Setting output levels in Ardour

Some fellow musician in Wikiloops asked about output levels of songs, and how to get these. I tried to answer it to my best knowledge, and also explained how *I* do this using Ardour. Since version 6.3 of Ardour there are two ways to export to a certain loudness level, and I hadn’t fully explained that before, so I did it now – and made a short howto video about it:

short loudness tutorial ardour6

In case that is useful, I’m glad that I could help. And as always, thanks for reading, and watching/listening.

New region “Kölsch”?

Had to smile this morning – I wanted to see KDE Plasma, so I downloaded the current UbuntuStudio which is based upon KDE to have a look. Put it onto my USB stick, booted from that, and while looking at the different settings, I found this:

Region “Doûtschland – Kölsch (ksh_DE)

Funny to read that date and time as “Samsdaach, dä 10. Juuli 2021 09:18:42 UTC (long format) 🙂 I guess some people in Cologne would probably love to have that on their screens 🙂

The backgrounds which are available are also very nice – you can for instance select a “picture of the day” from sources like Flickr, or like in this image, Unsplash:

Unsplash background for KDE Plasma

Very nice. UbuntuStudio made that task bar at the top I guess, normally KDE has it on the bottom – and yes, they have styles which look more like Windows or even the Mac (or Windows 11 with a centered task bar on the bottom of the screen).

Looks very nice, and like I remember it from long ago, KDE is still very configurable, much more so than Gnome or any other desktop. Oh, and UbuntuStudio brings KDE Connect as a default, so you can integrate your Android phone right away.

Very nice. If you don’t mind short release cycles (this one is supported until end of this year), have a look at the current UbuntuStudio or any other up-to-date distribution (like Arch or Fedora) with a KDE Plasma desktop. I liked what I saw so far.

And as always, thanks for reading.

Tried the Brave browser

I’ve read a few good reviews about it lately, so I decided to try the Brave browser on my OS of choice (Debian GNU/Linux, currently the stable 10.0 “Buster” version). The brave website discovers your OS and offers an appropriate download method, on Debian it’s the way it should be: with installing another repository plus a key for it, so that updates and upgrades are automatic from then on. Cool.

It works very well so far, and it looks nice as well (haven’t imported any bookmarks or anything from other browsers yet):

Its background pictures cycle, and the statistics and the clock also look very nice. From first impressions, I like it a lot – plus it seems to have sane default settings as all the reviewers wrote already.

Nice. And Chromium based, so it’s also fast. I’ll report more when I have more experience with using it for a while.

And as always, thanks for reading.

Your computer can’t run Win11? No problem – use Debian instead ;)

Here’s a list of Intel processors which are good enough to run the upcoming Win11. I have an older Core i5 (4th gen) in my desktop, and a Core i7 (6th gen) on my employers’ notebook – so both wouldn’t be able to run Win11 (not even considering TPM2.0 which is also needed).

No problema compañeras y compañeros – use the upcoming Debian 11 instead. It’s way better anyway. Comes with everything I’d ever need, built in, and free. What’s not to like?

Although a bit too early, the praise is still well deserved

Found this very positive article about the new and upcoming version of Debian 11 “Bullseye” in The Register yesterday. And although its author writes about a “release” a bit too early (RC2 is just out), his praise for this universal operating system is still well deserved, and his thoughts on topics like Debian vs. Arch or other things are very much congruent with my own ones.

So although I really recommend reading the article – especially if you heard about rumors of an upcoming Windows 11 (which will force you into using a Microsoft account if you got the “Home” version) – the real facts are here:

Full Freeze starts on 2021-07-17

The current RC2 (release *candidate* 2) can be downloaded here – most normal PCs would need the amd64 variant of this.

The work-in-progress release notes – and this page also tells you that it’s *not yet* released – can be found here. The planned release date is July 31st which could still change, so let’s wait and see.

But I know what I will download and use for the next 4- 5 years or until Debian 12 will be out. For those of you who don’t know much about it, see more on the Debian homepage. And thanks to the whole team for your work!

