Realtime compressor/limiter w/o recording?


I’m a experienced UNIX sysadmin, currently running Fedora 14 on a older dual socket, quad core (8 cores total) AMD Opteron system (dual socket F), 32GB RAM, a couple of SCSI cards, cache-ing SATA controller (RAID 10 disk), SSD boot drive and a RME HDSP9632 sound card. I’ve been able to configure JACK to see the card. I have the balanced XLR breakout cable. I’m also into Amateur Radio. I have a Heil PR22SUT and Heritage mic’s (both 600ohm balanced XLR).

I would like to find a application (hopefully Ardour) that will take the input from either of my mic’s, process the audio signal on the RME card with the effects of a compressor and limiter to give me a strong voice signal, using minimal bandwidth and send the output to one of the XLR outputs on the same balanced XLR breakout cable. The output XLR breakout cable will be connected to a Heil cc-1-ym cable, which will adapt a 4 pin XLR (through a custom 3pin XLR --> 4pin XLR) to the proper RJ45 pinout of my radio as well as a 1/4" TRS connection for a footpedal PushToTalk (PTT) switch. I do not have a requirement to record this audio signal at this time, but I might want to in the future.

I would also like to use one of the other analog outputs to connect to my work laptop, which uses Microsoft Live Meeting audio and Office Communicator (not my choice, but they are the communications products the company I work for has chosen) for conferencing. This needs to happen realtime, similar to a interactive phone conversation.

Can Ardour do what I want/need, or would I be better off buying dedicated hardware for the compressor and limiter?

I’ve tried searching this site and the internet (altavista/yahoo and google) without much luck.

Can Ardour do this, yes, absolutely.

Would you be better off buying dedicated hardware? Yes.

Are there other software out there that if all you are doing is applying processing to one signal, no recording or mixing, I would look at first… Yes. (Jack-Rack or non-Mixer for starters on Linux)


As a plugin host (for your compression / limiting needs) and signal routing app, ardour is the best IMHO. If you are not interested in recording, just use busses in ardour.

If you want to record what comes out of ardour, create a track or use an external app like jack_capture from a shell.

Thanks for the help. I will probably try both jack-rack and Ardour and continue with which ever works best.