What's the distinction between a normal track and a tape track?

When adding tracks, there’s a choice between “normal” and “tape.” What’s the difference? Thanks!

Tape tracks are for destructive recording, primarily aimed at post-production soundtrack editors. If you overdub on a tape track, you literally overwrite the data that was already stored on disk.

The overwhelming majority of Ardour users want normal tracks for everything.

Tape tracks are most useful for “printing” effect tracks from external progs or real equipment.
As now, the export function in ardour doesn’t work in real-time, which means that if you have inserts going to external programs (brutefir as an example) or outboard equipment (using the analog I/Os of your cards) you can have problems while exporting your project for CD burning as external programs do not work quite well when the stream is played faster than realtime and inserts attached to analog I/O get deactivated while exporting.
Tape tracks can be used to record these outsider tracks into the session in order to allow them to be part of the final export.
Sure, you can use a normal track for doing so, but you’ll be wasting disk space with each new take and with 32bit audio this is an issue (even worse if you work at 96khz or higher)

My guess is that this information should belong to http://ardour.org/manual/basics/tracks_and_busses. Is the manual still being worked on?

the manual is about to undergo a dramatic reformatting. but by all means, if you have editor access, please update that page.

There’s already a brief mention of tape tracks at:


Feel free to add/remove/reformat as you see fit.

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