Ventoy

Yesterday I’ve found and then later installed Ventoy (see its Wikipedia page), an open source multiboot tool to create bootable media with – looks like the picture on its Wikipedia page:

In my case, I’ve put four different operating systems on my cheap 32GB stick, see them here on my file browser on Linux:

That’s the current Arch Linux and Windows 10 from this half year (21H1), plus live iso images of both the currently stable Debian 10.9 “Buster”, and the 20.04 LTS version of UbuntuStudio. Plus I have an own folder on it which I cleaned up a bit as well, so now the stick is less than half full.

This is cool – I’ve tried it on my own machine after work, and booted into UbuntuStudio to verify that it works. And if you want to change any of these operating systems to newer versions, simply swap out their iso files, and that’s it, which makes upgrading and staying current really easy.

Look at the Ventoy webpage in case you’re interested. And it will format your stick with the exFAT file system so that even images with more than 4GB (like the Windows you see above which has some 5.3 or so Gigabytes) can be stored – FAT32 can’t do that.

RRS (Really recommended stuff), and thanks to “longpanda” and the Ventoy team 🙂

Update, from June 2nd: just added Fedora Workstation 34 to the images on my USB key. This is a live image like Debian and Ubuntu so it’s bootable without changing anything on your machine. And while it’s not as current as the rolling release Arch distribution, it still comes with Gnome 40. It also invents Pipewire as the default audio system which is supposed to replace both Alsa *and* Jack one day, so playing around with that (as a musician) could also be interesting. Fedora is the development testbed and free version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and like it comes with free software only (by default). So it’s well worth having a look at in case you don’t mind using RPM and dnf (or yum) instead of apt (Debian/Ubuntu) or pacman (Arch).

Integration of mobile phones with Linux

On the KDE Plasma site I’ve seen this:

KDE Connect

And after reading about it a bit, I’ve found that you can have the same for Gnome, as a shell extension which can be installed and configured from your browser, like in my case, Firefox. It’s called GSConnect, see here:

Of course I had to try that, so I installed KDE Connect onto my Android phone, and GSConnect onto my Debian/Gnome desktop. And indeed, I can move my mouse on the big screen with my phone, transfer files like music or photos between both devices, receive notifications and/or SMS, the possibilities are seemingly endless… oh, and in case you forgot where you’ve put your phone, let it ring from your computer.

Very nice. Works only with Android phones, for iOS and Apple devices or for other operating systems than Linux you’ll have to search for alternatives. Shouldn’t be too hard to find, since we’re talking free and open source software here, as always.

Fun! 🙂

Thanks for reading. And thanks to the developers who make stuff like that! 🙂

Tried Arch Linux yesterday

Yesterday my work notebook got an upgrade from RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) 8.3 to 8.4 – normally not a big deal you would assume, but when dealing with internal IBM images, you’ll also download a complete Win10 virtual machine (more than 80% of the 8.8GB download), and while more or less everything is being drawn out of a VPN it all trickles down with about 5 MBit/s maximum speed – takes all day, although my cable network line could have handled 135 MBit/s… oh well…

“Well”, I thought after work, my son Jeremy advised me to try out Arch Linux years ago, and because that’s what they call a “rolling distribution”, it’s always current and comes with the latest and greatest packages, so let’s have a try. And so I installed that into a (kernel-based) KVM machine on my computer, giving it just 4GB of RAM, a 20GB part of my hard disk, and 2 CPUs.

And yes, it is what it says on its homepage – a “simple, lightweight distribution”. I installed the Gnome desktop environment, and so for the first time I saw the upcoming Gnome 40 (only rolling release distros like Arch plus the new Fedora have that one). It even came with the default background(s) from the Gnome guys, so it more or less looked identical to their image:

Gnome 40 desktop view

So if you’re curious how Arch looks, and like me you prefer the Gnome desktop to others, have a look at the Gnome site.

Other than that it’s really pretty minimal, so I see Jeremy’s point – you more or less build (or install) what you need, nothing else, nothing less – the default environment even doesn’t have a printer. So sleek, minimalistic, yes it is. And sexy somehow.

So I tried and installed tools like Firefox, Thunderbird, and Ardour using Arch’s internal ‘pacman’ tool, and yes, all the latest versions including Ardour 6.7 which is only a few days old while I’m typing this. So this is a very easy and convenient way to getting the latest of everything indeed.

