Harrison and SSL

I think the reason all the Linux users’ hearts sank at the news is pretty obvious. I don’t think it’s cynicism to assume a larger corporate interest is going to have some built in antagonism to open source and niche markets, both. Ben’s throwaway comment on the forum that he does his “real” work on Mac when responding to a question about Linux support may turn out to be more prescient than humorous.

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I really don’t know what to make of this.

Audiotonix, SSL’s parent company, is in a niche market. They don’t do consumer electronics, they own a bunch of companies that make audio production stuff (mostly hardware): Allen & Heath, Digico, SSL, etc. They are the big fish in a rather small pond. Several of these companies (including Harrison) already use Linux as the fundamental technology in their products, so it’s not as if open source is something new here. Sound Devices, also owned by Audiotonix, was one of the first companies I’ve ever seen that made sure their audio interfaces had Linux drivers at the time of release.

What is new, of course, is that Harrison, unlike Audiotonix’ existing companies, has a DAW, and that DAW happens to run on Linux (and Windows and macOS). Consequently, rather than just being an internal OS for specialized hardware, they now may have some users who actually sit in front of a computer system running Linux. Audiotonix was also quite concerned that I certify that Harrison has been fully compliant with the GPL, which I did.

And while Linux continues to be the platform that I work on 99%+ of the time, and the one to which I am extremely strongly attached, it also remains true that more than 50% of the revenue that allows myself and x42 to work on Ardour as we do comes from Windows users. The same is true of the overall number of users. I think a little less cross-platform antagonism and a little more optimism is not only called for, but also justifiable.


Ardour/Mixbus may actually be one of the obvious survivors, as it is one of the more unique products in the catalog (under Audiotonix). IMO, honestly, what Linux (desktop) may need is some major engineers/producers/artists creating on the platform. Let’s see if we can do that soon :slight_smile:

But really, love to be a fly on the wall for a zoom meeting between London and Nashville, just to hear the accents :stuck_out_tongue:

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Thanks for the insight, Paul.

It is encouraging.

My comment wasn’t meant to be overly fatalist. I’m heavily invested in Linux as a recording/mixing/mastering platform. My only concern is, having seen several large commercial endeavors use Linux to their advantage within their products (it is clearly the superior tool in many cases), the Linux desktop user base doesn’t necessarily benefit as it isn’t a ripe marketing target.

In either eventuality, I’m glad you’re in it for the long haul. My foray into Ardour from MixBus may turn out for the better.

Couldn’t agree more! I’m back on Windows part time for special Video needs for a couple years now after leaving it in 2006 or so and 90% of my favourite Linux apps are now available to install and they work well on Windows (most notably Ardour). Things change, markets change, CEO’s change, strategies change… Windows is no barrier to enjoying a lot of top-notch FLOSS software and it is no longer outwardly antagonistic towards Open Source and Linux, in fact it has made significant time and labour investment into supporting platforms for FLOSS developers (Github) as well as their substantial internal work on WSL. The perpetual naysayers will always suspect any and every corporation is up to something nefarious and who knows maybe they are… In the meantime I’m very much enjoying this period of having to pause for a moment to remember which OS I’m running Ardour on at the current moment. In a world that is polarized in every direction I look I actually take some comfort that the screen I’m typing this on is far less fueled by polarization (well, at least for me) than it was not so many years ago.

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No need to be suspect. It is a fact that Microsoft is nefarious and became even more so in recent years. Just read the Win 11 ToS and enjoy the personalized Ads.

My motivation to provide Windows builds is to make it easier for Windows users to eventually migrate to Linux.


Well, I’m on Windows 10 and I turned off as much of the Advertising telemetry as I could when I installed it, Windows 11 may be a whole other story… To be clear I did not say it was perfect and I’m not taking anything away from all the positive attributes of Linux, which I obviously have made significant investment in…

You also omitted the “and who knows maybe they are” from the end of my quote… It’s not like Canonical hasn’t been using the same playbook for the past few years, there’s plenty of trouble to be found everywhere if you want to look for it…


I wasn’t invoking any nefarious, corporate bogeyman, just stating the apparent economics of catering to the smallest sliver of the market (Excepting possibly BSD?) My sincere hope is that there is, indeed enough momentum to keep the MixBus marketing going for three platforms, and it may be that there is some advantageous symbiosis between Ardour’s development on Linux and incorporation into MixBus that will make keeping the Linux product available an obvious choice.

I believe and hope that Linux is constantly growing and will become an increasingly attractive option for audio and media work. This SLL thing might be a really significant opportunity, also in terms of device support. And if things develop well, other manufacturers will follow.

