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.

Extended Track/Bus Groups

Ardour has always included edit and mix groups, similar to those found in ProTools (and elsewhere). In release 3.0, we have unified and extended the basic ideas of grouping into a more flexible system.

Rather than use separate edit/mix groups, 3.0 now features groups whose properties are entirely configurable by the user. These properties can be seen in the edit dialog and the group tab of the editor window behind it:

group editor dialog

Internal Sends and "real" Aux Busses

One of Ardour's unique features is its use of an external routing system (JACK) to handle all signal routing within the program. This is incredibly flexible because it allows anything to be connected to anything else in completely arbitrary ways. However, in sessions involving the use of many sends, the resulting visible connection situation in JACK can get rather complex, and its easy to become confused about what is connected to what.

Two new features in Ardour 3.0 help to improve this situation: explicit aux busses, and internal aux sends.

Monitor Section

Ardour has long had the option to use a "Control Outs" bus, but this design was never very well thought out, nor really adequate for professional use. In Ardour 3.0, we have added a new "Monitor Section" that is modelled on the similarly-named component of many large-format mixing consoles. This provides an additional output pathway for use in situations where the main outs of Ardour do not connect to the monitors used for mixing, and also offers many useful features for this type of configuration: