New to Ardour - too good to be true?

Hi everyone,

I’m an amateur musician and have been considering using my Mac to make music after some time going DAWless. I’m trying to keep things very simple, and at the same time trying to avoid spending too much money! So a cheap/free solution is very appealing to me. Last night I imported some old recordings into Garage Band as an obvious first choice - but it’s SO limited and simple I suspect I will run into walls very quickly.

Then I stumbled upon Ardour. I just installed the demo version.
I’m familiar with the concept of open source software, having used Blender for quite a while now - along with GIMP and Inkscape. It’s just amazing that these programs are out there and being supported, developed and used.

Can someone inform me about where Ardour is at the moment? It seems too good to be true - and I’m sceptical about free things! I’m a professional video editor using Avid, so I am very fond of simple yet powerful workstations to allow your imagination to thrive. Just how far can Ardour take me? I want to create audio and master it to a professional level, perhaps do some soundtracking to my videos.


Ardour is a professional DAW, I don’t think it’ll hold you back although if you do a lot of MIDI work you will likely find other DAWs more efficient. For audio editing I’m not aware of anything better: the editing tools in Ardour are efficient and a pleasure to use. It’s actively developed and becoming more impressive with every update.

I do miss built-in spectral editing (Reaper provides that), but it’s not difficult to export stems, work on them in an external editor like Izotope RX, Audacity, or Acon Acoustica, and reimport them. I also don’t typically use Ardour for recording as it’s not as stable on my Mac or my Windows machines as Reaper is. On Linux it has been rock-solid for me but less so on Mac and even less so on Windows. So I record on Reaper (which has never once crashed on me) and then import all my audio files into Ardour or Mixbus for the rest of the work.

Looking at Reaper, I wonder - why not just use Reaper? It looks amazing. May I ask why you import into Ardour? Any specific reasons?

Editing in Ardour is much faster and more enjoyable for me than editing in Reaper. Reaper is amazing, but it has so many features and options scattered in different places that it can take me a long time to discover them or remember them. With Reaper you’re supposed to customize the UI and menus and shortcuts to your own workflow and I started to do that; I managed to replicate some of Ardour’s default editing behaviors after about 12 hours of research and tweaking, but then figured why not just use Ardour?

I do use Reaper for working with Midi as it’s more intuitive to me than MIDI in Ardour and I’m used to it. I also have Logic but never use it any more; I prefer Reaper for MIDI and Ardour/Mixbus for audio.

If you do go with Reaper, I highly recommend Kenny Gioia’s video tutorials, which are available on the Reaper website. They unlock most of its mysteries, whatever musical genre you work with.

Awesome, thanks for your reply.
At the moment I’m just using it to finally finish some very old recordings. So it will only be needed for editing, mixing and processing. Sounds like it will serve me well.
Having said that, I might try the demo for Reaper and see where I get to.

I would say that there is no catch, other than some “missing features” which is the catch with every other daw too. I use Ardour mainly for multi tracking and mastering and it has served me very well. Also the community and development is active, the developers are around the forum very often.

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