Should I get Ardour?

Hey everyone!
Maybe two years ago, I recieved a midi keyboard for Christmas, and since then I have been very interested in making music. I have been using Garageband for a long time, mainly because it’s free and already downloaded on my Mac. Recently, though, I have thought about upgrading to a DAW with more features and greater flexibility. I was wondering, is Ardour a good choice to start out with?

Thanks so much!

It depends what you’re thinking of doing. If your plan is to make music “inside the box” (i.e. doing almost everything on the computer) then Ardour is not currently a great option for you. If your plan is to play physical instruments, record them, edit and mix, then Ardour is a very good option and is way, way more flexible and powerful than Garageband. Ardour does run software synthesizers and you do composition via MIDI, but if you’ve been watching videos people using Live or FL Studio or Bitwig … Ardour is not that kind of program. It’s more like ProTools or Logic or Nuendo.

Hi Paul,

Thanks so much. I have a few physical instruments, although no good way to record them(ex. audio interface or microphone). Do you think I should go the more “inside the box” route for now, as to not spend as much on recording supplies, or do you think I should use physical instruments?

Thanks again, and sorry I am asking so many questions, this is the first time I’ve really thought about it that way

My suggestion: Watch some movies on youtube about e.g. Ardour/Mixbus, Bitwig or Tracktion / Waveform. Then play with some of the programs to see which fits best to you. Bitwig is quite expensive, but there’s a demo version also. There’s also reaper. Before spending too much money in gear I would try some VST instruments first. It’s also possible to make pure electronic music with Ardour, it’s just a different workflow compared to e.g. Bitwig. Ardour also doesn’t include any built in synths or samplers. What kind of music you’d like to make?

Ardour can be used as a mixer for sounds you may have recorded elsewhere. So even if you have a device that may not work as well with Ardour to record with, it would be possible to use something like Audacity to capture the recording and then load the assets into Ardour to get a better Mix of the tracks. If you like writing midi using another software, it can also be imported. There is always a way to work around strictly using any one method to get what you need. (If you’re worried about compatibility between drivers) It may also be of worth to find out if jack works well or would you be using another method for the sound system. Ardour is still a rock solid mixer for tracks with almost no barrier to entry to have in the arsenal. good luck.

I have been experimenting with different kinds, but lately I have been doing some kind of spacey, almost atmospheric type of thing, but that is a lot of electronic instruments. I don’t have a super nice mic to sample, so I don’t have to worry about that. I have looked into reaper a little bit. I have been interested in Ableton, mainly because I have been following Andrew Huang, and he seems to be able to do a ton of stuff with it. The only problem is it’s way, way out of my budget, but the student discount does bring it down quite a bit. Even still, I’m not sure it’s the right choice. Many of the free DAWs just seem to be very similar to Garageband, that’s why I was looking at Ardour. Thanks so much for your help!

One final thing. I have Hybrid x64, which I think is called Hybrid 3 now. I have the VST version of it, would that be compatible with Ardour?

Thank you everybody for their help!

Maybe it is just my way of reading, but I do not find that the other comments express very well what some of the differences are in style of different software that has been mentioned.
Another way of asking some of the previous questions would be do you want software to let you record something you play on your keyboard, then potentially add more recorded parts (multi-track recording), and mix together the different parts that you played? If so, Ardour is great for that (although it is very powerful, so expect to spend some time learning how things work if you are not already familiar with multi-track recording concepts).

Or is your playing skill very limited, and you would rather have software that lets you string together small snips of rhythms, melody, bass, etc. and you pick how long the loops play and where to switch from one rhythm or melody loop to another, more like what a DJ would do, or hip-hop production? If that is the style you want, Ardour is not so well suited to that.

Try MuLab (MuTools). It is cheap, full of sounds and effects for electronic music.

Does decent [Ff]ree software exist for making music “inside the box”?

Depending on what you call ‘decent’ :)…

sciurius, neither of those two pieces of software correspond to the kind of tools that have been discussed here. They are useful and even powerful, but not really the sort of thing you’d use for the same sort of workflow as Ableton Live or FL Studio (for example).

icewater: about the only tool I know of that targets the Live/Studio workflow and is also FLOSS would be lmms.

Then I must have misunderstood the discussion. Sorry for that. :flushed: