Pro Audio with Linux?

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Pro Audio with Linux?

Post by impaler42 » Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:45 am

I recently installed Ubuntu Lucid Lynx on my VAIO. I was wondering what peoples opinions were on using Linux based audio applications. Are there any specific DAWs or softsynths that stand out? There are so many programs, its hard to know what to look into. Are there any advantages/disadvantages of using Linux as opposed to OSX or Windows? I guess Im just looking for the general public opinion on using Linux for audio applications. Ive heard about building computers specifically made to process audio. I wonder if people could set up computer networks similar in nature to those CGI rendering farms used in Hollywood to process audio at extremely high bitrates.
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Re: Pro Audio with Linux?

Post by Ashe37 » Tue Jun 22, 2010 7:00 am

There's an article on Tom's Hardware about building renderfarms that talks about using render nodes for audio processing. Short answer, yes, it can be done. Long answer, you wouldn't want to use more than one or two- at least until there's an easier way to set it up...

As for Linux, the problem is software availability and getting VSTs to work (specifically, any iLok or eLiscencer stuff) as well as finding decent audio I/O under Linux.

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Re: Pro Audio with Linux?

Post by stephen » Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:12 pm

Yes, I use linux, but "pro" might be stretching the point :) I'm using Linux Mint with a real-time kernel.

VSTs are limited, but there are a few around. Also there's LADSPA (effects), DSSI (synths) and LV2 (the new standard to replace LADSPA/DSSI).

There's a number of standalone instruments too, which can be routed to other audio apps using the JACK sound server (essential for audio). Check out Zynadsubfx (or the alternative Yoshimi), Alsa Modular Synth (sounds fantastic), and Hydrogen (sample-based drum sequencer).

For getting Windows VST to work I found the best bet is to use Reaper running under wine. If you have a decent PC you should be able to get good performance, but you won't get 100% VST compatibility. I believe the Native Instruments stuff works, and the D16 plugins.

My personal favourite is the Renoise tracker.

I've got some info at http://www.tuxaudio.blogspot.com/ and there's some links there to linux VST vendors.
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Re: Pro Audio with Linux?

Post by impaler42 » Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:37 am

Thanks for your replies. Very cool page by the way.
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Re: Pro Audio with Linux?

Post by piRoN » Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:15 am

For a good quality native Linux DAW, Ardour is pretty much the only game in town at the moment. No sequencing unfortunately, but good mature editing / mixing functionality.

The aforementioned Renoise tracker is excellent, basically a tracker with a modern effects and mixing section attached. Also Zynadsubfx as Stephen mentioned is a great-sounding synth for pads and ambiences and so on. (GUI looks like something from Windows 3.1 though...).

Personally I like the Pure:dyne distro, it's an Ubuntu-based distro with good low-latency audio and it comes with most of the good stuff on the Linux audio front: Pure Data, Zynadsubfx, Ardour, Milkytracker, Audacity, Supercollider, etc. Being Ubuntu-based it's quite good on the compatibility front. Also it used the xfce desktop manager instead of Gnome, which saves you some memory and processor cycles at the expense of desktop customisation.

I'm mostly using mine just to run a customised Pure Data on a seperate computer from my Windows DAW, the other nice thing about Linux is that it makes downloading, editing, and compiling sources quite easy.
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Re: Pro Audio with Linux?

Post by cartesia » Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:41 am

For the record (re: render farms), there's pretty much no need for running audio at higher than 32 bit

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Re: Pro Audio with Linux?

Post by Ashe37 » Fri Jun 25, 2010 11:19 am

"Higher than 32 bit"? for that, the sample rate? for your software? sure, if you never ever ever go over 2 GB...

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Re: Pro Audio with Linux?

Post by cartesia » Fri Jun 25, 2010 12:20 pm

Ashe37 wrote:"Higher than 32 bit"? for that, the sample rate? for your software? sure, if you never ever ever go over 2 GB...
I meant bitrate of audio representation. as in. 32 bits per sample/frame . . (so at 48khz each of the 48000 slices in 1 second of audio are represented by a 32 bit value).

This is also what software manufacturers refer to when they say they have switched their internal audio engine to 64 bit

Robert henke did a great instructional video on why this is the case, but I can't find it... Basically the only reason live switched their engine to 64 bit was marketing - because otherwise people would think it was inferior to all the new 64 bit DAWs.

This is all not to be confused with 64 bit CPUs and compatible software, which is a very different matter

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Re: Pro Audio with Linux?

Post by Ashe37 » Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:02 pm

it depends how you write your plugins. Synth plugins may well benefit form working in 64-bit floating point... but yes, the audio itself doesn't need to be 64-bit. Besides, I wasn't even talking about 64-bit *audio* for render nodes for DAWs...

(btw, all those bands using 4 or more Receptors on stage? they can pretty much be classified as audio render nodes...)

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Re: Pro Audio with Linux?

Post by stephen » Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:17 pm

Rosegarden supports audio and midi, and it integrates with Lilypond for music notation.

Ardour 3.0 will include midi sequencing too :)

There's also energyXT2 which is available for native linux. Windows edition of Ext2 works with wine.
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Re: Pro Audio with Linux?

Post by cartesia » Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:59 pm

Ashe37 wrote: Besides, I wasn't even talking about 64-bit *audio* for render nodes for DAWs...
Sorry I didn't realise you'd originally written something about render farms, when I wrote my post I was referring just to the OPs comment (and thought that's what you were referring to in reply to my post)
...similar in nature to those CGI rendering farms used in Hollywood to process audio at extremely high bitrates.

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Re: Pro Audio with Linux?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Jun 25, 2010 3:11 pm

You're talking about bit depth, not bit rate.

Depth is measured in bits, ie 16 or 24 or 32 or whatever, Rate is measured in kbps or kHz. :thumbleft:

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Re: Pro Audio with Linux?

Post by impaler42 » Fri Jun 25, 2010 7:18 pm

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/Feb03/a ... xaudio.asp

Here is a cool Sound on Sound article about building Linux based computer systems tailor made for music applications. Makes a lot of good points on the positive and negative aspects of such endeavors.
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Re: Pro Audio with Linux?

Post by cartesia » Sat Jun 26, 2010 4:27 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:You're talking about bit depth, not bit rate.

Depth is measured in bits, ie 16 or 24 or 32 or whatever, Rate is measured in kbps or kHz. :thumbleft:
Sorry.. yes.. bit depth..

Bitrate is actually the bit depth (bits - divide by 1024 to get kBits) multiplied by the sample rate (hz = 'per second').. kBps

Which is interesting, because it means that having a high bitrate doesn't necessarily mean that you will gain noticeable improvements in quality - if the Bit depth is 64 bit and the sample rate is 24khz, the sound quality will not be as good as if the bitdepth was 32 bit and the samplerate was 48khz

Anyway,
So a bit depth of greater than 32 bit is not much use because 32 bit already gives more than enough range/headroom.

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Re: Pro Audio with Linux?

Post by Ashe37 » Sat Jun 26, 2010 5:33 am

When playing or doing simple manipulations, yes. When doing complex manipulations- like convolution reverbs? no.

Sigh... had this exact same discussion 10 years ago, but it was calculating images in 128-bit floating point that was the topic, not audio.

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