Linux Home Recording Studio

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by greekorican, Jun 19, 2010.

  1. greekorican


    Mar 12, 2009
    I just bought a new laptop, Dell Inspiron 1546, AMD Turion X2 processor and 4gb of ram, and a dedicated graphics card. I was tied up between getting a much more powerful desktop PC, but decided that the convenience of a laptop was worth it. My desk is so much neater, and I like that I can take my computer with me. After reading more about setting up a DAW, I really hope that this isn't going to hold me back. It is PLENTY powerful for everything else I use it for.

    Now I'm a bit of a Linux nerd, and I love the fact that you have a ton of free applications at your disposal. Ardour looks very nice, but I have no clue how to use it. I'm a noob when it comes to recording, and I'm wondering how recording with linux software compares to Pro Tools, Cubase, etc. I'm prepared to do a little (or a lot, with my luck) of tinkering to set everything up right. It's worth the effort to me so long as the software is of quality. How does linux recording software compare to windows applications?

    Now I'm not made of money. As much as I'd like to spend enough to get a professional setup, I'm kinda tight on money. I'd like to get a set of decent monitors and a recording interface for around 350 bucks. I'd like to be able to record and monitor atleast 4 tracks simultaneously. I'm looking at this, because I've read several reviews that it works flawlessly in Linux. Lexicon Omega: product/Lexicon-Omega-Desktop-Recording-Studio?sku=245505 Thoughts? Suggestions? Keep in mind that I do not have a firewire port.

    For monitors, I'm looking at M-Audio Studiophile AV40's: They seem to have great reviews, but the salesman at guitar center claimed that he doesn't consider M-Audio's stuff to be "real studio monitors."

    I think I'd be willing to spend more on a good interface and just buy monitors later, if the Lexicon Omega isn't up to par. I have decent set of logitec 2.1 speakers that I could use temporarily, as well as a set of Sennheiser HD280s for mixing.

    Last question is what distro to use? I've got the most experience in Ubuntu (used it exclusively for 2 years), but lately I've been checking out what else is out there. Anybody ever use Zenwalk or Fedora for recording?

  2. To use Ardour, have a 7200 RPM disk drive.
  3. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    well, first off you should check out MIJ-IV's excellent thread on this very topic:

    Good luck with your effort. I think that the consensus is that you are in for some challenges (but your a Linux geek, so you should be used to that already :cool:). Most (almost all) of the best known recording hardware/software is oriented towards Mac and/or MS platforms. So, as usual with Linux, while there are a number of open source choices, and of course WINE or a VM option, you are probably going to find yourself somewhat challenged to get a system stable and working consistently. MIJ-IVs thread will help as he has listed known good components, software and hardware.

    As a sometime Linux user myself, reading through MIJ-IV's thread, I can see how it might be done. Despite my personal interest in Linux, I have chosen an MS/Intel platform for simplicity and expediencies sake.

    Again, good luck brave Linux user !
  4. I recommend(and use) the planet CCRMA version of Fedora Core. It's an already tweaked kernel and set of applications from the computer music lab at Stanford University. Works great out of the box.
  5. RFord04


    Apr 8, 2009
    Flint, Michigan
    Not that I'm condoning piracy, but pretty much all recording software is free if you want it to be.
  6. Depends on the drive. A lot of the newer 5400rpm disks are much faster than many older 7200rpm disks because of the increased data density. Of course you are right in that if everything else is equal the drive with the faster rotational speed will give increased performance. A lot depends on how many tracks one is using.

  7. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    This is also about the interface. So a 7200rpm HD (or even a 10k rpm!) with a efficient 16m cache running on a SATA300 interface will definitely be a faster, more efficient drive than a 5400rpm HD with a smaller cache running on an older PATA interface.

    I'd say that generally, newer HD tech is typically "faster" (higher burst and sustained read and write cycles), which will be better for recording purposes.
  8. funkmuffin


    Aug 18, 2004
    Akron, Ohio
    +1 Former CCRMA/Ardour user here. This was by far the easiest way to get running. The biggest piece of the puzzle if you're going to go Linux is to get an audio interface that's solidly compatible. You'll have to do some searching at to figure out what's currently in-bounds.

    With a supported sound card, you can have a system up and running in less than a day using CCRMA...

    ...or build a hackintosh :) and have a full-blown Mac/Logic workstation with all the professional plugins in the world at your disposal. That's what I did, and I couldn't be happier.
  9. fingertap


    May 12, 2010
    Make sure anything you use has the real-time kernel.

