Ardour 3.0 alpha 2 released

A new pair of binary packages of Ardour 3 alpha 2 are now available:

Changes since alpha 1

  • "Light" GUI theme now included (no more crashing if you switch to use it)
  • Control surfaces now discovered correctly (not yet OSC, that will be in alpha 3)
  • fixed crash when saving MIDI region automation
  • MIDI note display now uses "scientific notation" (
  • a couple of build system improvements and fixes
  • MIDI hardware ports have slightly prettier names (no more alsa_pcm: prefix)

VBAP 2D panning

More will be written about this feature once its closer to completion. For now, let's just note that it replaces the old 2D panner in Ardour 2.X with code based on VBAP (Vector Base Amplitude Panning). Here's a boring screenshot of the panner:

the VBAP-based 2D panner

New Region Editing Features

Lincoln Spiteri did some excellent work adding several new editing features which link into his non-layered mode. The general idea here is a workflow that doesn't rely on crossfades and generally avoids region overlaps. However, these editing operations are useful whether you use this track mode or not.

JACK Session Support

The latest release of JACK includes a new feature called "JACK Session" which allows the creation of "session manager" applications that can snapshot an entire JACK session, and then restart them en masse at a later time. If you're using Ardour in combination with some external software synth or FX application, JACK Session allows you to store the state of all the JACK applications at once, and then later, restart the exact same setup to continue working smoothly.

Vertical (non-overlapped) Region Stacking

Working with a track that has many overdubs can sometimes be a little confusing because its not always entirely clear how the overdubs are all layered with respect to each other. Although there are other methods of moving particular regions to the top of an overlapping set, and although Ardour also has playlists to let you manage takes a bit more efficiently than just continually overdubbing, there are times when being able to clearly see all regions in a track without any overlaps is reassuring and potentially useful.

Extended Track/Bus List

The information displayed in the track list within the right-hand side notebook of the editor window has been expanded to provide an at-a-glance summary of track/bus status. Because each track takes up just a single line in the list, its possible to display information (and control status) for many more tracks than many be visible in the main part of the editor window.

the track/bus list

On the left side of the track list is a set of indicators/buttons that show the following status for each track/bus:

Import From Session

Ardour's ability to import external media files remains essentially unchanged in version 3.0, but thanks to work by Sakari Bergen, an entirely new kind of import is now possible: importing specific material from another session.

Accessed via Session->Import From Session ..., this process is driven via a dialog that allows to select an existing session file or snapshot (basically any file ending in ".ardour"). It then presents a list of elements that can be imported: Regions, Tracks, Playlists, Locations, and the tempo map.

Option to move automation with regions

One long-standing complaint from users in Ardour 2.X was the impossibility of moving track automation data when dragging regions. This behaviour came from a very early assessment of workflow when Ardour was first being developed, and I freely admit that I was wrong about this design.

Extended Region List

The Region List in the right hand side tabbed notebook of the editor window has been expanded in Ardour 3.0 to contain a lot more information about each region.

the region list

You will note that there are lot of displays of various kinds of time in the expanded region list. The type of time display used here, as elsewhere in Ardour, follows the display mode of the secondary clock. Switch that to "Samples" and all time displays in the region list will switch to the same mode.

New "Non-Layered" Recording mode

Ardour 2.X already had two different recording modes:

  • Normal mode: overdubs write to new files, new regions are layered on top of existing regions (with or without crossfades)
  • Tape mode: overdubs destructively write to an existing file, single region per track (fixed crossfades at every punch)
Thanks to the work of Lincoln Spiteri, Ardour 3.0 adds a new recording mode: Non-layered.