If you haven’t been paying much attention to the leading open source DAW, Ardour, now might be a good time to start. Not only is this software fully open source and freely available for Mac OS X and Linux, but as it nears a major upgrade, it’s getting some significant feature support — and the endorsement of a studio recording heavyweight. Even if you never intend to use Ardour, this could have significant positive ramifications for commercial DAWs, too, like helping build a truly open interchange format and plug-in platform.



First, here are some of the significant new features coming in Ardour2, which is getting closer on the path to release (it’s been feature-frozen):

  1. Control surface plug-in architecture: Currently, Ardour supports the excellent Tranzport remote control; other support should be forthcoming.
  2. OSC support: Transport only for now, but hopefully this will mean full OSC control in the future.
  3. Saved undo: Undo history is retained between sessions; thank Google Summer of Code for this!
  4. Destructive audio: Yep, you read that right: if you like, you can overdub new audio without retaining the old audio, which could be useful in certain situations.
  5. Native 64-bit audio: via the WAV64 and CAF formats

The bigger news, though, is who is supporting Ardour2: none other than top audio tech company Solid State Logic (SSL), a major studio name. SSL is funneling funds to Ardour2 development and plans an ongoing relationship with Ardour2:

… we regard the Ardour platform as important for an industry that doesn’t currently have a truly open project interchange standard or an open platform for plug-in developers. The open architecture and platform neutral technology of the Ardour workstation are a natural fit with SSL’s long-term vision to provide scalable and customisable solutions to a rapidly growing customer base.

Solid State Logic announces support for the Ardour project [Ardour.org]

In other words, there are two clear reasons to look to Ardour: it could help develop a truly open source interchange file format and plug-in platform, two things we’re currently missing. That could bring benefits to other audio software, too. So, commercial developers, I hope you’re listening to all of this, too.

  • http://www.andrewswihart.net Andrew Swihart

    your title says "Sonic State Logic," you may want to edit that bub

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Ah, yes, another day, another typo. Thanks, Andrew.

  • GovSilver

    Any support for distributed processing over Ethernet? That's one feature of Logic that I find intriguing

  • http://whats-your.name carmen

    GovSilver: netjack and patchage should let you easily cable in other machines to your setup. eg, synch two ardours on seperate machines, one doing instruments one doing audio and merge the output later on.. or just run a jack-rack on the remote machine to handle a cpu-hungry mastering chain or whatever else you can think up.

  • grackel

    I'm running Fedora 6 64-bit distro with Ardour2 64-bit installed. It looks a little nicer than previous, but doesn't seem to run faster to me. For some reason I thought Ardour2 would have an internal 64-bit mixing engine, but it does not. It works on a 64-bit distro, saves files in a 64-bit file format (WAV64), but the internal audio is limited to 32-bits. Hopefully Ardour will come out with a true 64-bit DAW in the near future. I'm tired of having to reboot into XP Pro x64 whenever I want to record. Don't get me wrong… Ardour is and will be a great program, but I still prefer Sonar or Samplitude.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Grackel, keep in mind that 64-bit mix engines and 64-bit processing are different things. I know a number of people running SONAR (which does have a 64-bit mix engine) on 32-bit Windows. (I think you're aware of this, but in case you or anyone else is unclear.)

    We'll certainly keep tabs on Ardour's development. 64-bit mixing may not be a necessity to everyone, but I know it matters to some.

  • grackel

    Hi Peter,

    I think a 64-bit mixing engine is definitely more important for those of us who have never really given up on analog recording. Personally, when recording onto a digital platform I've always felt a little slighted. I would much rather record onto my 8-track tape machine and then dump it down to mix. With a 64-bit internal mixing engine, I'm much more satisfied with recording straight into my soundcard. Now if I could only be rid of Windows for good. I guess it's not a perfect world.