If Only Ardour Came in a Box

I tweeted the other day that I will be doing a presentation for my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) class about Ardour, and that I plan to put all of that info right here on this blog.

The professor put up a list of DAWs to choose from, and of course, Ardour was not on there… and he had never heard of it… he asked how to spell it.  Ardour is what I have in my Linux-based home studio, and becasue I am not super familiar with it yet, I figured this assignment would be a great excuse to spend hours looking this stuff up.

So, I need to find some solid information on this product. I have a list in my head of all the statistics I will need to do a side-by-side comparison with ProTools, the DAW we use at school.

Sure, I will admit it: part of me just wants to be able to stand in front of the class and gloat about how my free software is superior, but Ardour does not make this easy! I mean, in some ways, that is much to my home studio’s benefit, because Ardour claims to be able to handle whatever you give it as long as the hardware can support it.

But how do I present this information? I am going to look like a used car saleswoman. “Oh yeah? ProTools 10 finally records at 32 bit? Well Ardour can record at 160 bits… if your computer could handle it!” At least I can say Ardour supported a 32 bit floating format long before ProTools.

And because there is no box to flip over and read, I am having a hard time finding other stats. Can you really record an unlimited number of tracks at a time? Can I individually mic an orchestra and say “GO!”? Again, depending on your hardware… blah blah.

This is what I NEED

Oh Ardour, you are making this a difficult assignment! I am a musician, NOT a computer nerd. Well I guess I am a computer nerd-lite by necessity, but I just want to play my piano and sing and get a nice recording of it.

The assignment is due Thursday. I will try to have it posted shortly there after.



I had to listen to this for a class assignment, and I am telling you, it messed with my head more than anything ever has.

It is called “Virtual Barbershop” and you MUST be wearing headphones for it to work.

This technique is called binaural recording. From wikipedia: Binaural recording is a method of recording sound that uses two microphones, arranged with the intent to create a 3-D stereo sound sensation for the listener of actually being in the room with the performers or instruments. This effect is often created using a technique known as “Dummy head recording,” wherein a mannequin head is outfitted with a microphone in each ear. Binaural recording is intended for replay using headphones and will not translate properly over stereo speakers.

You cannot tell me that that guitar player is not in the room with me, and well, I will not say any more.. you MUST listen for yourself!

Amazing, right?

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!



A Blog of a Blog

I read this blog by Bob Baker and thought it very pertinent to many of my fellow wizard rockers who sometimes to covers for holiday albums or for fun:


It covers:

1) Recording your version of someone else’s song and POSTING it on YouTube – where anyone can watch it for free
2) Recording your version of someone else’s song and SELLING it on iTunes, Amazon, your own site, etc.

Good stuff!

Sorry for my inconsistent blogging, I hope to do a wrap-up of Sonorus 2011 soon.

I am off to continue writing a paper about vampires in film, and finalize my video for the presentation. The fun thing is that I am turning this video project into a music video for one of my Mandala at Twilight songs. I am trying to make good use of my time so I get more bang for my buck… more blood for my bite?

Slow and Not Very Steady… (Chapter 3 of Setting up a Linux-Based Recording Studio)

I started this blog to chronicle my adventures in Linux-based recording software and I have hardly posted. There has not been much to post about…

Partly, it is becasue life has gotten in the way – good stuff like shows, deciding to go back to school and having to do all the leg work to get that going, friends and family coming to visit, etc. However, setting up the studio has not been smooth either. Just when it seems we make a huge leap forward, something else goes wiggy. There are so many variables. We stared with an older CPU that we added memory to. Maybe this is a problem? We get tons of Xruns. Ardour sometimes freezes up or randomly closes. Now, at random, a buzzing sound has shown up when I record my keyboard. That was not there to start. I would guess it was the cord if it hadn’t recorded crisp and clean to start with.

What is going on?!? I feel like we are doing everything blind and that we create a new problem as soon as we fix one.

It has gotten to the point where I dread going in there to work on it. I have not recorded anything in months. Many months. Many many months.  Which means I have hardly written anything because I like to record my tinkering and build on it. My husband suggests I play around with the tutorials and I feel like a parent is telling me to do my homework. Ugh. I do not feel excitement anymore. I just dread having to do my homework.

I have been assured that Linux gives me way more options than Garage Band, but there is something to be said for it working right out of the box. Also, which is superior: Less options but yields a recorded song, or more options but sits there untouched? Seriously?!?

Wow, Life Kinda Got Busy There!

