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Professional Audio on Linux? 469

twilightzero asks: "Recently a friend of mine who is chief engineer at a medium size recording studio/radio station has become increasingly unhappy with Windows (and would like to stay away from Macs) and has asked me if there is any sort of professional audio solution for Linux. Has anybody, anywhere ever tried this? Is it possible to buy a pro audio card with Linux drivers and just run Sound Forge in WINE or do you need an entirely native package?" This is one of those questions that just needs to be answered. What Open Source sound packages out there are good enough for even the professionals to use when they need to make their squeaks, squeals, and whistles. Also, what can they use to put their created sounds together into some semblance of music?
As an addendum, coasterfreak asks: "Being an avid Linux user and composer is a bit of a problem right now. I've never run across any decent music creation programs for Linux. I've used Finale and Cakewalk before, but have yet to see them for Linux. I've heard rumors of something coming from the Debain crew, but nothing more than rumors." Can anyone confirm or deny them?

Just as a bit of a helpful hint, how many of you have tried Audacity yet? It looks to be a fairly feature rich sound editor, and it supports mixing tracks, plugin sound effects, and is cross platform, to boot! Maybe this is a decent spring board for those of you looking to start experimenting with sound under Linux, but I'm not quite sure it's ready for professionals yet...this based on the version number of 0.97 rather than any actual experience, so I'd take the word of those who have said they have used it rather than mine. It would be great if Audacity is further along than it looks.

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Professional Audio on Linux?

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  • Linuxsound.at (Score:5, Informative)

    by mirko ( 198274 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @01:54PM (#2436967) Journal
    I was about to write you a loooooong answer in order to show you most alternatives but this link [linuxsound.at] just does it much better that I may have...

    Have fun!
    • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:09PM (#2437090) Homepage
      Nice way to kill a story - provide the entire answer in one small, compact link. You've earned your Karma with barely a .sig.


      It's over folks - nothing left to see here, move along.

      Oh well - at least I've got some ammo for this ArsTechnica Battlefront [infopop.net] thread. ;-)

    • Re:Linuxsound.at (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kilgore_47 ( 262118 )
      Whats the guy got against using a mac?
      The mac is a great choice for professional audio.
      (or at least a lot of professionals think so)
      • Re:Linuxsound.at (Score:2, Informative)

        by garcia ( 6573 )
        they are expensive, proprietary, and lack freedom.

        that's what most Linux users have against any software/hardware/OS. (or is that most /. readers -- one in the same I guess on most levels hehe)

        Yes, they are probably the best source for professional audio but the cost of an Intel based machine w/Linux is far better than a Mac.

        Money is everything. I wonder if the RIAA uses Macs, ;)
      • I have spent the entire week in a recording studio using Protools on a Mac and I can tell you that trashing 3 hours of work just because of MacOS repetiting crashes is not exactly what I can call a great choice for professional audio.
        • Pro Tools systems are sold and supported by Digidesign, complete. If you have a problem with a system, you should talk to Digidesign. If you are having repetitive crashes, then you have a problem there somewhere.

          For Apple's part, they spent the last five years writing a completely new operating system that doesn't crash, and released it over six months ago. What more do you want from them, to rewrite Pro Tools as well? They did in a way, because Mac OS X includes a complete modern, multichannel audio and MIDI subsystem that supports 32-bit floating point files (infinite headroom, no clipping, easier to process, they are the new standard). Any Mac OS X app can take advantage of these features for free. That stuff is there because the people who need it are using Apple's products, and have been for decades.

          As if Windows never crashes ... sheesh.

          Right now, Mac OS 9 is still the best place to do music and audio, but when the apps flip over to Mac OS X, it's going to be a whole new world for us guys. The great interface, super stability, the best apps, and the new audio and music subsystem and plugin formats. The multitasking and buffered windows and excellent memory management are also going to make for a great improvement.

    • Re:Linuxsound.at (Score:2, Informative)

      by NathanL ( 248026 )
      I hope that someone does come out with a Linux solution. This will trash Avid in much the same way Avid trashed the whole entertainment industry (at least in the post-prod business I worked in in California). If people think that the entertainment industry losing jobs to Canada is the whole problem, they aren't seeing the big picture.

      When Avid came out with their AudioVision tool as well as a broadcast quality video editor, this is really what trashed the industry. Instead of needing a $500k-$3M system to do it all, you could now set up a whole post suite in a clost for less than $100k. This was easier to set up, so all the engineers with tons of experience started losing their $50-$100 jobs to less experienced "kids" that were happy to make $15-$25 an hour. The value of experience was thrown out the window.

      So next time you hear a radio ad or TV commercial that has loud digital hiss, you know that its because some film-school puke didn't have enough experience to know that a DAT should be copied digtially rather than through the analog inputs. Same with crappy TV commercials that sound like the mic was at the bottom of a trash can while the actor was talking.

      • If those young kids can't do the job properly, I don't see what your problem is. Anyone who knows this will continue to hire a professional.

        When you need to worry is when those same kids can do the job just as well as someone billing five times as much. That's when the expensive guy will be completely out of a job.
      • Avid is already being hurt by Final Cut Pro, which costs only $1000 and runs on any recent Mac. It's chump change for what the system can do. The G4 is perfect for these kinds of computations, too.
  • by cheesyfru ( 99893 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @01:55PM (#2436974) Homepage
    Check out Dave Phillips' excellent book on the subject, Linux Music and Sound. There is a chapter dedicated to what you're wanting to do.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/188641134 4/ qid=1003254837/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_7_1/103-5443063-182 7000
  • Macs? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Baba Abhui ( 246789 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @01:55PM (#2436975)
    Digital audio production and Macs are virtually synonomous; what does this guy have against macs?
    • Re:Macs? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jeffy124 ( 453342 )
      my guess is the bottom line. He probably doesnt want to spend the money in purchasing Apple hardware. So he wants to spend a little on Linux and reuse the hardware he already has that's currently running Windows.

      He may also want to retain some things from Windows but not have enough physical desk space for two machines (a Mac and a Windows box). So he can use Linux and dual-boot the two OSs.
    • Apple betting audio pros will like Mac OS X 10.1 [macworld.com]

      Interesting article for those interested in professional audio under a well-supported non-Windows Unix-based OS.

    • Re:Macs? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LordNimon ( 85072 )
      I agree completely. The supposed cost differences between Macs and PCs (and depending on who you ask, Macs either cost more or less than PCs) can't possibly be of concern to someone considering professional audio. After all, how much is his time worth? If he thinks he's going to save time and money (and in his business, time IS money) by forgoing Macs in favor of some cheapo PC running Linux, then he's got MUCH bigger problems.
  • check out Demudi (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TerryG ( 84835 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @01:55PM (#2436978) Homepage
    There are a lot of pieces that need putting together. I think Demudi [demudi.org] is working on it.

