Recording directly into ardour (for noobies) - do I need to buy an interface?


I’m new to Ardour, and fairly clueless about sound engineering - I’ve come to Ardour from Audacity - I’ve read the Ardour manual and watches some youtube videos, but…wow…I need a little hand holding!

I’ve started a podcast and my current workflow is to record in Audacity then edit (non-destructive!) in Ardour.

The reason I record in Audacity is because I am using a USB mic, and there seem to be technical reasons why that’s not a good idea / doesn’t work without significant technical set-up in Ardour. By contrast, Audacity is plug-and-go…

However this is definitely slowing down my workflow: I’m podcasting in my non-native language which means I make mistakes, I only spot them while editing so want to re-record small sections quite often. Right now I have to come out of ardour, record my edit in audacity, then import into ardour - as a workflow it’s not very efficient. Ideally I’ll be able to edit and also re-record sections on the fly all in Ardour.

So …do I need to buy an audio interface to make this work?

My (very basic) understanding is that my mic and headphones will plug into the interface, then the interface will plug into my laptop via USB, and with a bit of setup (routing??) within Ardour I will be able to basically switch between recording and editing very smoothly within Ardour.

My mic is a Samsung Q2 so it also has XLR and an earphone socket so it will plug into the interface no problem. One question I have is that the product page says this mic has a " built-in audio interface" which makes me think it should work to record in Ardour, but maybe not??

If I need an interface I’m thinking I will get this one, 4 inputs mean it is more expensive but I’m already planning a second podcast that will have me and 2 co-presenters…

Thanks for any help, sorry for the noobieness, I’m really quite confused by ardour’s complexity…

Yes it’s not a good idea for pro-audio, data has to be resampled to match in/out clocks. This usually decreases quality.

However with Ardour 6’s ALSA backend you can select multiple devices just fine. It should be straight forward to setup. Menu > Window > Audio/MIDI setup , Audio System: ALSA, select the USB mic as input, your PC’s card for output.

Thanks for the reply!

I just tried to do that but I can’t select separate input and output, they seem locked, changing one changes the other, but I’m on Ardour 5.12.0 so that might be why (I’ll happily take out a subscription but at the moment I’m still just testing stuff out…).

But to prevent a drop in quality an interface would be better…maybe have to go shopping…


Yes, it’s a new feature in Ardour 6. As to how the quality is affected, it may not be relevant since usually the USB Mic’s quality itself is the bottleneck. Also if you only record podcasts it may be fine.

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hmm…so this morning I started a new ardour session just to keep playing around, and this time recording seems and playback seems to be working fine…odd but I’ll take it (still on 5.12.0).

Audio System: ALSA
Input Device: Samson Q2U microphone
Output Device: Samson Q2U microphone

My headphones are plugged into the microphone (NOT into my laptop) so I am able to monitor and listen to playback - if I understand correctly I would need Ardour 6 to monitor via my laptop sound card whilst recording from my Q2U mic

However I’m getting a double input when recording - I can monitor my voice but it sounds echoey. I can solve this by going to the mixer and disconnecting the output from the Audio 1 track I am recording on, but…then I can’t hear anything on playback…

(I already disconnected output from the master track)

It seems that I need some way to stop monitoring from my mic (which is basically an interface,yes?) whilst still being able to playback…

I did try switching the input to my computer sound card, and plugging my headphones into the laptop - that did work (tho obviously sounded terrible with my laptop internal mic and computer fan noise). But…I’m confused because although I could upgrade to Ardour6 to use different inputs and outputs, my understanding is that actually it’s better to just use one…which is what I’m doing now by plugging my headphones into my Q2U mic (I think)…

Finally one (hopefully) fairly straightforward question: is it possible to toggle recording on and off? In audacity I was hitting space to record, then space again to pause, then space again to record some more. In ardour I can hit space to stop recording, then I have to re-arm recording (at the top) and hit “play” to start recording again. I searched through the keyboard shortcuts but couldn’t find anything…

Sorry for the noobishness, I really know nothing, thanks for any help…

  1. You can try this: use your microphone as your input/output device and change

Preferences->Signal Flow->Monitoring->Record monitoring handled by: ->

to “audio hardware” instead of “ardour.”

  1. To start recording (assuming you have “armed” desired tracks) -> Shift + Space
    To pause -> Space
    !!! Be careful not to press Ctrl+Space instead of just Space because it will delete your last recording !!!

Edit > Preferences > General [ ] Keep record-enable engaged on stop

This will enable you to just start and stop using the space bar.

I arm the channels on which I want to record, and then use Shift-space to record, or just space to playback. I don’t think I’ve ever needed to use the record button at the top of the window.

oh wow thanks for the replies everyone!

Everything now works! Setting “record monitoring handled by: audio hardware” solved the echoey problem, and using shift-space to record, and space to playback, means I can switch very smoothly between the two

(I tried Preferences> keep record-enable engaged… but that meant I lost the ability to use the spacebar to playback).

I will be careful of ctrl+space…

thanks for the help, hugely appreciated!

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