So the studio took a temporary back seat to a very time-sensitive situation. What is happening? I am going back to school!  I am going to learn Audio Production for real! This will be interesting because, between my home studio and the school’s equipment, I will have three Operating Systems covered.  I shall be well versed!

One funny thing did happen with the studio last week, though. I ordered a MIDI cable from Amazon and, though the packing invoice did indeed say “MIDI cable,” I got this in its place:

This is NOT a MIDI cable

This is in fact, some very scary facial hair removal system. The kind folks at Amazon said I may keep this lovely item.  I think it may surface around the Holidays if I am invited to a white elephant gift exchange. You have been warned.  😉

My New Toy (in 3-5 business days)

The Layla3G multitrack digital audio recorder

The Layla3G multitrack digital audio recorder.


Layla3G is the third generation of our flagship PCI-based multitrack digital audio recorder. The original Layla premiered in 2000 to critical acclaim, including a TEC award nomination. Since then we’ve been perfecting the art of making high quality digital audio recording products at affordable prices. Now you can get all of the features of the Layla24 for a new low price, and with dual mic preamps.

Layla3G is the perfect center piece for any professional digital audio recording studio. It has 2 universal inputs with mic preamps, 6 balanced analog inputs, 8 balanced analog outputs, and a stereo headphone output. ADAT lightpipe I/O, optical and coaxial S/PDIF I/O, and MIDI I/O are also included. Layla3G comes with a 15′ cable and PCI card that connects to the audio interface. Layla3G is compatible with PCI and PCI-X (3.3 or 5 volt) motherboards.

Setting Up a Linux-Based Recording Studio (Chapter 1)

As I stated in the Preface, I am a little dubious of this whole Linux-based studio idea. In theory, it is great, but in reality, it has been a lot of sleepless nights. As harsh as this might sound, a bit of the issues have not been the fault of the OS, but have been, in fact, due to errors on my husband’s part. Before you judge me for insulting him in public, please know that he had encouraged me to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but. This blog is meant to entertain the curious, but also to help guide others who are considering recording with Linux software.

The first lesson we learned was that if you are going to use a computer previously set up to do something else, take a good hard look at it. It turns out having it set up to be a server and having it run a raid system, forgetting this and then trying to load a new OS onto it makes for a very messy situation. At one point the computer would not shut down, then it wouldn’t restart.

Second lesson learned: Google is your friend. People think my husband is this all-knowing computer nerd, and I still claim this to be so, but I guess his secret weapon is Google. What he does not know, he finds pretty quickly. Google search: love it, use it.

So finally, last night we got Ubuntu Studio to load properly and started walking through on-line tutorials called Getting started with LinuxSampler” and “Getting to Know JACK (QjackCtl).” There was some confusion because the instructions we were using were really meant for 64 Studio, so some of the terminology was different and of course the screen caps looked a little different as well.  I guess the computer savvy love to write the programs, but are not into creating all the less glamorous support articles or documentation.

The big moment of truth was when I was able to play and record my keyboard. That excitement lasted about 10 minutes, at which time something got really messed up with the sound. Later, after more Google searches, we discovered it is highly discouraged to run Jack and Pulse Audio at the same time. The sound card only supports one. So we were able to listen to a CD on the computer, but lost the ability to listen to the recording I made.

Undo. Can I hit “undo” now?!?!

What am I Thinking!?!?! (My Plans for This Blog)

2011 is going to be quite the year for changes.  I started this year with one of the biggest changes one can make: I moved. Moving from small-town Ohio to the major metropolis of Washington D.C. is just one example of the way things are going to get all turned upside down this year.

I am doing some major soul-searching on the direction of my music career.  What is next for me?

My mac book died. That means my I-am-totally-happy-in-my-comfort-zone studio died with it.  I am about to get really uncomfortable and attempt to put together a new studio in this lovely new house that runs on… Linux. What have I gotten myself into?

Another tour is in the works and this year, it will be a Summer tour. Again, I will be hitting the road with my friend Grace aka Snidget. Last Fall was fun, profitable and a dream come true and I am really looking forward to hitting the road again.

So what can you expect from this blog? An in-depth look into how I plan to wade through all this stuff and all the highs and lows that come with change.

If you are a fan of my music, you will get a glimpse behind the scenes as to how it all comes together.  If you are a musician or just a serious music enthusiast, maybe you will learn something as you watch me figure this all out.  Maybe you are a Linux pro and have recorded countless albums using 64 Studio or some such software and you will be keeping me sane as I attempt not to throw the computer monitor across the room.

I have a lot in store for 2011 and I see this being a very interesting journey. I hope you come along for the ride!