The Review

The following are the review from the musicpaper Studio, translated to english from swedish. Be indulgence, I am not that great in english… :)

Renoise 1.281

Product-type: Tracker with VST-supoort, integrated sound and complete midi-support.
Developer/contact: Renoise (
Systemrequirments: Windows 9x/Me/XP,Atholon/Duron/Pentium, 400 MHz, direct x-compitable soundcard.
Formatsupoort: .ntk, .xm, .it, .mod, .nti, .xi, .fxb, .wav, .aif, .snd, .ogg, .mp3, .xml.
Price: Approximately 330 kronor (translating = (around) 30 dollars) including VAT.
The advantages:

  • Good effects.
  • Many functions.
  • Relatively easy to get going with.
    The disadvantages:
  • Confusing interface.
  • Hexadecimals complicates the management.
  • Note-off-commands has to be written by hand.
  • Insufficient documentation.

Overall rating: 8/10

(Text beside a picture which shows Renoise in the condition when you have just started it): This is the heart of Renoise. Everyone that has been worked with a tracker should recognize oneself. In the sequencer-part show noteinformation in the form of letters, numbers and diverse symbols.

Tracker in modern suit

The homecomputerworld of the 80’s gave origin to the first programs in the tracker-category. Renoise take the phenomenon to today through for instance supporting vst-plugins.

Imagine a tracker of a classic fashion, add 64 polyphony soundchannels, vst-support and asio-drivers. You can actually stop dreaming - Renoise contains all of these functions and a lot of other stuff. The interface of Renoise is devided into three parts which all manage different, but sometimes overlapping, functions… The middle part is the heart in Renoise: the sequencer.
On typical trackermané reproduces the noteinformation with letters, numbers and diverse dymbols. Every channel has in baseposition one track for notes and one for noterelated effects, everything from panning to arpeggios. The channels can though be expanded to hold up to ten tracks for notes and four for effects. To the left there is also buttons to add up to 64 tracks and to connect midi-signals from extern hardware with Renoise.

Decide order for sequences
In the top of the interface you decide in what order the different sequences will be played. Here you also manage load-up of songs, tracks, samples and instrument. When a sample loads into Renoise it automaticly creates a new instrument. Then several samples can be loaded in the same instrument and be placed on different parts of the claviatur to create multisampled instruments or drumsets. Afterwards can the samples be used through filters, effects, volume-envelopes etc. The filtersegment offers a lot of surprises, first in the eightpoolfilter which cuts 48 dB per octave, but also in the two Mood-simulators and am-filter which offers dirty ringmodulator-alike effects.
The system to create multisampled instrument is unfortunately not especially intuitive. You choose first a sample to the right and then click on it or the buttons which the sample will be mapped on the virtual claviatur. There are unfortunately no way to lock these, so it is easy to remap the samples by mistake. There is not iether possible to create multisampled instruments with keystroke-sensitive layers.
The sample editor can hardly make any great achievements. It is mostly there to adjust volume and loop-points. Any real effects doesn’t exist, but are on the other hand not necessary because the effects which are available to apply on the seperate tracks are possible to use even here. Besides can the effects be “burnt in” into the sample to set free processorpower.
One interesting fuction is the so called “sample-offset”-effect, which apply directly in the sequencersegment. It can be used as a powerful but complicated variant of the loopmanager Recycle. By writing 09xx in the effecttrack on the current channel, where xx corresponding to one hexadecimal number between 00 and FF (corresponded 0-256 - decimal counted) dislocates the chosen sample startposition. The function can be used to split up loops in seperate drumbeats, which works surprisingly good. Down on the screen you reach additional different functions, the effectpart for instance. Here exists everything from compressors and eq to chorus and phaser and they sound for the most part good. Have you still problem to get “that” sound you can load vst-effects. These are shown with Renoise own grafical interface, which at times does it tricky to understand what the different regulations controls.
Below “Instrument Settings” you reach configurations for midi-out, the tunings and volumes of the samples. It is also here vst-instruments are loaded. In the difference from vst-effects you can open the current vst-instrument controlpanel. Unfortunately the management of extern midi-untis and vst-instrument gets a bit tricky because the corresponding note-off-command, regardless if you write down the notes by the keyboard or play “live” via midi-claviatur, you have to write it down manually.

Renoise is undoubtly the most powerful tracker on the market and a worthy competitor to ordinary recordingprograms in the aspect of functions. The program demand that you have acces to a somewhat complete and high quality soundlibrary. One of those aren’t included namely. Renoise is relatively easy to understand, but that somebody would change from an ordinary recordingprogram to Renoise is unlikely.

This is a “tracker”
The first tracker-programs showed up on the homecomputer Commodore 64, but Soundtracker on the Amiga are generally treated as the first real tracker. Since then it have been developed a lot of tracker-programs, not rarely by happy amateurs. That represents that there is a lot of good and orthodox solutions, but also that a lot of projects which have been released in half-completed condition when the developers has become tired and given up.

The news in version 1.5
Since the test have the Renoise-developers revealed some part about the news in the upcoming version 1.5. Among the news there is a new userinterface, drag-and-drop functions, new effects, improved automation, midi-inport and improved vsti-management. Last but not least the program will be run on Mac OS X.

So that was the review. I thought it was OK, I wonder how it would look like if they reviewed the upcoming version though. I also think they would’ve mentioned the very cheap price. I mean, you get very much considering the price. Anyway, I have some other comments on the review:

Reviewer says: “Hexadecimals complicates the management.” (Under the disadvantages category)

Kricke says Well, isn’t that an option to change to ordinary numbers (decimal-counting) ?

Reviewer says: The sample editor can hardly make any great achievements.

Kricke says I think it rocks! And any effects on samples aren’t needed, just use the track-effects.

Reviewer says: One interesting fuction is the so called “sample-offset”-effect, which apply directly in the sequencersegment.

Kricke says I barely use it, but it is good. Nothing new, it was already in FastTracker II!

Reviewer says: The system to create multisampled instrument is unfortunately not especially intuitive.

Kricke says Well I never use this multisampled function. If someone wants realistic samples today, they use VSTi’s, don’t they?

Reviewer says: … but that somebody would change from an ordinary recordingprogram to Renoise is unlikely.

Kricke says This brings me to a question, has anyone done that? I think Xerxes did.

i want to use it more. this is a really useful way to create custom instruments (esp. crazy collaged drum maps) i think the criticism is apt. and constructive. and i don’t think it’s a good idea to make using an external VSTi a fix for a part of renoise that is still in development. it’s an important part of the program and i, personally try to use VSTs as little as possible. i love the effects that the devs have cooked up and prefer them 9 times out of ten to any VST/VSTi counterpart i have seen. it’s realy comforting to have all these tools seamlessly integrated into renoise, maybe i’ll feel better when the native VSTi editors are implemented in 1.5. But i would also think that the native DSP processing algorythms are more friendly to renoise’s operation than third party VSTs, or at least less CPU cylce hungry. :ph34r:

Hmm I don’t think that would be the case, because multilayered, sensitive samples can take alot of cpu to process and I don’t the Renoise team would be able to do it better than for example the rgc soundfont player.

But what you would get is probably more and better commands for playing the samples backwards etc…

Reviewer says:> - Note-off-commands has to be written by hand.

I wonder how exactly that is supposed to be a disadvantage. If anything that allows the composer way more control over whats going on… great for controlling pads and stuff.

Reviewer says: … but that somebody would change from an ordinary recordingprogram to Renoise is unlikely.

Kricke says This brings me to a question, has anyone done that? I think Xerxes did.

I actually don’t understand the reviewer’s comment. Renoise is not a recording program, eg: you can’t record a band. If what he really means is midi sequencing, then I switched from several years of midi sequencing in Logic/cakewalk to Impulse T, does that count? (and to renoise a year ago now). It comes in handy knowing both worlds, both are good for different things… eg: Renoise is not a multichannel .wav editor. Conversely, I couldn’t imagine going back to sequencing in a midi editor anymore…

I’ve changed from FL Studio into Buzz, then into Renoise.

So it happens. The reviewer just doesn’t know stuff.

Well the thing is that, that is a faulty statement as the note off does not have to be written by hand. He just did not know that he has to turn on record note release or is it called note off in the config.

So two out of four disadvantages he writes, does not exist.

