Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Linux Audio Production Software Stack

When I first started poking around for audio production software in Linux, I must say, my hopes were not high.  I assumed there would be the odd bits of clunky software available - but nothing that would be useful for my needs.  Was I wrong!

From software synths (Qsynth / Fluidsynth, ZynAddSubFX) to guitar processors (Rakarrack), to audio editors (Audacity), to drum sequencers (Hydrogen), full blown midi sequencers (Rosegarden, Seq24, Muse), Digital Audio Workstation/multitrack recording software (Ardour), to mastering software (JAMin) - Linux is overflowing with great quality audio production software.

And what's more, they all tie together with an audio system called Jack.  Jack works as a real time, low latency audio patch system to connect any jack aware hardware and software together - however you want. As with any recording system, latency is a huge concern, so ensuring that any 'handling' of the audio is done as efficiently and quickly is vital - this is Jack's job.

I could really spend a full post talking about each of the pieces of software I listed, and I just might do that...

And as usual, the Linux community has prebuilt a few distros with multimedia creation and editing in mind.  I chose Ubuntu Studio for my distribution.  It comes prebuilt/preconfigured with many of the applications I listed above - and any others are usually just a apt-get install away.  Further it comes with the real time kernel (RT) as default - something that you will need to run if you want low latency/overrun free audio recording.

There definitely was a few hoops I had to jump through to get everything up and running (setting of a few processor priorities etc) - I'll discuss those in a later post, but from unboxing my computer (with no OS) to running audio applications under UbuntuStudio took me under 30 minutes.

Did I mention I love Linux?

Here's a screenshot of my desktop running Hydrogen drum sequencer, Qsynth and Jack. (click for full size)...

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