Beginner Learns Enough To Ask Questions: Linux, Jack, Rewire, Etc.

hello all, well i’ve become hooked on this powerful program renoise, and i’ve started to dig deeper into it, and additionally i read the trackers handbook, which is a good resource if you have never checked it out.

so I feel like i have progressed to the point to ask some questions. I will number them so it is easier to reply. thanks in advance to whatever you can bring to the discussion. the questions are in no order…

1)so i have the start of 4 songs in renoise, basically i’m starting on beat/drums and some bass medolies, just trying different stuff in the pattern editor to see how it sounds. At a certain point the pattern editor (basic stuff no fx) and the vertical track kinda clicked for me and i saw the tracker light :guitar: I’m getting to the point where i want to try fx and a vst program or two (i got in on the $10 PSP nitro deal, that i’d like to try) which leads to me to my first question: should i continue working in renoise at this point or should export the individual channels to have and use a different DAW for the eq, fx, automated stuff? I see people doing it both ways and i’d like more info on the drawbacks or benefits of either.

2)assuming a person wants to go the latter route of using a different DAW at a certain point in the musical process, can someone please explain for the beginner the different options and their limitations for getting what is made in renoise into a different program. as i see it there are three ways depending on the system you are using: a)export to wav b)rewire renoise into other DAW c)use JACK in linux to route audio into other DAW. first am i correct in thinking these are the options and second, when you use rewire or JACK can you still send the seperate channels outputs or are you limited to just sending a master channel output. obviously the drawback of rendering to WAV is that it is you have to rerender to wav any changes you want to make in the tracking.

3)so I have installed and successfully used renoise on the following linux distros: linuxmint, unbuntu, unbuntu netbook remix, pure:dyne, fedora, crunchbang, and puppy linux. the fact that i can use linux or doze or osx makes this software a big winner for me, there really aren’t alot of audio programs that can do that. I have not tried JACK yet, it’s on my list of things to do. I’m in the process of finding the best distro to use. i’m testing 64studio and ubuntu studio as well as dyne:bolic, for their real time kernal and decent selection of audio programs. my question is this: now in the windows XP world, i’m used to and proficient in making seperate “clean” XP partitions with services and things like network cards etc, disabled. should I be thinking of a similiar setup for linux? two boots, one normal distro for other notebook things and a lightweight distro only setup for audio?

  1. also on linux, has anyone do any studies or compared how the different distros sound or how the linux version of renoise sounds compared to the windows side? i keep reading this idea that some DOS trackers sound better then windows trackers do because of the way windows deals with the putting the audio together. any insight into this? this is me being curious, i’m nowhere near any level where that should even matter.

4)sometimes i think trackers with the style of buzz seem appealing because of their ability to then sequence the different patterns, perhaps my wording is not quite right but i hope you know what i mean. Is this perhaps the traditional sequencer side of my brain trying to take control? that i don’t have to switch to a sequencer and can just use the number of patterns i need for the song could be considered a plus in renoise that i am overlooking right?

well thanks for reading if you made it this far :w00t:

any input?


1& 2:
Using more than one DAW for production usually is a choice for workflow matters.
Folks that start to use Renoise and using other DAW’s mostly started with that DAW and already know the benefits of that program. Therefore they learn to know Renoise and its limitations in the area that those producers are accustomed to work with.
So frankly, using other DAW’s depends on what you want to produce exactly.
Because Renoise supports ReWire, this does not necessarily mean that you have to export tracks and work them over in other DAW’s. As a matter of fact, Renoise produces unaltered output if you would export your stuff without any effect applied (no aliassing on the audio) whereas some DAW’s apply post-processing on the output by default. Lots of effects in Renoise are highly customizable in their options and their strength even surpasses some very expensive filter processing plugins around.
It does not mean that they are easy to handle: for those reasons folks turn to other solutions as well, simply because you have to do less tweaking to reach similar effects.
If we discus about real limitations of Renoise currently that the use of other software is more or less inevitable then it would be Audio-tracks that run along synchronized with Renoise.
That is currently one of the things that can only be achieved by synchronizing another application which supports this, through ReWire.
Renoise also has no pianoroll which does not give you an easy distinguishable sense of what is actually happening in your project, however, that is a matter of getting accustomed to.
Renoise also is currently no routing wonder… you cannot route one track into the other or route one effect into effects on other tracks. Renoise only supports 2 concurrent midi inputs and does not offer a way to bind your midi device to a specific instrument -> You can only control the selected instrument with all your midi devices. This is for live events a very big limitation. For song production, it does not really matter as the notes in the pattern ofcourse can control all programmed instruments multitimbral. Another limitation is that Renoise loads everything into RAM and does not offer any kind of Direct from Disk streaming, which would in some cases be a helpful solution when someone requires to use large sample libraries.
Which i come to the last part of the limitations i can quickly think of: Renoise Instruments currently don’t support multilayer features and extra effects… it is one of the last frontiers coming from the old Tracker era that has remained untouched for a long time (one update to support up to 256 samples instead of only 16).

3: The less resources that you stuff in an os, the better in general when it comes up to using MultiMedia applications. Renoise is no exception. Regarding memory, you will always have a 4GB limitation on a 32-bit platform and on Windows even at most 3GB. This however counts for every 32bit application that runs their stuff mainly in memory. It is not a particular Renoise limitation.

