Renoise 2 review

To find the true ancestor of Renoise, a sample sequencing, digital-audio production tool, you’d have to go back to the mid 80s when the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga were the hobbyist computers of choice. We remember long and late nights hunched over TCB Tracker, Noisetracker and other similarly named tools, entering drum beats and synth pads one note at a time. This app takes us way, way back.

Renoise may look like the original sound ‘trackers’ of old but, boy, has it come a long way. The pattern editor will be familiar to any musician of 8-bit vintage – and confusing at first for the GarageBand generation. Load up a demo song and you’ll see a bewildering list of numbers and letters. Hit the space bar and your cans will fill with sophisticated, multilayered music, with core effects and software synths, samples and real-time parameter shifting. If only you could work out how it was all done...

The learning curve is almost vertical but, fortunately, Renoise comes with some excellent tutorials. Armed with those you should be creating your own music, editing samples and tweaking instruments in no time. As veterans of the 80s tracking scene, our gobs were suitably smacked at the level of integration Renoise manages to achieve between old-school tracker tropes (the archaic HEX notation, the deceptively uncomplicated process of pattern editing) and contemporary frills (VST integration, realtime filters, huge track capacity, ReWire).

OUR VERDICT

We can’t help feeling that there must be a better way to do kind of music creation – something that sits between the hand-holding of GarageBand and the lab coat number crunching of Renoise. And, of course, there is, it’s called Reason 4 (www.propellerhead.se). Renoise is almost as powerful as that venerable DAW though – and it’s £350 cheaper.?

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