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Ask Slashdot: Best Cross-Platform (Linux-Only) Audio Software? 223

Posted by Soulskill
from the audiophiles,-now-is-your-time-to-shine dept.
blogologue writes "I have played the guitar for some years now, and these days I think it's good therapy to be creative with music, learning the piano and singing as well. So far I've been using Audacity as the tool to compose improvisations and demos. I haven't done much audio work before, but it is already becoming too limited for my needs. Being a Linux-fanboy since the mid-nineties, I'm now looking for a good audio processing/editing/enhancing setup that can run on different platforms, the most important being Linux. Are there any suggestions for Open Source or proprietary audio editing software that run on Linux?"
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Ask Slashdot: Best Cross-Platform (Linux-Only) Audio Software?

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  • Ardour (Score:4, Informative)

    by orcundead (2706033) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @05:27AM (#45250029)
    Great mutlitracking software, simple enough and straightforward if you know your way around other DAW environments like Pro-Tools or Cubase, keyboard shortcuts can be easily customized.
  • Ardour (Score:5, Informative)

    by astro (20275) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @05:28AM (#45250039) Homepage

    For quite some years now, Ardour [] has been the apparent frontrunner in the area you are asking about.

  • by six025 (714064) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @05:42AM (#45250081)

    Forget using an audio editor for song composition, what you need is a proper audio host (commonly called a DAW).

    The options for Linux have been a bit lacking but that is about to change with the impending release of Bitwig. Developed for Mac / Win / Linux, it functions similar to Ableton Live, which is incredibly popular for a good reason - it's unique take on music arrangement means it is great for jamming, live performance and experimenting with ideas. Check it out here: []


  • by six025 (714064) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @05:47AM (#45250095)

    There is another option for Linux which is open source - PyDAW. Check out the project here: []

    Although I have no experience with PyDAW, it has been in development for some time and should be very stable.


  • Qtractor (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 27, 2013 @06:26AM (#45250181)


    Qtractor is an Audio/MIDI multi-track sequencer application written in C++ with the Qt4 framework. Target platform is Linux, where the Jack Audio Connection Kit (JACK) for audio, and the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) for MIDI, are the main infrastructures to evolve as a fairly-featured Linux desktop audio workstation GUI, specially dedicated to the personal home-studio.

    Qtractor is free, open-source software, distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2 or later.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 27, 2013 @06:50AM (#45250259)

    The submitter already uses Audacity, you fuckwit.

  • DSP and AudioLazy (Score:5, Informative)

    by hexxa_decimal (3411019) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @06:50AM (#45250263)

    If Audacity is becoming too limited, perhaps you

    1. Need more multitrack features (Audacity is more an editing tool than a mixing one)

    2. Need a DSP (Digital Signal Processing) package so you can create your own audio processing patches

    As Audacity uses LADSPA plugins, you'll have the same ones in Ardour and any other DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software. Another DAW would give you other analysis and another UI, but unless it goes beyond LADSPA/LV2, you'll have the same audio processing plugins. A "next step" here would be working with audio directly by programming, designing synthesis models, filters and so on. Usually that's not easy, but that's what many contemporary music composers do all the time.

    For the asked "good audio processing/editing/enhancing setup that can run on different platforms", I suggest you try AudioLazy ( []) as part of this setup. It's an open source DSP for Python. Functions like "lowpass", "highpass", "resonator" gives you some common linear filters, and you can make your own [time variant] linear filter with the "z" object, besides basic operations (e.g. multiplying signals), synthesis (ADSR model, table lookup, FM synthesis, etc.), non-linear processing (e.g. getting the "arctan" of a signal to distort it), etc..

  • Re:Wat (Score:3, Informative)

    by blogologue (681423) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @06:56AM (#45250279) Homepage
    It was a different post and got edited a bit. :) I prefer cross-platform, but if it's only available for Linux, that's OK too.
  • by AntiSol (1329733) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @07:02AM (#45250301)

    There's lots of open-source audio production software out there. Ardour, mentioned by others, and for midi composition I quite like rosegarden. There's also a bunch of other software which follows a more unixy philosophy - it does one thing and does it well but it's designed to be chained together. For example, there's jack, a low latency audio framework designed for audio production. It has a nice patch panel which allows you to link the output of any jack-enabled software to the input of any other jack-enabled software, ad nauseum. There's also an insanely huge pile of LADSPA plugins available for any software which supports them (most open-source stuff). There are many, many open-source software synths: timidity and fluidsynth being only the tip of the iceberg. One which may be of interest is bristol - it's an emulator for many popular and famous old synths.

    But when it comes down to it, I use FL studio. It's proprietary and not very highly regarded amongst some (snobby) audiophiles, but FL Studio runs quite well in wine, though it may require some tweaking to get it working smoothly. I like FL studio for its intuitive interface and bundled synthesizers. It's easy to use for a beginner with little audio production experience but it has enough knobs and dials that you're not lacking for options when you want to start getting more technical.

    I highly recommend running FL studio in it's own wineprefix so that you can tweak to your heart's content and so that other wine programs don't interfere with it. Since wine and FL both support ASIO you can plug FL studio into jack and use all the awesome open-source jack-based tools out there in conjunction with FL.

    For the open-source crowd, there's the inevitable open-source recreation: LMMS (Linux Multimedia Studio). When I last played with it it was very new and immature but it did support using VSTs through wine and it looks like it has matured well - I'd definitely recommend giving it a try.