I also find multisampled Instruments more useful as an internal Renoise feature. If you’re interested, I wrote some thouts about it here:…b8d7b9c86fca72c

Xerxes, as most of people who switched to ReNoise, has used trackers before.

I think that the percentage of ReNoise users who weren’t former tracker users is very low, but this is common for every tracker.

It’s like you born as a tracker user, you are unlikely to become it :)

Like I said, my translation to english may confuse :)
But yes, lets say “musicprogram” or something instead!

Ah! Cool then… If I only could contact this reviewer somehow :)
And about the other disadvantage; Insufficient documentation. Doesn’t it exists a really good manual of Renoise? Or have I misunderstood this one…

Yeah I knew that…

Yes it seems like it is in that way…

Not sure if I understood this one :)

I think that’s true too. The day Renoise becomes more mainstream, is the day piano roll and mixer is included, that’s tools newcomers can comprehend instantly. :rolleyes: :)

it’s not a question of the renoise devs necessarily coding it better. it’s a matter of being part of the same set of processing instructions.

it’s just that a component of the renoise program itself can be designed to integrate into the existing DSP backbone more seamlessly and using less cpu power than a program that has to run in addition to renoise, send and receive data, and scramble and descramble VST instructions on both ends. it’s an extra step. sort of like an internal effect versus an external effect that get’s connected to an rca, with a 1/4" adapter on it to work.

granted, most effects built into outboard HARDWARE aren’t all that great, but that’s one of the cool things about having an open rapport with the designers isn’t it :D .

VST technology is a cool thing because it gives you the option to redesign your working environment and integrate what you choose into your setup. i don’t really care about multilayered multisampled instruments, but (god forgive me for mentioning IT) IT2 really got me hooked on the notion of multisampled instruments. having access to a whole range of different smaples on one keyboard split is wicked :yeah: , and it’s a feature that’s worth developing and refining.

the current implementation is very cool. we may not be too happy with the reviewer’s cursory assesment of our personal holy grail/rosetta stone of music manufacture, but i think he/she had a good point. it was constructive criticism.

jabbanoising is already seeping into the market that people like the reviewer cater to (note recent remix project propositions and live radio shows by renoizeters). while it would have been a very satisfying ego-stroke to just have had the dude go, “Shit man! WHere has this program been all our lives.” Having a pro-circuit music software reviewer criticise renoise might be a bit ignorant in some ways, but also useful in some others.

The current manual can’t exactly be called great ;)
This is why a manual project has been started, so
this point will be adressed in time.

Event processing (passing notes and parameter automation to the VST(i) etc)
is a small part of the CPU load, the most important part is the algorithms that
generate sample data. Just a quick look at the numbers makes this obvious:
44100 samples per second to calculate is far more than a few notes per
second. A small overhead per note doesn’t really matter, a small overhead
per sample is a whole other ballgame.

So basically splajn is probably right, we don’t have the same DSP expertice as
corporations focusing on making plugins and thus can’t necressarily compete
in that area. But we can probably make some features that are more
integrated with the way Renoise works.

(But I think Florian refered to the existing built in effects, and this might of
course be true, although it of course depends on what you compare with).

hmm…I’m probably too dumb to understand this.
Where is the difference between a note and a sample here?

While we are using the tracker more or less as a sampler with FX, when are we playing ‘only notes’ and when can we talk about samples?

I was thinking that a multilayered instrument can play more samples by ‘pressing one note’, am I wrong?
If I’m not, then it’s not different from what a tracker does already.
The only difference is that we have to play each sample as a seperate instrument. Or let’s say on a split keyboard we have to use different keys to play 2 or more samples at the same time.
Someone help me :)


A multi layered instrument, can play two samples by pressing one note, but it can also mix those two or more samples depending on the velocity by which the note is played.

Hehe :)

Not a sample like a soundfile or a part of an instrument in Renoise.
One sample like one single value in that soundfile, which there is
usually 44100 of per second in a regular sound.

Some times “sample” in this context is refered to as a “frame”,
which is analog to a movie.

just to keep from mixing too many confusing terms up in this discussion: i think he means “analogous” (similar to). sorry for the edit. i know it’s bad manners on international forums.

Thanks Martinal, Splajn and Florian!