Adding support for AIFF & M4A exporting

Was wondering if it would be considered to add the ability to export audio to AIFF & M4A formats (personally only care about the M4A)

I understand that these two formats may not necessarily common to save to but here is some information / possible benefits that might be useful to others (in no particular order).

1.) If using Ardour in more of an audio editor type of situation where you want to remain in the same audio format as the original file you are editing.

2.) Similar to the first one, this would make it so that users do not have to save to a different audio format and then have to convert all the results in a separate program back to their original format, which not only are extra steps but could also affect the quality of the audio files.

3.) I know there are more audio formats but if you look at Ardour being available for Linux, Windows & Mac when you think about it each OS has a standard higher quality and a compressed audio file format they support.
Linux = FLAC & OGG
Windows = WAV & MP3
Mac = AIFF & M4A

Being that Ardour has a Mac version this might be helpful to those users, but even if not specifically a Mac user, some might have to collaborate with others that are.

4.) Apple products (computers, labtops, phones, tablets, ipods, etc.) all seem to use M4A format so this would allow seemless integration with all of them.

5.) The program Audacity, a free audio editor allows importing and exporting of M4A due to its implementation of FFMPEG. They do this in a way where they allow the user to install FFMPEG and make decision what they can import and export. This is probably one of the only things Audacity can do over Ardour.
I have seen mentioned that Ardour already uses FFMPEG, which as mentioned above supports import and export of AIFF & M4A so at least the main functionality is available to Ardour already.

I am sure there are other reasons but I think this is a good start.

Thank You for anyone who takes the time to read this and for possibly considering its implementation.

Ardour 7 supports AIFF export; at least my self compiled Linux version does.


The problem with M4A is that it’s usually containing AAC audio, and the source code available fdk-aac isn’t license compatible with FFMPEG, so it can’t be redistributed and you’d have to compile it yourself.
Maybe Ardour could run-time check if the available FFMPEG library supports AAC, though, but I’m not sure if it’s FFMPEG or SndFile that’s used for exporting.

To nitpick: FLAC is just an intelligently zipped WAV; there’s nothing particularly “Linux” about it.

You can always run a post-export process that encodes to m4a, see The Ardour Manual, in the “post-export” part. I’m not familiar with MacOS but the command would be something like “afconvert -f m4af %f”. This will automatically create an m4a from your exported file each time you export one.

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Unfortunately FFMPEG has the worst M4A encoder, worse than anything. Probably exporting to 320kbps mp3 and the converting that in iTunes to 256kbps vbr aac produces better results. Stay the most away from it.

AAC encoders

Again, M4A isn’t an audio format; it’s a container, which usually has AAC encoded audio in it but can also contain ALS, MP2, MP1, CEPH and speech encoded audio, among others.

FFMPEG’s built in AAC encoder isn’t that great but if you’re willing and able to compile it yourself you can link it with the fdk-aac library, which is among the best ones around.

IF then, yes, I can even code and build for myself an OS and a DAW, and additionally design motherboards and processors and DACs… So many times I get this answer as a simple user in this open source world that I can’t even count it anymore… Great many times only buggy sub-optimal stuff is provided in installable packages, and of course without warnings, and if one needs working stuff then one must convert himself to MacGayver or call Pete Thornton to call MacGyver… Fascinating!

If you want to live in the open source world, where you usually have to pay nothing or very little for your software, you can either accept what’s given to you or at least learn the skill how to compile it to your needs.

If neither of those alternatives are acceptable there’s always the Microsoft and Apple ecospheres.

These are my favorite answers. Dedicating days or weeks for researching, trying, reporting, building, debugging… many times vainly, because bug reports are ignored or no one has the authority to provide the missing piece… And for all this: the time, the lunch, the rent, etc not arises freely from something, at least for me not.

Yes, and as soon as you learned this, you will find that you have to fix/modify the code, and you will get the answer to learn to program… I’m already really familiar with this place.

And I can always leave the IT world. Right?

If you want to use a patent encumbered audio format you have limited options, essentially you pay someone who has licensed the technology, or you cobble together a solution yourself from source code. Potentially a third option of installing binaries which are distributed from somewhere that does not enforce US or European patents.

The simple solution here is use FLAC and Vorbis, no patents, source provided with a free/libre software compatible license, so all linux distributions (including Android) can provide FLAC and Vorbis support with no limitations. Apple could even support FLAC and Vorbis on iPhone if they chose to, but as far as I know Apple does not. You can however install VLC on an iPhone which can play FLAC and Vorbis (or could, I don’t know if any recent security restrictions prevent installing VLC now or not).

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… where you have ZERO choice as to the capabilities of the applications you have purchased and are totally at the whims of the software vendor.

In the case of Apple, for example, that typically means no support for FLAC.

The solution in the Open Source world may be awkward or clunky or may require the user to do some extra work but there is, at least, a solution.

This seems like a fine solution to me.



What happens in the Microsoft or Apple ecosystems when you report a bug?
Do they drop everything they were currently working on and rush to produce a perfect fix within a few hours, without your having to do any further work or testing?

