The Tracker Advantage

Hi, I’m new to Renoise and trackers as well. Though I’ve been using various DAWs for many years, they’ve all been piano roll/clip based (Logic, FL Studio, etc).

While I’m enthusiastic about learning the hexadecimal approach to programming tracks, I wanted to get the opinions of Renoise/tracker experts as to the advantages of this approach over the more modern graphical way.

The sample offset feature seems to be one of the best ways to manipulate drum loops (other than manually chopping them), but I’m failing to see this is more intuitive/expressive than a slicing plug-in?

I definitely enjoy entering values via the keyboard rather than clicking away on the mouse, but I’m having difficulty understanding the full potential of trackers (no doubt due to my lack of experience with them).

Any helpful hints or illustrations of the advantages of Renoise/trackers would be much appreciated.



First of all, let me start saying that the “graphical approach” is also possible in Renoise, at least for automating parameters, as you probably already noticed.

This said, you may want to use the “hex approach” whenever either need:

  • a one-time setting of a value (like for example enabling/disabling sustain pedal on a VSTi instrument)
  • more precise yet fast control over the values you want to set (f.e. a very quick ramp of a value)

about your sample offset example, this command can also be used to reduce the attack of a sample to simulate accents (using small values for the command will start playing the sample slight after the beginning).

In general, trackers give you much more control over the samples in respect of mainstream sequencers. Moreover, Renoise in particular has developed a set of features which is fully comparable with other sequencers, while keeping the tracking paradigm.

Being a tracker newbie, you should first of all consider if your workflow fits well into its interface: since you like setting values with keyboard, it’s likely you do. This achieved, you should start giving a look at some introductive videos to rapidly get an idea, but I grant you there will always be a lto to learn about Renoise potentials, and even after many years this program will still surprise you.

i can’t really explain it, it’s a feeling, i can’t really explain you know…

but really, it is a matter of feeling, and with Renoise (in part because of it being a tracker) i feel like i am really working ‘inside the track’, instead of ‘watching over the track’, as i felt like in the non-tracker DAWs. to be honest, it just felt warm and cosy and nice and like softly plummeting into a place filled with love and warmth and bodily juices. no really.

ok the first part was true, the 2nd exaggarated (what, is that how it’s spelled?)

Thanks It-Alien, this is what I hope to learn more about as I mostly use samples in my tracks.

Like many of the users here, I’m a fan of Aaron Funk and am constantly amazed by the arrangements/editing in his tracks. Not that I care to make tracks in that genre… or at such a tempo for that matter :) , but I can’t help but be intrigued by the level of intricate detail. A lot of the songs I’ve heard in YouTube clips from Renoise users have lots of variation as well; this is an interesting contrast to the type of user made tracks that come out of FL Studio for example. I know it’s all in how you use the tool, but from an arrangement and editing perspective, there seems to be less limitation in Renoise judging by the songs I’ve heard.

Yes, the beginner tutorials are a great help to learning the hexadecimal approach, I’ve been watching them incessantly over the last few days. Going to be exploring the automation next, seems like one of the more advantageous features.

I’m just so accustomed to piano roll editing and working with clips in a 4/4 world, I’m looking forward to breaking out of that shell to do some experimenting. Thanks!

I understand what you’re saying. Even with the very basic and potentially embarassing tracks I’ve made in Renoise so far, when I listen to them coming out of the speakers, I have a different feeling than I do when I’ve put something together in Logic. Tracks made in Renoise feel ike they’re more authentic creations…still trying to figure out why that is exactly. :)

one of the things that intrigued me enough to try out renoise is that it (or trackers rather i guess) saves a lot of space by not using the horizontal axis to show note pitch.

it is a much more compact representation and you can see what goes on in other tracks and essentially edit a lot of tracks concurrently. (now we only need grouping functionalities and some way of selecting a subset of the tracks to be shown side by side to make this super sweet! ;))

being a guitarist, i never had much use of the pianoroll in order to enter notes.

Another good point. The ability to edit multiple tracks or their effects on one screen is really great!


soundtracker = 1987
piano roll = 1896

Anyway, imo the advantages of this interface to piano roll are: speed of note/command entry, and the amount and “detail level” of info displayed to you.

Wasn’t trying to, just wanted to get some opinions.

Thanks to everyone who’s replied so far, much appreciated.

