Can we make this better? Probably. And I guess I should work on it. But right now it's not there.
Not only has Ardour gotten better, but also Bitwig is available, and Reaper too. Bitwig has the most polished UI, but Reaper has a particularly dedicated user base and is very extensible, if a little hard on the eyes.
Routing MIDI is mostly a matter of using QJackCtl, which isn't pretty, but it gets the job done (and really, MIDI routing isn't pretty on any platform).
Again, I wouldn't recommend someone building a system from the ground up for music production to go for Linux, but for someone who's already a long-time Linux user, it is now finally possible to do music production at a non-toyish level without switching OSes.
As a side note, loads of audio "devices" (synths, grooveboxes, etc.) these days are just ARM devices running a modified Linux audio stack.
Audio system: JACK
DAW: Ardour 5
Pianos: PianoTeq 6 (proprietary)
Drum machine: Hydrogen
The lack of good drum kits and patterns is my current pain point.
I haven't tried Reaper or Bitwig on Linux yet, but they should be decent if you are willing to use proprietary software.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB soundcard that I use is a class-compliant USB audio device and I've never had trouble with it.
LMMS is good though. I must have made 200+ songs in it before switching to Reaper. I could get by with LMMS and the included synths if I had to. It makes me wish Reaper supported LV2.
If anything, LMMS has the rough edges. The interface lacks polish and consistency. There are some awkward things about using it (why do I have to make a blank bar before I copy and paste a bar into it?). And I've noticed some glitchy behavior - for instance, I just made a ZynAddSubFX patch that sounded different as a plugin in LMMS than when I used it in Zyn's own application. Strange behavior like that, but fortunately it's rare.
But all that considered, LMMS is still great, and I appreciate the work it's authors put into it. I don't think of it as a daw; more of a sequencer. But if your music is 100% digital synths and samples, it serves all your needs.
Right now I'm using: LMMS (sequencer), Ardour (daw), JAMin (mastering suite), and Audacity (swiss army knife). I like Reaper. I've used ableton live many times, and I still don't get it - I guess the workflow is optimized for live mixing? I found it less than ideal for recording in a studio.
I recommend against this kind of framing. It comes off as judgmental. My mental models form based on my needs and experience. They're just as valid as your mental models, needs, and experience. Your way of seeing my perspective leads to faulty assumptions about my experience and models.
>> "I would agree, re: rough edges, if we were talking about Ardour 2 or 3, which both missed some important features and weren't as stable as I'd like. But in the last few years, ardour has improved. I do most of my work in it now."
I tried 5 from Mint's repos. Yesterday. I try every version to see if it'll work for me. Ardour continues to be critically lacking for me, based on my needs. Take a step back any time you want to assume someone's view is based on not knowing something you know. It's much more likely you don't know what they know.
Except that the workflow for e.g. Live or FL Studio or Bitwig is entirely different from the workflow for e.g. ProTools or Logic or Ardour.
So the extent that your needs and experience dictate a Live-style workflow, then sure, you're right. But if you don't actually know what you're doing or alternatively actually need the linear-timeline recording model of PT/Ardour, then there's no judgement here, just a correct observation.
What I mean by mental models: Some producers rely on their favorite DAW's workflow. I'd never tell someone to ditch the DAW they're more productive in.
This is not a judgement. I'm not implying you don't "get" Ardour. On the contrary, I'm endorsing your approach: choose the DAW that meets your needs.
I said Ardour had improved a lot for me. I never said it would work for you. My comment was for the benefit of other people here. Giving a counterexample to your experience. No DAW is good for everyone. Ardour doesn't work for you. It does work for me. And if someone's looking for a DAW, I think Ardour is worth trying. I wouldn't tell you to try it.
And you already know it doesn't work for you, so you don't need to try again. I support you in sticking to the tools that you're most productive in. Nothing is more annoying than someone dictating what tools you use to do your job.
Also where do you get audio samples for LMMS? This is mostly my dilemma.
LMMS also has its own percussion synth.
As for samples, Echo Sound Works sends out occasional freebie packs on their newsletter. Their samples are usually good.
Black Octopus Sound has a huge sampler pack that you can use in commercial stuff.
Also keep an eye out for SFX packs around GDC (Game Developers Conference). Sonniss publishes one every year. You can probably find the (legit, official) torrents for past years.
True. But I have little tip for you: There's an experimental feature in Carla that lets you use Plug-Ins that rely on wine. Currently I use this feature with MT Power Drum Kit (decent sounding - still not ideal) and some other free Plug-Ins.
But I will agree that this increases the fiddling and virtual wiring. As Carla is able to save all that, it's still quite handy.
By the way: I use the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6, works like a charm (and only uses hardware switches).
Do you use Gen1 or Gen2 of the Scarlett? - I've heard of some issues with Gen2.
Edit: I use the drums for making Metal music. Might not be ideal for other genres.
I use the Gen1 Scarlett 2i4 and have also heard that later generations have some issues. My understanding is that the latest generation Sclarett devices are class-compliant USB audio devices but also rely on vendor software to enable certain features.
