Any advice/suggestions before demoing Renoise?

I’m demoing different software for workflows that differ from Ableton. Someone mentioned Renoise on another forum and I just got around to downloading and installing.

Any advice/suggestions that will make it easier for me to get started? A quick look at it and I noticed that it seems to work vertically instead of a horizontal timeline, which is weird but kind of cool too. I have plenty of VST’s i’d like to use so hopefully that’s encourage with Renoise? I keep reading where samplers are important in Renoise but I don’t care for samplers that much. I prefer to take a initial software synthesizer and patch it the way I like it…at a very low level if possible. In fact, the other piece of standalone software I will be using is Max 8 (I won’t be using Ableton with Renoise if I choose this tracker), anyone using Max with Renoise? If so, how do they like it? I know it supports Rewire so I should be about to route my audio from Max into it pretty easily.

Lastly, unfortunately I’m stuck with a Push as a controller (Push 1 version). Is there any software taht will make it easy for me to work with Renoise and Push 1? I don’t know anything about this software here => but is this a good choice? Are there any free apps out there for Push + Renoise? I mostly want just general control, nothing fancy.

Welcome to Renoise! I’ll chime in here. I don’t have any experience with Max or using a Push with Renoise, but I can give you an ultra quick primer on how Renoise differs from Ableton.

The vertical approach is the way it’s always been for trackers since the Commodore days, and you’ll find it really different from what Ableton offers. In my experience, a tracker’s greatest strength is also its weakness. Because everything is locked to a grid, it makes it incredibly fast to put together sequences when you’re inputting notes manually. Think of it like an ultra powerful 808 style hardware sequence. I find that using the QWERTY keys together with CTRL/Cmd+0 to 9 to adjust the step length (how far the cursor jumps down after you’ve entered a note) is incredibly efficient… especially after you’re used to what vertical intervals equate to what beat/time difference. I don’t play keyboards very well, so for me inputting notes this way is far superior than trying to record something live on a keyboard controller and then dealing with quantise. For more complex chord work I’ll also input manually, but by playing the notes I want on a controller instead of the QWERTY keyboard. It all works, and this focus on step input really is Renoise’s strength I think.

But that’s also its weakness to a certain extent. If you’re the kind of producer that likes to record everything you’re playing, then you might not find the tracker to be the best approach. It can definitely work that way, but it’s just not what it excels at in my opinion. You can do a lap of a race track in a 4WD just like you can try to go off-road in a race car… but it’s kind of a case of the best tool for the job in my opinion. And Renoise works so well for a grid-based step input style of composition, unlike traditional horizontal DAWs which do better at freeform (albeit with lots more mouse clicking and botched MIDI recordings :wink: )

So anyway, my suggestion for your demoing would be see how you get on with entering notes using the QWERTY keyboard! In my case I’ll usually work out what I want to enter on a synth keyboard first, and then move to the QWERTY keyboard for note entry. I’ve been working with Renoise doing music professionally for about 10 years now (also using a VST centric approach, so no problems there if you don’t care for sampling!) and I can say that for me, I’m so efficient now with this old-skool approach of music programming that it feels really awkward using any other DAW. It’s fantastic.

Let us know how you get on, and if there’s anything you’re curious about. Hope it works out for you!

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Thanks for the detailed response. :+1: I will do what you suggest and simply work with the QWERTY keyboard for now (I’m totally comfortable working that way so that’s a plus). The VST centric approach sounds like the the way i’d prefer as well but I had a boatload of samples from when I owned an Octatrack so I’ve loaded them into the Sample folder and I’ve actually been getting some good results! I’ll look over and learn some of the more important keyboard shortcuts as the manual seems to stress that I learn those. Thanks again for the reply back, I’m really glad I’ve found Renoise.

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I’ll throw my $00.02USD in as well.

I would agree with what @a-type said.

If you are really set on a VST-centric approach, that is perfectly doable in Renoise, though, Renoise does certainly excel with its sampler. As opposed to other DAWs, who simply have a Sampler plugin, Renoise is kind of built around its Sampler and Tracker interface.

As you will be going with a demo, you will not have access to Renoise’s Plugin-Grabber, which is absolutely fantastic. The Plugin Grabber lets you grab whatever preset you have loaded in a VSTi and render it as samples directly into a Sampler. This works really well for many synths. Pads, especially those like HGFortune’s STS series (if you are familiar) will likely lose some of their “magic” when “Grabbed.” You just have to experement with it. I also use some older rigs running Linux and a huge plus to the Plugin Grabber is that I can export VSTi’s on my Windows rig to be used on my underpowered netbook, where CPU is scarce and VST support is not super great.

The Renoise license covers Linux, Windows, and Mac, so if you use more than one OS, it’s pretty darn nice.

Check out the tutorial videos ( ) and you should be good to go. The tracker interface will likely be the biggest “hurdle,” though I find that it is completely changing the way I even think about my work, in a good way. It’s kind of like learning working with alternative tunings or notation. Takes a bit to get used to it, but opens up doors you might not have even noticed before.

I’ve had my eye on Renoise for awhile and really wish I’d bought it sooner. Just got my license a week or to ago. $75 well spent, in my opinion. I’d be tempted to spend that much on the Plugin Grabber, alone.

Yeah i second that! If you do run a VST centric approach, Renoise has extremely convenient functionality for letting you cross over into the sample domain, whether it be for saving CPU or for sound design purposes.

Personally though my absolute favourite aspect is just the simple nature of trackers allowing you to see all the notes being triggered in your patterns, all at once. No need to click on clips and open things up, it’s all there to see at granular detail. For me that’s the ultimate advantage because it helps me see any moment in the music as a whole, and not just the combination of a whole bunch of separate clips of audio and midi.


Thanks @rainydayshirts, I will take a look at the Plugin Grabber, that’s sounds useful if I decide to go with this. I will definitely use the sampler as I’ve been playing with it today and it’s very useful, even though I don’t really know what I’m doing yet. :smiley: The Phrase editor seems like something I would use a lot…I will have some time tomorrow to really look at it and see how well it works with Max. I am hoping it plays with it well. I’d like to use both if possible, using Max to trigger sequences in the Renoise pattern editor.

Yes @a-type, being able to see all the note information is really nice. I’ve never use something like this before…it’s very cool…lots to learn though…alot. :smile:

thanks all! :+1:

my advice is that if you’re going to be recording the MIDI data from your VST instruments via a keyboard controller, I super-ultra-highly recommend grabbing (and briefly learning, it’s simple) the “Voice Runner” tool so you can sort the notes you record. Without this, recording notes form a keyboard results in a big mess of notes displayed across lanes; by sorting (it can be assigned to a key command in prefs) with Voice Runner, you can do things like have an individual lane for any one kind of note that you played (e.g. one lane for all the C#s, one lane for all the D’s, one for all the A’s, etc). This makes the vertical tracker look & feel more like an inverted Piano Roll, rather than looking like a chaotic clump of notes.

If this sounds confusing as hell, I understand, but just start getting to know the program and then once it’s clicking in a bit, grab Voice Runner, and you’ll see what I mean :slight_smile: Again, this is only relevant if you’re recording your playing from an external keyboard. If you’re planning on literally programming in your notes with a computer keyboard, then you can make it as organized as you like as you go, and Voice Runner won’t be as essential.


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Noodle Trap is also an invaluable tool if you prefer to live record things. That hides away all the (often very messy) live recorded data inside phrases to keep everything neat.

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