5 Regarding linux, i think you probably have to open up specific Renoise & Linux topics to get some good answers, no distribution is quite the same and even a generic working distro can show flaws when using a Window manager that does not handle GUI aspects correctly which Renoise requires.
Regarding comparing Windows Trackers to DOS trackers:Renoise itself is too far advanced to compare it to an ordinary windows tracker but also DOS trackers can not be compared to Windows trackers just like that. Renoise supports not only 16 bit, but also 24 bit and 32 bit float and its working bit-rate is 32-bit all the time. Dos trackers only handle 16-bit processing at most if not less. That makes sounding certain samples a bit more crispier. Also 16-bit samples in an old DOS tracker format will most likely be converted to a higher bitrate in Windows by interpolation. This interpolation makes the raw edges smoother and removes the authentic sound of the sample that it used to sound.
Just forget about how well DOS trackers perform compared to Windows, it is not representing the results for new projects that you start in any Windows tracker or DOS tracker.
If you have old DOS tracker projects that you want to rework in a Windows tracker, the first suggestion is to keep the old format as it is and restart from scratch using good samples and then use the best inspirational parts of the old project to complete your new one.

4: Buzz is a sequencer that approaches the ordinary tracker concept but is more flexible in size on a per track base. This makes Buzz a complete different kind of sequencer.

All in all what i tell you that Renoise is today, is going to change tomorrow (or when the date comes that a new version is brought in Beta phase for registered users to test out).
And i don’t want to raise high expectations, but if you look at how Renoise evolved in the past and which options have been added throughout the past ten years (we already (silently) passed the ten years anniversary moment July this year) and see how Renoise 1.0 was compared to the current version (you can download the old 1.0 demo on the downloads page) you can calculate what will come next.
It is not a dead project by far and every new release is very socks-lifting for a lot of users that know Renoise.
And ofcourse we have a very helpful community whom without this program could not live on it’s own and evolve the past ten years.
I believe it is one of the rare trackers that survived for the longest period. (Modplug tracker is i believe the only other one that meets this same standard of frequent updates even though it has been released open source in 2004)
Some folks that registered the first edition somewhere in 2001 i believe had to pay for the first upgrade license somewhere earlier this year when 2.0 came out.

I hope this shed some light here and there…

thank you so much Vv. great post. i’m digesting it all and will post again with some updates on my progress.

Do everything in Renoise. AKA too long, didn’t read?

Seriously though, everyone has different workflows. The trick is finding your own. You do that by practicing. Just like any instrument, process, or whatever. There is no easy answer. Getting good at Renoise takes time, but if you look around you’ll see countless examples of people using Renoise and nothing else. If you want or need to use other tools, no one is faulting you. Tons of people do that too.

It’s like a guitar. Talking about a guitar doesn’t make you any better at it. Practice does.

Good luck!

what conner said!

Linux is what I know the most about, so this is what I’ll answer: Don’t waste time with installing a gazillion different distros, trying to find the best solution evar. I understand this desire to “omg-optimize” very well, but don’t. Install one distro on one partition only. You’re trying to make music, not become a Unix pro, remember? So Ubuntu it is, for the ease of installation and the good package manager, plus the widespread support online. Gentoo it should be for an even better, more stable and customizable distro, with a rock-solid and nice package manager. The drawback: more work (a lot, especially if you’re just starting out).

Another thing: install your distro, and don’t do any automatic upgrades. Just install or update software if you really want the new version an if it brings advantages over the old. This is where Gentoo will be better at, since Ubuntu kind of really tempts you to keep everything cutting edge. Again, don’t. Never change a running system is what they say.

So forget about multiple partitions and breaking your net connection, it’s not necessary. If you want to optimize, run your music production under a slim and sleek window-manager like Openbox, Ion3 or even dwm ( if you’re really crazy about efficiency. Steep learning curve though. If you’ve got two harddrives, just put the /home on a different one than the root partition. Gives a nice read-write speed advantage, that’s all.

I personally have the same Computer for everything I do, a Gentoo box, I only start jack (via qjackctl, very convenient) when I need it, and I use Openbox for everything. Took a while to set up though, custom-compile the kernel, so what I would recommend is this Ubuntu studio thing, and using Gnome for your everyday stuff and something like Openbox for music production. Nice and simplistic, don’t waste your time, trust me. There’ll be no sound quality difference, and the latency of the realtime-kernel of Ubuntu Studio is tip-top, especially if you’ve got a decent machine (i.e, something non-netbook, made in the past 5 years).

Cheers, and have fun.

thank you everyone for their posts.

instant, rocking out on the rep :guitar: for your in depth post. it’s a lot to take in and i’m sure i’ll be back with some questions. i’ve not heard of dwm, thanks for the link. you mapped a good plan of action for me to take, thanks.

can someone riddle me the answer to #2, about the abilities of rewire and jack? is it just a main out or do you have access to each “channel”

With ReWire you can send specific tracks or the Master channel to the master host, though the Demo version of Renoise on Windows is limited to receiving the first stereo pair only and sending contains a subtile hiss every somewhat seconds.
Renoise on Linux with Jack has no limitations in the demo version. It is just a matter of tying outputs to the other hosts its inputs. Only Jack has some underdeveloped synchronization methods between hosts, at least it is not really perfect

thanks Vv…this community rocks, thanks for answering all my questions.

i tried using PSP nitro VST in renoise and now i’m starting to get that part of the “mixer”