The “LoftStudio” has gotten a major hardware and software upgrade. Because of the fact the old coputer, a DIY Intel i3 computer, decided to call it quits after having been a trusty companion for many years we had to buy a new computer. We bought an Acer Aspire with an Intel i5-9400 Hexacore(!) cpu on board, 8 GB of RAM, a Saumsung 256GB SSD and Western Digital 1TB Sata-disk.
We’re not going to bore you with lots of technical details but in the end we decided not only to upgrade the hardware but the software also. So we’ve installed Linux Mint 20 as well as Ardour6 and of course re-installed Mixbus5. For those that can understand Dutch, here’s an unboxing, test & review video.
For those of you interested: Ardour 6.x now comes with Linux 20, for free(!). It’s available in the Linux Software Manager as a free download. They do ask if you want to support them and as far as I’m concerned I’d say: Do so! If you use it on a regular base, just pay them for their efforts. It’s great software.
Of course we did some testing, after installing all the software. Here’s a video of a short recording session. Including a tip on how to get a nice, full, guitar sound.
It’s been quit here because we’ve been working on recording a few new songs. We finished them the day before the old computer broke down! The new album is getting close. Some of the tracks are available at Soundcloud (some are free downloads!) at https://soundcloud.com/barkingaunts.
Audacity is a free DAW, a program for audio recording and mixing, and it’s popular for some very good reasons besides being free. It’s easy to use, stable and is the perfect little DAW for anyone who wants to get his feet wet in home recording. It is also perfect for recording things like voice overs or a demo for a (small) band. Record, for example, the basic tracks an mix them later on in a more professional DAW or let someone else mix them. Some even record full albums with it. So, it is popular for many reasons.
Some time ago, in 2018, I made a video about mixing and recording with Audacity and the Behringer UMC404HD. The UMC404HD allows for four inputs to be recorded at the same time (4 tracks) so you can record 4 musicians, or instruments/vocals, at the same time. The Behringer UMC404HD is amazing and it’s availble for only a fraction of the costs of several competitors. For example (at this moment) at Thomann. It is out of stock a lot, it seems to be very popular and rightfully so. I am still considering to buy a second one, as a spare, in case mine will stop working or will have mechanical problems one day.
Recording with the Behringer audio interface works perfect with Ardour or Mixbus. Especially since they don’t need any additional drivers. On Windows it also worked perfect on, for example, Mixcraft. I showed this in various videos as well as other people. Many of the viewers however seemed to be having issues with Audacity and the Behringer UMC404HD.
One of the biggest issues most have is the drivers for the UMC404HD. Behringer has been changing their websites a few times recently and people were complaining they can’t find the drivers. They’re not included on a CD with the interface. Now, there is a good reason for this: production costs. Including a driver CD costs money and Behringer tries to cut the costs so you will have a product that is as cheap as possible. Besides that: most computers and laptops these days don’t even have a CD(r) station. Even if they would include a driver CD it would, in most cases, be useless. Including a CD would only lead to more trash (environmental issue!). You can download it. No environmental damage and cheaper. I’d say that’s a win-win.
However, as noted: the drivers have been hard to find. And, for some reason some complain the new drivers don’t work well. So here’s an older version that does work. Download and use on your own risk, I am not responsible for it.
DO NOT USE ASIO4ALL
Asio4All has been a pretty popular hardware driver for Windows. Do NOT use it. Remove it completely from your system (uninstall) if you wan tot use the Behringer UMC series. They have their own drivers (official site). You won’t get Audacity or any other DAW running on Windows working with the UMC404HD when using Asio4All.
AUDACITY LACKS SUPPORT?
Some noted that the version of Audacity they have doesn’t record 4 tracks. It only shows 2 tracks. There might be two reasons for this, I’m not certain what the reason is in certain situations:
it is showing you 2 stereo tracks (meaning 4 mono tracks!).
You don’t use the correct settings for recording 4 tracks. Set the ‘preferences’ to Windows Audio Session API (WASAPI) as I do in the Video!
Some claim it isn’t available on their Audacity version. On the Audacity website, however, it is still mentioned and what’s more: it’s been a standard in Windows ever since Windows Vista. In fact it is one of the “unique selling points” in Audacity! So I do have a hard time believing it isn’t available and my best guess is you’re not using the corect settings.
I am having the Dutch version but you should be able to see where this setting can be found (under preferences). In case you cannot get it working with the current version of Audacity – and I really do advice to use that one since it has hundreds of fixed bugs! – there are still older versions available. Like over here. Please note, this versions dates back to 2015 and this link (from Google Drive, it’s my “old” Windows version, works on Windows8.1) is to be used solely at your own risk.
So this is the video I’ve been talking about, hope it helps or is at least entertaining 🙂 As I said in the video I don’t prefer Audacity for recording. These days I use Mixbus5 (and Ardour) running on Linux Mint. I’ve never looked back at Windows recording since I started using that even though I still have Mixbus on my Windows laptop (Windows 8.1). That doesn’t mean recording using Windows is less good. I simply prefer Linux (Linux Mint).
Installing Ardour, the Digital Audio Workstation, on Linux Mint or Ubuntu isn’t too difficult if you follow the steps shown in these tutorial videos.
Before you jump right in and start installing Ardour, you will need to download and install Jack Audio Server. Search for qJack or Jacl on your installer and install it. After that, configure it as it is shown at the website. You can edit the configuration files using a text editor like NANO from the command line or a graphical text editor. Please do apply them as you are told over here:
It’s slightly outdated since they use an older version of Jack but you will find the settings in qJack when you go to Setup → Settings → Advanced.
There’s a good reason to follow these steps because it will help you to install and configure realtime audio (and you will need this!) in a correct manner. The Realtime Audio will even turn a system with an onboard sound card into a good mixing and editing machine. For recording, I use a dedicated machine with KXStudio/Ardour with a 4-channel USB interface (Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD). But you might even be able to use a standard soundcard for recording (I have not tested this!).
Now you can install Ardour. And that’s easy! Open your software installer, type in [ Ardour ] in the search field (no brackets) and install it!
In the video below I will show the above mentioned steps.
– Audio (voice over) recorded using Ardour 4.0
– Video recorded with “record my desktop” and edited with kdenlive.