[Ardour-Users] a few thoughts

Adriano Petrosillo ampetrosillo at gmail.com
Tue Dec 4 07:03:15 PST 2012

> I have a feeling that it is very difficult to depart from the boxy,
>> unappealing look of Ardour because it looks like it uses standard GTK
>> elements,
> false, at least as an absolute rule.

Oh, OK, as I said, it was just a "feeling", seeing that most GTK based apps
tend to share the same look and feel.

> Mixbus is based on Ardour 2, so no MIDI, but anyway, I find Mixbus limited
>> and limiting, I don't know about regular channel-strips, but there are only
>> 4 group buses,
> mixbus2 has 8 mix busses.

It is still potentially "limiting", it's more of a theorical aspect rather
than a practical one: you still have to conform to Harrison's idea of a
console. What if I wanted 16 mix busses (I know, 8 is overkill already, you
can do most things with 4 busses, but why deny me the opportunity)? Plus, I
said I like the integrated approach, and I think it's great to have
integrated processors and FX to start from, but my pledge was for more
customisability, what if I wanted to make my own templates, using PSP's
VintageWarmer2 as a saturator instead of Harrison's DSP, for example? I
think this is an area where the potential openness of a project like Ardour
can chime in (although I can't wait for Mixbus to be ported to Ardour 3...)

and I don't really get the reason to "port" the limitations of hardware
>> mixers in the digital domain, as there is no real "need" and it's most
>> probably a deliberate desire to limit the application's functionality (for
>> marketing purposes, maybe?).
> one person's limitation is another person's rapid workflow, based on 30
> years of actual experience of how to mix many different styles of music.

Tough, it still equates to forcing "another person's rapid workflow" on the
user, it's good as a starting point, I repeat (because it's very nice to
have something you can run and start mixing straight away with an intuitive
and powerful interface without having to mess with plugins and having lots
and lots of cumbersome plugin windows just to tweak a comp ratio on one
track while boosting mids on another and adjusting sends on yet another),
and I'm actually a prospective buyer of Mixbus, but it still means having
to conform to someone else's way of working. Acceptable (and unavoidable)
on hardware mixers, and also on DAWs up to a certain extent, but one of the
advantages of digital is actually not having THIS kind of limitations. One
thing is "standard number of mix busses at boot-up", another is "up to 8
mix busses", it smells of "Lite Edition" software.

Anyway, Mixbus is not what I had in mind, since it isn't really
>> user-tweakable, I was thinking more along the lines of "I have a track
>> template editor, I can "build" my channel strip according to my needs". A
>> truly modular (since you talk about modularity) approach.
>> For example, let's say you want to make a track template which features
>> three sections (ie. comp, eq - which both use a specific, user-defined
>> plugin - and send, with a track menu to choose where to), and each section
>> has pots for fast tweaking of so and so parameters (for example, in the
>> comp section, you might want to feature only an attack pot, a release pot
>> and a threshold pot, setting all the other parameters, such as ratio or
>> knee, to a fixed value, while on EQ you might want to feature three pots,
>> one for bass - a shelving filter set to 80Hz - one for mid - a peaking
>> filter set to 1kHz where Q gradually decreases from 5 to 10, and gradually
>> increases from 5 to 0, so that, at high boost settings it becomes a wide
>> peak and at high cut settings it becomes a narrow notch - and one for
>> treble - a shelving filter preset to 12kHz).
> other than the fact that there is no control over the GUI elements used
> (which appears to be your major issue) all of this can be done in ardour3
> already.

Oh, well, fine anyway.

This way, it would be very close to building your own mixer, combining
>> different channel strips for your needs... but in software, and you don't
>> even have to mess with plugins directly, but you have everything routed to
>> direct controls which can be more easily MIDI assigned, for example (I
>> admit taking inspiration from the modulation routing capabilities featured
>> in many modern synths, ie. Waldorf Blofeld or Yamaha An1x). I don't think
>> there is anything in the DAW world which allows this, and I think this
>> would be a killer feature. Of course, this approach is even more useful
>> with a diverse set of internal FXs, because that way, you could even
>> include some preset track templates in the package to have an easy and
>> quick way to start working (and, as time goes by, maybe think of making
>> your own track templates with your favourite plugins).
> you seem to making a huge assumption about the types of controls that
> exist on a given "type" of plugin. an assumption that (a) isn't really true
> and (b) isn't very useful even if it is true, because you cannot
> interrogate a plugin to find out the level of detail about its parameters
> that would be needed to support a mapping from "generic controls" to the
> specifics of the plugin.

I'm not talking about track templates which adapt to ANY plugin of a
certain type, I'm talking about track templates which use SPECIFIC plugins
(which then goes well together with having a range of bundled plugins in
the DAW).

You said that all I want is just a bit more "chrome"... well, even if I DID
want more chrome, what's really wrong with it? And I personally don't even
WANT chrome, but many people I told about Ardour thought that "it looked
cheap" or "unrefined" or whatever compared to the other brand-name DAWs
they used. That's even BEFORE trying it. Like it or not, many people give
lots of importance to first impressions and hype, and if you want Ardour to
compete with other DAWs (and please don't say you don't want to compete,
because in the end you do compete, whether you decide to or not... and I
don't really think it's necessarily a bad thing), you have to also appeal
to those people who give looks a big deal of importance, who may also be
big-name professionals, musicians, artists, etc. I have argued lots of
times with Apple fanatics who deride Linux or Windows for even marginal
details, such as look and feel (or sometimes for things that weren't
actually even true), most of them are pathetically ignorant of even basic
technical details, but some of these people are accomplished graphic
designers, or musicians, or whatever. Idiots :D but talented idiots they

Why keep them out, when you do "survive" on donations alone? In the long
run, caving in on "chrome" may allow you to earn enough money from
subscriptions to hire a full-time developer or two to help you with the
things that matter the most to you and actually benefiting the project.

Really, I'd be delighted to contribute in first person to Ardour, it's not
something I can already do (I'm studying electronics engineering - at 24, I
took the plunge and went back to studying, hoping I did the right choice -
and I'll study quite a big deal of programming too, but I'm still far from
being even vaguely literate about it), I might in the future, but seeing
that development for Ardour 3 has been a bit slow (in your own words!),
maybe you should start considering investing in making the project more
popular with the majority of users (without alienating the old ones).
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