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Best Linux software for synth nerds and producers?

Posted: Sun Dec 25, 2011 9:52 am
by MasterCProgram
Being a Linux user has it's share of ups and downs. The ups usually come in the form of, "This is almost exactly what people are paying for and pirating, and I'm getting it for free, ha-ha! And it looks better!", and the downs are usually, "Why hasn't anyone ported this... and that... oh, and that to Linux?"

Having recently purchased a synth I want to send some SysEx stuff to, and having used the old-fashioned MIDI-OX under Windows for stuff like that, I am quite at a loss for what to download for Linux. My question started there, but ends here: Are there any Linux users that could recommend general audio software for Linux? Stuff you use constantly? From the MIDI end of things to a finished product?

Re: Best Linux software for synth nerds and producers?

Posted: Sun Dec 25, 2011 5:34 pm
by mharris80
For MIDI,
Simple Sysexxerto transfer SYSEX
JSynthLib JSynthLib as an editor. (note you'll need Java Runtime Environment for JsynthLib.)

Softsynths
Hexter, a DX7 emulation
Alsa Modular Synth, exactly what it says on the tin :D
LMMS, which is sorta like FL, and which I have a love/hate relationship with*.

DAW
Ardour all the way. Best free DAW I've ever seen.

Sequencing
Seq24 works pretty well for me. It's really basic, but gets the job done.
Qtractor is very nice, I just don't use it much, as I only have it on my laptop at present.

Those are what I use the most "Inside the Box". (aside from the usual LADSPA, LV2, and DSSI plugins, which should be pretty easy to find if you're already doing the Linux music thing) I run them on Ubuntu Studio 10.04, which I plan on holding onto for as long as possible, as I absolutely despise the direction Ubuntu as a whole has taken as of late. The Unity desktop can go burn in the deepest pits of h**l for all I care.

*About LMMS: So I mentioned that it's like FL Studio. Part of it includes support for VSTi's. I can't really complain too much, as it's using a compatibility layer (Wine in this case). But sometimes it works better than others. Loading VST's can cause the software to crash, as can accessing menus on the VST's themselves. When it works, it's awesome. When it doesen't... :x

Edit: Forgot to mention the VSTi's I use. Mostly free ones, chief among them being Synth1 AKA the "Nord Lead VST".
VST 4 free is a good place to look for free plugins, though some simply refuse to load at all in LMMS.
I've had good luck with the TAL stuff.
I've also been able to get FM7 and Pro53 working in LMMS.

Re: Best Linux software for synth nerds and producers?

Posted: Sun Dec 25, 2011 7:16 pm
by MasterCProgram
This is a good start! I actually tried Simple Sysexxer, but it wasn't built for my distro, and I've always failed at building that stuff from source. But soon I'm getting a MIDI-USB interface in, and will likely find a way to get that to work, as well as the suggested JSynthLib, seeing as I have a DW-8000 and the interface, while workable, is hardly preferable.

What about recording audio, post processing, arranging, that kind of thing? I have tried to use Jokosher, and that seems to work well enough (although it lacks some essential things like fade-in and out of various tracks), and for sound manipulation, there's always Audacity, which I'm getting pretty good at. But other than those? alternatives?

Re: Best Linux software for synth nerds and producers?

Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 12:30 am
by mharris80
MasterCProgram wrote:This is a good start! I actually tried Simple Sysexxer, but it wasn't built for my distro, and I've always failed at building that stuff from source. But soon I'm getting a MIDI-USB interface in, and will likely find a way to get that to work, as well as the suggested JSynthLib, seeing as I have a DW-8000 and the interface, while workable, is hardly preferable.
I've got a BCR-2000 that I use as an interface. I just hook it up to whatever I need to use it for, set it on USB mode, then do all my MIDI routing with the JACK connections window.
MasterCProgram wrote:What about recording audio, post processing, arranging, that kind of thing? I have tried to use Jokosher, and that seems to work well enough (although it lacks some essential things like fade-in and out of various tracks), and for sound manipulation, there's always Audacity, which I'm getting pretty good at. But other than those? alternatives?
Ardour FTW. :D Seriously, this thing is just sick. I use it for all my recording. The only real downside is it's sorta lacking in the MIDI department, but there are other programs that fill that gap. I'd seriously consider giving it a try if I were you. Blows Audacity out of the water, IMO.

Re: Best Linux software for synth nerds and producers?

Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 12:50 am
by stephen
Ahh linux... there's a fair bit of good stuff out there. Ardour 3 will include midi - it's currently in Beta, should be a blast when it comes out as a stable release. I recently installed simple sysexxer on my laptop, didn't have any issues with it.

I haven't used qtractor rececently, but I plan on installing it soon. And another old favourite is the hydrogen drum sequencer.http://www.hydrogen-music.org/hcms/

If you don't mind paying for software then http://www.renoise.com, http://www.linuxdsp.co.uk and http://www.loomer.co.uk are worthwhile.

