Anybody using Ardour with 100+ channels?

There is a discussion going on in a german home-recorder-forum where some claim that “only ProTools HD” would be capable of recording more than 100 discrete channels at once and to deliver submixes plus plugins at the same time.

I say: this only depends on the hardware. If you have interfaces cascaded to deliver 101 channels at once and a decent computer, Ardour could do the same as well.

Am I correct?

Pyramix has been shown to mix 1000 tracks st 88.2kHz including real-time crossfades under certain circumstances. I would expect recording 100 tracks to be achievable in many more circumstances.

Can Ardour rub circles on its stomach while patting its head, at the same time?

You should tell those people to look into what is actually used in large productions before making assumptions. I will leave the broadcast audio guy that hangs around here to clarify, or not, what he uses in his trucks, but I can tell you a little of what I know from some very large production companies, specifically dealing with high channel counts as I have spoken to the guy responsible for that, specifically about his choices and whether Ardour would be capable of what he wants. I can also give you a few other tips on this as well…

Specifically he is using Nuendo, as that was the only DAW capable of handling the channel counts he wanted. In that conversation I tested out his required recording size with my own rigs in Ardour and didn’t have an issue, but at the time I didn’t try a 100+ channel recording, I think the highest I tested was 64 as he mentioned that as the limit of what he would do with other rigs(Including for the record, ProTools, he has licenses and hardware for all these rigs, many hundreds of thousands, quite likely millions, of dollars invested in a variety of applications).

This combined with the popularity of things like RADAR for tracking purposes etc. would point this statement to being wrong. Even more so when you consider things like Harrison Console’s X-Dubber which is a tracker running a customized version of Ardour for their consoles.

Finally you will find that frankly for this purposes you don’t use a DAW for mixing, and by that I mean ANY DAW. In the primary venue I am responsible for, I am in the midst of designing a FOH and Broadcast system, expandable to a monitor console, and while I use a DAW for tracking, and later mixdown, that is the extent of it(And yes that will be Ardour most likely with Mixbus for later mixdown). This setup is going to have 40-64 tracks available to all consoles at any given time and DAW, and there is a chance I may use a dedicated sound server style solution for some of the processing, the vast majority of mixing and processing still happens within the consoles themselves. Now this is all a bit moot when you consider that any digital console these days is just running a custom software solution. For instance the mix engine in the A&H iLive series is provided by software on cOS, with the touchscreen provided by a custom Knoppix(Linux) solution. I already mentioned Harrison Consoles, you also have solutions from companies like Midas, and IIRC Fairlight has some consoles that also run Linux with a custom software solution on top. Then you have things like Meyer Sound LCS, which does all the above on more general purpose solutions often times, with bog standard computers running Mac OS X and/or Linux(Haven’t looked into it in a while, I think they killed one of those options in modern solutions based on it but can’t remember which).

In the grand scheme of things the processing is INFINITELY more difficult to accomplish with a predictable, and sufficiently low enough for live purpose, latency. Tracking is a piece of cake in comparison and tracking even hundreds of channels requires exceedingly modest computational resources and just a fast enough disk.

So really, trying to limit things to ProTools only above a certain level is not only wrong, it is flat out foolish, as people at those levels can tell you if you ask. That isn’t to say you won’t find ProTools on these types of stages, you would be amazed how many use ProTools or other solutions for playback of tracks to sync to for the performers on stage (In a surprisingly wide variety of genres), but rather to say the concept that only ProTools (Even ProTools HD) is the only solution capable of handling this is beyond ridiculous.


Thanks a lot for these infos!

I think, there are a lot of people out there that mix up marketing-prospects with serious text books :wink:

I have seen some ProTools-Systems at work and they are quite amazing but as far as I can see recording lots of tracks is a question of hardware-power while the recording-software only needs to be flexible and reliable enough to handle it. A serious task but not too avantgardistic methinks :wink:

@zettberlin: you are correct. for the recording side of it, the most critical component is the disk subsystem. you probably can’t do 100 tracks on most current single disk systems, but 100 on a regular RAID would be pretty simple for ardour. CPU power becomes more important for plugins. And yes, you definitely want the right audio interface, which in this sort of example essentially boils down to an RME MADI or something very similar.

There is nothing in what you described that Ardour could not do.

Thank you, I was trying to remember the name of Pyramix for the above, which especially gets used for tracking and mixing classical music which alone can have hundreds of mics for a full orchestral recording depending on the scale. Was drawing a complete mind blank.


Good to know :slight_smile:

I’d be surprised if you couldn’t record 100+ tracks simultaneously on some of the recent consumer-grade SSDs. They’re getting pretty fast, if still expensive per GB.


Funny you should mention this actually. For grins and giggles I opened up a beta of A3 on OS X(Which Linux betas are in much better shape for a variety of reasons) and added 128 tracks, and recorded to my SSD. I actually have those recordings here without issue;)

So A3, which isn’t even released and performs much worse in it’s current state compared to A2 can do this without issue on my laptop to my single internal SSD;)



Can Ardour rub circles on its stomach while patting its head, at the same time?

Yes, it can:

You can also have a pony : )