My experience with Ardour

Hey everybody

I am totally new to ardour and homerecording on linux in general. I want to give you some kind of report, of how my first step into this giant universe of making music on pc was and of course i have a lot of questions. So maybe you can give me some tips and hinds, because i am really excited about what ardour and jack really can.

So maybe this post could also help the developers one making Ardour a better DAW.

I am using Ardour for 1 month now and can say i am pretty much impressed of how easy things were going so far.
My machine is using:

Intel Quad core 4x 2,8 ghz
4 Gig DDR2 RAM
Ubuntu 9.04 with newest Kernel (no RT-Kernel yet)

3 Ibanez Guitars and 1 BC Rich Warlock NJ Deluxe
Boss GT-50 and Rocktron Intellifex vor effects
Hughes & Kettner Tourreverb AMP

I’m still recording through that crappy Line-In on my PC. The signal comes from the BOSS GT-50 Effectpedal, which has extra out for headphones/recording.

So far everything was pretty much plug&play but im looking out for a linux compatible audio interface. I know there are lots of discussions about this topic, which i all read. So my choice would be the EDIROL FA-66 or the Presonus Firepod. As getting sound into your computer is essential for homerecording maybe you could give me some tips of how to setup everything, or maybe you already have experience with those interfaces. One thing thats still a big mystery for me is JACK. Whenever i recorded something i just opend Ardour, selected the inputs and everything was fine, but jack seems to be very important and i don’t have any clue of how it works.

The same thing goes for Linux and audio in general. Im using Ubuntu for like 5 years but audio was never something for me to go deeper into. When i got 2 applications runing like Ardour and Tuxguitar (for writing Songs) only one can play sound. Is that regular on linux or just config??

Is the RT-Kernel crucial for recording?? I installed it some days ago but it couldnt log in becaus some problems with grafix. On normal kernel everythings just fine. No lag or something.
Is Ubuntustudio a better option? I heard that its not very stable.

I got tons of more questions but dont want to scare anybody.
Just one more thing. Im living just some km’s from europes biggest musicians store (in germany) away where you got a 30days trial period for EVERY product. This means i could try some Interfaces on my system no matter if its a pci card or firewire and give some reports.

Looking forward for your answers.

PS: I really need that MIDI option in Ardour3. I recorded a CD on a freinds apple using MOTU, the MIDI editing, in/output was just a dream. I am really missing that on Ardour.

As far as I know, the RT kernel “is not” necessary for recording. I record all the time with my vanilla Arch 2.6.31 kernel with “no” xruns whatsoever and everything works perfectly.
I’ve read they added a bunch of the lower latency stuff to recent kernels… I don’t know which version that started. I had no problems with 2.6.30 either.


ok nice to hear that.

There is a realtime option within the Jack configuration. Normally i dont start Jack before opening a project with Ardour and everything works. But when i do so either i get an error message cause of the realtime option or if uncheck it my sound lacks.

Do i have to start Jack before recording?
If i want to get some drums via hydrogen i think i will need jack but either theres an error or it lags? :frowning:
Are there any settings in Jack i have to adjust to my machine?

Im using the normal not the realtime-kernel.


Okay, I’m at work and not at my machine and I’m by “no” means an pro-audio expert but I’ll try to give you some help ;o).
I always start jack before anything else. I use a jack “frontend” called “qjackctl”. I highly recommend it! It has a setting in it you can check for realtime also. I’ve noticed, when not running a RT kernel, if I uncheck realtime, I get a ton of xruns and everything sounds bad. So keep realtime checked even if you’re not running a RT kernel.

Quote: “Are there any settings in Jack i have to adjust to my machine?”
Yes, err, I would think so anyway. Hardware is different and should require different settings to run properly. I use a GNX4 guitar workstation for my recording (it acts like an external USB soundcard). If you go into settings in qjackctl you will see “frames/period”. I set that to 512 and “periods/buffer” to 3 (I read somewhere that USB soundcards should be set to 3. I have a latency of… err, 30 something and no xruns at all. I have set the “frames/period” to 64 and go the latency down to 4.3 something with no xruns… but I don’t push it. It works perfectly either way for me.

I would say you will just have to “play” with the jack settings until you find what works really good. Good luck and let me know if I can help you with anything :o).

I also re-read you first post an noticed your mention of Ardour 3. I have no idea when it will come out. When I have to work with MIDI files I use Rosegarden (which I highly recommend). I don’t know what you do with MIDI but if it’s drums, I’d highly recommend Hydrogen. I’ve been using version 0.9.4rc1 that I got from repos and it’s improvement over the last “non-rc” version I used is amazing!
Ardour, Rosegarden, Hydrogen, etc all work through JACK.


Hey many thanks

I will try the settings for jack and tell you if it works or not. Seems to me like some trial and error process till you get a good configuration.

Usually i write new songs using some tabualtion programm like (Guitar Pro or Tuxguitar), which is basically midi files which i can listen and play to.

What i would like to do is get the midi-line for guitar or bass into Ardour so i can play along and record. This would just simplify my workflow, as everything would be there at the right time and i wouldn’t have to worry so much about syncronizing all the regions. But so far this is not implemented, yet.

I also gonna have to try out Rosegarden for midi-like input or maybe i can export the midi into wav, which would be almost the same.

And i gonna have to try out Hydrogen which seems to be some pretty neat piece of software.

I think this keeps me occupied for this weekend. Im going to tell you if im succesfull.

But for now im off for a beer.


Quote Azeroth: “maybe i can export the midi into wav”.

I don’t use Rosegarden for audio at all, only MIDI but have noticed that is has the ability to record audio, at least from MIDI files you’re working with, so I think it will suit your needs.


I am running Kubuntu karmic and a firepod here.

The ubuntu family of distros aren’t particulary jack friendly out of the box. In fact the default configuration is broken out of the box.

Ok so jack takes a bit of work to get up and running. What are the benefits. The main benefit of jack is you can route audio between jack enabled apps like you can midi connections. So you could run your drum machine through an effects rack and then into a simple disk recorder (each being separate applications if you wanted (for example). Applications can be synchronised so that they playlstop/rewind etc at the same time. Jack is designed to work with minimal latency (or lag)…

I would avoid the realtime kernel in jaunty - but the one in Karmic is quite good. The realtime kernel will allow you to run jack with a smaller buffer size than you otherwise could which means less time between you making a noise in the real world and it being processed by the computer.

The other thing you want to do is set up your system so your audio programs can request realtime resources (this step is more important than installing the realtime kernel in terms of having jack perform well)… There are some instrucions on this thread

hey guys

ok is solved the first problem

When starting jack i was getting some errors concerning the realtime options, saying me i have no permission or something. Could have thought myself that you just need to start it with root or sudo on ubuntu. Now gonna experiment with rosegarden.


If you run jack as root user or using sudo you will have to run all your audio apps the same way. This is generally not much fun.
It is generally considered better practice to give yourself (or a group that you belong too) enough privileges to do what you need. My last post has a link to an explanation on how to do that

Hy I am back again

Just had one of those linus moments, when everything just works out of the box.

Installed some Ubuntustudio packages on my Ubuntu 9.04 and now everything is running.
Having no more problems with Jack, Rosegarden and the rt-kernel.

I also have now the ubuntu-studio controlls in my menu-bar, which allows me to set the amount of memory.
Are there some common values for the memlock???

Got 4 Gig of RAM DDR2