    One of... no... The most powerful, flexible, and extensible sound synthesis programs is Csound [csounds.com].
  • Pure Data, Jmax (Score:5, Informative)

    by AtaruMoroboshi ( 522293 ) <Anthony@overwhe l m e d . org> on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @01:57PM (#2436986) Homepage

    There is an audio solution for hardcore sound designers, it's called pd or Pure Data.

    It's basically an attempt at an open source version of Max/MSP which is a program that is mac only and is used by groups like Autechre, Aphex Twin...

    What PD is is a visual object oriented music "programing" language. It lets you build synths, midi controlers, do math, store data, create generative (algorythmic) music, do interactive composition...

    here is a good link on PD:


    • Oh yeah, and i forgot to mention Jmax.

      Jmax is the same kind of deal, and the GUI is built in Java, so they call it Jmax. it runs on linux and windows.

      Both pd and jmax can be used on Mac OS X, if you tweak them a bit.

      Note that neither pd nor jmax have quite the robust roster of externals/objects that Max/MSP have, but they are open source and pretty functional, from what I understand from people who are hardcore about these things.

  • Demudi (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @01:58PM (#2436992)
    A specialised debian dist. is being setup just for this purpose, read more at www.demudi.org (or read below ;o)

    The GNU/Linux operating system is widely known as a robust base for running Internet servers, but has not reached yet a similar audience as a platform of choice for the musician and the multimedia artist. The DeMuDi project targets one reason of this issue, the lack of a GNU/Linux distribution oriented toward music and multimedia.
    The Demudi project (for Debian Multimedia Distribution) aims to provide for the musician and artist a GNU/Linux distribution dedicated to music and multimedia that would ease installing and customizing GNU/Linux for their needs. Demudi is not actually a distribution in itself. Taking advantage of the existing Debian distribution, it enhances a Debian distribution by a collection of packages containing music and multimedia applications or development tools. The Debian distribution has been chosen, because it is the only distribution that is developed entirely by volunteers over the Internet, just like a significant part of the GNU system, the Linux kernel and many applications. Additionally, it supports several different hardware architectures.

    Yes, I'm an AC - No, I don't feel like registering!
  • Rediculous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swgs ( 235424 ) <swgs@NOsPaM.youlovethatshit.com> on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @01:58PM (#2436998) Homepage
    are there any valid reasons why he'd like to stay away from macs? macs are more widely used in the recording industry than windows. they are excellent for what he needs, and are not complicated. im sorry maybe im being a typical mac user, but i dont see what's missing.

    this is a recording studio we are talking about, if they are at all proffesional they dont need to be dealing with the normally non existant support on linux.

    so unless the guy is a big linux geek, or the idea of being fired sounds good to him. i say a Power Mac 9600 running Mac OS 8.6 should do the trick.

    • Re:Rediculous (Score:5, Insightful)

      by trcooper ( 18794 ) <`gro.tuoder' `ta' `pooc'> on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:20PM (#2437162) Homepage
      Could be because he can't change hardware.

      Or could be because he doesn't want to work with Macs.

      A linux solution may be completely free of new costs, sure there's his time, and time to aquaint the talent with the new software, but that would be incurred regardless. A mac solution would involve hardware and software as well.

      He didn't say why this guy was getting tired of Windows, it might not be crashing that's the problem. He may be fed up with licensing in general, and a mac based solution isn't going to get him any further away from that problem.
      • Re:Rediculous (Score:2, Interesting)

        by soellman ( 993 )
        A linux solution may be completely free of new costs, sure there's his time, and time to aquaint the talent with the new software, but that would be incurred regardless. A mac solution would involve hardware and software as well.

        oh don't fall into the "everything linux is free" trap - in the words of jwz:

        linux is only free if your time is of no value

        if you have to screw around for 20 hours on a linux box to get everything correct, you could have just bought all the software for a mac/win solution. choose your battles wisely..

    • are there any valid reasons why he'd like to stay away from macs?

      Probably the same reasons that many of us stay away from anything from Apple: It's overpriced, and you are locked in to Apple forever. People like to talk about Microsoft's "monopoly" but it's nothing compared to Apple. You are totally at their mercy, and they haven't exactly been merciful in the past.

      That's the practical reason, but you can also choose to stay away from them for moral reasons. Apple lives and dies by the lawsuit. At least Microsoft doesn't sue everyone in existence for ridiculous reasons (like "copying" the concept of a computer with a built-in monitor in a bright color).

      Or you could dislike them for how they stabbed the clone manufacturers in the back.

      Or you could dislike them for flat-out lies in their advertising ("twice as fast").

      Ironically, Apple now actually makes a product that I'm semi-interested in, namely OS/X. But I will never, ever EVER give Apple any money. I'm hoping that someone will make an OS/X clone.

      • Sounds like someone needs to whacked by the clue-by-four

        Probably the same reasons that many of us stay away from anything from Apple: It's overpriced, and you are locked in to Apple forever.

        You are locked into Apple forever? Does Steve Jobs have a gun pointed at your puny little brain?

        On my PowerMac G4/Dual 500 I can run Mac OS 9, Mac OS X, Windows 95, Windows NT, BeOS, Linux PPC and Linux x86 -- makes you wonder if Macs suck and it can run Linux x86, the quality of Linux x86 must really suck. So I guess I am not "locked" into Apple.

        If I get tired of owning a Mac (which ain't gonna happen), I can put it on eBay and recover more than 50% of my investment. You are not going to do that with a POS intel box -- no matter who assembles it. As for being overpriced, give me a break. Apple gives awesome deals. The quality and built-in hardware (quad-firewire, dual usb, AGP dual head monitor card, heavy duty power supply, etc) is amazing on a Mac. Most of the time to build a similar PC, you would be having to add on a ton of stuff to match the Mac that PC manufacturers don't normally equip.

        That's the practical reason, but you can also choose to stay away from them for moral reasons. Apple lives and dies by the lawsuit

        No, twit, Apple lives by its bottom line and its stockholders. This is the sort of gripe I would expect from someone with ZERO interest in capitalism (your Anti-American article link shows your true colors). Apple sues people for stealing their intellectual property just like an author of a GPL app would sue a commercial publisher for stealing their code. If you fail to protect your property in the US court system, you lose your rights to it. The suits your are discussing deal with "Trade Dress". By your thought process, Harley Davidson would not have the right to prevent other motorcycle makers from stealing the sound of their exhaust system. Which they do successfully when challenged. Are you anti-HOG as well?

        Or you could dislike them for how they stabbed the clone manufacturers in the back.

