Tracktion Engine Open Source

Hello Everybody,

Tracktion just open sourced their Engine and I am not really sure what that means. So I’m just curious: Does this mean anything for Ardour?

Edit: Here’s a link:

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I’m not familiar with Tracktion, but this might mean more open source multitrack - software options in a couple of years time.

Short version, it is unlikely to mean anything for Ardour. Ardour is licensed under GPLv2, Tracktion under GPLv3 I believe, and IIRC that would require Ardour to adopt GPLv3 in order to use it’s code. Aside from that all that is open sourced is the engine itself I believe, which honestly is not an area that Ardour is likely to significantly benefit, and would require a significant amount of work to incorporate. Along with this 90+% (Likely more) is not in the engine, even if it would require significant work to incorporate it, because it is in the GUI that utilizes the engine.

The primary benefit I see would be to projects starting from scratch really, but even then it could be questionable whether there is significant benefit of the Tracktion Engine vs the Ardour Engine which is obviously also open source. IN the end like many things I suspect it would depend on the project itself, but I will say that because we have already had a capable open source engine for some time in Ardour itself.

All that being said, these are my opinions and guesses only. The Devs can jump in here to correct me.

Tracktion seems like an awsome audio editor, so I guess it’s engine must be quite a capable thing. The open sourced engine is 115 000 lines of code so it saves a lot of hard work for someone just starting to build a DAW.

Tracktion was all new to me, so I dug around a bit :slight_smile: I didn’t know they give away its old full version tracktion 7 (current is tracktion waveform 9). Tracktion 7 supports Linux, MacOs and windows, VST, AU, ladspa, sadly no LV2 support.

This (long) video gives a good overview of it’s features and usage:

The reviewer in the video complains about user manual being sold separately. This is not the case anymore, the user manual can be downloaded for free here:

The workflow in Tracktion seems to differ quite a bit from most daw’s, so there will be a learning curve, but also quite nice original features. For example there is no need to select different mouse tools to do different types of editing. This works completely differently in Tracktion.

I think we will see some free / open source editors using this engine in a couple of years. After all one can use the GPL 3 engine for free if ones project earnings won’t go over $50 000 in a year.

Tracktion engine is distributed under GPL 3 which is a very good thing, as the company has some patents pending and GPL 3 gives a free license to patents possibly covering the engine.

Also keep in mind that most of the heavy lifting of Tracktion is done by JUCE. – JUCE’s license and end-user tracking is not an option Ardour.

falktx started to get the GPL only code from JUCE and remove the built-in tracking in a library called water. I’m not sure if that lib can be used to compile the Tracktion engine.

Besides, the complicated and time consuming part in Ardour is by far the GUI, not the engine.

All that being said, it’s very nice that Tracktion engine was open-sourced! It’s a pity that at ADC it was eclipsed by the soul-lang announcement.

The Linux package is for Ubuntu 16.04, but can be converted and installed on other non-Debian distros also:

I just installed Tracktion 7 on Manjaro (Arch - based distro) with these commands that will unpack the deb - package and create an arch - package:

git clone 
cd t7-daw/
makepkg -sf 
sudo pacman -U t7-daw-7.2.1-6-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz

Yes, their licence model is nice: The current version costs its price, the one before that is bundled with hardware and the one before that is free. Seems like they really want to improve their product. And they provide a version that runs on Linux.

I tried Tracktion years ago, but because I’m a live sound engineer and not a composer, I mostly use the DAW for mixing live recordings – which obviously makes Harrison Mixbus a dream come true. But in the last years it was absolutely great how Ardour and Mixbus profited from each other, how ideas from the different communities steadily improved a great piece of software.

Conclusion: If anything in this source code can improve Ardour – I’m happy! That’s what made me curious.

Thanks for your insights!
mhartzell, have fun with your new tool!


It can indirectly. Having code available to reading for inspiration and learning concepts is valuable, even if we can’t use it as-is.

Another nice project from Tracktion is

@THM I was kinda expecting a Christmas present in the form of Ardour 6. At least Tracktion gave me a new toy to play with :slight_smile: It’s been fun so far.

Tracktion has it’s pros and cons like everything. One thing I immediately missed was Ardours ability to use markers to mark different songs in the timeline and then export each marker into its own file in one go. One thing that I found useful in Tracktion was its ability to keep several sessions open at the same time (in different tabs) and let you copy and paste stuff over. It also lets you create copies of the same session and then you can have several differently edited versions open at the same time. Also exporting each track into its own audio file through plugin processing is just 2 - 3 clicks of the mouse.

One thing that frightens me a bit in Tracktion is that you need to activate the software. If the company goes out of business and activation servers go down then you no longer can use the software. This has happened for example to windows XP. Restrictions like this is one reason I use mostly FOSS.

Each editor has its strong and weak points depending on what you are doing and how you are used to doing it.

Just to follow up on my adventure to Tracktion on Linux (Manjaro, XFCE). I got and used Tracktion versions 7, 8 and 9. Tracktion is a nice and capable editor, but my experience is that all the above mentioned versions crash a lot. Especially its best feature: having multiple sessions open at the same time in different tabs usually resulted in a crash after a while. Ardour is much, much, much more stable and reliable. When using Tracktion (any version) it usually crashed once every 2 - 3 hours. Tracktion is too unstable for me and I was happy to return to Ardour 5.12 and have a really stable editor :slight_smile: