Professional Audio Closer to Linux

Browsing Freshmeat tonight, the premier online Linux software repository, I came across to these two great (and brand new) applications, ReBorn and ReZound. Reborn, a Rebirth clone that will soon become open source according to the developer, provides a software emulation of three of Roland’s most famous electronic musical instruments. It got me thinking as to how much more viable Linux is today as a professional (or semi-professional) audio platform than it used to be two years ago. Update: On a related multimedia notice, WinAMP 3.0 for Windows was released yesterday.While ALSA, and especially OSS, still have some limitations, it seems that a number of great audio apps are emerging. Unfortunately, with only 4-5 exceptions, the same do not apply for professional 3D/rendering/video/vector-imaging applications though. Linux still does not have something similar to Apple’s iMovie or personalStudio for simple users, or Adobe Premier, or Cinema4D/Bryce/etc or a really professional DTP system, or something with the power of Illustrator/FireWorks/Freehand.

However, let’s browse together these great audio apps that are available today. Some of them, might actually need a helping hand to get further developed.

  • ReBorn – A Linux version of the Windows/Mac program ReBirth, providing a software emulation of three of Roland Corporation’s most famous electronic musical instruments: the TB303 Bassline, the TR808 Rhythm Composer and the TR909 Rhythm Composer. Also thrown in are four audio effects, individual mixers and a programmable sequencer. ReBorn is fully compatible with the ReBirth .rbs song file format. (UPDATE: The project is now dead due to legal issues.)
  • ReZound -Aims to be a stable, open source, and graphical audio file editor primarily for but not limited to the Linux operating system.
  • Anthem – An advanced open source MIDI sequencer which allows you to record, edit, and playback music using a sophisticated and acclaimed object oriented song technology.
  • Ardour – A professional multitrack/multichannel audio recorder and DAW for Linux, using ALSA-supported audio interfaces. It supports up to 32 bit samples, 24+ channels at up to 96kHz, full MMC control, a non-destructive, non-linear editor, and LADSPA plugins.
  • DAP – A comprehensive audio sample editing and processing suite. It currently supports AIFF and AIFF-C audio files, 8 or 16 bit resolution, and 1, 2 or 4 channels of audio data. The package offers comprehensive editing, playback, and recording facilities including full time stretch resampling, manual data editing, and a reasonably complete DSP processing suite.
  • GNUsound – A sound editor for Linux/x86. It supports multiple tracks, multiple outputs, and 8, 16, or 24/32 bit samples. It can read a number of audio formats through libaudiofile, and saves them as WAV.
  • Bristol – A synthesizer emulation package. It includes a Moog Mini, Moog Voyager, Hammond B3, Prophet 5, Juno 6, DX 7, and others.
  • Audacity – A cross-platform multitrack audio editor. It allows you to record sounds directly or to import Ogg, WAV, AIFF, AU, IRCAM, or MP3 files. It features a few simple effects, all of the editing features you should need, and unlimited undo. The GUI was built with wxWindows and the audio I/O currently uses OSS under Linux. We recently reviewed its version 1.0.
  • TerminatorX – A realtime audio synthesizer that allows you to “scratch” on digitally sampled audio data (*.wav, *.au, *.mp3, etc.) the way hiphop-DJs scratch on vinyl records. It features multiple turntables, realtime effects (built-in as well as LADSPA plugin effects), a sequencer, and an easy-to-use GTK+ GUI.
  • LAoE – A graphical audiosample-editor, based on multi-layers, floating-point samples, volume-masks, variable selection-intensity, and many plugins suitable to manipulate sound, such as filtering, retouching, resampling, graphical spectrogram editing by brushes and rectangles, sample-curve editing by freehand-pen and spline and other interpolation curves, effects like reverb, echo, compress, expand, pitch-shift, time-stretch, and much more.
  • MidiMountain – A sequencer to edit standard MIDI files. Its easy-to-use interface should help beginners to edit and create MIDI songs (sequences), and it is designed to edit every definition known to standard MIDI files and the MIDI transfer protocol, from easy piano roll editing to changing binary system exclusive messages.
  • GNoise – A GTK+ based wave file editor. It uses a display cache and a double-buffered display for maximum speed with large files. It supports common editing functions such as cut, copy, paste, fade in/out, normalize, and more, with unlimited undo.
  • MusE – A Qt 2.1-based MIDI sequencer for Linux with editing and recording capabilities. While the sequencer is playing you can edit events in realtime with the pianoroll editor or the score editor. Recorded MIDI events can be grouped as parts and arranged in the arrange editor.
  • Rosegarden – An integrated MIDI sequencer and musical notation editor. The stable version (2.1) is a simple application for any Unix/X system. The development branch (Rosegarden-4) is an entirely new KDE application.
  • KGuitar – A guitarist suite for KDE. It’s based on MIDI concepts and includes tabulature editor, chord construction helpers, and importing and exporting song formats.
  • Swami – An instrument patch file editor using SoundFont files that allows you to create and distribute instruments from audio samples used for composing music. It uses iiwusynth, a software synthesizer, which has real time effect control, support for modulators, and routable audio via Jack.
  • SoundTracker – A pattern-oriented music editor (similar to the DOS program ‘FastTracker’). Samples are lined up on tracks and patterns which are then arranged to a song. Supported module formats are XM and MOD; the player code is the one from OpenCP. A basic sample recorder and editor is also included.
  • Tutka – A tracker style MIDI sequencer for Linux (and other systems; only Linux is supported at this time though). It is similar to programs like SoundTracker, ProTracker and FastTracker except that it does not support samples and is meant for MIDI use only.
  • amSynth – A realtime polyphonic analogue modeling synthesizer. It provides a virtual analogue synthesizer in the style of the classic Moog Minimoog/Roland Junos. It offers an easy-to-use interface and synth engine, while still creating varied sounds. It runs as a standalone application, using either the ALSA audio and MIDI sequencer system or the plain OSS devices.
  • Cheese Tracker – A program to create module music that aims to have an interface and feature set similar to that of Impulse Tracker. It also has some advantages such as oscilloscopes over each pattern track, more detailed sample info, a more detailed envelope editor, improved filters, and effect buffers (chorus/reverb) with individual send levels per channel.
  • SpiralSynth Modular – An object orientated modular softsynth / sequencer / sampler. Audio or control data can be freely passed between the plugins, and is all treated the same.
  • gAlan – An audio-processing tool for X windows and Win32. It allows you to build synthesizers, effects chains, mixers, sequencers, drum-machines, etc. in a modular fashion by linking together icons representing primitive audio-processing components.
  • Xsox – An X interface for sox. Record or play many types of sound files. Cut, copy, paste, add effects, convert file types etc.
  • Voodoo Tracker – A project that aims to harness and extend the power of conventional trackers. Imagine self contained digital studio; complete and ready for your modern music needs. Additionally Voodoo will provide an interface that is designed for live performances.
  • SLab – Direct to Disk Audio Recording Studio is a free HDD audio recording system for linux operating systems, written using Tcl/Tk. SLab can record up to 64 tracks.
  • BeatForce – A computer DJing system, with two players with independent playlist, song database, mixer, sampler etc. It was planned as a feature enhanced Linux replacement for BPM-Studio from Alcatech.

Do you know any more professional or simply fully working audio applications for Linux? Share your knowledge with us (but do not mention plain audio players please). Dave Philips has a web page with many projects mentioned too.


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