        Thank God!!! I owned a Mac clone from PowerComputing. The worst POS computer I ever bought in my life. Killing the clones boosted the quality of the Macintosh. Buying a Mac is buying quality. When Jobs killed the clones, he saved Mac OS from running on sub par quality hardware like most x86 machines.

        Or you could dislike them for flat-out lies in their advertising ("twice as fast").

        Apple has demonstrated at MacWorld this fact time and time again. If you want to stick your fingers in your ears and scream "Na-na-na" at the top of your lungs, fine. For fun, try to render and burn a movie to a DVD in real time with your PC. Oh, wait, you can't. Only Macs have that capability.

        Ironically, Apple now actually makes a product that I'm semi-interested in, namely OS/X. But I will never, ever EVER give Apple any money. I'm hoping that someone will make an OS/X clone.

        It's OS X not OS/X -- this is Apple not IBM. I am more than happy for you to stay away from Macintosh and even happier that there will never be an OS X clone. When I buy a computer I want quality. Apple can only assure that by building the product itself. The clone fiasco proved that. So, by all means, keep your head in the sand. Mac users will just point our fingers at you and laugh at your Mac bigotry.

        • You are locked into Apple forever? Does Steve Jobs have a gun pointed at your puny little brain?

          The point is that you are locked in if you don't want to throw away your investment.

          I can run [...] Windows 95, Windows NT, BeOS, Linux PPC and Linux x86

          Yeah, in a crappy, emulated environment. It's real convenient having to fire up the emulator. Why not just use the apps you want to use on a native hardware?

          I can put it on eBay and recover more than 50% of my investment. You are not going to do that with a POS intel box -- no matter who assembles it.

          Well, duh, of course you can. That's because it's an artificially tight market. The reason you can't sell used PC hardware is because you can buy better hardware for the same price because of the commoditization of hardware in the PC market. The resale value of Mac hardware is a disadvantage -- that's an indication that the newer stuff is not much better than the older stuff.

          This is the sort of gripe I would expect from someone with ZERO interest in capitalism (your Anti-American article link shows your true colors).

          LOL! I see you've never seen any posts by me in the past. I am one of huge defenders of Capitalism on Slashdot, not to mention the USA's right to destroy the barbarians (anti-american article!?). Which is why I hate Apple -- they are anti-competition. They are not protecting their "intellectual property", they are protecting their monopoly position. A colored computer is not intellectual property. A gumdrop-shaped button is not intellectual property. The GUI was not intellectual property.

          Harley Davidson would not have the right to prevent other motorcycle makers from stealing the sound of their exhaust system. Which they do successfully when challenged. Are you anti-HOG as well?

          Actually, I detest Harley Davidsons (too f'ing loud), but that's irrelevent. No, they don't have the right to an "exhaust note". That's simply absurd. And I'm a huge intellectual property advocate. I don't believe in music trading, and I don't believe in software trading. If H/D thinks their engine sound is what their about, then maybe they should think about making motorcycles instead.

          When Jobs killed the clones, he saved Mac OS from running on sub par quality hardware like most x86 machines.

          What Jobs killed was your freedom to buy what you want. Fine, if you don't like Power Computing's stuff, then don't buy it. But it really takes a Mac Zealot to say that you are better off without the choice.

          Apple has demonstrated at MacWorld this fact time and time again.

          Apple has demonstrated smoke and mirrors time and again, but funny how when people benchmark real applications, you don't see it. You can find certain things that have been optimized for the Mac, but on average, it's about 20% faster clock-for-clock. Their advertising used the bullshit, ancient "integer Bytemark" that proved absolutely nothing about real world performance. Apple is a pack of liars when it comes to their advertising.

          Mac users will just point our fingers at you and laugh at your Mac bigotry.

          And the rest of the world will laugh back as you convince each other that you're really better off with only Apple as your sole supplier. Competition is such an overrated concept.

    • Could you at least try to spell the subject line correctly ? "Rediculous" isn't a word, you clown.
      I'd like to propose a moratorium on the following:
      • Using the non-word "rediculous"
      • Using the word "loose" instead of "lose"
      • Terminating a question with a period instead
        of a question mark

  • by alleria ( 144919 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @01:59PM (#2437005)
    M-Audio and MidiMan provide professional-caliber cards with pro-level features, and support Linux as one of their OSes, as well as Mac/Windows, of course.

    Their driver support for Windows is okay, but I believe their Linux support may well be binary only. That said, their drivers generally don't suck.

    I'm not affiliated with them -- just a happy home user who enjoys using their pro-level cards for cleaner sound output under Windoze.
    • I just got a M-audio Audiophile 2496, and I love the thing. Primary reason I bought this card is that it works with windows (up to xp!) Mac (9 and X!) and Linux (with alsa drivers). I now use a PC with Linux for most of my tasks and windows 98se with logic for audio, but I'm really sick and tired of windows (and logic doesn't work on windows 2000/xp). I'd love to have logic on linux, but that's not evry likely. So I am saving for a Mac G4 . Mac's are more expensive than PC's but when you're doing pro audio the price of the machine itself is not so much an issue, the price of your protools, you're mackie 8bus digital mixer and your adat gear are more significant..
  • Try this: (Score:2, Informative)

    You could use Protux [icewalk.com].

    Even though it uses its own file format (PRAF) you can import .WAV, .OGG and .MP3 files, too.

    Screen shots and more info can be found on the Protux home page. [sourceforge.net]
  • by jason99si ( 131298 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:00PM (#2437021)

    "What Open Source sound packages out there are good enough for even the professionals to use when they need to make their squeaks, squeals, and whistles."

    I believe the question posed was if there were any quality sound applications for Linux, why focus solely on Open Source?
  • by sacherjj ( 7595 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:02PM (#2437033) Homepage
    I am a person who would love to us Linux for things, but almost every time I try, I keep getting bit by unsupported hardware or lacking features.

    For $70 you can purchase Home Studio from Cakewalk (a subset of their SONAR professional package). It supports DirectX plugins (the standard now for adding third party mixes, effects, and instruments.) The amount of plugins available is mind boggling. If a Linux package doesn't support this forget it.

    Also, on the hardware side. Is there any support for mixing board interfaces, or multiple in/out cards for when you need to get more than 2 channels in and out at one time?

