Audio Connections Manager

Just opening up Ardour and starting a basic session, I’ve noticed quite a few things. So here’s my first impressions, both positive and negative.

Note that I am using the nightly OS X version, built locally.

Contents

Project creation

  • Project creation is quite good to start.

  • Audio Connections Manager is great for setting up routing. Much faster than other DAW’s methods.

Performance

Performance appears to be extremely poor compared to any other DAW on this system. Running at 64 sample buffer at 44.1khz sample rate with 6 tracks yields frequent x-runs. I can run at 64sample buffer at 96khz in DP/Cubase/Logic with dozens of tracks and plug-ins running without any issue.

This may require more investigating, but if this is actually correct then I may stop this review early.

UI/UX

  • Many windows don’t abide by the cmd-w shortcut to close windows. Very annoying. (edit: This is getting fixed. Yay IRC!)

  • Some windows don’t close when clicking the red X in the title bar! What?! (edit: This is getting fixed. Yay IRC!)

  • Windows don’t respond to Cmd-`. Ugh, again. (edit: This is getting fixed. Yay IRC!)

  • Overall look of the UI seems rather unpleasant. Spacing around fonts is inconsistent, buttons are varying sizes, rounded buttons corner widgets are weird looking, button spacing is inconsistent

  • Tooltips are inconsistent: Some have bindings listed, some don’t. Many are written in different styles with different spacing/sizing.

    Bindings (shortcuts) should always be listed on tooltips.

  • Some missing bindings that IMO should be standard: grid snap, deselect, change track height, and a few others.

  • Browsing bindings requires expanding various categories to see everything. Rather annoying.

  • SO MANY always on top windows that don’t respond correctly to common methods of closing windows.

    Always on top windows are on top of EVERYTHING. Including other apps. (edit: this is a bug apparently)

  • Meters are very responsive and have good default ballistics.

  • Overall the UI is very responsive and fast.

Audio editing

Audio editing appears to be very good, at least concerning what I am used to.

Plug-in support

Ardour is the first DAW that I’ve used which successfully scans ALL of my plug-ins without error. Impressive.

Manual

The manual is incomplete, very poorly formatted and uses an awful font for technical writing. Of course this can be fixed… but the current state is poor.

Support

Being able to speak directly with the developers on freenode.net is amazing. They are very helpful, thorough and communicate clearly.

Likewise being able to browse the sourcecode is extremely valuable. I can’t overstate how useful this is. Despite any other shortcomings, this point makes up for a lot.

Routing

  • Ardour has some very cool routing abilities. Anything to anywhere, even if it’s stupid.

  • Using the Audio Connection Manager for assigning track inputs is very nice. Way better than clicking input/output buttons for each track. Way better

Mixer

I already love the mixer in Ardour!

  • Inline effects are AWESOME.

  • Easy selection of metering point.

  • Many metering options, selectable by track.

  • Meters are very responsive and quick.

  • Non-skeuomorphic fader. Very easy to see the fader levels and manipulate it.

  • Mousewheel on the fader works very cleanly.

  • Edit plugin with generic controls is actually rather useful. I like having that option.

  • Pan/balance for stereo channels is very well implemented.

  • No mixer Undo :(

  • Easily scriptable with Lua. Easy. If you are using a DAW, you can probably figure this stuff out.

Lua bindings

I usually hate having to make macros and scripts. The Lua bindings in Ardour are very cool. I’ve managed to make some very useful things with it so far, and easily “fix” some missing functions.