There’s not a lot of extra money lying around here in my home studio (The Shack), so if I can find a cheap or free way to get the job done, I love it. GarageBand has been a great platform for podcasting, and the price was definitely right, since it was included for free on my MacBook Pro. (I did splurge when I bought my laptop a year ago, and bought Logic Express, which is working well for me.) But I’m loving the fact that there are some great open-source DAWs that are reaching maturity these days. Seems like everyone knows about Audacity, and it’s a reliable workhorse that has been very popular with the podcasting community, but there are some other open-source digital audio workstation (DAW) applications out there, including Ardour, Koblo, Rosegarden and Traverso.
This won’t be a comprehensive review of these applications–maybe when I get more time–but here’s a quick run-down on each one:
Audacity is available for Windows, MacOSX and Linux, and it’s been around for a long time, now. The current stable version is 1.2.6 on Windows, Linux and MacOSX (PPC), and 1.2.5 on MacOSX (Intel); version 1.3.6 beta is also available for all three platforms (universal binary on MacOSX). With an optional VST Enabler, Audacity can load VST plug-ins for Windows and MacOSX, and it also can use LADSPA (Linux Audio Developer’s Simple Plug-in API) plug-ins.
Ardour is available for Linux and MacOSX, and the current version is 2.71. As of this writing, there is an Intel build for MacOSX, and a PPC build is coming “shortly.” Source code is available for both Linux and MacOSX, as well. Ardour requires Jack, which has the benefit of making Ardour compatible with any audio interface that is supported by Jack. LADSPA plug-ins are supported, as well.
Koblo Studio is part of the Koblo project, which, according to the developers, is a bit like ProTools, Skype and eBay rolled into one–check out the Koblo main site for information about the Koblo community and collaboration tools (there’s an interview with Michael Logue of Koblo.com that you might want to hear on the Inside Home Recording Podcast, #62). Koblo Studio is currently in beta, and does not support VST plug-ins or MIDI, but those features are planned. Beta version 0.9 is currently available for Windows and MacOSX. Koblo is looking for Linux developers to port the project to Linux, and the source code is available.
Rosegarden is a Linux-based “general music composition and editing environment,” with audio recording, MIDI sequencing, and and score editing capability; LADSPA plug-ins are supported, and DSSI synth plug-ins are supported, as well. The current release is 1.7.2. A variety of helpful tutorials are also available at the Rosegarden site.
Traverso is a multi-track audio recording and editing application that purports to be “complete solution from recording to CD Mastering.” The current stable release is 0.42.0, and Traverso is available for Windows, MacOSX and Linux. Like Ardour, Traverso appears to rely on Jack, and it uses LV2 plug-ins. CD burning tools are also integrated in the application.
If you try out any of these applications, I’d be interested in hearing about your experiences with them.