New Renoise versions seem strange and unfamiliar to me

Well, this is pretty weird. I have considered Renoise my “home” software ever since I fell in love with it in 2005, but lately I’m not so sure…

Over the past year I have done most of my music composition in Sunvox on a 600mhz Windows CE handheld PC. (Uhh, I have gotten a real battery pack since then :) ) I have grown really accustomed to the workflow and really had a lot of fun with it. While I love the freedom of being able to write music on the go, the device has been too limiting to me lately, with not enough power and so little software available for Windows CE.

So I am finally getting an x86 based laptop within the next few months. It may seem like a simple thing, but it is actually a dream come true for me – A full powered PC which can be taken anywhere. In the past I’ve never had anything except obsolete portable hardware.

So in the midst of this upgrade, I have to consider what I am going to use to make music on the new platform. Over the past few years I have also gotten used to using Reaper as a platform for mixing/mastering… While I certainly still plan on doing this, I don’t like Reaper for actually composing electronic music.

Sunvox is great, and I have learned a lot about sound design over the past year, but without vst support at present, I don’t feel like it will be able to take my music to the next level.

The last few times I have opened up Renoise, it has just seemed alien to me. I never learned how to use the pattern matrix. There’s all these new features and… I’m not really sure what to do with them or how they will help my songwriting process. It’s almost like it seems too complex for me anymore. And when I look at the linear FX chain window, I feel very limited … Seems tedious to set up multiple sends to achieve the same effect which could easily be done by drawing a couple lines together in Sunvox.

So I’ve decided to experiment with several options once I get the new laptop.

What I’m going to do is: Commit to writing at least one song with several different softwares, and see which one “fits” me and my workflow best.

Softwares I will try are:

Jeskola Buzz
Reason (Hey, figured I’d give something totally different a try just for giggles)

I guess it is a little bit bittersweet, considering parting from Renoise as my “home” platform, but if I do decide to go a different direction, Renoise will always have a special place in my heart. I may still even use it from time to time.

I’m not really sure what else to say, but I felt compelled to post this for some reason. Any thoughts are appreciated.


p.s… My forum status “Guruh Motha Fakka is Levitating and Knows Everything About Renoise Member” is obviously not correct :lol:

Renoise works almost exactly the same as ever, but has more features. I don’t see what’s so bad about that?

Wow!! Weird post :yeah:/>

You haven’t use Renoise in a year? Uh… Cuz the only new feature that has appeared in Renoise this year is literally, “blinking red lights.” I can understand the confusion though… Because you say, “I’ve never learned how to use the pattern editor.” But basically, “Renoise is the pattern editor.” Its also a sampler… But the essence of slicing a beat, or using a mixing desk, and accessing vst plugins, and insert fx/sends and returns… Those concepts in particular are basically, “the same,” in all DAWs.

Ya know? IMHO, mixing a drum kit in Renoise is basically the same as mixing a drum kit in Pro Tools, or Cubase, or Reaper, or Reason, or etc, etc, etc… The only difference is the type of sequencing you can do in Renoise… On the pattern editor, which is, “the entire program really.”

Unless I’m crazy? I dunno… I drank a lot of Red Bull this morning… I am hyper like a rabbit… But um… Blinking red lights… Is like, “the only new feature,” since summer 2011.

Edit = try to learn the pattern editor, and the entire program will open up to you, and make a lot more sense.

It’s not bad per se, it just may not be for me anymore…

I said pattern matrix, not editor. That’d be kind of messed up if I used trackers but didn’t know how to use the pattern editor. What would I do with it exactly?

Anyway, pattern matrix came out in mid 2010… Over 2 years ago. So I’d say anything that is new since whatever release that was (2.6?) is pretty much foreign to me.

I have tried using 2.5 and keeping it simple, but as I said, looking at the linear FX chain just seems too limiting to me anymore.

I have just signed up here - just for you IO :)
I think what you say might be true for every software you are not used to use.
Imho it is simply “normal” what you are experiencing - if i was used to use Sunvox i could imagine, that Renoise just feels different and not as intuitive as Sunvox seems to be for you.

For me, everything you wrote would be totally true in terms of Sunvox - i never got used to its strange interface.
Same with Reason - it just feels very complicated.
I tried both softwares a while ago, as well as Cubase (many years ago) and Fruity Loops.
None of them ever made me feel as at home as Renoise does.

