with everyone and their uncle producing a next generation sound server.

  • I'm in a foreign language course, and I'd like to find something that can split the vocab audio on the CD so I can match it with flashcards. Anyone know if any of these can do it w/o days worth of tinkering and research?
  • by ikekrull ( 59661 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @06:15PM (#13785962) Homepage
    I especially like it's loop recording function - the existing tracks will continue to loop over and over while you record as many 'takes' as you like in a new track.

    The other app I use (Garageband on my iBook) doesn't offer this feature, and cuts off audio recording after the first take.

    You can get around this by simply repeating your tracks so you have more repeats in the loop to record over, but then youre not really 'loop recording' any more, and ardour's approach to this is so much more convenient.

    I was able to crash ardour by dragging audio around on it's timeline, but I expect this bug has been fixed by now.

    I see lots of exciting things happening in the Linux audio world, apps like seq24, ardour and hydrogen make it hard to justify using anything else for the niches that these apps fill.

  • I still wish there was something as simple and complete as FL Studio that was OSS. I'd love to not have to reboot.....
  • by Phiz ( 21461 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @06:23PM (#13786019)
    The article states that Audacity supports VST plugins. This is only partially true. VST plugins run (with the VST enabler installed), but they use a default interface - not the interface that was designed for each plugin. Many of the designed (non-default) interfaces have data displays that give feedback on the setting being adjusted (such as a meter showing audio levels relative to an adjustable threshold). Using these plugins without the feedback from the data displays can be difficult. I believe few new users would put up with this limitation if they have used competing apps that fully support VSTs and their interfaces. Saying that VST plugins are supported without explicitly mentioning this limititation, as the article does, is quite misleading.
  • FTA: "Support for dedicated DSP processors is somewhat controversial. A DSP processor is like a graphics card for audio--it can accelerate DSP operations, reducing the load on the main CPU. The problem here is that since DSP cards are such a niche market, the only ones available are proprietary add-ons for proprietary software. They use proprietary protocols, closed source, and are locked down to be used with only one piece of software, eg. ProTools."

    Why can't these apps just use a PC stuffed with DSP sound
  • I do some of the sound mixing for my band, while some is done by a professional. I use windows, and he uses Mac. I use SONAR, and he uses Logic. Let me say, even as a PC person, that Logic is an AMAZING program. It is incredibly simple, much more so than SONAR, but at the same time just as powerful, if not more so. Instead of having to apply filters with a drop down menu, you drag them to filter slots on a track. Buttons you need are big, the ones you don't are small. Filters have clear labels on the
    • You can also jump to the moon if you want to.

      This is actually factually incorrect. You can't jump to the moon merely by wanting to. I'm sorry, but the rest of your post is thrown into sharp doubt by this foolish statement.
  • Audio Linux (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dakta ( 922739 )
    Im a fan of open source and communal development but I do not think Linux is superior to windows. For example (and some kind of attempt to backup my arguement) professional tools such as reason and Cubase struggle if not fail completely to run under a Linux environment, VST support within linux is limited (but there). There are many ways in which linux is superior to windows, but I feel this is not one of them, surely the tools are adequate, but for a user who is interested in business, compatibility aswell
  • by zenbot ( 922760 ) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @08:42PM (#13787050)
    This is one of those areas where Linux frustrates me the most. I would not use Windows at all if the audio/midi apps for linux were more mature. Ardour for example is great if all you want to do is multitrack audio, but even in this area it does not come close to say Cubase or Sonar. For example Ardour does not feature hitpoint detection, non-destuctive time stretching, audio warping, groove templates, offline per-clip effects, track freezing and on and on. MIDS is coming but who knows how many years that will take. I'd add it, but I'm not a good programmer and dont have the time. The features it does have work great but it still doesnt really compare to the commercial offerings. VST support.. This is a joke. Last time I checked there were three or four different alternatives for linux here, all using wine and all have dead for at least a year.. MIDI? Linux has some good midi apps which still dont have near the features of the windows ones. Some of these, namely Rosegarden and Muse, even have audio track support but these features are so primitive that they are nearly useless and really Ardour is the better choice here.. But someone will then say but Linux has Jack and you can hook together whatever apps you want. Jack is sort of like Rewire on steroids. So you load Qjackctl which is a nice app for connecting Linux audio apps. Ok. So you load up Muse for its midi capabilities, maybe load up some soft-synths in it, maybe the ones you want to are plugins for Muse, but probably not so you load up two or three external soft-synths and route muses midi output to those one at a time, then you hook the output of those soft synths into ardour via jack. So now there are 5 programs loaded, took you 30 minutes to load and connect everything. You make some changes to the patches in the soft-synths, write some midi tracks in muse and then record a bit of it into ardour. Then think gee I'd like to save my song so I can unload all these programs and do something else with my computer. So you save in muse, save in both synths, save your hookups in qjackctl, save your session in ardour, write a little note so you remember everything you need to do to load your song again. This takes you another 30 minutes.. But really whats more likely to happen is: you will hook everything up and one of the crappy soft synths will crash before you have a chance to save everything and take out the other audio apps forcing you to start over or your whole computer will crash because you were using the realtime-lsm patch to make the thing responsive. Or you will close Ardour before disconnecting it from muse and muse will crash. etc etc. There are nice proposals like LASH, formerly LADCCA which would let all Lash compliant apps be saved in their current states and then reloaded that way but most programs dont use LASH. Not to mention the time it takes to get all there programs and a proper kernel compiled and downloaded if you are not using some pre-made solution like CCRMA, Demudi or Studio to go. Many distro have these apps as packages, but something is always out of date. I have been watching Linux audio grow for years and years and really its going to take years more before all of the features I listed above exist in a single app. With Cubase I open one app with synthesis, sampling, Midi and Audio editing under one roof. When Im finished I save and close, done. I am a huge Linux fan, but I really hate Linux audio. Maybe next year.. Ardour really is awesome though..

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