New Stereo Panner GUI

Although the panning GUI in Ardour 2.X was very powerful and flexible, it made the most common operations with 2in/2out panning more cumbersome than they should be. In Ardour 3.0, the old panners are used for many I/O configurations, but the special case of 2in/2out ("stereo") is now handled by a more deliberately designed GUI element, shown below:

stereo panner

Expanded Editor Cursor Set

The set of mouse cursors used in the editor window has been significantly expanded to provide more visual indication of what mouse operations (particularly drags) will do at any point in the window. Chris Goddard designed the set we are using, and the full collection is shown below:

editor mouse cursor images

New Solo Design and Features

In Ardour 2.x the solo system had complete separation between track and buss soloing. Any track that was solo'd would mute other tracks but not busses and visa versa.

Ardour 3.x introduces a more cohesive structure that not only links busses and tracks but also makes sure that the path to or from the solo'd track or buss is solo'd as well. As an example soloing a buss will also solo any tracks feeding it, and any busses it may feed into.

64bit timeline

Although Ardour has been 64-bit compatible since it was first written, it has had a limitation in that the maximum position on its timeline was limited by using a 32bit value for this purpose. At 48kHz, this limited the timeline to about 12hrs. In Ardour 3.0, all positions are stored in 64 bit values, meaning that there is essentially no meaningful limit to the length of the timeline. If you want to record a multi-day festival and put it all in one session, Ardour 3.0 will go there with you.

Improved Preferences Dialog

Ardour 3.0 splits preferences into two sections:

  • Settings that should logically apply to all sessions, because they are based on user workflow or system configuration
  • Settings that are per session, because they depend or reflect session content or design

Session Overview Pane

Many other DAWs have added a "session overview" element to the GUIs in recent versions, allowing you to see the entire session at some level of detail, regardless of what part of it is visible in the main editor/arrange window. Ardour 3.0 now has such a view, thanks to the efforts of Carl Hetherington, and it can be used to both get an idea of which part of the session you're currently working on, to scroll (horizontally and vertically) around the session, and to zoom in and out.

Rhythm Ferret improves workflow for drum editing and more

Rhythm Ferret, Ardour's counterpart to ProTools "Beat Detective", already supported transient and note onset detection in Ardour 2.X, and allowed you to split regions based on those detected features. But in Ardour 3.0, you can now do much more powerful drum and related editing because:

  • detected feature "marks" can be manually moved or removed
  • you can now snap the region segments to the grid
  • Region menu contains "Add transient" to manually add transients at the edit point (best to use playhead as edit point)

Improved Send Control

Although it was entirely possible to control sends in Ardour 2.X, the process of doing so was a bit cumbersome. In Ardour 3, we've done three notable things to make using sends a breeze.

Inline send level controls in the redirect list

This can be seen in this image of the new redirect list, which includes a send level control inline. It is controllable in exactly the same way as other faders in Ardour (including being MIDI-learnable if you wish).

Unified & Improved Redirect List

In existing versions of Ardour there are two "redirect lists" - places where you can add plugins, sends and returns to the signal flow (we call them "redirects" because they all "redirect" the signal flow from what it would otherwise be). Ardour 2.X shows one before/above the fader and one after/below it.

Track/Bus Templates

For many years, Ardour has allowed you to save the current state of a session (basically, all settings but without any actual content) for use as a template to be used when creating a new session.