Who says every music production tool has to be either a traditional DAW or Ableton Live?

Not Renoise, for one. I’m running out of things to call it. Modernized tracker? Tracker on steroids? Music production tool from an alternate history in which conventional DAWs were ignored and everybody just kept on using trackers? How about this: a gem that a tiny development team somehow keeps making more awesome with regular updates with misleading names like “point 8.”

So, what does “2.8″ give you? A couple of OS compatibility fixes and one new delay effect? Wrong. New in this release is a massive set of improvements. 64-bit is in there, but in terms of day-to-day use, the workflow improvements may be what really matters. (Okay, I usually cringe when I see “workflow improvements” in a press release, and here I’ve gone and used the same phrase. Let’s just say it’s “more awesome to use.”)

The new Renoise Pattern Matrix aliasing means powerful arrangement and compositional tools.

Highlights, condensed:

  • 64-bit for everybody (Mac and Windows in addition to existing Linux support), so you can access more than 4 GB RAM. A bridge plug-in lets you use 32-bit instruments and effects, and there’s 64-bit ReWire support.
  • Pattern Matrix now lets you alias and clone pattern slots. It’s a powerful arrangement feature that’s a bit different than similar block arrangement or clip launching features in other tools (both because of Renoise’s approach to patterns and clips, and this ability to use those aliases to create structure). Expect some follow-up.
  • Collapse tracks and groups (see image below), giving Renoise some of the screen economy that made trackers famous. Route those grouped tracks, and use pattern effects across grouped tracks (also something relatively technique).
  • DSP multitap delay. (Yes, there’s that, but also…)
  • DSP repeater (“stutter”) effect.
  • DSP Exciter.
  • New pattern effects: Tremolo, Auto Pan, Set Envelope Position. (That last one sounds like it could be pushed into some insane places.)
  • Meta Mixer lets you combine modulation signals. (It’s really a meta device – imagine combining what Ableton does with Devices and Reason does with Combinator and CV devices.) Improvements to other modules, as well, both aesthetically and in parameters.
  • Improved editing in Sample Editor, including destructively rendering slices to individual samples, and editing features typically associated with waveform editors rather than tools like this. My favorite: cross-fading loop creation, which previously required jumping out to another tool (Peak, SoundForge, etc.)
  • More performance: Hyper-threading on new Intel chips.
  • More spectral views and editing, more envelope editing views, Favorites for devices.

And there’s a lot more, as well.

http://www.renoise.com/new

You've got to love the ultra-compact track collapse feature - ideal for 11" MacBook Airs or Linux netbooks.

You also get features like this: “up to 34 DSP devices can be addressed via pattern commands 1xyy-Yxyy.” Power users know instantly what that means musically. The rest of you – well, don’t worry, other parts of Renoise will gradually level you up to that kind of ninja insanity. And Renoise is humanizing things, as well: “Logical mnemonics for pattern effects from A to Z instead of cryptic numbers.”

Will everyone drop everything and use Renoise? Odds are, no: this tool remains an acquired taste (though don’t dismiss until you’ve given its unique workflow a try). But, then, that’s part of the joy of this: it’s not an “industry standard.” It’s just an incredibly terrific music making tool that proves that not all music making tools need to look identical.

Now that I share the same home city as the developers, I think I owe you more information from the inside. Stay tuned.

Renoise 2.8 is a free update for current users, and an insanely-low 58 € new.

http://www.renoise.com/

  • http://www.facebook.com/djamyang.ahni Djamyang Ahni

     http://soundcloud.com/sunofwisdom/spotlight all made with renoise + vst and nothing else , so , i hope it’s a good example :)

  • shiekasai

    “Now that I share the same home city as the developers, I think I owe you more information from the inside. Stay tuned.”
    This would be sweet. There’s, like, zero credible info on how the inside of this organization works. Rabid fans want to know.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Taktik likes long walks on the beach and … actually, what do you want to know? ;)

    • http://twitter.com/ClySuva Cly/Suva

      We want full disclosure with pics and videos!

  • Adam Cahan

    this looks like sooo much fun….

  • Fuse

    Ive been away from the tracker for a long time.. Buzz tracker was the first software I used (and used for at least 4 years). I now use studio1, reason, flstudio… but this looks really refreshing and i do love that tracker workflow, once you get used to the keyboard for entering paramaters/notes etc you can really move quickly through a track. Thanks for the coverage peter, i got another thing to do this weekend :D

  • http://agargara.iiichan.net/ agargara

    The Renoise team always amazes me with how much awesome stuff they cram into each update. +1!!!

    After working with 2.8 for a while, I can hardly imagine going back. I make so much use of all the new features already. Compared to when I use Ableton Live 8, I don’t feel like I use much more than what came with Live 6…. and Renoise 2.8 is a free update. Hmm…

  • Tom D

    Never properly given Renoise a go but going to have to change that. Grew up on trackers (FT2, then MadTracker2, and finally Buzz before getting into Cubase/Logic/Live) and watching the Renoise intro reminded me how much I loved working in them.

    It’s a shame that it doesn’t look like it allows you to “arrange” multiple patterns at the same time (in an Ableton clip style, or a Buzz one-pattern-per-device style) as this limits working in a loop based style, but then again, sometimes cool stuff comes out of the restrictions software imposes :)

    Would be an interesting question for the developers actually, if they have any plans to implement something along these lines?

    • Tom D

      D’oh, I’m an idiot! “Pattern Matrix now lets you alias and clone pattern slots. It’s a
      powerful arrangement feature that’s a bit different than similar block
      arrangement or clip launching features in other tools (both because of
      Renoise’s approach to patterns and clips, and this ability to use those
      aliases to create structure). Expect some follow-up.” Right, that’s my evening sorted :)

    • Bjørn Nesby

      The alias feature is basically the ability to “reference” a specific pattern-slot. So, the classic usage case would be to create a drum-beat and repeat it throughout the song. And if you then change the “source”, every aliased slot will reflect this change. Very useful for quickly drafting a song…
      So, not the same as ableton’s clip triggering. For that sort of functionality you would have several options: Cells! or Grid Pie, both alternative workflows that are accomplished by scripting Renoise, using the lua API :-)

    • http://www.tedcurran.net TedCurran

      One thing that’s cool about Renoise is that there’s an active dev community building that stuff out. http://www.renoise.com/tools/live-dive does what you’re describing. I came to Renoise FROM Live and find that, though it’s a little more limited, it does a lot of what I use Live for. It also helps me think in terms of songs, not just loop patterns.

  • Josh Grigg

    I have used Renoise since I was 16, now i’m 26. It’s the best. I have tried everything else and even worked in Ableton for 3 years in a 9 – 5 job but I always come back… the learning curve must be so high if you are coming from another DAW though.

    all renoise: http://www.soundcloud.com/piratesoundsystem 
    :) I recommend people spend some time with it, just for a change when you get a creative block maybe 

  • Fanny

    I think you should tell us once more that you’re living in Berlin.
    That would be great.

  • Plugexpert

    I’m glad someone finally picked up their lua skills to make a great automation mangling device, with the addition of 2.8 it is mind blown + brick shat at the same time.    

  • Rap

    Renoise is too complex for me, chaotic overview, I can’t use it, sorry. I’ll happily stick to Cubase as my favorite main DAW. I use MilkyTracker and Skale though, latter one also has VST support at least. It’s a matter of taste though after all. :)