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FOSS digital audio workstation Ardour reaches version 7

An open source rival to Ableton

Ardour, a free multi-platform digital audio workstation (DAW), has released version 7.

The upgrade comes nearly two and a half years after Ardour 6, which The Reg evaluated in 2020..

Ardor is developed by Paul Davis (formerly Paul Barton-Davis, once Amazon's fourth employee) and his company Linux Audio Systems, which also wrote the JACK low-latency sound server for Linux, used in Ubuntu Studio. (The less specialized editions of Ubuntu mostly use PulseAudio, and are in the process of moving to Pipewire.)

A DAW is a high-end sound editor. You might know podcasters' favorite Audacity, while old hands might remember the sometimes controversial Atari ST tool Cubase, which started out as a simpler MIDI controller and editor then evolved into a DAW. Apple offers two: the lower-end Garageband and high-end Logic Pro.

Ardour 7's headline new feature is clip launching, which brings the program closer to the commercial Ableton Live. This can launch samples and loops synced to external sources and quantized or stretched as needed to fit. A new clip library helps managing your collection of sound clips and loops, and the program includes some free ones from Looperman. To get more, Ardour's support for Freesound has been updated and the program can once again work with the site after a gap of some years.

Other new features include clip sequencing, for a linear view of a piece, and ripple editing, which can automatically close up gaps created by removing a sound, either across all tracks, selected tracks or restricted to just one.

Ardour's internal time handling has been rewritten, with separate domains for musical time (for instance, in terms of bars) and audio time (in terms of chronological units), but this shouldn't be visible: it's aimed at future features, such as sample rate independence and improved MIDI synchronization.

Ardour isn't the only free DAW out there. As we mentioned earlier, Audacity offers some of the functionality, although more aimed at editing and conversion than making music. For that, Rosegarden or MusE may also be worth a look. Most Linux distros include these and more in their repositories. ®

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