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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.