Ardour VS ProTools (…and My Professional Career)

I am now in my second quarter studying Audio Production at the Art Institute of Washington, and I am in two classes where we will be using ProTools rather heavily. As you know from previous blog posts, when my Mac died, my husband persuaded me to have the new set-up be Linux-based. (see “Setting Up a Linux-Based recording Studio (a Preface)” for the reasons why I agreed.)

Problems with the Ardour plug-ins aside (mystery!), the two look pretty similar at the start of things, but I have not really done any editing on Ardour yet to know if the two are parallel.

Here is my problem: next quarter, I have to pass a proficiency exam in order to move forward with my major. I will be seated in front of a computer with four professors standing over my shoulder as I load up ProTools and be told to do various tasks while I am being timed.

So I kinda sorta need to know ProTools inside and out. Hey guess what? There are about a billion forum entries on various websites and all the authors say they could not get Linux to run ProTools. I can’t tell if it is a software or hardware problem. Many laughed that Windows still cant get ProTools to run properly (some of these were a few years old though.)

One of my professsors stated that ProTools is the industry standard. He said that I need to know the lingo in order to communicate with other professionals and to get a job – that no one will follow me if I speak in Ardour terms.

Is this correct!?!?! Are they THAT different?

We are going to try to load it onto the desktop that is partitioned to run Linux and Windows Vista. I will not be able to record onto it (the room is too loud with various computers running in there – including our server) but I will be able to edit on it.  If it runs. I have some hope it will work because there was a comment on the forums that said ProTools actually seemed to like Vista over 7.

Any comments on this would be appreciated!




16 Comments on “Ardour VS ProTools (…and My Professional Career)”

  1. russbenoit says:

    There are a lot of similarities between DAWs, but ProTools does have a lot of native plugs that are widely used in a lot of studios. So on that point, I’d agree with your prof. As far as it being “industry standard”, I’d hesitate to agree – it’s really widely used, but not quite a standard.

    As someone who’s used ProTools, Cubase, Sonar, and Reaper, I could NEVER recommend Ardour as a DAW. It’s used in bedrooms – that’s it. I know many AEs who’ve dabbled with it, but always given up due to interface problems, latency, lack of plug-in support, etc. If costs are a concern (and it’s totally understandable) then Reaper makes a much better alternative than Ardour. Still, I hope you get PT to load up so you can continue to use it since that’s what a lot of your classes are built off of. Good luck!

    • MandalaSongs says:

      Thanks for the immediate feedback Russ! I have never heard of Reaper and will look into it. I have not really heard anyone slamming Ardour so that is interesting. So much to consider!

      • russbenoit says:

        It’s not so much a slam an Ardour, I’ve frequented a number of music production forums for years and it seems that whenever someone tries Ardour, it simply can’t match up. It is what it is – no pro studios anywhere will run Linux as an OS when it comes to running their DAW. ProTools, Logic, Reaper, Saw Studio, Cubendo, even Presonus’ new DAW all get varying levels of use. And I say this as someone who’s spent years playing with various Linux distros 😀

        Because you’re in classes to learn to be an AE, ProTools really is your best bet right now since it shares a lot of similarities with other “known” DAWs.

  2. oiartnews says:

    Hi There! Just came across your post! I’m writing from the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology ( In our Audio Recording Technology program, Pro Tools is our DAW of choice as well. Although it won`t be the only software you`ll encounter in the industry, it is the most widely used – which explains why most schools train students on it. All of our studios and classrooms run Pro Tools on Mac computers, but many of our students run personal copies on PC`s. Good luck getting it up and running!

    • MandalaSongs says:

      Thanks so much for posting. Good to know!
      I’ve been so busy that all I have done is to load it onto the PC/Linux desktop, but I have not had the chance to register (or what ever it requires) the iLock to get in there and see if it works. Once I do, I will post the outcome!

  3. John says:

    I’ve dabbled with Ardour in the past. I am mostly a hobbyist musician these days, so paying the big fee for ProTools would be a waste of money for me. That said, Ardour requires either a certain level of knowledge, or a LOT of experimentation to attain any level of proficiency.

    ProTools is pretty much the industry standard.

    Also, it is worth noting that Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon uses Windows 7 for his home studio. Read “In Conclusion” at the bottom of the link:

    • MandalaSongs says:

      Really. Interesting. A whole article about the awesomeness of Linux (and I agree it is pretty awesome as I type on my Linux-run laptop right now.) But then a quick oh-and-by-the-way-my-home-studio-is-Windows mention right at the very end. What?! Almost missed that.

      • Brian Barton says:

        I had asked Jono Bacon about that on a webcast he was doing. He answered that he does everything with Linux but his music stuff he still does with Windows.

