New Export Dialog, Multi-format export

There was nothing particularly wrong with the export process in Ardour 2.X, but it did have a few important limitations. The two most significant ones have been fixed in Ardour 3.0: multichannel export (more than 2 channels) and the ability to simultaneously export to multiple formats. This second feature means you can create an compressed and uncompressed version of the same export in a single pass, or DVD and CD compatible formats in a single pass, or all 4 at once, or many other possibilities. Here's the basic version of the new export dialog:

Matrix Routing & Patching

The dialog used in Ardour 2.X for routing/patching was often a source of confusion to new users. Although it was really very efficient to use, it wasn't at all obvious how to use it or what the underlying model was.

Strip Silence

Ardour 3.0 contains an editing operation that will detect silence (based on a user-chosen threshold in dBFS), split a region based on the boundaries of the silent segments, and remove the silence. You can also specify a minimum length for silence, which can useful when editing very percussive material and just needing to automatically trim the ends of a region. The dialog looks like this:

strip silence dialog

Undo system redesigned (internally)

It was relatively easy to get Ardour 2.X "bogged down" when working on a large session with many regions and lots of edits. This was normally the result of the undo/redo history becoming too big, which wasn't hard because in Ardour 2.X, it stored too much information.

Dynamically resizable disk I/O buffering

Ardour 2.X used a single configuration parameter to determine how much audio was buffered ("cached") from disk during playback. You could change this parameter only by editing your ~/.ardour2/ardour.rc file in a text editor.

Ardour 3.0 has a dynamically controlled buffer size for disk I/O:

disk buffering controls

Media Search Path

Historically, Ardour has always stored the names of the audio files in one of two ways. One would indicate that the file lived inside the session, and the other indicated that it lived outside, somewhere else in your computer's filesystem. This meant that if you ever moved the location of the external files, Ardour wouldn't be able to find them at startup, and if you wanted the session to work, you'd need to hand edit the session file.

Improved Timecode Chase User Interface

In Ardour 2.X, turning on chase-timecode was done by choosing a timecode source or switching back to "Internal timecode". This meant that switching between chasing and not chasing external timecode was more cumbersome than it should have been.

Ardour 3.0 puts the choice of positional synchronization ("timecode") source (MTC, JACK, MIDI Clock etc) in the Session->Properties dialog. This means that the actual timecode button in the transport bar can be used to just turn chasing on and off, without losing the currently chosen timecode source.

Improved MTC Chasing

There isn't a lot to say about this. Ardour 2.X had what one expert in the field called "the best synchronization behaviour with MTC of any DAW I've ever seen". Ardour 3.0 has some improvements that help when using certain MTC-transmitting devices as the master, and also formalize the synchronization design a bit more. Torben Hohn was largely responsible for this code. We also improved the way that the sync source is selected (whether its MTC or something else) and displayed, and how timecode options are displayed, which is described over here

MIDI Recording, Playback and Editing

The biggest single change in Ardour 3.0 over previous versions of the program is its ability to function as a fully-featured MIDI sequencer. Over the last several years, a variety of developers have worked hard to create a model for handling MIDI that is as integrated with Ardour's existing audio handling facilities and uses the same general workflow as much as possible.

ardour with MIDI tracks and data

MIDI Editing

Ardour's MIDI editing is based on a few basic principles:

  1. Editing should be done without having to enter a new window
  2. Editing should be able to carried out completely with the keyboard, or completely with the mouse, or with any combination of the two.

Currently, and in the initial 3.0 release, MIDI editing will be primarily restricted to note data. Other kinds of data (controller events, sysex data) are present and can be added and deleted, but not actually edited. Probably ...