If you mean electronic drum samples, and are on a Ubuntu-based distro, give Sitala a shot:
I looking for acoustic drums that have multi-layer samples so you can get the dynamics and detail of a real drum kit. A basic sampler instrument plays the same sample at different velocities (volume levels). Advanced samplers have multi-layered sample libraries so there are separate samples for different velocity levels and other nuances (they even have scripting engines so sample library authors can add logic for selecting which samples to play).
Now that Reaper is available on Linux this has changed for me! I record on Linux all the time now.
There are fewer plugins. You still have to wrestle with jack / pulse. There are other warts but it is a vast improvement. :)
I've tried numerous packges, and MIDI devices etc. and I agree that things can be hard and decisions like "do I set up low latency kernel etc." have implications if you're using your machine for work other than music production, but I think things are better.
I've tried Bitwig with external midi keyboard, USB keyboards, and Ableton Push - It's probably not my suggested setup for most musicians, but it's not a bad one.
Because Bitwig for example is amazing, and it supports Mac/Win/Linux - but I haven't used it outside windows. I'd worry about sound drivers and plugin support (I doubt plugin makers spend a lot of time on linux GUI support) but I'd trust the core functionality to be the same across all platforms.
(Nobody really uses WASAPI. They should, though. It's great.)
A little work to get it set up but nothing difficult.
It isn't ready for prime time yet, but the long-term goal on the audio side is to replace both PulseAudio and Jack.
I also had some cases / user projects where it was much more important to have maximum performance than guarantees of not crashing.
I can say, though, Studio is a huge step up from trying to get this sort of thing working in stock Ubuntu.
Good to know your side on it though. I think that might be the best thing till someone streamlines some of these libraries / programs is to focus on a Distro that makes it as seamless as possible, and push the fixes back to the original projects.
I want to say the main problems are: having to set up Jack and switch between that and PA - why isn't there one sound system? - the whole USB midi routing situation, software with obscure UIs, and software that crashes. Apart from the first one these are all fairly easily solvable.
These days I mostly write stuff using synths. The Deluge for example has enough built in that you don't need to use a DAW at all.
Also, there is currently no Fedora Jam Audio spin, so be prepared to fiddle around a bit if you want to use Fedora for music.
I don't know any production-grade sound cards that have Linux drivers (my RME ADI-2 Pro certainly doesn't) and the DAW that I use (Reaper) only has experimental Linux support. I would guess the Linux compatibility of other DAWs is worse. Audacity can only get you so far.
I would guess many of the audio plug-ins I rely on within Reaper would also have issues running on Linux.
Most of the RME HDSP/HDSPe PCI/PCIe cards work on Linux using the ALSA snd-hdsp or snd-hdspm drivers. The ADI-2 can use the generic Linux USB audio driver AFAIK.
Many, many production-grade devices (another example: the Behringer (Midas) X32) work right of the box. The fact that the iPad did not allow drivers forced almost all audio interface manufacturers to clean up their act and get fully compliant with the USB audio specification. The side effect of this is that they Just Work (TM) with Linux too.
(*) the one issue is that this particular device requires a specific version of the firmware to avoid a bug that only shows up on Linux. This is not true in general.
You can still use Linux, but you won't be able to use those plugins.
Most of my plugins are VST but many are home-brewed and only just about stable on my windows machine.
I mostly use Reaper stock plugins but there are a number of vst3's compiled for linux and I've written a few of my own using vst3 which work well.
You could use a plugin host connected up with jack for others but I haven't tried that much.
hum strange, I've been using a multiface II on linux for almost 10 years without issue
Reaper is a great DAW, and I would recommend it to everyone. Whether a beginner looking for their first DAW, or a pro with a million dollar studio. Just pointing out it's not free/foss because that's something I've seen people claim about Reaper for over a decade.
- jack set up and default for everything
- complete DAW solution: synth set up etc
- updated, stable software
- MIDI set up fully
- real time kernel is definitely a plus
- acceptable performance on modest hardware
A lot of the recommendations online like Musix are not current at all! I wonder if Ubuntu Studio is the answer, just purely based on the website being updated and professional-looking. I've considered KXstudio but cannot confirm that it is a distro rather than a software repo. AVLinux?
Any firsthand experience?
I will test Ubuntu Studio today and report back
I've ended up using Manjaro, with Jack, Reaper, Renoise, Airwindows plugins, a real-time kernel and very little else. It's pretty good.
I found this guide was helpful https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Professional_audio
I was able to use the KXstudio repos on Devuan ASCII 2.0, if anyone is wondering about Devuan compatibility.
KXstudio used to also have their own distro, based on Ubuntu, but the last release was based on Ubuntu 14.04, based on my memory and the DistroWatch page. The ISOs are still on GitHub, but, it goes without saying, are no longer supported.