    It would be nice, but It ain't gonna happen soon. There features just aren't there.
  • by Root Down ( 208740 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:03PM (#2437038) Homepage
    There is really a simple solution that is typically used for Linux apps. First, write C drivers for any of the devices you use to make your sounds, then implement several system calls - I recommend the latest kernel release for ease of implementation - to access the new drivers and debug. (Naturally, C code is clean enough so as to avoid any errors save for the case of the extremely novice programmer.) Recompile the new kernel after remaking your dependency files and source it in your lilo.conf file. Now, reboot and you should be all set! (Note that neither your dependencies nor your kernel may work properly, so it is best to source lilo and specify the 'once only' option.)
    It's that simple! Enjoy!
  • I'd say that you're probably going to have to wait a while to get professional level sound card (multiple analog inputs, ADAT, etc) available under Linux. Even with entry level pro sound boards, such as the Lexicon Core2, drivers are still non-existant. Linux may have good support for doing electronica, etc, but if you're doing "live" music, you've still got enough hoops you've got to jump through that it's just not worth it for the time being.

    This isn't meant as a flame, or a troll, it's just the truth. It's time to start turning the screws on the big vendors to start making their high-end sound drivers available for Linux, even if they are simply binary drivers only.

  • Soundcard: M-Audio (Score:4, Informative)

    by 2ms ( 232331 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:05PM (#2437056)
    I asked about pro soundcards once at linux.com and someone pointed me to http://www.m-audio.com [m-audio.com] - the 24-bit "audiophile" looks sweet to me.
  • by AtaruMoroboshi ( 522293 ) <Anthony@overwhe l m e d . org> on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:05PM (#2437057) Homepage

    I am a serious computer music hobbyist.

    I currently run Native Instrument's Reaktor, Propellorheads' Reason & Recycle, U & I's Metasynth, and Bias's Peak on an iBook and an older mac.

    I would much rather use open source programs for the simple reason that they would be massively cheaper, in addition to generally being in agreement with open source ideaology.

    Here is what is needed:

    A good multitrack Midi and hard disk audio recording/sequencing program that is actually as powerful as Logic Audio Gold or Cubase VST 5.0. This is absolutely vital. You need a Logic Audio Platnium or Pro Tools killer to get a serious studio to consider switching to open source and away from the Macintosh.

    And you need a useful, well implemented plug in architecture for both virtual instruments and effect processors.

    Once you've got that, then people just need to write the virtual instruments and effect processors. :)

    Seriously though, the audio stuff running on Macintosh hardware is pretty fabulous, and Mac OS X is extremely suited to audio, able to get latency as low as 1 ms (just like linux.)
  • Also, what can they use to put their created sounds together into some semblance of music?

    Sticky tape & Blue tac. At least that's what Aphex Twin and Matmos use.

    --In fact, the Aphex Twin, lik a real man, bulds his own analogue keyboards.
  • by punchdrunk ( 257279 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:07PM (#2437072)
    Emulators are generally slower than running native. Latency is the bane of pro audio software if you are trying to do anything remotely real-time (sequencing, sound sources, midi controllers, real-time audio manipulation, etc.). Since at least some of this is usually required in any pro audio situation, especially at a studio, any type of emulation is going to be a big problem. We're talking situations where milliseconds are extremely important.
    • WINE Is Not an Emulator.

      Apps have the potential to run just as fast (faster even) on Linux using WINE as they do on "real" Windows. There is no emulation going on, WINE is simply an implementation of Win32 for Linux.

      Someone earlier mentioned that DirectX is becoming a standard for audio effects plugins - WINE could be used to run these plugins in much the same manner as mplayer or whatever its called runs Windows video codecs under Linux (x86 only, though).

      • This is a rather erroneous description of the situation. Wine is both an emulator, and not an emulator at the same time. It doesn't emulate machine code (unlike, say, Bochs). It does however translate Windows calls to Unix/XWindows calls.

        And in many cases, when it does'nt translate directly, it has to emulate.

        Anyway, this nitpicking on the word "emulator" does not matter. Don't call it an emulator if you don't want to. It's still a fact that some parts of Wine run slower than native calls, because of important semantic differences between the two OSs.
  • Audacity rocks. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by torpor ( 458 ) <<ibisum> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:08PM (#2437083) Homepage Journal
    And the code is really easy to get into, so if there's some itch you need scratched, Audacity is a good place to start.

    Also good is Ardour, which in my opinion has a *much* greater chance of becoming the professional workstation tool that we're all looking for - there's a lot of development occurring on it, and it's already made some serious headway:


    Personally, I'd advise your friend to look a bit closer at the Mac way right now, and try to put bias aside. Pursue the Linux side too, if you like, but keep a very close eye on the OSX way of life...

    Mac OS X is an *excellent* operating system for professional media work, and there are some extremely exciting things on the horizon for OSX - which I can't talk about due to NDA's, alas, but I will say this: getting ready now for the release of some kickass Audio tools on OS X for June/July release next year is probably a *very* wise thing.

    The advantage to this, also, is that any OSS Linux apps that are available now, may (fairly easily) be ported to OS X pretty soon ...
  • by Azog ( 20907 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:12PM (#2437101) Homepage
    From reading the Linux Audio mailing list, I can offer a quick summary: There is pretty decent hardware support for a variety of pro audio gear. See below. The software side is not quite so good. As one poster put it: "The problem is not a lack of developers for Linux Audio. The problem is that instead of two or three 90% complete software packages, we've got twelve or fifteen 20% complete packages."

    That might be a little pessimistic, but there's some truth to it. However, there is usable software out there, even if it is not done. Broadcast 2000 was aimed at video editing, but was apparently useful for audio as well. Ardor is a hard disk recorder package. There's a lot of stuff out there - heck, just search Google and Sourceforge.

    The ALSA project http://www.alsa-project.org/ [alsa-project.org] is an important site if you are looking for pro audio Linux drivers and software.

    Now, about the hardware: http://www.linuxdj.com/audio/lad/ [linuxdj.com] is a place to start.

    Also check out http://www.boosthardware.com/LAU/Linux_Audio_Users _Guide/ [boosthardware.com]

    The M-Audio [midiman.net] pro hardware has a lot of good cards [northernsounds.com] - everything from an inexpensive 24 bit / 96 Khz DA /AD card all the way up to the 10 channel Delta 1010, suitable for real pro / recording work. These cards have Linux support, and is probably your best bet for really good AD / DA and Midi under Linux.

    The RME Hammerfall card is also supported under Linux. Other quality hardware (from Echo and other companies) is unfortunately not so well supported.

