[Ardour-Users] a few thoughts

Adriano Petrosillo ampetrosillo at gmail.com
Sun Dec 2 09:05:58 PST 2012

I've been following Ardour development for a few years now. I remember
trying to use it, for the first time, 2 years ago for a demo project, then
the lack of MIDI (I'm in an electro-rock band) forced me to look elsewhere,
even though I really wanted to like and use Ardour.

In the end, I moved on to Reaper on Windows, which I must say, it's a very
capable piece of software. The GUI is clear and no-nonsense, yet
functional, routing is easy and powerful, and their idea of flexible tracks
(as opposed to separating tracks from buses) is great. In the meantime, I
must say that I really started to appreciate the plethora of plugins
available on Windows (even though, it must be said, there are countless
"me-too" plugins which basically do the same thing, and lots of crap and
bloat, really... but it's nice to have the choice), which sadly just isn't
there on Linux. But, at the same time, I have had to come to terms with the
instability of plugins (or maybe just the poor compatibility some plugins
have with Reaper), up to the point that a project had become unusable
because of plugin-related crashes. So, you eventually narrow down your
plugin choices to a select few, because let's face it, you don't really
need 5 tape simulators, 10 compressors, 15 plugin EQs, etc. but you only
need 1, 2, or maybe three of each (reverbs are another story, IMO, there is
a large difference between algorithmic verbs and convolution verbs, and
while you only need one convolution verb to use with a collection of room
samples, there is actually a difference between verb algorithms that
justifies having more than one).

So in the end, I'm trying to move away from Reaper and moving towards an
"all-in-one" solution, with plugins featured in the DAW itself. I assume
that internal FXs and plugs are generally coded to work with one specific
DAW, while VST or AU plugs have to adapt to a variety of DAWs that may or
may not comply with specifications and implementations of the plugin
libraries, or maybe they are simply badly coded or encumbered by
copy-protection, dongles and so on. Samplitude, for example, or Cubase seem
like a sensible choice. Samplitude in particular is shipped with a diverse
selection of very good plugins which allow you to start a project and
bounce it for mastering without having to ever rely on anything else (or
close), and Cubase 7, it seems, will be the same, with the advantage of
coming with a few synthesizers and samplers too.

I'd consider Ardour too, but in light of my conclusions, I feel that I'd
prefer for Ardour to ship with a standard set of plugins that get you going
straight away, without having to rely on third party software. I know this
is against the philosophy behind the development of Ardour, and that it
goes against, in general, the Unix paradigm of software development (where
each programme or application is intended to carry out one specific task),
but I think that, for example, Harrison Mixbus proved that it is a viable
and effective approach. I also understand that the team behind Ardour may
or may not be familiar with DSP coding, but maybe finding a few developers
to integrate high-quality, production-grade third-party plugins in the
Ardour GUI (with "bells and whistles", such as true graphical elements and
a bespoke intuitive interface, with true feedback, such as indicators,
gauges and meters, and consistency with the Ardour look and feel... and
which negate the need for searching further) and providing them as an
optional package may be a very good incentive for people who, like me, are
forced in their current workflow to rely on third-party plugins, who don't
want to compromise on quality, but at the same time is tired of realising,
after hours of work, that one particular plugin, in some circumstances,
breaks the DAW.
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