Ardour suitable for live use?

Hello to everyone.
I beg your pardon in advance if this topic has already been treated (I searched the old posts, anyway).

I would like to use Ardour inside a live set: I play dark ambient music, so the idea would be using the pc with the major part of my songs together with a Korg synthesizer played live for the main melodic sections.

The sad times when I used Windows, I used to run Traktor to make a sort of long mix off my compositions.
Now that I use Linux only, I don’t know if it’s better to stick with Mixxx or try using Ardour live.

If anybody had experiences in using a Linux based pc live, it would be great to see them posted here.

Best regards,

people have certainly done this with ardour, even some of its core developers. in terms of whether its “suitable”, my impression is that you’d really just need to try it and see if it meets your needs. some people will find it not suitable by a mile, others will be delighted by it. it depends a lot on the details.

btw, dark ambient music shouldn’t have any melodic sections :slight_smile:

Personally I think you will be fine, but make sure you test it thoroughly like you would any new software you were looking to use live.


Thank you very much for your replies!

I use Ardour to play backing tracks with my band. We are an indie rock outfit and have a small amount of keybords lines and sound scapes that are handled by Ardour. As an interface we use a Focusrite Pro 26 and I have outputs for the desk and 3 outputs for click tracks (drummer, and 2 guitarists). What is cool is that I can have a click track for a guitarist that comes in and out for the relevant sections (intro, places where drums drop out etc).

I run this on a laptop, Ardour has never failed on stage nor in the practice room. I’v done 10s of gigs over the last 3 years using this system.

Small plug:

I have been wondering whether it would be possible to use Ardour with its availble plug-ins in real time to create exiting new effects for my electric guitar ( not only reverb, echo, “talented” harmonies, etc but also routing the guitar-signal to specific speakers). Has anybody tried that? Would it be possible?

Yes, it’s lots of fun playing a guitar though Ardour and setting up effects chains.
You need to get the latency quite small though.

Another thing worth looking at is ‘Smeck’ for PD.

It’s meant for use with a hex pickup (6 inputs, one for each string).
You can use it with a single input as well, as long as you only play single notes. It does some really amazing things that I have not heard done anywhere else, even with my roland VG8.

Great - this proves the profound quality of Ardour architecture - no limits.

Thanks a lot for the link, Philicorda - if you have a link to an example demonstrating the possibilities, it would be really interesting.


@mixit: I’ve created some virtual ‘guitar stomp boxes’ - you can link them up using JACK and then either play through them live or record the results. They can be switched in and out using MIDI control. You can download them from my site:

hope you find them useful.

Thank you for the link, it certainly looks exciting. I realise that I need to upgrade my linux knowledge in order to explore all those wonderfull possibilities out there.



To “complete” this topic, I have played yesterday using Ardour for the computer managed parts (that was actually the most consistent part).

It ran absolutely fine for all the 45 minutes of the show.

I would suggest to those who are willing to use Ardour live, to set a large buffer, in order not to have xruns, especially if you have a not-so-professional sound card.

I made a small donation (sorry but I am a student and played for free, so I couldn’t afford a large effort) to thank you again for this great software!

I’ve been using Ardour to diffuse/perform new electro-acoustic compositions
I also wrote an article which might interest you:

I’ve been using Ardour to diffuse/perform new electro-acoustic compositions
I also wrote an article which might interest you:

@philicorda: Nobody told me about Smeck! I’m a big Pd fan and have had a Roland VG-8 for 10 years now, and often use the VG and Pd when recording with Ardour. I need to go and build a hex pre-amp ASAP…!

@anechoic: Fantastic article, thank you, and so much of my favourite Linux software featured. I have Baudline (and jkmeter) sitting on my second display all the time now. Looking at your screenshots, I wonder if you’ve looked at using a tabbed, tiling window manager like Ion, xmonad, etc. When you have lots of windows per workspace and a pretty stable workflow, it’s a great way to work. Not much eye-candy, just git-r-done. I use Ion3 at the moment.

…or something like Devil’s Pie may be a reasonable compromise if you don’t want to get rid of your whole desktop environment.