        I’m trying to get into doing music with Linux but am finding it really difficult to do Reaper through all the hoops you have to go through. Ardour looks simple at first but probably has a big learning curve.

  4. MandalaSongs says:


    We just upgraded to Ubuntu 11.10 yesterday and got Ardour up and running today and I think it is going to run even better than before. Just did a few recording tests – nothing extensive, but I am interested to see how it works out. Might need minor setting adjustments in Jack, but maybe not.

    I will probably be recording on this set-up and then transferring the files to ProTools 9 (if that runs okay on the partitioned computer) to practice with it and be proficient enough to keep up at school.

    Fingers crossed, people!

  5. Maloric85 says:

    I’ve been trying to run Ardour on my home PC for a few weeks now, having purchased an M-Audio card to start making some decent sounding recordings. I used to use Adobe Audition years ago in Windows and was hoping for something similar. After spending a few weekends facerolling on my keyboard trying to get Ubuntu Studio and then regular Ubuntu to play nice with my new card, I finally got it all up and running with JACK and Ardour (even though I have to run a few scripts in a very specific order every time I load Ardour).

    At the weekend I recorded a quick cover track and was very disappointed to find no built in plugins, leaving me to go and try and pick out basic plugins like compression and reverb. Needless to say, Linux is still very unfriendly to the novice user and my eyes started to glaze over when I realised I was going to have to do all my installation via the terminal window. The effects themselves weren’t anything special, and there were no presets for any of them. As much as I love open source and think Ubuntu has made huge leaps, most software on Linux still lacks any level of polish and as such is driving me back into the open arms of Windows and a mixing program I used 6 years ago.

    I will probably check back in with Ubuntu in a couple of years, as I usually do. I will marvel at how far it has come, but in all likelihood won’t be using it to make any music worth listening to.

  6. oli says:

    You can’t run ProTools on Linux the same way as you can’t run Ardour on Windows. There simply isn’t a Linux version of ProTools, and I doubt it will be even ported. There is a Mac version of Ardour but simply because both Linux and OSX are POSIX like systems, so the’re both pretty similar. Still you need separate versions for OSX and Linux.

    And I have to agree, maybe saying that ProTools is a industry standard is too much, but it’s still better to know it than to know Ardour. The latter is too buggy, also.

    Aj, btw, Ardour won’t have any built in plugins, because they’re not needed’ you just install a plugins package and they become available in Ardour.

  7. Hreggviður Harðarson says:


    I see people here complaining about lack op out-of-the-box plugins with Ardour. If you install a Multimedia/Audio production distribution of gnu/linux like KXStudio (which I am currently running, it’s essentially Ubuntu LTS) then Ardour comes pre-loaded with TONS of plugins. The system comes with a low-latency kernel that makes sure your processor handles audio more efficiently so it’s very good for novices that want to try free/open software for the working environments.


    • MandalaSongs says:

      I’m pretty happy with the plug-ins that came pre-loaded in Ardour. There are a lot of choices, and just playing around, I have found that I really like some more that others. I like that you can search several different ways including by category or by creator. This way, if you really like one creator’s reverb, for example, you can see what other plug-ins they have created.

  8. Nate Steensma says:

    I know this thread is old but because Ardour has grown so much in the past few years, I thought I’d share my opinion. I have used many DAW’s, from Cubase to Reaper to Live, even LMMS before. Ardour is very over-looked and I feel that it is almost unfair to an extent. To run Ardour on a Linux machine and get high quality recordings can be difficult, but that isn’t to say it is impossible. It will take an understanding in Linux and Linux audio, and I feel that is why many people don’t give Ardour a fair shot. However, Ardour is also for OSX, and from my experience, using it on OSX it is almost seamless. Many people state that the support for plug-ins is not great, but on the OSX version Ardour supports virtually all AU plug-ins and even comes with its own out of the box. Now I had a copy of Pro Tools that was given to me, and it was an older version (maybe version 8). In those days Avid made it easy to buy a copy and upgrade. However, today Avid pushes their subscription services and it makes it hard to find the actual “one-and-done” copy. This is great for some people and most large studio’s but, it’s very annoying to the average consumer, at least in my opinion. And of course Ardour is free. Though, Ardour is not as bleeding edge as Pro Tools or Logic, the open source community ensures that updates come fast.

    • MandalaSongs says:

      Thanks for posting your thoughts! I agree that it is unfair that Ardour is overlooked. I think I have made some great sounding recordings with Ardour, but it does take time to get things just right when you do most of the research on your own, as opposed to having a friend tell you about the latest and greatest plug-in. Feel free to check out some of my music on bandcamp to hear what I have been able to do. My most recent EP is called Reconstruction.

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