    Personally, I'm planning on getting one of the M-Audio cards just for playing with.
    • The ALSA Project is really cool. I have a nameless Aztech 2320-based sound card. Last time I checked, the only available Windows drivers where for 95 and NT. Lots of bugs in there, too, and it couldn't record via the line-in without a lot of hiss. The default Linux kernel recognizes the azt2320 card, but can't play music through it. But ALSA works! Unlike in Windows, I can now adjust *all* volume controls, line-in recordings are pretty clean and even midi works fine. The joystick too, but you don't need alsa for the game port of course :)
      Actually, the Linux kernel with ALSA might support many older cards better than the current Windows drivers. Some features for the Soundblaster Live! and a few more high-end cards are still underway, though..
  • Though you can probably get some decent tools in the Linux world...
    Why is this person trying to 'get away' from windows... do the applications he has not work? Sound engineering is an application-specific task.. as long as the apps work, he should be fine.
    Also.. why does he want to stay away from macs? macs, I believe, are the leader in digital sound engineering, no? That's like saying you want to build a huge complex network but want to stay away from Cisco.
  • by the_rev_matt ( 239420 ) <slashbotNO@SPAMrevmatt.com> on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:13PM (#2437110) Homepage
    Here's an article on exactly that subject.. http://www2.linuxjournal.com/articles/style/0009.h tml [linuxjournal.com]

  • Linux DJ (Score:4, Interesting)

    by h_box ( 528823 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:14PM (#2437113)

    I have been using Linux to DJ for about a year now at parties and as a resident at a local club. Linux IMHO is vastly superior as a performance oriented tool, due to it's efficiency and stability. Unfortunately on the music creation and creativity side of things, Windows and even the Mac are still quite a bit easier to get into.

    My linux Dj configuration is an IBM thinkpad pentium 2 366. It allows me to re-mix music on the fly and send multiple soundstreams out through some external USB Digital Analog Converters. I run the channels into a standard DJ mixer where I can get twiddly with the EQ's and crossfader and the built in Kaoss effects processor. The software is called GDAM, and is available on sourceforge. Props to the geniuses who wrote the app, they have been very helpful with various problems I have had with older versions when it came to compiling. They have even implemented some of my suggestions into their code over the last year. [song searching case insensitive for example]

    The whole thing is running on top of X windows, I use Blackbox to keep resource usage low, and in turn I can re-loop and remix up to 4 soundstreams on the lowly Pentium 2 366 without noticeable latency. I keep notes on my set using VI.

    Of course i'm available for certain types of events worldwide. Demonstration sets are available at my website, though I imagine it will get slashdotted pretty quick so be gentle with me.

    My sets [shutdown.com]
    • Do you use the preemptible kernel patches?
    • Perhaps you know:

      whatever happened to that DJ kit availible for BeOS; the one with the time-track encoded vinyl LP, which you could scratch/delay/loop just like a normal record, but whcih was sampled by the software to modify the playing of an mp3 file instead?

      Now that BeOS is pushing up the daisys, I was wondering whether it was avilible for other OSs
  • As far as I know, writing professional non destructive editor for free is going to expose you to liability battles because of the amount of money professionals risk on the software and the assumption that the software is going to carry their $250 million talent's voice to DVD.

    The GPL is worthless at protecting you in a high cost environment like professional audio. That's why you won't see open source programmers giving out more than simple wave editors and utilities.

    • This is an extremely disingenuous comment. As far as I can tell, it comes from the author of Broadcast 2000, who recently pulled the source of B2000 from the net because of the fears expressed in this message. Several people have asked the author of B2000 to substantiate his fears of liability. There appears to be no basis in fact for it. All commercial software would come with the same issues, and the companies that produce it are often not rich enough to face the kind of lawsuit he suggests. In additional, all software, commercial or open source, comes with explicit disclaimers as part of the license, and several people have suggested that these would have no problem standing in a court of law. The pulling of B2000 because of un-explained fears of legal liability was reported on slashdot, and is, IMHO, an irresponsible act. The author should either justify his concerns, or provide some other rationale for the decision. As for:
      you won't see open source programmers giving out more than simple wave editors and utilities.
      I don't think so. Otherwise, why would I be spending hours and hours every day working on a fully-fledged ProTools equivalent called Ardour?
  • Audacity (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dominic_Mazzoni ( 125164 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:15PM (#2437128) Homepage
    I can't resist making a shameless plug for my project, Audacity [sourceforge.net].

    While Audacity is nowhere near being a complete replacement for a full set of commercial audio tools, I believe it's one of the best editors available for Linux today and has a lot of potential to be extremely competitive with commercial multitrack audio solutions within the next year or two. Here's what it has going for it:

    • It's cross-platform. We use wxWindows (but with native audio I/O code for each platform) and Audacity currently runs on Linux, Windows, MacOS (9 and X), and other Posix systems.
    • Fully non-destructive editing, using a novel blocked-file approach which caches the current mix for faster real-time playback.
    • Supports (on most sound cards) full-duplex recording - sing harmonies with yourself!
    • Import and Export MP3 files from within Audacity (using LAME for exporting)
    • Built-in effects include Bass Boost, FFT Filter, and Noise Reduction. Compression/Expansion under development. Support for VST plug-ins on Windows and MacOS, and LADSPA support is under development.
    • Unlimited number of tracks and automatic mixing. The code in CVS (not yet released) supports automatic resampling.
    • Built-in envelope editor
    • Spectrogram mode and frequency analysis tools

    (For those of you who have tried the current release (0.97) and are having audio I/O problems on Linux, rest assured that the latest version in CVS has much improved audio I/O and should solve all of those problems and more...)

    There are three or four active developers of Audacity, and another dozen or so people who contribute code or bug fixes from time to time. We're definitely interested in more help - visit the web site and contact us if you're a C++ whiz (or have some other skill which might be useful for us) and want to join the team!

    • Dominic,

      A shameless plug ? I don't think so. I think you're being VERY modest. You have an excellent product. I for one am hoping that you come along enough at some point I can get rid of Windows altogether ... though I'll miss some of the effects of Sonar ... Audacity is Audacious (now THAT's what I call a shamless plug !-)
    • You're using the GPL. So do I. Want any code or algorithms from Mastering Tools Pro [airwindows.com]? I'm doing compression, limiting, a couple forms of equalization, declicking/peak expansion, and numerous forms of wordlength reduction, some of which would be realtime in C++. In fact, because you're GPL, you _can't_ have some of the more 'brand name' wordlength reduction algorithms like POW-R, because they are proprietary, but it just so happens that the ones I do are GPL. You're welcome to take a look [airwindows.com] at the spectral analyses of these algorithms compared to common ones like TPDF dither.

      If you're not using dithered 2-busses yet, run don't walk to check that stuff out- you really need to be covering that base to be pro-level. Even Pro Tools has had to bow to pressure and incorporate a dithered buss in their new mixer, and they have such a big name that they've stagnated horribly.