At least you have the code, so you have a chance of fixing it to your liking.
In the closed source world you’ll have to wait until those companies find your particular need important enough to warrant a change; provided that you’ve somehow been able to make them aware of your needs anyway.
That will most likely take months or years.


Then frankly the open source tools may not be the best option for you in that case, plain and simple. It would seem you are content trading away the freedoms for convenience, which by the way is not always the wrong thing. All that being said, for those that choose to compile themselves, there is a homebrew tap for ffmpeg that seems to provide easy ability to compile in fdk-aac…

I don’t know that I have tried it, but that would be a simple[r] way to compile on MacOS.


@peder you are just defending stupid approaches and stupid practices.

Let me tell you a case shortly.

Some months ago I had to do some video editing. I chose kdenlive for it. I created and edited my video then exported it to mp4. I uploaded it to YouTube and Instagram. And I found that the sound was terrible. I had too look after the problem and I found that it comes from ffmpeg’s bad aac encoder.

And what is the real problem at this point?

The real problem at this point is that the mp4 export is provided without any warnings that it would sound really really really inferior.

And now I will stop it here, and ask the following question:
How good it is to provide without warnings inferior solutions in the guise of a good one?
It misleads people and makes vain their efforts invested in a project.

Anyways: in the commercial world in my experience any serious developer will help you ASAP, or even before that. (For example: Reaper even to circumvent a wine bug, wjjsoft Mybase,…)

It is a barren ideology for the everyday laymen.
At one point he is not free because he has no inexhaustible financial means.
At another point he is not free because he has no total knowledge over programming and for all the scientific stuff involved.

I’m just as lying in the mercy of Robin Gareus and Paul Davis here as Urs Heckmann there… and…

Why did you upload the file without checking the result first??
Why did you, supposedly, chose a low bitrate for the audio? I have a hard time believing that a high bitrate ffmpeg aac would sound that awful.

Did kdenlive explicitly say that your aac would sound pristine and 100% indistinguishable from the original? I really don’t think it did, so why didn’t you bother to check or do a test first?

Lots of software give you the opportunity to shoot yourself in the foot.
Whether you decide to go ahead and do it or not is entirely up to you and is very rarely the software’s fault.

How much did you pay for kdenlive?
That number is exactly the amount of rights you have to demand functionality from the program.

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If you listen to my (long) chat/interview with Justin Frankel of Reaper at you will hear him say that they do not provide any customer support at all. The fact they might have fixed bugs that were important to you is coincidence, not customer support.

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except that there are other people with the knowledge to hack Ardour, and they do. Just last week, someone who wanted/needed colors on their Behringer X-Touch teamed up with someone else who had just the right amount of knowledge to fix that, and as of today, that is now in the code base.

The fact that you individually cannot make such changes, and/or do not feel empowered by this possibility, does not mean this is true of everyone,


Sorry your experience has been so limited then.

For the record, I am a supporter of Ardour, and firm believer in open source. That doesn’t mean I don’t use closed source software, I use what will get the job done in an amount of time that I feel is commiserate with the rate I get paid for it. In some cases that means I am reaching for closed source tools (One big example I don’t think is going away soon, though has gotten better is the Izotope RX suite for audio restoration, or Davinci Resolve Studio for Video Editing, and Final Cut Pro before that, Mixbus and it’s plugins are common tools in my arsenal, along with lots of other closed source plugins, MacOS is where I spend most of my life despite knowing and utilizing Linux quite often and being fairly proficient in it and having used it for years for audio production, etc…).

But I will GUARANTEE that you will find support from manufacturers to be FAR more varied. For instance Davinci Resolve Studio, even if I spent thousands between software and hardware, getting support from them can be painful at best. Logic and Final Cut support from Apple? Nope other users and advanced users tend to provide FAR more support. This doesn’t even touch on software that still costs thousands of dollars today that I have to spend money on.

Now that isn’t to say there aren’t commercial companies with fantastic support, for instance Harrison in general I find has very responsive support when I email them or contact them. But those companies prioritize support and service over what other companies do.

As I said, far more varied.

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@paul I learned that people say many things and then do stuff differently and do exceptions and… and a kind letter… and people especially say something for a big audience, different things for a single fellow, and even then think and do stuff differently after 2 minutes. There is a colossal wisdom in the biblical teaching that: do not place any trust in any kind of human being, (not even in yourself)

Of course, of course. One just have to exceptionally coincide with that kind of people, otherwise…

Also the inverse is true: just because there are open windows for two or three people, there are no open windows for other millions, who would not even contact, because they already know the answer.

If I would like to be able the hide the mixer panner which is not hideable currently, then what would you say, where should is start to cause it to be hideable? …

I know, I worked in IT as an administrator and repair man. I abandoned this career exactly because the solution was outside of my powers and eventually I had to work on issues vainly for clients who just paid me vainly - because achieving result was outside of our power and authority.

In my experience they are kind but also the most clueless regarding specific technical questions. Not even they know and understand their stuff. They can’t even provide a working link for a download…