  • by polyp2000 (444682) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @07:02AM (#45250303) Homepage Journal
    Yup - Im holding out for this one too. For the moment Im very much into Renoise - its pretty amazing. I use it exclusively on Linux and get great results... take a look : []
  • Guitarix (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrNico (691592) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @07:21AM (#45250345)
    As everyone has noted, Ardour is great for recording. Another really useful tool is Guitarix [] which is a fantastic guitar amp and effects modelling piece of open source software. Plug your electric guitar directly into your computer via a USB interface (I use my Rocksmith connector) and you can amp/effect model in Guitarix and record as you play in Ardour. Add the Hydrogen [] and you've also got your drums playing and sync'ed as you record. As well recording, these make a great set of tools for guitar practice.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 27, 2013 @07:46AM (#45250409)

    Hardware audio sync is antiquated and unavailable because audio chips are not running simultaneous A/D. They are doing multiplexed A/D (far cheaper) so there is no such thing as true zero-latency recording of multi-track audio on PC audio devices (or any others for that matter).

    There is nothing you can do in a PC to correct this latency because the information is just not there. You get your track 2 sample a sample time after your track 1 sample. Of course, the chips are actually running samplerate*n_channels so the per-track sample rate is still what you want it to be, but the samples are all interleaved.

    To do true zero-latency recording of multiple simultaneous tracks requires a multi-channel simultaneous A/D, which is rare anymore because of price competition. You can't hear the difference anyway, despite what "audiophiles" tell you anyway.

  • AV Linux (Score:5, Informative)

    by UnderCoverPenguin (1001627) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @07:55AM (#45250449)

    AV Linux (

    Has Ardour, LMMS, JACK and many other multimedia tools configured to work together. Can run either as live DVD or install to your harddisk.

  • by six025 (714064) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @08:06AM (#45250493)

    Will there be a command-line version und can I pipe it to /dev/snd ?

    I'm guessing the answer would be no ;-)

    Sox (free, open source) is what you want for that type of processing. []


  • by Katatsumuri (1137173) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @09:00AM (#45250653)

    I agree there is benefit in open solutions especially in open/standard file format support, but I don't think an OS choice makes sense as a #1 priority, which was GP's point.

    For a nice quick overview of top 15 candidates for a good modern DAW see []

    Choosing Linux as OS does limit your options here severely.

  • Re:Ardour (Score:5, Informative)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @09:07AM (#45250687) Homepage Journal

    Great mutlitracking software, simple enough and straightforward if you know your way around other DAW environments like Pro-Tools or Cubase, keyboard shortcuts can be easily customized.

    I'm sorry, but Ardour is not "great". I believe in Linux and OSS, but if you need to make a living in music or sound, you are not going to be using Ardour. The music production community is always open to new technologies, and if Ardour were anything like a professional-quality application, it would be used.

    There are many great ways to use Linux in a production environment. You can have a Linux box as your sample server, use it to off-load effects and plugins and for rendering. But we still have a ways to go before Linux can be used for DAW production. You can get it done, but it's not nearly optimal.

    At least once a year, a take a run at the latest incarnation of Ardour. If you're a database programmer and want to play like Jonathan Coulton in your spare time, then fine. You can make Ardour work the same way you can use a folding camping shovel to dig a foundation. But if you want to dig a lot of foundations, you're going to want to invest in a back-hoe. And there is no Linux back-hoe for music.

    NOTE: The fine people at Cockos, who make Reaper and their active community (which is the finest DAW software at the moment, in my opinion) support the use of their software in Linux using Wine. []

    They also encourage the use of Linux in production and post-production via gigabit connections (for offloading processes and rendering and plugins and sample streaming, as I described above). If you are a dedicated Linux zealot, I would suggest starting with Reaper. It's very inexpensive compared to ProTools and it's much more robust and even refined.

  • Re:Ardour (Score:5, Informative)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @09:10AM (#45250693) Homepage Journal

    Also, Cockos offers an unlimited, unborked evaluation copy of Reaper. But the license is really cheap, so I highly recommend supporting them.

  • Re:Ardour (Score:3, Informative)

    by u38cg (607297) <> on Sunday October 27, 2013 @10:22AM (#45250991) Homepage
    Ardour is not lacking, rather the issue is the rest of the stack is more trouble than it's worth. For a serious studio a Protools licence is not a big deal. And very few people build from scratch on a GNU platform - mostly because most people are starting out as teenagers with no interest or exposure to FOSS.
  • Re:Ardour (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Sunday October 27, 2013 @11:06AM (#45251291) Homepage Journal

    I think what he means is that it can't be Windows-only or Apple-only, but Linux-only is fine. I'm sure he doesn't mean "will work on any distro" by "cross-platform", he just wants it to work on his box.

  • by six025 (714064) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @12:36PM (#45251727)

    Yeah there is more software available on MacOS or Windows in this field but you are way way way overstating your case.

    The GPP is absolutely not overstating the case. I love Linux and open source, but it really isn't ready for audio recording and MIDI processing, let alone the myriad of other apps and plugins required for effects processing and mastering. I would be extremely surprised if there are any serious audio professionals using Linux as a DAW.

    As for the rest of us: inspiration can be difficult to find. When an idea for a song strikes your chosen platform and toolset must be ready to record perfect audio with low latency now. No configuration, no messing about. Load host, press record, start playing. Anything else is a compromise and will hamper your creativity.

    OS X and and Windows allow this to happen with very little configuration. The plugins are available, both free and paid. Linux does not. It may do in the future with host like Bitwig being made available (soon ...), but until that day it's Mac or Windows for consistently repeatable high quality audio work.


  • Rosegarden (Score:4, Informative)

    by HalAtWork (926717) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @01:19PM (#45251979)
    Rosegarden [] is an amazing piece of software, very close to garageband. Supports midi, notation, sampling, multi tracking, control external synths, really full featured. I don't know why it isn't mentioned more often.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.