I have been running Ardour on the developing Ubuntu 10.04 for a couple of months, and am just about to invest in an audio interface so I can record as well as mix. I have been considering the Tascam US-2000. Does anyone know of any hardware compatibility issues with this unit?
@suddentwings: this is a USB 2.0 audio device, and as such is unlikely to work on Linux. Although there is a specification for USB 2.0 audio devices, no manufacturer has followed it in any commercially released product, and instead each one has devised their own custom protocol which requires drivers that only they can provide. If you are unhappy about this (and you should be) write the manufacturer and let them know. The only USB2.0 audio devices that are known to have working Linux drivers are the Edirol UA-101 and UA-1000. These only work because someone went to the trouble of reverse engineering the way they use USB 2.0.
@suddentwigs: I would add that if you find any type of sound interface that you would like to use but is not supported for linux in some way by the manufacturer, then you should take the time to politely let the manufactuer know that you would have bought it if they supported linux.
One of the frequent ‘justifications’ for lack of linux support by manufacturers is the relatively small market share - and the only way to encourage them is to get more people to make the case to the manufacturer(s) that they have lost a sale because of their lack of linux support.
In many cases the manufacturer would not have to provide or maintain drivers themselves but simply provide the information about protocol etc to one of the established open source projects. This would not necessarily mean giving away how the device ‘worked’ as in ‘Intelectual Property’, but just how to ‘make it work’ and there is a difference.
The major issues at the moment as I see it are:
Manufacturers ignoring established open standards.
Making devices based on generic programmable logic and then wrapping the firmware that turns that logic into a sound-card in a windows only driver - they could release the firmware object image without exposing any of the proprietary inner workings, yet seem very reluctant to do this in many cases.
Hopefully the growing popularity of audio apps on linux will change this situation for the better.
Glad I asked! Is this issue only true of usb 2.0 interfaces, or do the same problems exist with firewire? Can anyone suggest other interface options for ardour, or a site which lists compatible interfaces?
Ardour doesn’t really care what interface you use, ardour passes audio to and from JACK which is a very versatile pro-audio sound server that allows audio to be routed to and from applications (such as ardour) and to and from the physical hardware using the drivers for the hardware.
Depending upon the physical hardware interface e.g. USB / PCI(e) or FIrewire you will need to look for the appropriate drivers:
For USB / PCI(e) you need ALSA drivers. The ALSA project maintains an extensive list of supported sound cards - http://www.alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Main_Page
For Firewire you need FFADO drivers. The FFADO project maintains an extensive list of supported interfaces at http://www.ffado.org/
JACK connects to your physical soundcard interface using either FFADO or ALSA depending on the interface type, and ardour connects to JACK e.g.
Ardour -> JACK -> ALSA -> Sound interface -> Speakers
Ardour <- JACK <- ALSA <- Sound Interface <- Microphone
Ardour -> JACK -> FFADO -> Firewire Sound Card -> Speakers
Ardour <- JACK <- FFADO <- Firewire Sound Card <- Microphone
A large number of interfaces are supported, but this is largely the work of independent developers (though some manufacturers are starting to help by providing hardware / specs) and I think it is still important to let manufacturers know if you feel they are not providing adequate linux support. The pro-soundcard market is actually relatively ‘niche’ even on windows, and its only if people actually let manufacturers know that they are losing sales where there is lack of linux support that there is a chance to get their ‘attention’. Very often a manufacturer could get more sales to linux users just by providing the information rquired to the ALSA or FFADO projects often at no extra expense, so it makes sense to encourage them to do this.
@suddentwigs: the full info on compatility for PCI and USB interfaces is here: http://www.alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Matrix:Main
For Firewire devices, information is here: http://ffado.org/?q=devicesupport/list
Both of those are rather large, so there are a few comments here: http://ardour.org/realFAQ (along with some snarky remarks).