    Mine happens to be:

    $uname -a:
    Linux (secret_name) 2.6.31-10-rt #153-Ubuntu SMP PREEMPT RT Tue Jan 12 11:01:03 UTC 2010 x86_64 GNU/Linux

    My latency is 1.45ms. No x-runs yet, but I have not had it under much of a load.
    If you go 64_bit you could add memory to dedicate more to sound-requiring processes.
    There are 8 GB on mine, a dual core 3.2GHz AMD.
    I dedicate a sizable chunk to audio-requiring processes...

    I like these:

    Ubuntu Studio (64bit)

    Studio 64 (64 bit)

    There is a line6 kb37 I am trying to interface. Linux can be tough. I *hope* I can get it to work. I expect to have time to address this issue this week.

  10. nonfatmatt

    nonfatmatt Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Long Beach California
    Honestly I've never heard of a Lexicon Omega, but if it works with FFADO it should work fine. Other good interfaces are anything by Saffire or Roland/Edirol (I've got an FA-66 I need to get rid of if you're interested). I personally use Arch Linux, as it comes without Pulseaudio which conflicts with JACK, and is generally a nightmare for anything pro-audio related. Ardour's great though, completely free and a has any plugin you could conceivably want.
  11. MIJ-VI

    MIJ-VI Banned Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2009
  12. kurotenshi


    Jun 27, 2009
    Amadora, Portugal
    SourceAudio Endorser
    You have EnergyXT which is pretty cheap IMO and is cross platform
  13. greekorican


    Mar 12, 2009
    I can't seem to pull the trigger on the Lexicon Omega. I've read thousands of reviews and it's rated pretty highly from alot of people. However, there are just as many reviews from people saying that this thing was awesome until it broke. I'm hesitant to buy something that has so many reviews describing the same problem.

    Does anyone own one? Whats your experience like?
  14. greekorican


    Mar 12, 2009
    Well I bought a lexicon alpha. Took me forever to make it work, and I'm pretty sure I finally have it set up correctly. I'm very unimpressed. Even with just JACK running, there is a pretty significant amount of latency (32 ms). I was trying to play along to a drum track in hydrogen, and there quite a bit more latency. Today I installed an update on the realtime kernel through update manager. I thought maybe the update would improve it, but now I can't even listen to music through the lexicon alpha without having it cut out temporarily with alot of static (is that an xrun?). This is in Ubuntu Studio.

    I did try AV Linux, and thought it was awful. Nothing but problems, not even related to the interface. I could not mount a usb drive inside AV Linux, among several other problems it had.

    I might just pack this up and return it. It took me several hours of trying to set this up, and I'm unhappy with the results. And now I've got more problems. Maybe its because I'm still a bit of a linux noob, but as far as I can tell, I set everything up correctly. I wanted to use this primarily as a way to practice quietly along to drum tracks/mp3s and there is too much latency. I don't think practicing with latency has any benefits, so back to guitar center this goes.

    Thanks for all the advice you've given me.
  15. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    sorry to hear you are having so much hassle getting a working system up and running.

    Honestly, this is why, even though I have Linux (either Ubuntu or openSuSe) as a dual boot option on all my comps, I only use it as a backup system. Everything related to decent audio just seems like such a hassle in Linux. IME, Digital Recording is just about plug and play in Windows and Mac OS, that it just seems like asking for headaches to try to hack it out in Linux.

    A shame really.

    Not intended as a flame, or flame-bait, just IME/IMO (and I DO have hands on experience in all the OS's mentioned).
  16. Mcgiver69


    Sep 28, 2005
    OK I installed AV-Linux 4 and it worked just fine. even it recognized my Belkin USB adapter.

    I managed to record using my Pandora PX4D and Rockfrog USB Adapter right into Ardour and Jack.

    Very nice little distro with lots of good software.
  17. MIJ-VI

    MIJ-VI Banned Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    Hi greekorican.

    Out of curiosity, which version of Ubuntu Studio did you try? 9.10 or 10.04? 32 bit or 64 bit?

    Thank you.
  18. greekorican


    Mar 12, 2009
    I tried the 32 bit verson of Ubuntu Studio 10.04
  19. MIJ-VI

    MIJ-VI Banned Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    Hmm... That's what I figured.

    Here's my .02 on Ubuntu Studio 10.04.

    If you've a mind to, you may wish to give version 9.10 a whirl before writing Ubuntu Studio off.

    If you do, please check this out first...

    ...for a work-a-round to the 9.10 install gotcha which awaits those who attempt to install Ubuntu Studio 9.10's Audio Applications package on a PC which does not have a wired Internet connection.

    This post explains said gotcha:
  20. greekorican


    Mar 12, 2009
    Well I've already returned the recording interface. Like I said, I'm pretty sure I had everything configured correctly. It's not that I didn't make it work, it was the latency that made me return it. I don't think Ubuntu Studio was the problem, I'm pretty sure it was the interface.