VST/VSTi audio plugins are a staple item in the sound software world. The VST API was created by the Steinberg company, makers of the popular Cubase audio/MIDI sequencer, and has been adopted by developers and embraced by users worldwide. Properly speaking, a VST plugin typically is an audio or MIDI processor, and a VSTi plugin is an instrument such as a synthesizer or drum machine. Thousands of VST/VSTi plugins exist today, ranging from the homemade to the costly and commercial. Many free-of-charge VST plugins are quite good, and some VST authors have released their plugins as truly free open-source software licensed under the GPL.
Ardour's documentation is another lively issue, because currently there is no official users' manual. It is likely that Paul Davis will continue to make Ardour freely available while charging a fee for a high-quality manual. Meanwhile, users unfamiliar with the basic design concepts of a hard-disk recorder are advised to retrieve and study manuals for proprietary DAWs, such as Pro Tools or Cubase. Some Ardour-specific documentation can be found in the source package text files and in various on-line resources, such as the Quick Toots series (see Resources), and in the traffic on the ardour-users and ardour-dev mail lists. Developers and testers also communicate on the #ardour IRC channel, while normal users carry on considerable discussion of Ardour-related matters on the mail lists for AGNULA/Demudi, Planet CCRMA, ALSA and the Linux Audio Users group.
Is Ardour ready for the big time? Perhaps not quite yet, but its road map is clearly headed there, and the remaining trip won't take long. I believe that it will be only a short time before Ardour starts raising eyebrows in the mainstream commercial audio software world. Ardour already has been used to record and mix entire CD projects, and more users are reporting success with Ardour in their own recording projects. I expect to be making a lot more music with Ardour. Feel free to stop by my site and check the occasional results.
The author sends vast thanks and appreciation to Paul Davis, Taybin Rutkin, Jesse Chappell, Steve Harris and all the other members of the Ardour development crew. Their work on Ardour, and so many other valuable Linux audio projects, truly is innovative and indeed a labor of love. The free musicians of the world salute you!
Major thanks also go to the members of the Ardour users mail list, especially Jan Depner, Mark Knecht, Aaron Trumm and Josh Karnes. Developers and users all were helpful as I found my bearings in some of Ardour's trickier places, proving that good company does indeed lessen the difficulties.
Resources for this article: www.linuxjournal.com/article/7969.
Dave Phillips is a musician, teacher and writer living in Findlay, Ohio. He has been an active member of the Linux Audio community since his first contact with Linux in 1995. He is the author of The Book of Linux Music & Sound, as well as numerous articles in Linux Journal.
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