      Talk to me if this sounds interesting- it's definitely about what _you_ think is important. You can suit yourselves, I'm just saying that I'm happy to consult with you for nothing and donate algorithms under the GPL- and consider that, although you guys are clearly much better coders than me, it's possible that there are people out there with a clearer idea of what constitutes a state of the art DAW system. Within the narrow confines of digital gain staging and wordlength reduction practices (and possibly compression and limiting, though I'm damned if I can figure how to implement a realtime lookahead limiter for you guys without sacrificing latency), I'd suggest that I'm the guy you should be talking to. Up to you...

  • by Lysol ( 11150 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:21PM (#2437165)
    Honestly. I've spent many years using various audio packages. first on the mac - cuz it was there wayyyy before pc, esp. with propreitary hardware extensions ala protools, etc - and within the past few years, the pc.
    My friend has a studio and a few years ago, i convinced them to dump their protools package (cuz seriously, who wants to be locked in and protools excels at that!) for pc software. over time, we got a decent machine, with full scsi, and started tracking his new project. We used Cool Edit Pro and it started barfing here and there. You can't afford *any* drop outs or variations in a track. otherwise, it's useless.
    A few months back, they switched back over to protools on a G4. i think part of their problem was lack of experience tho. they have a 'producer' in now using their equip and he's recorded some major label projects. he likes the setup. so i guess it works. however, it *cost* them quite a bit.
    my home studio has a athalon 750, 512mb ram, ata-100 raid 0 40gb hd setup, and - ugh - win98. this is *only* because the company i bought my digi audio card - tascam pci 822 (dont go for that crappy soundblaster stuff, u wanna track 24-bit, at least 44khz, *at least*). that connects into my tascam tmd1000 mixer. this is pretty kick ass for a home/project studio. i actually *read* a lot of stuff for disabling read-ahead cache (bad!) and various other things. At most I've had about 36 tracks of audio goin whithout a hitch. Using Cool Edit Pro as well.
    Obviosuly, I'd prefer to use linux, but the drivers and the software are *the* major hitch. I mean, tascam (funny, how there's scam in the middle of their name..) can't even get their shit together to write Win2k drivers (which wld be far more robust than 98). So I think it would be difficult to get the appropriate linux drivers.
    I do have faith in Linux tho. Esp since a lot of CG shops are using it more and more. Just needs the software and drivers, thats all. And coming from a analog/mixing board kinda view, the software has to be easy to use. I feel cool edit is pretty straight forwars. I gave up on cakewalk and all those others. I personally don't have much need for midi.
    So, remember, if you really care about your proj/home studio, you'll record in at least 24-bit/44khz. And for that u need a beefier card than the crappy sound blasters. And that card will require custom drivers. Kinda a weird cicken and egg syndrome.
    • dont tell anyone, but alot of tracks u are hearing on vinyl are produced on sub-$300 soundcards on pcs like mine (p3 600mhz, ata33 hds) ive only gotten upto 32 tracks of audio in VST going w/o problems, and then only in win98 w/ latency of about 8-10ms. i personally havent had any dropouts in recording on my dinky ide ata33 setup, but then 16bit 44khz works for me just fine :) so anyways, yeah u probably need to spend 20 grand if u want to be the next BT but you can make some phat trax with just your pc and less than your life-savings worth of cash, ppl do it all the time.
  • by beanerspace ( 443710 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:22PM (#2437175) Homepage
    Back in the 1986, Greg Hendershott made the PC a viable choice for MIDI production. Well, actually, it wasn't until the early 90's with the Windows version of Cakewalk that it became a weapon of choice. IN the late '90's the product improved to the point of a pro-weight Audio product now named Sonar.

    My only complaint is that while the software is sturdy, the operating system under it isn't. More than once, Windows has "burped" in the middle of critical recordings. I recently set up a church with RealAudio Producer for Linux for precisely that reason. I didn't want an operating system getting in the way of a 20 minute sermon.

    My hope is that Greg H. get's the innovation bug that's made him a hero in the industry, and provide a Linux solution. When that happens, you can kiss Windows goodbye in my own studio.
  • Pro Audio (Score:3, Informative)

    by asv108 ( 141455 ) <.asv. .at. .ivoss.com.> on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:26PM (#2437194) Homepage Journal

    Is it possible to buy a pro audio card with Linux drivers and just run Sound Forge in WINE

    Last time I checked, Sound Forge was not something to be used for PRO audio.

    • Then you need to check again.

      Or are you confusing Sound Forge [sonicfoundry.com], the actual professional mastering / batch-processing / microediting tool that's a complete DX and VST harness; with Sound Forge XP [sonicfoundry.com], the tiny little consumer / multimedia / web version of the same thing that ships with lots of cheapo sound cards?

      Or maybe you're making the common leap of logic that 'pro audio' somehow doesn't include advertising production, audio for video, game development, and the thousands of other professional audio fields that aren't 128-track digital multitrack Peter Gabriel studios?

  • Silly Assumptions (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xinit ( 6477 )
    How would running YEWA (yet another windows app) under WINE? It won't HELP time dependant operations much, and it'll still be subject to the windows compatible crashes.

    On another note, who said that the sound application would have to necessarily be open source? The question asked if there were any Linux audio program - not if there were any that were freely available. Where does the assumption that a program must cost nothing in order to be a viable linux application come from?

  • by Acheon ( 122246 ) <martin001.girardNO@SPAMsympatico.ca> on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:44PM (#2437298) Homepage
    Okay, two years ago I wouldn't have wanted to hear about a mac either. Now I don't want to hear from anything else. We used to make music on PC's only, and I insist, only because this is everything we've got. Now that Apple finally decided to build some good Power Mac's, there's no excuse. Both the software and the hardware is there. (And find a windows box supporting firewire devices :P)

    I mean, really, take a look at new Macs ; it's really worth it. And then you won't wonder anymore why musicians swear only by that in magazines.
    • and then tell hime to go back to sleep for several months (at least).

      very few of the major packages for audio on MacOS have been ported to Mac OS X. all new macs
      ship with OS X. porting efforts are underway,
      but they are not trivial if they want good
  • by LawGeek ( 104616 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:48PM (#2437321)
    All the posts requesting to know why this person wants to "avoid macs" are perfectly valid.

    The simple answer is probably that the "friend" mentioned here is chief engineer of the self-assembled PC in his basement and can't afford to buy anything that would cost money. Though there's nothing wrong with this plight, I don't understand why we must lie about things to get the information we want.

    Anyone not on crack who's a chief engineer at a recording studio would not "avoid macs." They are the absolute standard in virtually all audio and most video production. There are numerous software and hardware solutions at the professional level and if you want to create quality recordings for your artists, then there is but one choice.

    Why in God's earth anyone calling themselves a professional audio engineer would try and duct tape together a platform of pre-beta, open source (read: no paid-for, reliable support -- and I'm talking about the applications here, not the operating system)software in an OS that obviously nobody is using for audio production is beyond me. Therefore, I can only come to the conclusion above that there is no real "friend" looking for advice here.

