The best-known open-source recording tool for the Mac is probably Audacity. But it’s not the most powerful. That accolade goes to Ardour. While Audacity is a great entry-level tool for audio production, Ardour – which comes in both a free and donation version – is the real deal. It’s in a class with Adobe Audition and Apple’s own Logic Express.
From the first look it’s clear that Ardour is a professional-quality Digital Audio Workstation, or DAW. With a highly polished interface and custom configuration features missing from its open source rival, Ardour offers tools for recording, editing, mixing and mastering multi-track audio.
With 32-bit floating point audio recording, comparable to Adobe Audition, the DAW offers unlimited tracks, non-destructive editing and user-defined audio routing. There’s solid support for industry standards and, therefore, external hardware. Built-in MIDI synchronisation, for example, enables you to work with both analogue and digital inputs, keeping them all in time. For the occasions when tracks drift out, there’s also automatic delay compensation.
Ardour also supports around 30 common audio formats, including some more readily found on Windows. Though the program doesn’t ship with any plug-ins, it supports industry standard LADPSA and LV2 formats for filters and effects. More importantly, it also supports Apple’s core AU format. Many are available free to download, and ready to use.
At an astonishing price Adour is a very impressive digital audio workstation
Ardour Session Exchange rounds out a very complete package – it’s a tool that enables users to collaborate on sessions within Ardour, over the internet. A forward thinking addition.
Plug-in settings aren’t saved in the free version. We recommend paying for the software to ensure its continued development.