Some of the TAL plugins are available for linux natively http://distrho.sourceforge.net/, and the Calf plugins are particularly good too http://www.ohloh.net/p/calf

Have you seen the linux musicians' forum? http://www.linuxmusicians.com

What distro are you using?

Re: Best Linux software for synth nerds and producers?

Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 1:41 am
by mharris80
stephen wrote:And another old favourite is the hydrogen drum sequencer.http://www.hydrogen-music.org/hcms/
:banghead: Bloody h**l! How did I forget to mention Hydrogen? Excellent, very easy to use drum machine.

Re: Best Linux software for synth nerds and producers?

Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 9:08 am
by nvbrkr
I really don't get along with Hydrogen myself. I suppose it can suit someone else's workflow better, but it takes ages for me to make beats with it. I want to use my own samples and I expect to be able to use any number of them in any combination whatsoever on my sequences, but Hydrogen makes that really cumbersome by forcing you to compile those sounds into "kits" before they can be used in an easier manner. LMMS is actually pretty decent as a standalone drum machine and adding your own sounds is just a matter of clicking on the name of the file on the file browser. It just doesn't work that well with JACK.

The DAWs can all be frustrating to use. I have high hopes for the new version of Ardour, but I've never managed to configure the previous versions so that they would be able to run a decent number of tracks without drop outs (that might have something to do with the way the .rpm and .deb packages I've been using have been built, so I will try to compile the new version myself when it comes out). I've been using a modded version of Traverso for the moment being. The official stable release of that program lacks a lot of features - an ability to add plugins to the master channel for example - so I'm not sure if I can recommend it for newcomers though.

The programs that I can recommend are:
Hexter - a great DX7 clone with some wonderful presets.
Fluidsynth - a very good soundfont player that comes as a command line app by default, but it has GUI and DSSI versions of it too.
Swami - a tool for editing and creating soundfonts (i.e. making your own sample sets).
Patchage - a visual tool for managing audio I/O connections (this is a program that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND for anyone attempting to make sense of connections between different programs and the various I/O's available for the system, I far prefer it over QjackCtl myself).
SWH Plugins - The standard LADSPA plugin pack for most applications, although the lack of proper GUIs can be a bit daunting to some.
IR - a convolution reverb plugin (I'm not a big fan of convolution reverbs, but the algorithmic reverbs available for Linux are a bit weak).
Calf plugins - newish LADSPA / LV2 plugins with nice GUIs.
Mdala plugins - the mda vst plugins ported to Linux.
Jack-Rack - for running LADSPA plugins in a Jack modular environment without having to use a DAW for them.
LV2 rack - similar for LV2 plugins.


In general, I'd recommend not to rely on DAWs for everyhing and take advantage of the modular environment built around JACK (using Patchage, QjackCtl or command line for making the connections). Your desktop environment will also make a difference on how easy it is to run audio apps on Linux. I personally use Openbox with several keyboard shortcuts that allow me to quickly establish connections between different applications. I'd also advice to avoid any other audio protocols than ALSA and JACK.

Re: Best Linux software for synth nerds and producers?

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:38 pm
by natrixgli
Try Sunvox. It's a cross platform tracker/modular sound lab kind of thing. I love it. Does not support Jack, but you can use the Win32 version via Wine with WineASIO if you need Jack.

It's free, but not OSS. http://www.warmplace.ru/soft/sunvox/

-n8

Re: Best Linux software for synth nerds and producers?

Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:44 pm
by th0mas
Reaper, hands down.

Re: Best Linux software for synth nerds and producers?

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:51 pm
by cgren72
i havent used bristol yet, but it looks good and is worth a try

Re: Best Linux software for synth nerds and producers?

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:49 pm
by MitchXI
this seemed interesting back when I was looking
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZynAddSubFX

Re: Best Linux software for synth nerds and producers?

Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:17 am
by tekkentool
Renoise has a full 32/64 bit linux release too.

Re: Best Linux software for synth nerds and producers?

Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:16 am
by LBN
Reaper under Wine is officially supported. There is also a native port of Reaper to Linux underway but it is still in the very, very early stages.

Re: Best Linux software for synth nerds and producers?

Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:08 am
by nvbrkr
cgren72 wrote:i havent used bristol yet, but it looks good and is worth a try
Maybe a try.

Re: Best Linux software for synth nerds and producers?

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:41 am
by RetroSynthAds
tekkentool wrote:Renoise has a full 32/64 bit linux release too.
I have to go with tekkentool on this suggestion.

I installed Ubuntu/Renoise on a first generation netbook and it works like a charm. And easy to install too! (although some say Ubuntu is kinda cheating :)

It started almost as an experiment in minimal work environments, and now when I travel I bring an iPad and my little netbook with a wack of samples loaded from Computer Music DVDs.

If it works that well on a netbook, I can imagine how well it would work on a even a slightly more powerful processor.