What's coming in Ardour 5.0

It has been longer than usual since the last release of Ardour, and I
wanted to give people a sense of the amazing stuff that we’re soon
going to be releasing as part of Ardour 5.0. We don’t have a release
date yet, but things are rapidly shaping up and we hope to see 5.0
greet the world in the next few weeks.

Major New Features

Tabbed/Single Window Interface

Possibly the biggest change in Ardour since its first release 15 years ago. 5.0 will allow you to (optionally) work in a single window. The editor window, the mixer window and preferences are now available as "tabs" in a single window, with transport controls shared across them all. Working with Ardour on laptops and other small-screen and/or single monitor systems is now much easier.

views of the tabbed interface

If you have multiple monitors or simply prefer to use separate windows, you can tear off the windows you want, and Ardour will remember your choices in the future.

Control Masters

Although track/bus groups have offered a certain kind of grouped-control over gain, solo, mute and more, traditional mixing consoles have long had group master channels which allow you to combine both a single fader to control the group level while also allowing you to easily adjust the relative levels inside the group. For large projects, this can make mixing much easier to control. After a significant re-engineering effort, Ardour 5.0 will have support for this. In a nod to our "offer more than 1 way to do things" approach, will allow you to use either or both of the conventions used on Solid State Logic and Harrison consoles to chain or combine control masters.

Tempo Ramps

Although Ardour has some uncommonly flexible options for working with tempo, one thing we've never offered are "ramps" - continuous smooth changes in tempo, often known as accelerando (tempo gradually speeding up) and ritardando (tempo gradually slowing down. In 5.0, tempo ramping finally comes to Ardour.

tempo and meter bars showing ramps

Lua Scripting

5.0 will include the ability to write scripts in the Lua programming language that have almost complete access to all Ardour internals. You can implement new functionality of many kinds, including even signal processing (Lua is realtime safe). This release will not feature as much GUI integration as we would like, but it is still a deep and powerful new feature.

an example of a Lua script being edited/used

Much more information on Lua scripting can be found in the manual

Plugin Inline Display

In traditional DAWs, including older versions of Ardour, the only way a plugin can draw anything on the screen is by the DAW opening a new window to display the plugin's own editor/GUI.

In Ardour 5.0, plugins can draw displays "inline" in the mixer strips, giving rise to many new possibilities.

mixer showing several inline displays

Sidechaining & Pin Connections

Ardour's willingess to allow unusual I/O configurations is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it allows users to do creative things that are hard in other DAWs. On the other hand, it causes confusion when doing something as simple as adding a compressor plugin with sidechain support. Those 3 inputs? What are they? How should they be wired up?

5.0 sees an amazing new capability to manually control the internal wiring of plugins, if you choose to do so. You can switch the left and right feeds of a normal 2-channel plugin, or the outputs, or bypass inputs or outputs altogether. Adding "odd" plugins (with inputs and outputs) now becomes possible, with you in control of how the extra (or missing) channels are wired up.

an example of plugin pin connection management

As a pleasant side-effect, connecting up sidechain inputs is now a breeze, which will hopefully encourage more people to take advantage of the benefits of this technique.

Less Major New Features


5.0 will feature at least 5 different themes, with 4 contributions from users, some of which radically alter the overall appearance of Ardour.

several ardour themes

Record Safe
You can now ensure that some tracks are never record-enabled, no matter what grouping or selection status they may have
Replace Instrument
Ever since we introduced MIDI, it has been absurdly hard to change the plugin used as an instrument in a MIDI track. in 5.0, this will be easy.
Configure Multi-Channel Instruments
Plugin instruments that have more than the typical number of outputs have posed notable challenges in Ardour for a long time, because of the program's willingess to handle arbitrary I/O configurations. In 5.0, it will be possible to take control over how many of the outputs you actually use.
Export Loudness Normalization
It is now possible to normalize during export based on loudness rather than peak sample values.
Support For Multi-Bus AudioUnits
There are a number of powerful software synths in the AudioUnit format for OS X which have multiple output busses, mostly to try to provide some guidance to the user about "groups" of outputs. Previous versions of Ardour could not support these plugins. Although we still question the way this design is used by some plugin developers, 5.0 will support them just like all other AU plugins.

AMAZING! :smiley:

…just fantastic!!

Awesome. Looking forward to the 5.0 release!!

Will be Plugin Inline Display feature the LinuxSampler without need to use the frontends like the QSampler, Fantasia, JS_Classic?

@khomkovm: the inline plugin displays are not magic - the plugin has to do some stuff to make it happen. So you will not see any sudden appearance of inline elements for existing plugins unless or until someone updates those plugins to take advantage of this capability. And to be frank, for LinuxSample, it isn’t immediately obvious that it could use the inline display particularly usefully.

The inline plugin display seems like a very interesting feature. When Ardour 5 is released are there any plugins that already support it, or are the screen shots just “mock ups” showing what inline plugins displays might look like when support comes ?

If some plugins will support this at Ardour 5 release time could you please name these plugins :slight_smile:

mhartzel: it’s not a mockup. At the time of writing x42-meters and x42-eq (LV2s) as well as various a ardour/lua processors support the inline display.

khomkovm: the inline display is a specific feature that a Plugin must add support for. It is tiny (say 120x120px), so just “swallow and scale” existing GUIs on that size is pretty much useless. It is intended as quick visual feedback of relevant plugin parameters or plugin state and it is not interactive (Ardour already provides mixer-inline controls).

Technically it’s just a raw RGBA32 image that a plugin paints - completely toolkit independent (but pretty much all toolkits support export to RGBA).

Impressive. Great to see such momentum.

This is a great list of features – at least for me, this now adds every feature I felt was needed in Ardour for my workflow.

Thanks for all the great work on this great program!

Is PDC resp. automatic delay compensation happening?

Ardour already does latency compensation, except on busses. It has done so for more than a decade.

Yea, I meant on busses.

Is there a way with the new theming feature to rearrange the toolsbars or summary for big screens?
(I asked this a few month ago and - if I remember correctly - you said, you will think about it), I made a quick mockup what I think would be great. Would be great if Ardour is made out of tool-modules. :wink:

(Since I am no graphics professional my skills suck, but you may get my point)


There are no plans to make it possible to rearrange the GUI. There are no plans to change the fact that the GUI is created in C++ code, at compile time.

There are no immediate plans to add latency compensation to busses. We would like to do it, but as has been noted before, Ardour’s interconnection architecture (anything-to-anything) makes this task substantially harder than in some other DAWs.

Thanks for your replys.
I know you may get mad, but somehow the Reaper Devs managed this. Maybe this helps to implement it?

There are many different technology approaches to creating GUIs. They each have different advantages and disadvantages. They are absolutely not all the same. Things that are easy in some are very hard in others, and vice versa.

It makes absolutely no difference that Reaper or any other application “somehow managed this”. Can you scale all the fonts in Reaper with a single slider? No. Yet somehow we managed that. It makes no difference because whether something is easily doable depends on the GUI toolkit being used as much as anything else.

We are not looking at it because we prefer to focus on things that benefit the largest number and/or most prolific users. Re-arranging the GUI is cool, but you don’t get to re-arrange the layout of a mixing console or a control surface. Yet somehow people have made incredible music with these tools. Ardour is about recording, editing and mixing music, not showing off corner-case GUI “chrome” which, though it may make a few users very happy, really isn’t of much use to almost everyone else.

Not talking about a fancy, chrome GUI, just a more “well thought” placement of the tools and buttons. Of course its not bad, but the space could be used better - and letting the users rearrange by themselves is a good way. There was no offense. :slight_smile: