Ardour and MP3

I had written an article here about using MP3 files with Ardour. Our Linux users often ask why they can't import MP3 files. The article explained the licensing issues that make that tricky, and then went on to explain why using MP3 (or other lossy compression format) files as source material in a project is a bad idea. I am still very strongly convinced that it continues to be a bad idea, but it seems counter-productive to have that debate in this context. I have left everyone's comments in place for those who want to read them.

Ardour in 2012: what to look forward to

As 2011 draws to a close, I wanted to point people toward the future with a brief summary of what to expect from Ardour in 2012.

Building Ardour 2.X from source

Required tools

You will need to ensure that your system has the following sofware building tools installed:

Required libraries

Recovering from the mute bug ...

Although Ardour 2.8.9 no longer suffers from the subtle bug that caused the mute button(s) to no longer work by default, many users of Ardour will not see the situation change until they remove their ~/.ardour2/ardour.rc file. This probably contains default settings for mute like this:

    <Option name="mute-affects-pre-fader" value="yes"/>
    <Option name="mute-affects-post-fader" value="yes"/>
    <Option name="mute-affects-control-outs" value="yes"/>
    <Option name="mute-affects-main-outs" value="yes"/>

If your version of this file has value="no" for those options, you should either edit it by hand (its just a text file) so that it says value="yes" instead or just remove the file entirely. Editing is preferable, but removing the file will not hurt. Note that the following values y,Y,1,yes,Yes,YES are all equivalent to "yes" and similarly n,N,0,no,No,NO are all equivalent to "no".

You should also check the file /etc/ardour2/ardour_system.rc, or a related location if you installed Ardour somewhere non-standard) for the same issue, though it is less likely to be seen there. Do NOT remove this file - if it contains "no" as the settings for these options, you should edit the file.

Reflections on "Intuitive"

People sometimes criticize a piece of software as being "unintuitive". In fact, its one of the most common complaints you'll hear whenever anyone starts using a new piece of software. Its often entirely justified too - its rare that a complex application manages to be obvious to every new user, or even most new users. Some software developers have a good track record here, Apple in particular, whose rules and guidelines for how to design user interfaces keeps on manage to churn out remarkably intuitive software. Well, it does as long the application is fairly simple and its scope is well defined. By the time you get to applications such as Final Cut Pro or Logic Pro, it would be hard to find anyone who found them "intuitive" in the same way that, say, iTunes or even Garageband is. Read more below ...

Ardour Setup Images

Lets collect some photographs of Ardour setups, perhaps with info on the other gear you're using it with. It doesn't have to be fancy - anything that might help convince others that Ardour might be a useful tool for them. You can include a link to a small photo in an <img> tag, and then include the text of the full link - I or someone will convert into a proper link later. First up, Niels Ott in Tübingen, Germany

Niels Ott's Ardour setup

10th anniversary, part one

Ardour started life 10 years ago this week. I had received an RME Hammerfall "digi9652" in early December, and spent the first few weeks of the month getting an ALSA driver working. After a wonderful but unusual Christmas, the first since separating from my first wife, I was faced with the realization that there wasn't any software on Linux that could use the 26in+26out hardware I now had working. After Christmas, with my daughter away with her mother's family, I sat down in my basement and started writing the project that has consumed the last 10 years of my life. The initial goal was simply to replicate the functionality of a dedicated hard disk recorder, which turned out to be quite easy to do. Soon after that, Taybin Rutkin showed up, and we decided that it was all pretty useless without the ability to edit. "How hard could it be to write an editor?" ... 10 years later, I'm in a somewhat nicer work space, we have an editor, and Ableton Live, which started at about the same time, is among the most successful audio applications ever. More importantly, though - a community of users has made it possible for me to work on a piece of software that I love as a way to make a (modest) living, and as a result, we are on the verge of the release of alpha versions of Ardour3. (Click on the screenshot to see what Ardour looked like in 2001, roughly a year after the start)

Ardour 2.8 released

I am pleased to announce the release of Ardour 2.8. As has been previously announced, the 2.X series is now in a state of "feature freeze" so that we can try to concentrate on Ardour 3.0, but as a gesture of thanks to the community for the support during February, I wanted to release this mostly-bugfix version that also comes with a couple of significant features. These include much more reliable VST support on Linux, track/bus templates and, with some important qualifications, AudioUnit state and preset handling. There are more details below...

Distributions break Ardour and waste my time

For some time there have been reports on IRC from users of various Linux distributions that some feature of Ardour is broken. It is getting increasingly tiresome that we end up as the frontline support for breakages that are distro-specific and that we cannot control. These problems waste my time. It would be nice if they would go away. Meanwhile, there's more below on what users of Ubuntu and Gentoo can do ...


In February, the shortest month of the year, the Ardour user community provided US$4500 of funding. Because of this, I have temporarily suspended my plans to find other work, and will continue working full time on Ardour other than for a couple of short term contract efforts. I cannot thank everyone who contributed enough, and I only wish there was enough to support the amazing work that Dave Robillard and Hans Baier continue to put into the MIDI side of things, as well as Carl Worth who has been very active recently. We reached another new milestone in February as well - 200 active subscribers! Subscribers provide some continuity to funding, and watching this number rise during last month has been very gratifying. Next week (ending March 7th) I hope to release Ardour 2.8 (as described in a story below this one), and then do some long-awaited work on the website. After that, I will return to working in a very focused way on 3.0 to try and get it ready for an alpha release before the spring equinox. Thanks again to everyone, I only hope that future months can meet or exceed this level of support.