The reason for that might be my “history as a musician” and because i very seldom use midi keyboards or similare external devices.
I did my first steps with Music Composing using the Fasttracker II and then later changed to use Renoise.
For me everything is build up logically, everything is how and were i would expect it - no limits whatsoever.
For me no update ever felt, as if it changed “everything” - it just added new features.

I can’t judge over the other Softwares, but ever since i began to concentrate on the final mastering of my tracks, i am also very VERY happy with the overall quality of the sound, you can achieve with Renoise.
This should propably also be a factor for your software of choice.

But in the end - it’s just about making music - it should be fun - no matter what software you use - if it feels like working or if you feel limited it might not be too good for getting nice inspiration :)

P.S. I also never used the Pattern Matrix i always simply ignore it

Maybe as part of your journey you should also try coming to grips with the pattern matrix? It was the single thing that made me purchase Renoise. Surely I am not the only one who feels this is one of Renoise’s most compelling features?

But I get bored with one DAW and use several, so I feel ya from that angle.

Yep… My bad, “too much red bull,” and I read it wrong.

Ok… Well, “from a music theory standpoint,” I have to say that I think the pattern matrix, is one of the most logical implementations of an arranger that I have seen in all daws. However, “there seems to be no instruction booklet,” on this feature, and I have read several posts from users who have been tripped up by it.

There’s definitely a problem with, “over-complicating,” this feature. Its mostly, “a perception issue.” The whole matrix, “seems a lot more scary, than it really is.”

Maybe this helps?


One of the neat things about the new features in Renoise is that I don’t use half of them either, I don’t need to; and the results I get… You’re already the judge of that on a semi-monthly basis.

There are no wrong answers with this, especially when it comes to software. Try them all, you’ll know what’s best for you in time.

It’s a deal! For my Renoise-based song I will force myself to learn how to use that weird thing :walkman:

Yeah, I think some people expected non-linear clip triggering to be possible when 2.6 was released. Perhaps due to the visual similarity to a certain other software?
However, the matrix is much more simple than that - for the most part, it’s really just a birds-eye view of the song.

The two features which are unique to the matrix:

  1. it’s ability to work with aliases, in order to reference/re-use parts of a song. Good stuff if you want this sort of workflow, but if you never needed this feature in the first place, no need to force yourself to use it
  2. Quickly try out different arrangements by (un)muting individual slots. For example, your song could have every instrument playing all at once, and then you only let some tracks play simultaneously.

The remaining features are not unique - but using the matrix can perhaps save some time/effort, compared to the pattern editor:

Copy/cut/paste operations that span several patterns. This includes “broken” selections, which can be created by holding the CTRL/Command key pressed while clicking
Flexible mouse-drag operation: drag to move, CTRL/Command-drag to clone, CTRL/Command + Shift-drag to insert

Thanks for the Feedback JC… Really appreciate you signing up here just for that :)

Somewhat, but not completely. There’s going to be a learning curve any time there is a change, but some of the changes have felt natural… Like diving into a warm pool and feeling like “ahh yes, this is my home…”, other changes are more like diving into an ice cold river and always feeling a bit out of place with it.

So I’m hoping in testing out all these different platforms, there will be one that will click and I will immediately be at home with it – The same way I was with Renoise in 2005. And whether that means coming back to Renoise, is to be decided.

I tried Fruity Loops once upon a time (right before finding Renoise). It was OK, it was my first exposure to VST’s, but the workflow was definitely NOT for me.

All very good points!


Definitely. With how high quality software is in general these days, you can make pro sounding stuff in pretty much any DAW/tracker/software you want to… Even some of the guys using schism tracker make some really excellent work.

Sunvox was a really cool sabbatical for me, kind of a “getting back to the basics” type exercise, in creating my own sounds from the ground up rather than relying on a crapload of vst presets.

But there is a limit to how much you can do with Sunvox synths, unless you want to spend tons and tons of time tweaking things and creating a huge library of your own sounds. I’ve learned to enjoy tweaking a lot more lately than I used to, but still not enough to spend time trying to make Sunvox sound as good as NI Massive or something :blink:

So I want to take the experience I gained with Sunvox, and apply it to sound-shaping techniques with more powerful tools. :D

The Pattern Matrix is definitely a remarkable tool for managing your patterns on a macroscopic level. It helps see what’s where and makes your song feel less like an endless string of patterns. :lol:

I mean, it’s not for everyone, but I’d recommend trying to get the hang of it. I can’t imagine smoothly performing many copy-paste actions without it.

Hiya Scott,

I had created my last SDC entry with Sunvox. I wanted to share my experiences anyway, so your thread is the best place.

No doubt it’s awesome software, it offers a lot of quality features for its versatility (multiplatform) and it’s very stable for a one-man-project. I love the fact that I can just load a 9MB-song on my phone and it’s still working with all that reverb and other complex DSPs inside. On low-CPU-devices it has a 16-bit engine that gets noisier, the more DSPs you use, but it works and responses to the effects you apply.

Renoise has developed more and more towards quality though. I’d also agree with others that its new features don’t make it less usable for users who’d not work with them. You can still have hex values, you can ignore the track-grouping, you can create patterns like in the old days (though Sunvox’s arranger should make you feel more familiar with the pattern matrix) and the DSPs offer important features that I miss in Sunvox (yet).

Both engines (comparing 32-float against 32-float) have advantages and disadvantages.

  • Renoise offers reverse playback, has note-delays with a high resolution and has a smoother volume ramping.
  • Renoise offers instrument-envelopes for filter-cutoff.
  • Renoise has the Audiotrack/Autoseek feature. My Sunvox-song was a vocal production, you can guess that this is really missing.
  • Renoise can have its DSP parameters be controlled by perfectly editable envelopes. In Sunvox you can draw envelopes into the pattern but the resolution is limited to the amount of pattern lines.
  • Sunvox offers a 16-bit-controll (0000 - ffff) for DSP-parameters. And it still has FT2’s fine-slide-up and fine-slide-down (-> better resolution on pitch controll, even at low pattern speed).
  • Sunvox offers percentage-addressing and absolute-addressing for Sample-offset at the same time. Again, both controllable with a resolution of 16 bits. For exact addressing Renoise binds you to sample-slices that you have to define first.
  • Sunvox has built-in synthesizers and one that can be modulated by other sounds. You can’t compare our homebrewn modeling of basic waveforms in Renoise to that. Sunvox’s oscillators really oscillate (except of the Spectra-module) and thus offer a high quality. Combined with that buzz-like line-drawing-feature, you can create the most complex stuff. It’s like having VSTs inside.
  • Sunvox does offer an ASIO interface on Windows but not a Jack-interface on linux. Only the application-interface of ALSA. Low-latency is not really working here. No matter how you set the buffer size.
  • Renoise does offer a Jack-interface but if using ALSA, it exclusively reserves the soundcard. You can’t have Renoise in the background and play a Youtube video quickly. Not really Renoise’s fault though.

DSPs and their quality/usability

  • A filter with a fast ‘Inertia’ is not going to produce clicks as soon as a filter in Sunvox with a fast ‘Response’ time.
  • The equalizers in Renoise offer a very high usability for being just ‘built-in DSPs’. You get a 10-band-EQ that is parametric at the same time and all 10 bands have a manipulatable Q-factor.
  • In Sunvox you either get a non-parametric 3-band EQ or you have to attach many filters to get the same result.
  • You get different sorts of compressors in Renoise that control the dynamics as expected. The maximizer produces clicks on bassy sounds but used carefully it gets the job done.
  • In Sunvox the compressor can hardly be used for hard-limiting. It has other cool features that are missing in Renoise though, especially a Slope-feature (instead of ration) that can duck the loudness stronger than the input’s peak (->mute).
  • Renoise has the Signal-follower that can controll any param of any DSP, that’s missing in Sunvox yet. But to controll many DSPs at once, Renoise needs a Hydra-device. In Sunvox you attach devices just by drawing lines.
  • Renoise does offer a native Gate, that’s missing in Sunvox yet. You can of course invert the compressor’s output and add it to its source but you can work around many things like that in both programs.

Especially on the UI you can see that Renoise is very (successfully) commercial here. There are keybindings for all features, everything shall be understood the moment you look at it. But Renoise is in no way comparable to Sunvox, when it comes to mobility. The UI is not made for little screens, although it does offer nice features for netbooks. The engine is far too hungry for weak CPUs and the tracker itself consumes some memory, too. Sunvox has different compiles for ARM, a realm that Renoise hasn’t seen yet. Sunvox doesn’t offer many keybindings, but it rocks on touchscreens. It looks very functional though. Sometimes I think Windows 8 should be shipped with Sunvox :)/>/>

Renoise’s ‘weakness’ vanishes, the more powerful new, mobile devices get. But it’d probably need a completely new UI concept for phone-size displays, if planned at all.
Sunvox’s ‘weakness’ vanishes as it’s still evolving. A lot of the mentioned problems are just a matter of being developed or not. But it’d probably need a completely new UI concept to look as good. If planned at all ;)/>/>

These two trackers don’t compete very much, I’d say. Each has found its own niche. But they can compete, if Renoise wants to become more mobile and if Sunvox wants to offer a comparable quality (at the cost of higher resources).

Now back to you, io:
Of course you already know many of the features and limitations and probably got used to them. Or you didn’t even feel the lack/presence of some features, because you wouldn’t use them anyway.
But if I were you, I’d keep Renoise for trouble-free quality-productions. Especially now that your skills have improved in mixing/mastering. I can tell by listening to your stuff, btw.
For the quickies outside of home, I’d use Sunvox. It still offers a good quality and is there, when you need it.
I can’t say anything about Psycle, Reason and Buzz though. Buzz however might be limiting to you because not only is it a Windows-compile, but the current versions are native/.NET-hybrids. Under linux, I don’t know how Mono and Wine should get along with that.

PS: Omg, so many replies came while I was just writing this. Sorry if anything is repeating here. posting now

I should add, I thought the pattern matrix was going to be a deal-breaker when it was first introduced, but now it is essential to my workflow.

Hey Gilli! Really interesting side-by-side comparison you wrote up. Thanks!

Having both was my suggestion :D Reason being, it started out percentages only. But if you rely on percentages and then trim the sample later you’re going to be in a heap of trouble. So I suggested adding the absolute values.
That’s another +1 you didn’t mention yet – Nightradio (Sunvox developer) takes very seriously the suggestions of users and tries to implement as many of them as reasonably possible. (This is not to say that Renoise devs don’t take suggestions seriously too, I just don’t have as much experience with that)

I’ve definitely been missing a gate in Sunvox. I had no idea you could do some trick with a compressor to achieve this. I’m curious! Can you email me a .sunvox file as an example?

I’m pretty sure Winetricks can make all the .net stuff work, but I guess I’ll just see what happens!

If you want to rely on percentage offset and exact addressing at the same time, you can do this in Renoise as well, you can apply 09xx offsets on the slices itself: simply program the note that applies to the exact address and then use 09xx on that note to pick the relative offset. It isn’t 16 bit, but does allow you to approach parts of the complete sample more precisely because the slice will be divided into another 256 parts.

not true. libflashsupport-jack or pulseaudio-on-jack.
i run jack all of the time on my linux system and don’t have any problems with other applications.

I used renoise to sequence reason for a while via rewire. They play well together IMO but you have to be on the ball with file names etc etc…

Recently I’ve started using sunvox on my tiny phone to sketch ideas, then I move them to the laptop. If I need to I’ll export the per-track wav files for use in renoise or another DAW.

So far the thing which really blows me away about Sunvox is the modulatable oscilators (generators) with their inbuilt envelopes. Just great. I love FM noises! That and the modularity.

Also the interface is right at home on touch devices. All it needs for larger displays is another set of fonts and some shading for the fussy eaters.

Renoise wins for making beats really quickly… that said I haven’t been using sunvox very long.

If renoise ever went modular or included native realtime synths, I would cry with joy.

The pattern matrix in renoise is less versatile than it could be. The fact that patterns have to be the same length being my biggest qualm.

Maybe You should add Bitwig to your list of DAWs to try.

Patterns in the same line of matrix spots, “yes,” but you can have different pattern lengths in different boxes. Its a little hard to explain by typing, but if you see here, "the patterns have varying lengths, but only by matrix row.

Ya know, “if you want a pattern in the same row, where 1 pattern has a length of 64, and the other pattern has a length of 32,” you just ignore the extra half of the other pattern. Musically, you will not be able to have two patterns of different length in the same row, and follow a metronome…

So… As a music software, this makes sense… As a NASA software, I am not so sure…

Hey man,

I think reading the manual works wonders sometimes. For example I found out two years after purchasing Renoise that there’s a CTRL-P (continuous pasting) command which is absolutely killer for quickly creating beats. Guess it’s the same with every software out there. The more complex and feature-rich the stuff gets the more demanding it is to use it.

That said, what I really like about Renoise is that the devel team always tried to keep things as simple as possible. I’m really happy that they haven’t implemented most of the suggestions people posted in the ideas forum.

Nonetheless, even Renoise grows and grows and some features are important for person A but not for person B.
Maybe a solution to overcome the “featuritis” was to introduce “switchable features” in the preferences. So if you don’t need
the pattern matrix or the sample editor or DSP’s or whatever, just disable it in the preferences and focus on your stuff.