Is Ardour top of the charts?


The Ardour project is an open source digital audio workstation. To many in the recording studio business, digital audio workstation is written DAW. Unwritten is widely held belief that recording studio platforms come in two varieties: proprietary native platforms like Mac OSX and Microsoft Windows, and DigiDesign’s HD system (which is a proprietary hardware add-on). Ardour demonstrates that there is a new game in town, and that new game is open source.
Ardour is simply amazing in a number of ways. It leverages native hardware which means that those who want to use their computers for making music benefit from the inexorable progress of Moore’s Law as delivered by commodity economics. To put this value into perspective: my home computer has increased in performance by a factor of 12 since 2002 (as predicted by Moore’s Law), whereas the performance of proprietary hardware like ProTools has remained unchanged during that same time. It interfaces with ALSA and its LADSPA plugins. Why is this a big deal? Because when one updates a proprietary OS that supports proprietary plugins, it is expected that one will lose several if not dozens of plugins in the process. Could you imagine taking your car to be inspected and learning that your rear seat is not only longer functional, but has been removed? By contrast, open source plugins can be maintained and updated without getting irretrievably lost. The mathematics of its algorithms are subject to inspection. This leads to the development of algorithms based on scientific understanding and integrity, not sheer marketing claims. Ardour can run on versions of real-time Linux that out-perform typical proprietary native systems by having 1/4th the latency-very important when the recorded subjects must all play in time together. Finally, I was thrilled to see that Ardour has been adopted by a major-league professional recording console vendor, for their digital console systems, and also has development support from and SAE Institute (which in turn own AMS-Neve). It is wonderful to see the benefits of open source extending into applications and industries that even a few years ago, most would have bet would never have adopted anything but proprietary solutions. Hat’s off to the Ardour team!