Using Ardour Live

So I would like to do live sound for a friend’s event soon which requires a moderate number of inputs for a smallish rock group. But… I don’t have a mixer with as many inputs as I would like for the show. What I do have is a Presonus card and a Behringer ADA to give me 16 ins and outs which should be more than enough.

One of the concerns I have is monitoring latency. My system runs stable at 128 frames/48Khz samplerate * 3 periods = 8ms. To me when I play and monitor I don’t have any issues with this latency. I am wondering if other musicians will notice this. What do you guys all think?

As far as control goes, I will likely be using TouchOSC as which I have played around with and found it to be pretty decent.

So just looking for some user opinions about this application.

@jamiejessup: For live we are using Ardour3.4 as a plugin host live at our church for simple effects like reverb set at 128 frames/48khz. Not that resource intensive but its proven stable so far. I am curious to know are you using TouchOSC with an Apple device or an Android device with Ardour-3.4? I have an Android device I’d like to use for our sound man to control the session away from the PC.

you are probably fine as long as your latency is under 100ms

wait a minute… you said monitoring… you’ll want it way below 100ms for monitoring. (time to get some sleep so I can think straight) In my experience 8ms should be easily good enough though.


You wouldn’t want FoH anywhere CLOSE to 100mS either, that would sound awful.

The Haas effect has limitations that state you want the two wavefronts to be arriving withing 30mS of each other really. Even then what you will find is that people that use the Haas effect for proper imaging on the stage only add a few mS at most, as above that you are going to get phasing down in clearly audible territories. 100mS you are approaching the point you would hear the two sounds as echos of each other, not even as a single sound.

For monitoring, or really for about any live purpose honestly, 10mS is about the most you would want, for IEMs probably even less, looking around the 3mS mark.


you would probably want to have a monitor mix done before Ardour and feed all the channels directly to Ardour for recording…

I think the OP is wanting to us ardour primarly for doing live sound, though im sure he would want to record it aswell. But you have a good point, that it would be best to do monitoring seperatly from ardour.

The OP mentioned that the desk he has access to doesnt have enough inputs. This could be used for monitoring. Simply omit the channels that dont need to be sent to monitors on the anologue desk. you just need a way of getting the channels from the anoluge desk out and into your interface. ideally you would want a splitter stage box that has tails to go to FOH and monitors. You could use direct outs from the monitor desk but i do not recomend that since they are going to be effected by atleast gain and possibly eq as well from the minotor desk.

You could use xlr splitters aswell to split the lines coming into the monitor desk so you can get them to your interface as well.

For monitoring usually all that is needed is kick, snare, bass, guitars and vocals and any DI’d instruments, on bigger stages it can sometimes be usefull to have hihats.

If its a small stage then an 8 channel mixer would at least give you vocals bass guitars and a couple spare if there are a couple di’d instruments.

Id highly recomended having a seperate monitor desk, it would free up resources in ardour as your not using buses for monitoring. I may be wrong but using buses for monitoring could possibly introduce latency. Im not sure if buses have latency compensation.


Thanks for your input. Sadly I don’t live in an ideal world and have splitter snakes or splitter boxes (nor do I want to get my soldering iron out and make a bunch). But yes I do recognise that in an ideal world I would I would really want to be using direct outs from a desk or splitter in to ardour. So often I see Yamaha 01Vs going for cheap used and have to resist the impulse buy since most of the time I am just doing this stuff for fun and don’t want to be spending money like crazy ;).

@ *

I will be using wedges, so that saves me a bit of grief thankfully having to deal with tougher acceptable latency with IEMS. I have recently switched over to arch (for various reasons) and my system seems happy with 2 frames/period for 5.33ms. So I will go with that, doing all monitoring and FOH off of Ardour. Looks like I will have a bit of a cash potential with the groups as the organiser suggested to offer mixed live demos after the show done by me for cash. Woo Hoo.

I’ll follow with how the show goes! Time to set up some session templates and touchOSC layouts :).


If you are referring to the original O1V consoles, I would say don’t bother. I often wonder how those got so popular for live work, the newer ones aren’t as bad but the originals I was never particularly happy with.

Also, don’t forget that latency reported by Jack doesn’t include AD/DA conversion, so it will actually be a bit higher. There is no way for Jack or any computer software to know the latency induced by the AD/DA short of doing a ping based check which requires physical wiring, so don’t think this is to out of the ordinary either;)



Thanks for the comments on the 01V. More reason to resist ;).

oh god yamaha consoles even the ls9 and its bigger brother are horrible and the pm5d. Though they do work and they are cheap… they just dont sound good without having to do things you shouldnt need to do and the more channels you use the worse they sound.

There are alot better digital consoles these days that are cheap like allan and heath i live series (thought not that cheap) sound crafts si expression and midas pro2.

Have you run the jack io delay utility that measures your input/output delay. On my onboard soundcard its 11ms. Your external sound card is probably alot better.

Also doesnt using buses introduce some processing latancy? ive not really tested it fully. Ive only ever setup 1 bus for monitoring when recording and it seemed OK.

I’ll be interesting to hear how you get on as ive been interested in using ardour live.

Id be intersted to see how it copes with running eq plugins on master and monitor buses. Depending on the wedges and foh system it shouldnt need to be a full 32 band eq if they are good boxes and setup properlly. Though these days even if there terrible sounding boxes or a bad sounding room.

Talking about graphic eq’s are there any graphic eq plugins i dont think ive seen any.

what would be really cool if any come out is being able to map them to a control surfaces faders like they do on digital desks. When you go into the mix rack for the aux send on some desks the faders switch to represent the graph

Oh i just had another thought, since were running on linux theres the option of using x11vnc . you could use a tablet and connect to x11vnc and you have touch control. I dunno if its possible with x11vnc but you could maybe have the mixer on another virtual deskop that is on x11vnc but is accessible on your machine maybe?

ill need to look into that.


I hadn’t thought of using x11vnc. That might be useful for editing plugin parameters.

I just plan on using an OSC control surface. Since TouchOSC doesn’t have either a midi bridge for Linux or support send/receive of messages with multiple arguments I’m writing up a little app to do the bridging myself. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a 10" android tablet so I’m off to the races.

yeah it would be a quick fire solution to getting a tablet as a touch interface, not ideal though as viewing a desktop on a tablet screen is a bit small but it could be usefull. x11vnc is dead easy to setup aswell.

Theres also touchdaw app which ive read can be configured to work with ardour though its not officially supported. it only works of multicast wifi (and some android devices dont support multicast)

I had a discussion with a friend who k nows all about vnc servers and ssh, well my idea about being able to access a virtual desktop on a tablet while having the computer showing another isnt possible with x11vnc. you would have to setup a seperate x session as a screen or something for that.

Hey guys,

I didn’t end up getting my touchOSC midi bridge done in time, but I did manage to do the show with Ardour. It worked out very well! I don’t think I would ever wish a laptop touchpad as a control surface on anyone… ever, but it did the job. Motivation to continue working.

I ended up running with a latency of 8ms on JACK just to give me some breathing room. None of the performers said anything about it being weird. I recorded the show and for a very small fee I mixed certain tracks for those that requested. Two out of the three that requested are also lining up gigs for some recording sessions later in the year. Excellent. I put up some of my intial mixes on a blog post if anyone is interested.

1 Like

Glad to here your experience using Ardour for live sessions worked well at that time! I haven’t used it for live applications yet but it works great on all my OS’s for at home audio editing/mixing.

This topic was automatically closed 90 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.