mixing with ardour

In mix, noise on April 16, 2014 tagged , , by Erik

The past weeks I’ve been mixing a friends’ tracks. Two drone/sludge/doom metal inspired tracks, nice and heavy. He asked me if I knew anyone who could do this, and I said yes. Great fun!

I used Ardour to mix the stems. He recorded in Protools and exported stems with some effects and panning, and importing went without a hitch. Some downsampling happened —there was no need to run at 96kHz— but conversion was completely inaudible. In the end, I was running 28 stereo tracks. I had to adjust latency in Jack to get rid of dropouts, but I was using an old and beat up laptop so this was to be expected.

Reopening the projects was another story. There’s a bug in Ardour2 in combination with Jack2 which prevents saved projects from being opened. That’s a big bug if you ask me. The solution was to replace Jack2 with Jack1, which unfortunately caused problems for Mplayer, Avidemux and Qtracktor, all of which expect Jack2. The project was too important, though, and other programs I use (Pure Data, Moc) still worked, so I went ahead. And Hey Presto, I could reopen the projects again.

I searched around for a way to use some of my old VSTs, but I settled for the CALF LV2 plugins. I didn’t have to use them in any radical ways, and the parametric EQ and compressor plugind worked fine. I noticed the compressor starts to distort horribly when pushed, so I was glad only medium compression was all I needed. Next time, I’ll see if I can use my beloved Blockfish, old school but excellent. Non-free, which is a pity, but right now I don’t know any good compressor LV2 or DSSI plugins.

Mixdown was easy: put all layers in busses, put compression and/or equalisation (if any) on the bus, adjust volume and render. After 3 versions, my friend was happy and so was I.


  • Ardour is awesome. Can’t wait to try Ardour3, which is the current version. VST-support would be cool. All in all, audio handling is superior to Sonar 3 which I used until about 6 years ago.
  • The CALF plugin suite is very nice. The compressor doesn’t handle more extreme settings well, which is a pity. Let’s donate and see if this can be improved. Overall, the parametric EQ and compressor (as long as it isn’t pushed) sound nice and transparent.
  • The ability to mix 28 stereo tracks on this old beater of a laptop (Dell Latitude D610) came as a surprise to me. Nest time, I’ll try if I can mix at 96kHz. Overkill, but I’d like to see how far I can push this old dog.
  • Mixing is fun!
  • I’m going to experiment with VST support, either with DSSI-VST or with some external host via inserts. Dig up my old Voxengo plugins and track down the licenses.
  • I’m going to demo some of the LinuxDSP stuff. I already have awesome plugins but new stuff —native stuff— would be nice. Not too expensive and I hear it’s pretty good.
  • Mixing is fun! I’m going to do more of this.
  • Did I say “mixing is fun”?