Would I need or even recommend it? Well about recommendations: for beginners, no – it’s much easier to recommend a standard Ubuntu or even Linux Mint (based upon Debian/Ubuntu but with more non-free stuff) to beginners than this – this is more for tinkerers who know exactly what they’ll want and/or need, and what not.

For me? Well having the latest and greatest does have its charm, but then there’s also not that much difference to, say, a Debian ‘Sid’ (unstable), and this. Both will give the latest stuff, and both will be managable by users who know their way around Linux, and how to react should things break or not work out immediately (think of greater transitions like from Gnome 2.x to 3.x) – but do I need this in my day-to-day usage of my own machine? I think not. I’m not that much interested in the system(s) per se, but want a reliable and configurable environment on which I can run my photo and music apps, handle mail and basic web browsing, all that day-to-day stuff. It’s not that sexy if you first have to deal with and fix your latest updates/upgrades rather than beginning whatever you wanted to do right away. So for me, a current Debian stable is just the way to go. Or, if you want something more recent, take Ubuntu (although the upcoming Debian 11 ‘Bullseye’ will be newer than the 20.04 LTS of Ubuntu of course), or any of its derivates (a friend from Paris takes ElementaryOS, a strikingly beautiful descendant of Ubuntu which looks a bit like MacOS).

To each their own as they say. Anyway, very cool and interesting to look over the proverbial fence, and to try out Arch. Somehow I still love its simplicity, and the idea behind it. So, if you want to see it, try it – recommended indeed. At least you’d never have to install a new version anymore… 🙂

Philosophically, Arch is a bit more lax compared to Debian concerning the ‘free’ (in free and open source), but both are more or less the opposite of ‘Enterprise’, which I like a lot. Both Arch and Debian are even a lot less commercial than Ubuntu, and unlike that (which is built by the staff from Canonical) they’re not companies, so they can’t be bought, sold, and ruined in any way, and I love just that. It’s a thing called ‘freedom’, and that has values far beyond monetary ones. Think about it.

As always, thanks for reading.

P.S.: While I’ve been at it, I could of course also have had a look at KDE Plasma – but ok, there are more rainy days to come, so… 😉

Upgraded to Mixbus v7

Yesterday I decided to upgrade my version 6 of Harrison Mixbus to their new version 7 – and just like my purchase of v6 I’ve got it at a discount, so until now I’ve spent 19€ for the first version and also 19€ for the upgrade – still cheap when considering the normal price of 90€ (plus 29€ for the upgrade) if you don’t get the discount. See their homepage, and also the Mixbus manual for more info.

I was quite happy with v6 already, but v7 seems to be even snappier. Like the latest versions of Ardour (6.7 at the time of writing) on which it is built, it has some quite nice features which you won’t find elsewhere, at least not built-in – take the targeted mastering approach for instance:

Mixbus/Ardour with a loudness target ‘Apple Music’ which translates to -16 LUFS and to -1dB true peak. A simple click with your mouse could change that to ‘Youtube’ which would be 2dB “hotter”, or to EBU R128 broadcasting standards (-23 LUFS and -1dBTP)

You can also save the master loudness analysis and the mixer settings automatically with each mixdown in ‘preferences’, so you’ll get something like this with your exported file(s):

Output analysis
Mixer settings

Most of that stuff can be done with Ardour which is a fantastic program of and by itself. It’s open source, but for a readily compiled version for Windows or MacOS you’ll have to spend an amount of your own choice (starting at $1).

The reason for me to also get/purchase Mixbus was first my curiosity about it, but in the end I’ve kept it because of its sound – *and* because the workflow is about the same as in Ardour which I knew and loved since years already, and which I’ll keep using anyway.

My latest mix and export with Mixbus v6 was ‘Colours’:

And people seem to love the sound of my upright in that one…

As always, thanks for reading.

Ardour 6.7 is out

The latest and greatest version 6.7 of Ardour, the open source DAW for Linux, Windows, and Mac is released. See the release notes, and download a readily compiled version for an amount of your own choice (starting at 1$). As a supporter I have it already. There are also a manual and a tutorial. That latter one is some years old already, but still useful if you’re new to recording multitrack audio with a computer.

Thanks to Paul Davis and to his team.