Tag: ardour

Down For The Count – Recording & Mixing with Ardour (Tutorial)

Recording and mixing with Ardour for Linux, Windows or OSX isn’t as challenging as many think. In fact, it’s pretty easy once you know what to do and how it works. In the below in-depth video you can see how I record and mix drums, bass, guitar, vocals and midi keyboard using Ardour. The duration of the video is almost 25 minutes.

The song that was recorded is an original song, written by RJF Mensies and me in 2015 and recorded for the “Telenovelas” album by the Barking Aunts Project. This is a new recording and although the music is more or less the same as far as the vocal line and chords are concerned it still is pretty different.

STREAMING

You can listen to the song on SoundCloud or Audiomack.

Click here for Audiomack
Click here for SoundCloud

 

VIDEO

This video will walk you trough the full recording and mixing process. Ardour is very easy to use and allows you to do a professional audio recording on a shoestring budget!

More (and shorter!) video’s on recording with Ardour at the Recording page.

FINAL NOTE

When the video was finished I’ve added tambourine and did some final tweaking on the midi track. After I recorded and mixed the song I “mastered” it using Audacity. Using a high pass filter (20Hz, -6 dB) and W1 limiter (-2.7dB, -0.3dB ceiling). Hope you like the song and video and if you do like the video: thumbs up & subscribe.

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Recording with Ardour Studio and Digitech Trio Band Creator

A video about how I record songs in the studio using Ardour Studio software and Digitech Band Creator. I do not always use Band Creator, but in this case I did.

► UPDATE – there’s a new section with video’s about recording available on this page.

Many have wondered how to record with Band Creator in the studio and it ain’t difficult. Just plug the headphone out into the “tape in” of your mixer or audio interface and you’re good to go. It gives you a full stereo drum (and bass) track. There’s also an output for the “mixer” on the Digitech Trio pedal but that’s mono. Might be fine for some also but I prefer a stereo drum track.

I split drum and bass in to two different tracks. It’s not difficult to do so. Just make sure you have the ”count in” on, turn down bass. Record the drums. After that, repeat with the bass (turn down drums). You should record the drums in stereo, bass in mono. After that, allign the tracks using the count in.

KXStudio is a professional but free operating system based on Debian Linux. It is easy to install and includes Ardour, a free, open source, studio program allowing you to operate a studio at home or even a professional studio on a shoestring budget! Ardour is also included in Ubuntu Studio. Click here to read more about KXStudio.

Equipment and instruments used:
– Celeron Quadcore Computer;
– SoundTech 16 channel mixer;
– Behringer UCA-222;
– Dgitecht Trio Band Creator;
– Washburn Acoustic Guitar;
– Fender “Starcaster” Stratocaster;
– BM-800 Condenser Microphone (vocals)
– McCrypt Condenser Microphone (acoustic guitar)

Video recorded with the Sony Cybershot dsc-hx350 and edited using Sony Movie Studio.

So, as I’ve stated yesterday I will no longer upload new (music) video’s to Youtube.  New video’s, and probably a few older ones, will now be posted on my channel at Vimeo.

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Sing me a Song (free download)

Today I’ve recorded “Sing Me A Song”, a free song available on SoundCloud (and Audiomack also soon) in my studio. It’s less than two minutes(!) and the full lyrics are included at soundcloud. I’ve posted a short demo of it before. Including a video.

The song was recorded using Ardour Studio (here’s a video about the small and low budget studio I operate) and for the acoustic guitar I’ve used my Washburn guitar. For recording this great acoustic guitar I’ve used a (very) cheap Chinese pickup I’ve bought some time ago (video/demo). I also added a condenser mic in front of it, so it’s got two sound sources in the recording giving it more depth and ‘space’.

For drums and bass I’ve used my Digitech Trio pedal and finaclly the electric guitar is my Fender “Starcaster” Stratocaster on rhythm and lead guitar. For this guitar I used the JoYo “American” pedal. A superb pedal that works very nice with Fender guitars but also with my Gretsch of course.

Finally I recorded the vocals using my BM-800 mic. One of the best condenser mic’s you can get for the money, paid less than $20 dollar for it!

 

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Recording using Linux is not professional!

Some time ago I was discussing recording software with an online friend of mine. He stated that “none of the professional studios uses Linux”. Or similar words. Is that so? Is recording using Linux not professional? 

I happen to have a ‘recording career’ at my home studio using Windows software. I’ve used many programs over the years like LogicStudio (back when it was Windows-based, using Windows2000), QuartzStudio, EnergyXT, Audacity,  Magix Music Maker and Mixcraft.

They are all Windows-based. I recorded using Windows2000, WindowsXP, Windows7 and Windows 8.1. Apart from recording with the above software there’s also a long, very long, list of programs I’ve tried and tested. So far Mixcraft has been the most productive Windows-environment for me.

I’ve also used Garageband on a macbook (not mine). That’s a rather nice recording environment also but too expensive for me (a macbook that is). Apart from the fact I’m not that experienced with Apple.

Finally – I have over 30 years of experience as an IT-professional. I worked with many platforms like MsDOS, OS2/Warp, AS400, Windows (3.11, NT, Win2000 up to Windows10), AIX, FreeBSD (UNIX), RS600, Linux (debian. centos, ubuntu). So, yes. I know some about computers and operating systems.

OTHER STUDIOS

I’ve also worked with other studios in the past. All three of them used ProTools. Period. As I was discussing this with one of the studio owners and asked why he wasn’t using Windows (he had a Windows computer for other tasks) for recording he said to me: “I would need to buy new hardware again. I’m not going to do that”.