    I really would love to see open source, professional quality audio developed for Linux. Unfortunately, anyone who's spent more than a week on Slashdot knows for a fact that this sort of stuff isn't around. Yes, there are a few things for doing amateur digital audio work, but nothing that could drive the hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment any real studio would have.

  • Audio latency (Score:5, Informative)

    by Another MacHack ( 32639 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:50PM (#2437334)

    There's a paper, Audio Latency Measurements of Desktop Operating Systems [jhu.edu], which might give you some useful information. Mac OS X's CoreAudio provided the most consistant latencies regardless of loads, although a suitably patched Linux 2.4 kernel has better latencies under no-load conditions.

    "All of the current desktop operating systems offer excellent latency performance under some conditions, though most of them cannot deliver this performance in all situations. This is a substantial improvement over previous results (Brandt and Dannenberg 1998; Freed, Chaudhary, and Davila 1997), but because of the inconsistency of the results more improvement is necessary before reliable low-latency performance can be expected from desktop operating systems.

    "In conclusion, Linux showed the best performance in the tests without load while MacOS X showed the best performance in the tests with load. Windows and MacOS 8 and 9 produced some of the best results when using a professional soundcard with the ASIO API but showed poor performance when using the standard APIs and consumer-grade soundcards."

  • by paulbd ( 118132 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @02:52PM (#2437346) Homepage
    As the author of the RME Hammerfall driver, Ardour (a pro/commercial level DAW for linux), SoftWerk and a bunch of other audio s/w for Linux, and founder of Linux Audio Systems, I probably know at least as much about this as anybody else. the short answer to the question is that at this time, there is no software for Linux suitable for use in a pro-audio setting, if by that you mean a serious multitrack recording studio. many have pointed to Dave Phillips fabulous web pages that list a plethora of linux audio+MIDI applications. there is some great stuff in there, but absolutely none of it would be in any way a replacement or stand-in for ProTools, Logic Audio, Samplitude 24/96, Paris or any of the other DAW systems that studios might consider. the closest to what you're looking for right now is probably MusE, which is a sequence that concentrates on MIDI but has some limited audio capacity. Its under active development. Ardour is closer in theory to what you want, but I cannot suggest that you even try it out at this time, since it can only be built from CVS (no tarballs) and is under even more rapid development than MusE (I think:) Ardour v1.0 is scheduled for some time early this winter. That version will not support MIDI. Other audio editors for Linux include some fine software (snd, in particular), but their functionality is very different (and often much more limited) than the multichannel DAW tools I mentioned above. As long as most audio app authors continue to think in terms of 16 bit stereo interleaved audio, which the vast majority do at this time, the supply of Linux pro-audio applications will be a mere trickle. If you want to ask more specific questions, do write. When Ardour v1.0 appears, my company, Linux Audio Systems, will be selling prebuilt Linux-based hardware DAWs. --p pbd@op.net
  • Since we all know Java (c) is going to be "the next big thing...." there just must be a "Java - Platform Independent (c)" solution out there right??? I mean hell, all of the universities are teaching Java right??? (My tongue is firmly in my cheek...)

  • Yes, it's sad but true that right now Linux just won't cut if for user-level professional audio systems.

    Yes. it is also sad to see BeOS struggling so hard when it is the perfect choice for much of the multi-media production that goes on.

    My audio setup currently consists of two machines running several pieces of software. Suprisingly, I have been running Windows 98 SE in a mission critical environment with no crashes to date. I swear it must be a first. One of our systems get transported to GIGs as a live sample system, with no problems. Don't get me wrong I'm not a hailer of Windows Products; I've been using linux for several years now (albeit I'm still rather bad with much of it's vast abilities). I switched over to Linux exclusively until I needed my own setup and then the choice was clear ... windows. You see, the most powerful studio app I have ever encountered is called Sequoia (Sek'd [sekd.com]) and it doesn't run on anything but pcs. It has features that protools will never have.

    For example you can run it on multi-processor systems and assign functions individually to different processors to relieve the weight and allow for more DSP power when needed. Macs require expensive add-on cards like the TC_PowerCore which few people will support. Othe PC audio applications like Magix Samplitude (Magix [magix.com]) have absolutely stunning features like realtime FFT filters, a 1000 track limit and unlimited effects routing.

    I dream of the day such things will be availanble on linux, and I'm sure they will. No one wants to pay $3K US for Sequoia. What people do want is to be able to work creatively and that will take time to develop. Unfortunately on both the Mac and PC side they products that gain popularity the most are those which have the highest amount of capital backing for advertising, product placement and "subjective" reviews. We need to stop thinking like we're in the early 90's. Sure Macs are good for audio. Windows is there too at this time. As for Linux.... it is on the way. Penguins can move.

  • MacOS X Latency (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @03:15PM (#2437448)
    In case you didn't get a chance to read (ofcourse I can't find the link to the article) the recent research from the Peabody Institute, they recently reviewed platforms for audio and named OS X the best of the group. (including Mac OS X, Linux and Windows)

    In tests, audio was sampled at 44.1KHz with 16-bit or 24-bit precision. Apple's machines were the only ones on test that didn't require a soundcard.

    The best latency test results for systems without load were as follows (time in milliseconds);

    - Mac OS X running on a 400MHz G4: 2.83 ms.
    - Soundcraft Desk: 1.81 ms.
    - 933MHz Pentium 3 running Linux 2.4.1 with a third party audio software patch: 2.72 ms.
    - 933MHz Pentium 3 running Linux: 2.72ms.

    Mac OS X performed outstandingly when under system load. It offered the same latency speed as before - 2.83 ms. Previous competitors in the unloaded category dropped out of sight. Its nearest rival (with 4.3ms) was again Linux 2.4.1 OS, this time running on a dual processor Pentium 3 with a pro audio card installed and additional software.

    The article was authored by:
    Karl MacMillan, Michael Droettboom and Ichiro Fujinaga of the Peabody Institute - part of John Hopkins University in the US.

    You may also want to look at the following links:

    http://www.apple.com/macosx/technologies/audio.h tm l


    http://maccentral.macworld.com/news/0110/05.audi o. php

    You may not like the Mac or the MacOS but I would have to say that OS X looks like it has a very, very good chance of holding onto and attracting a large chunk of the audio market.

    I am not a Mac/Linux/Windows fanatic, just someone who uses the best tool for the job and to me it appears like in the near future OS X will be the system of choice for audio professionals.