I hope Glen doesn’t get too lost in the Windows world and manages to continue his wonderful work on AvLinuxMXE. I really appreciate it.

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The bit I find interesting is the relationship with Soundscape (a DAW provider). When Audiotonix acquired its other companies, it seems they left them alone - the exception being Soundscape which got merged into SSL. That in itself doesn’t surprise me. SSL has spent decades trying to become a big name in the DAW world. They’ve had their own products (ScreenSound / Scenaria / Omnimix) and they’ve shown a long interest in helping other distinctive DAW’s (Ardour / DAR SoundStation / Soundscape). Yet somehow, a reputation in the DAW world has always eluded them. I’m wondering if they see Mixbus as a step along that journey and one day, they’ll be able to offer a DAW to rival ProTools?

Mixbus deserves a bigger audience, that’s for sure…


Also consider that the subset of developers (in the world) with the necessary complete skill-set to create and maintain a modern DAW is probably smaller than a lot of people realise. A modern DAW is a hugely complex piece of software with many subtle aspects which require specialist knowledge at a deep technical level, both conceptually, and in terms of technical implementation.

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This is historically wrong, AFAIK.

SSL purchased Sydec/Soundscape more than a decade before SSL itself was acquired by Audiotonix, by which time Soundscape was long gone.

SSL told me (I have no way to know if it was true or they were just trying to save my feelings) that they didn’t really have much interest in Soundscape - they bought Sydec for their I/O boxes, but then found themselves “supporting” two DAWs (Ardour and Soundscape). Clearly one of them had to go, and the Sydec folks made it plain that if SSL dropped Soundscape they would walk.

That, to me, is a good sign in itself.




Ah, that makes more sense !

5 posts were split to a new topic: Ravenna Linux Driver

I don’t want to derail a topic that I am of no consequence in but if there are others that feel this way or have concerns let me say this: The fact that I enjoy some attributes of Windows and some of the unique production opportunities that it provides doesn’t have to take anything away from Linux, things aren’t always a ‘one or the other’ proposition, multiple things have multiple merits (and multiple deficits). I have always been an apolitical Linux user and I will be using (and hopefully distributing) Linux as long as there is Linux to use, or I die… whichever happens first… I prefer it for many things and yet it can aggravate me to no end with it’s penchant for incessantly re-inventing the wheel… I will not be lost to Windows, I simply look at it as having found another useful specialized tool set. Not everything requires a political stance or an us and them mindset.

Nuff said, back to our original programming!


I only do contract work for Harrison, and half of my income comes from Ardour donations and subscriptions, for which I am very grateful! It is a privilege to be working full time on free/libre software funded by this great community.


After reflecting on this acquisition a little bit more I am personally incrementally more hopeful. Not only do I think there’s a great opportunity to gain access - hopefully at reasonable prices - to a greater number of in-house tested plugins - but I also think there’s another positive area for growth in this merger.

I have no way of verifying one of the sales points Harrison makes about Mixbus32C and how it provides the ‘Harrison 32C console sound’ but I do know that Harrison and SSL consoles have different sounds. From that POV SSL & Harrison could work together, leveraging Harrison’s experience and expertise building Mixbus32C - modelling every resistor, capacitor, etc. - to create an in-the-box version of SSL’s consoles. The underlying Ardour code could be used for both which likely mean less software maintenance costs but also creating a whole parallel new set of products. There are opportunities to mix SSL channel strips with Harrison Mixbuses and output sections, or visa-versa. Maybe someone wants Harrison channel EQ’s with SSL compressors? The number of options abound.

Harrison already does some of this with things like their 32C Channel Strip VST for folks who are looking for their sound. I suspect SSL has similar products.

One other thing I looked at was Avid’s financial performance, or lack there of, over the last 5 years. They have been stuck around $400M income for 5 years. No growth at all. EPS has increased due to their ability to cut costs, but no real growth of income. For a company that’s supposed to be the leader in this market I find that interesting. And again, Avid consoles and Pro Tools have their ‘sound’ which may not be keeping up with time. Maybe this merger creates a new more compelling model.

Anyway, I’m not going to worry about the short term and from a business sense I think it makes sense to support the companies you like with actual income. Buy a plugin from x42. Buy a couple of plugins from Harrison. Keep your eyes open for ways to show support, if indeed you want to support them. I will.

[And as a late edit - if you’re reading this but not subscribed to the Ardour download subscription, please consider doing that as continuing to fund Ardour makes all of this, to some extent, able to happen.]



I agree in all the ways, even if I don’t master the knowledge of sonic gears as it appears you do.
I think it is important to support brands which fit with what we are looking for, and which seem to share the same « values » as the ones we are involved in,( not sure if it is the proper way to say it).

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