Ha! You have a point there… :)

I would say the benefits of Renoise or another tracker compared to standard DAWs is that they give you much more control over tiny sections of the composition. Each line of every track can be edited as apposed to being able to edit a single clip. Trackers are especially well made for the manipulation and use of audio samples. This is where they really have one up on the standard style DAWs. Renoise’s handling and editing of audio samples is the best that I have ever used (I’ve used FL Studio, Acid, Sonar, and Reaktor). Trackers also have the benefit of effect commands, including the pattern offset command. These allow you to apply small effects to individual lines on tracks in the pattern grid as apposed to just over the whole mixer channel (which of course you still get to do). The offset command is great for breakbeats. It is much more intuitive and faster to use than using a standard audio slicer, especially in conjunction with other effect commands (you can use as many as you want). If any of the above is what you’re looking for then Renoise is great. If you’re looking for a DAW for mainly recording (instruments, vocals, long compostiions) or for really advanced audio routing options go for another DAW. That’s where they one up trackers. Lastly, I will end this by saying that though I own many other DAWs, Renoise is still my main DAW and has been now for many years.

Thanks so much Abe! What I’ve highlighted above is specifically what I’m very eager to learn more about.

Would you mind elaborating on this a bit? Granted, I’m still coming to grips with the various tracker commands, but would really like to explore how it is faster than a slicing plug, not to mention more intuitive.

The points you’ve made in you’re explanation is why I’m so interested learning Renoise, just looking for a little assistance from the pros.


Ok well first of all the offset command ,to me, is faster due to the fact that all it requires is typing a few digits/letters down a few times as apposed to having to load a breakbeat into a slicer, make sure the slices are at the appropriate areas of the breakbeat, and then copying and pasting large cumbersome amounts of these slices all over the place. Also, the offset command has other use than simply slicing breakbeats. For example if you load a vocal sample into Renoise, the offset command can be used to stutter and/or stretch out the sample in sync with the song and not just overall for the whole sample. Other effect commands that do great with the offset command for breakbeats include:

0B00 sample plays backwards
0E00 retriggers sample start at intervals smaller than lines right next to eachother (if lots of these are stacked right next to eachother it can cause really glitchy sounds)
FF00 stops audio
0D00 delay command

The effect commands are definately some of the most interesting and valuable tools that Renoise sports over other DAWs. Also, there are other commands as well including bothe panning and volume commands.

Yes, this is what I’ve been trying to achieve with this command, I must be entering it incorrectly. I’m going to revisit this section of the manual, because it seems like a very powerful command indeed.

Thanks again for the help Abe!

Hi jbb, you might like to have a look at this thread: Breakcore Rinse Technique Xrns

Lots of discussion, tips on renoise beat-slicing and (gasp!) some actual xrns files for you to download and take a look at as working examples…

Have a look at my track - Bruce.xrns that I made for the Soundevotion Compo #28.
The whole track is made using only One Bass sample and various built-in effects and tracker commands.

Find it here:

Not meaning to tout my own horn here but that track is one example of a different use of Renoise
that atleast I would have a nightmarish time realizing in a regular DAW.
I am sure that you’ll find tons of other even more intriguing examples if you sift through the various Renoise sources the net can offer.
What we Trackers that has been around since the dawn of the Tracker format used to do to learn how to track was to study other peoples tracks
and try to mimick or copy what they’ve done…

Good Tracking,


Thanks Rex! That’s a helpful thread, not to mention the free breaks. :)

Wow! That’s awesome!

Thanks for sharing Andy, hard to believe that’s just one sample.

I love Renoise and trackers for the speed, precision, and clean, direct approach.

Speed: The keyboard is a waaay faster means of input over the mouse for almost anything other than drawing complex curves.
Precision: It’s super easy to get in and chance the pitch, volume, panning, and any other aspect of each individual note.
Clean, Direct Approach: Less screen clutter, less convolution, more control.

When I’m using a piano roll I feel like I’m using a fat piece of chalk as opposed to Renoise’s .5 lead mechanical pencil. Yeah, I can be just as precise in another DAW, but it would take me 10 times as long.

I’m also super sad when I don’t have the effect commands at my disposal. Soooooooooooooooooo useful. I’ll be in some other DAW and say, “Okay, I’ll just throw a beat repeat on the snare and then have the pitch fall while it’s repeating.” and then I spend an hour trying to do it, end up with something sub-par, get pissed off, close the DAW, and watch a movie or something.