    • The PDF is at http://gigue.peabody.jhu.edu/~mdboom/latency-icmc2 001.pdf . It really doesn't discuss what platform is the "best of the group", only what platform has the lowest latency.
      It is noteworthy that I have been unable to view page 3 (the page that actually has the results) of the PDF on every Win box I have tried.
      I did notice that the Windows latency that their testing revealed indicated a much higher value than most people experience in reality. I also noticed that some type of multiplatform sound library was used to do the testing. Some of the stuff was curious in that respect. To counter that, however, a coworker knows Karl MacMillan personally and swears that he is a "mad genius" and that the report must be accurate. So...

  • There is always a best tool for the job. There may be a reason so many audio professionals go with a Mac. Check out this article a friend forwarded the other day:

    Apple betting audio pros will like Mac OS X 10.1 [macworld.com]

    I don't quite understand it all but it seems OS X is built for sound from the ground up.

  • No real sound cards (Score:4, Interesting)

    by _pi-away ( 308135 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @03:51PM (#2437588) Homepage
    The problem here isn't software (although the programs aren't exactly excellent either). The problem is hardware. Speaking as an audio engineer, i will make the bold statement that NO pro-level sound card is currently supported in linux. Some people may disagree, but let me see if i can cut some of them off at the pass; a sound blaster of ANY kind is not a real sound card. Nor is a gravis, a turtle beach, or any other of the gaming cards people usually mention. The turtle beach comes close in a few areas, but doesn't get out of the hobbiest arena, due mostly to it's SNR, i/o connectors, and low rate ADCs.

    Don't misunderstand me, i'm not saying these cards are horrible or that they suck, but if you think you're gonna replace 2" tape with your audigy, think again.

    The real pro-level sound systems like sonic solutions [sonic.com], protools [digidesign.com], motu [motu.com], and to a more semi-pro extent midiman [midiman.com] and echo audio [echoaudio.com] have absolutely no linux support. For now, studio level audio with linux is a total dead end. The most you can hope for now is to use it for audio processing or creation does not even involve a sound card, and that's a pretty limited use.

    BeOS could have made it, in fact they were starting to, but then they made the brilliant decision to "change focus" from multimedia to networking, good call guys.

    All is not lost however, because OSX will bring light. Mac is THE platform for pro audio, protools is native to it, as is sonic solutions. This means that before too long all the biggies will be offering drivers for OSX (midiman already does), and if they are smart enough to offer the source with them, then they'll be ported in short order to linux i'm sure.

    Linux audio now? bah! Linux audio in three years? definately!
    • midiman [midiman.com]...(has) absolutely no linux support.

      Actually, if you check the list at opensound.com, [opensound.com] you'll see that they support the whole Delta series of cards, with a few limitations; M Audio have even advertised Linux compatibility in their recent print ads.

      You'll also find support for the RME Digi/32 series & the Digi/96 series, all very fine cards. Also, they have recently added support for the Hoontech DSP24, which is a 8x8 24-bit card with a companion A/D & D/A converter box, not too unlike the Echo Layla. So, there are options at least on the semi-pro level.

      And as for ProTools, the changes in the underlying audio handling in OS X means that, at the moment, ProTools is completely unsupported. It relies on a proprietary interface, and an Apple rep said in the recent EQ Magazine that they have no intention of supporting proprietary hardware interfaces - that will be up to ProTools to do. They probably will, since the bulk of their users are probably on Macs, but it's not native by any means.

    • by tialaramex ( 61643 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2001 @05:26PM (#2438243) Homepage
      ALSA is a basic requirement for decent audio on Linux, and ALSA supports several cards which have the following properties that (to me, as an amateur) scream "I am not a gamer's card"

      * Large numbers of channels
      * Support for 96kHz sampling rate
      * Support for 24-bit samples
      * Manufacturer's web site talks about "audio I/O" and "Multitrack recording" rather than "3D Surround" and "Explosive Bass"
      * Price > $300
      * Far too many odd-looking connectors

      So, are these cards suitable for Linux pro-audio (in which case the problem IS the software after all) or am I totally out of my depth?
    • hmm... after a quick check both Midiman [midiman.com] and RME [rme-audio.com] have linux support (or are supported).

      Now I don't know about you, but RME is better than any of the brands you mentioned (In my opinion of course). And motu doesn't write very good drivers for any platform. But that's beside the point.

      The Mac is not going to last forever as the leader of this race. Steinberg Canada has already stated that Windows 2000 is their preferred platform for stability and speed. Not to mention price of course (not the price of windows but the hardware).
      I've talked to several Yamaha Techs from Japan who say the same thing.

      Now I agree with you that OSX kicks ass in many ways. But Linux on a PC kicks even more ass. The raw speed, the choice of hardware, and the *ahem* choice of OS.
  • I don't know about you, but I've found from personal experience that multimedia playback is on average very poor in Linux. I mean there isn't a decent Divx ;-) player anywhere, even though you can get the codec.
    As for audio I have a SbLive! and I have it correctly configured in every way in both windows and linux. Windows audio playback with the same speakers and extremely similar configurations is just far superior. In linux I get noise and distortion and just crappy sound. Even just playing directly off of a CD sounds crappier. I usually end up plugging headphones into the front of my PlexWriter to get better sound.
    • I don't know about you, but I've found from personal experience that multimedia playback is on average very poor in Linux. I mean there isn't a decent Divx ;-) player anywhere.

      Oh, you haven't tried MPlayer [sf.net] then. It's an excellent DivX ;-) / MPEG / AVI / ASF / etc. player. It plays DivX files flawlessly. The best part is the cool keyboard control.

      As for audio I have a SbLive! and I have it correctly configured in every way in both windows and linux. Windows audio playback with the same speakers and extremely similar configurations is just far superior

      The Windows audio playback is probably using the advanced futures of the Em10K chipset. Programming info for the DSP is sadly not free, and thus not available to Linux users, hence no advanced sound features. But this isn't Linux's fault.

      In linux I get noise and distortion and just crappy sound

      Have you tried the ALSA drivers [alsa-project.org] with it? It might give you better quality.

  • Not Using Mac (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by kfs27 ( 261031 )
    if you are into Pro Audio and aren't using a mac i don't know if you can call yourself a professional.
  • Pro/Semi-Pro (Score:2, Informative)

    I used to use PCs for Digital Audio and MIDI sequencing, but I got really tired of the system "barfing" in the middle of 50% of my takes. I Finally came to the decision that if I was going to record music digitally, I would really need a dedicated device.

    I ended up plunking down the cash for a Roland VS-1880 and have never looked back since. They are not cheap, but dedicated hard disk based digital recorders are rock solid. I still use a PC for creating/warping out samples before I load them into a keyboard, and of course, I use them to take my final tracks and rip them to MP3, but I don't think I will ever trust a PC again for digital multitrack audio recording.

e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer