Should I stop using JACK?

Hi everyone,

I’ve recently (~3 months ago) become a subscriber and begun using 8.1.

Years earlier, I did a bit of playing around with the version 4 that came packaged with Ubuntu Studio. So I’m a little familiar with QjackCtl, and with using it to route connections between Ardour/Hydrogen/Rosegarden/Guitarix/synthv1. So far I’ve made and mixed a couple of recordings in 8.1 using that same approach with JACK.

I see that the current advice is not to use JACK unless I really need to. Can someone offer some guidance about what counts as “need”? I don’t have a clear picture of how I would plug all the virtual cables together without it. Am I missing something fundamental about the new way of doing things?

A secondary question: the default number of frames/period in JACK is 1024, which works fine for mixing. But when trying to listen to myself as I record, there’s an audible delay at that setting. That delay stops being audible if I reduce the number to 128, and everything else seems to work fine as well. Is there a downside to leaving it that low?

Thanks very much. I love this software and am having a blast with it.

I meed to use Jack when i want to connect external programs to Ardour. For example, Hydrogen drums can be ran into their own ardour tracks through qjackctl/jack. There are likley other use cases as well.

The main downside is that you may get more x-runs ( clicks and pops in your audio). You may not be able to run as many virtual instruments or effects, depending on the cpu usage of those effects.

For recording, I use small buffers and a low latency. For mixing, I may increase the buffers depending on the need.

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Thanks for this, Schmitty!

I’ll continue with JACK, because I do find myself using a lot of external programs (drum machine, synth, sequencer, guitar amp, etc.)

I switch between pipewire (JACK) and ALSA depending on my needs. Most of the time I use pipewire because it allows me to use multiple programs that require access to the sound device at the same time, but if I’m rendering something from Ardour I’ll switch to ALSA because it tends to be more reliable for me.

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If those external programs are also available as plugins then you might want to try that approach too.
As for JACK, the day I could run everything I needed in Ardour I selected the ALSA driver and never looked back.

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I still use Jack with bridge to pulse so I can use multiple software at the same time.
I’ve tried pipewire in the past but didn’t work too well for me, also I don’t see great benefit so no plan to try pipewire again in the near future.

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Pipewire works great for me, at least after the 1.0 version released. I never liked having to use JACK in the past. I only use Ardour and plugins, no external apps needed.

An update after a very fun afternoon: I’ve come to love switching between ALSA and JACK based on what I’m doing.

When playing a physical keyboard and recording MIDI, ALSA is the way to go. So many synth and piano plugins work perfectly. It’s a delightful experience.

When playing guitar or bass with Guitarix: JACK wins. The Guitarix app has controls that look and feel like a physical amp, and its built-in tuner is super helpful, and monitoring works great.

When doing drum tracks in Hydrogen: definitely JACK. You can let the drum machine can take control of the Ardour playhead, and it’s easy to route each drum to its own track, and it just works, which is satisfying and fun.

Once recording is done and all the sounds are in Ardour: switch back to ALSA and let Ardour talk directly to the interface. The experience is unfussy, and, again, fun.

Thanks, everyone who replied. I expect the general answer to “when is JACK necessary?” will change over time, as more guitar stuff that currently works best as apps becomes available as plugins.

And probably drum machines and sequencers will require JACK for the foreseeable future.

Really appreciate everyone’s thoughts here.