I recorded, mixed and mastered an album with Ardour :). It did take quite a while (some sessions started on Ardour 2 or 3) and though the music itself is a rather disjointed mess, I do rather like how the mix turned out.
My setup for the album
Renoise, a (non-free) tracker-style sequencer and sampler is used to program drums and each channel (kick, snare, hihat, etc) is routed into Ardour via Jack, Renoise uses Jack-Transport to stay in sync with Ardour. This way I can always change drum pattern without needing to render a file to import into Ardour and can already apply first dynamic or eq plugins on the Ardour drums tracks. Jack-Transport has some slight quirks or limitations, looping a range and auto return in Ardour doesn’t work, but there’s not varying delay and pre-run time like with MIDI Clock. For some reason even rendering Renoise tracks to file gave me growing offsets in long songs, with the exact same bpm.
Synths are either soft-synths, like the amazing Yoshimi, or external hardware (Meeblip, LSDJ) and I’ve started to use Ardour for some MIDI-Editing to, although most of it is made in Renoise, as well as all sample based stuff.
Guitars run through effect pedals, into a cab-sim, to a DI-Box to the audio interface, no micing. There’s an aux-loop from the interface for guitar effects, mostly delays and reverb, which i can feed live or with previously recorded tracks.
Recording, mixing and mastering
Some time after starting mixing and mastering I found about the whole target -14 LUFS at -1 dB TP thing and as I was generally struggling with my dynamics and lower frequencies in the mix, I decided to redo all mixes. Start with all the faders waaaaay down, use parallel compression with longer attack (40-60ms) and shorter release (5-8ms) to make drums and bass sound snappier. Reverbs were put into aux busses, feeding into each other and low/hi passed, which made solving lower frequency messes easier. Side compress all the things.
Mixing snares i find quite challenging, I guess there’s a sweet spot with exactly the right amount of snap and trail and power and spacious reverb, but I tend to miss that.
Mastering was mostly parallel compression at 50% mix, multiband compressor, then multiband limiter. Compressors set to 40-60ms attack anf 8-11ms release. Gradually push the compressors until LUFS is around -14 LUFS.
Ardour’s loudness analysis and the EBU R128 Meter plugin were great helpers, as well as ACE and Calf plugins.
Bloom by Von Uebel
Von Uebel started as a side project to experiment with combining different genres. For example playing a heavily distorted metal guitar over distorted industrial/ebm drums with distorted retro-wave synths, which results in mostly distortion, but nice distortion. Sprinkle some gothic pathos and ambient to sweeten the distortion, etc, etc. And change the recipe every 2 songs.
Many thanks for the devs for your work on Ardour, I love it.