So, .. quality of the Windows, or Linux, platform does not seem to be the reason. It’s the investment they will need to do when switching to another platform for recording.

KXStudio/Ardour

About a year ago I decided to stop recording in my living room (I had been doing this for years) and create a studio in one of the empty bedrooms. For this I decided I wanted to have a dedicated computer.

Since I have a lot of experience with Linux (I have a webhosting company) I decided to give Linux a try. There was no big investment needed except for a new computer. I started with an audio distro with Ubuntu including Ardour. Ubuntu was giving me issues though, since it was having troubles with my brand new computer. It didn’t support the BIOS too well so it seems. It crashed every 15 minutes. So did Windows10, btw.

On the internet I found a different distribution, KXStudio. It’s also Ubuntu (debian) based and has everything more-or-less pre-installed. You can download it here. Especially this story got me interested in “giving it a try”.

In short:

The Ardour digital audio workstation is a beautiful creation. You can group tracks arbitrarily (great for streamlining editing), it supports unlimited tracks (until your computer keels over), it has a soundcard picker if you have more than one, processes at 32-bits internally, supports very flexible signal routing, support networked audio, and a way lot more (Linux.com).

So far I’ve recorded lot’s of songs using it, including the 2nd album of Mirjam Tamara. The song below is one of the tracks recorded at the studio. Mixing and mastering done with Ardour.

So it worked out pretty well for me. Question still stands. Is recording with Linux professional or not? Well, listen to the above and you’ll be the judge. Or some of the other tracks recorded with Ardour – for example this track.

PRO’s and CON’s of Linux Recording

I’m not a die-hard Linux fan and I’m not biased. If the new setup didn’t work out for me back than, I would have installed Windows with Mixcraft. Since I know that works fine too. For me, it doesn’t matter what operating system I use, as long as it works well, stable and gets the job done.

..”there is loads of excellent free music software available for Linux. Arguably much better than the free audio software for Windows” (Envato)

I still use Mixcraft a lot for mixing sometimes and recording a quick demo. It’s a great program and it’s not too expensive. So if you’re on a low budget, allready have a windows-based system and need a program to record go get it. The official website can be found here: https://www.acoustica.com/mixcraft/.

PRO’s

  • Linux is Open Source software. So, .. it’s free. No license fees;
  • Linux is super stable!
    Some deny this, but let’s face it. Over 80% of all the webservers on this earh run Linux. Android is Linux-based. Even Microsoft and Amazon use Linux. If Linux would be unstable, they’d never use it. Period.
  • Ardour is also Open Source. The Ardour recording software that comes bundled with KXStudio is also free;
  • It supports USB audio, just like Windows does. So I could simple re-use all of the other hardware (mixer, amp. speakers and so on);
  • It’s a complete distro. Meaning: the download contains all you need to get going;
  • KXStudio/Ardour comes with a lot of plugins. Reverb? Compression? Mastering? EQ? It’s all there. And lots and lots more. And yes, free…
  • Need more plugins? “Google is your friend”, ..
  • It’s easy to use;
  • It’s flexible;
  • It supports multiple inputs at once (2 on USB since USB is only 2 channels);
  • IT comes with a free, online, manual.

and lot’s more… 

After the installation I managed to get it working within about 15 minutes. I did my first recordings the same day. Didn’t need to look at the (online) documentation. Especially, of course, since I’ve got previous recording experience. If recording is new to you, it will be hard to start on Linux. It will also be hard to start on Windows. Or Apple’s platform. You’ll need to learn a lot. No matter what platform you use.

CON’s

  • No VST’s?
    When you’re used to recording with Windows and have a Windows-based DAW you probably have some VST’s you like. They say they won’t work on Linux. At least, not without a lot of hassle. Well, .. is that true? Steinberg has been changing the recording world in the past. And it’s doing so again. Steinberg brings VST to Linux. And, according to the manual (yes, Read The Fantastic Manual aka RTFM) Ardour does support VST 2.x.
  • Windows VST’s are (of course) NOT supported.
  • Difficult to use!
    Some claim Linux is difficult to use. Well, if you’re a long time Apple user it isn’t. If you’re a staunch Windows user you might need to learn some new stuff but you’ll learn after some time.

IS IT PROFESSIONAL? 

Okay – so I said you shold be the judge based on the audio provided and based on the pro’s and con’s.

Most important question to ask: what is your goal and budget? If you’re aiming to record demo’s or your bands first album, you could of course invest thousands of dollars or euro’s in a professional recording setup. Or go to a professional studio and record a few weeks over there. You’ll be burning a lot of money. If money ain’t no issue for you, don’t even consider starting home recording. Go into an expensive studio, don’t look at what they use for recording and be creative.

We’re talking home recording here. If you compare the free Linux distro’s to the free Windows solutions, linux distro’s will beat them (see quote above). Hands down. Superb audio. Easy to use. You’ve got all the tools you need. It can use old hardware.

Professional studio’s use ProTools most of the time (see before) but there are also studio’s using Windows-based solutions or .. Linux based solutions. The aim is to get the best audio possible recorded to a computer. You can do that on any platform these days. So yes. It’s professional. The fact it’s got no paid-for license model doesn’t mean it’s not professional. Not at all.

OTHER DISTRO’s

There are other distro’s available. Ubuntu Studio is a very well known distribution and it’s available here: https://ubuntustudio.org/

As I’ve mentioned, it didn’t work (back than) on my Celeron based system. Might work very well on other systems. Just download and test. It’s free anyway. 🙂

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