I know that more and more Linux audio devs are using Arch as main OS also, so things may be a bit better tested there :)
Distro wise, I've hopped from 'media' centric distros, Arch to Pop-OS and now considering Kubuntu, and my experience has been fairly the same:
- Install the KxStudio package repo
- Install cadence and it's dependencies which includes jack2 from the repo (I'm not going to go into the mess between choosing jack1 and jack2)
- Install Bitwig
- Install Wine and LinVST to my binaries
which alone is more system fiddling than macOS, but I think you just simply expect it though. Cadence and it's suite of routing and config tools would help make up the loss of any ASIO panel, it's more in line with how audio setup on macOS is.
Biggest problem right now to me is hardware support, and Linux support goes from cheap and not enough, to really expensive and not specific towards me. Finding an interface to fit my eventual needs... 6+ ins and 6+ DC coupled outs, 2 XLR ins, possibly some type of ADAT, and maybe a word clock... these are Universal Audio or Focusrite type of needs. I own a MOTU Traveler and I'm lucky that the built in MOTU driver 'works' but it's sort of messy. MOTU's lack of interest in sharing the interfaces' beans doesn't help and it's nearly the same story for every interface manufacturer: it's a trade secret risk to let the community build a driver, and or there's just no money to come out of allocating resource towards an official driver. It sucks, but with my Traveler, I've managed to have some fun when everything is stable which is at least more than I expect. There's days where I look at Universal Audio hardware and want to end up buying a Mac and a UA interface.
I wouldn't recommend it because workspace and consistent stability is incredibly important if you're full time, but you CAN make it work if you're curious like me and be fun. I've managed to cut a few dance records for some labels on my build but issues do arise which I think may get in the way in the moment my workload would have to speed up or expand to recording more than a microKorg and using native vsts and Wine, and for that moment I'm always down to Hackintosh or just buy a real Mac. I love linux development and making music on it feels nice until those issues arise.
I mostly use Reaper on a Mac, and pay a monthly subscription for Plugin Alliance plugins. It's well worth the money, because it works, sounds great, and is straightforward to use. Given a choice between spending two hours improving the eq/compression/reverb of a mix and two hours trying to figure out why no sound is coming out, I know which one I prefer.
You need a DAW and most of the ones that you get on Linux are horrible, except Bitwig. So you would be forced to use only one DAW.
Most of the well known plugins like Serum, LFO Tool and Massive are not available either so you would be limited to the ones included in Bitwig or the basic VSTs that you find for Linux.
And while JACK is pretty good at low latency audio you would miss out on the ASIO control panel provided by your sound card driver. While its possible to get asio working on linux using wineasio, it's a cumbersome process since you need to compile the asio dlls which have licensing restrictions.
You would have a much better experience if you just install Windows on KVM and use PCI passthrough for your sound card.
Though everything that those VSTs can do, can also be done in Bitwig Studio starting from v3.
> miss out on the ASIO control panel
What does this add that the usual tools in Linux can't fix? Also, it's recommended to go with class compliant USB audio interfaces or otherwise interfaces that are supported on Linux. Going with MOTU gear for example is a bad idea.
Bitwig's grid is capable, but the ease of access for particular workflows is burdensome. Replicating Serum in the grid isn't possible practically, both because of filter designs and the wavetable capabilities, and getting close requires some significant acrobatics.
Massive... much easier. LFO Tool, basically impossible to replicate in Bitwig because the main draw is the _workflow_.
Bitwig is a very capable, fun and useful product for electronic music creation but I think your response to the OP is correct on a very technical, and pedantic level, but extremely unhelpful regardless.
this is completely wrong. internal audio interfaces tend to be worse than external audio interfaces. what internal soundcard can compete with a universal audio apollo?
Audio engineer here. It isn't wrong. PCI and PCIe cards with external AD/DA converters have better performance, reliability and higher channel counts. Eg.:
64 channels in, 64 out. Works fine on Linux.
I used Ardour for ~8 years, then switched to Non DAW ~6 years ago: http://non.tuxfamily.org/
USB devices _do_ incur extra latency. The USB apollos do suffer from this. The firewire and thunderbolt do not.
Whether a devices is internal or external is irrelevant. There are "Internal" devices that are PCI based which have excellent performance, and external devices that are Thunderbolt based with equal (and better!) performance characteristics.
I believe you're talking about onboard sound, not "internal", in which case you're correct. However, that's not what the link is talking about.
It wont also have proper Line and Instrument just a 3.5 jack if your lucky and a combo jack in a lot of cases
When I'm ready to record something, my kit needs to work and get the idea into a track right away while I have the idea and the juices are flowing.
If I have to troubleshoot or configure anything while in this mode the creative idea is lost and I get super frustrated.
This is why I've shied away from linux as a music platform, setup and troubleshooting is the last thing I want to do when feeling creative, I just want to plug-in and hit record.
With that said my approach is around physical instruments, maybe it's different if your studio is entirely in the box.
I wonder if they might be better served taking a page from something like Ubuntu Studio, and just making a spin that tries to preconfigure all of this stuff out-of-the-box for the end-user, so that they can simply install the ISO and get going.
He uses KXStudio iirc.