Software:: Jackd, Envy24Control and Ardour, obviously, for multi-track recording
In terms of performance, I have no complains with my setup, no lags, no latency (~ 5ms), it's responsive and I've never had a single crash (unlike with Cubase that I started out with and don't plan to go back to).
I've been using it for about six months. I tested Cubase before but was really disappointed (it's slow, crashes frequently...its price isn't justified!).
In my opinion, Ardour is much better in terms of performance and stability. And it's awesome regarding functionality.
I have produced two of my band's tracks with Ardour, as well as another one by another band, and I'm truly satisfied with it. It's hard to find anything better! It has nothing to envy Cubase or its equivalents for Mac. And, as of today, I haven't explored more than 50% of the possibilities that the software offers.
Pros: The speed of the software, perfect compatibility with Jackd, which is great to route the audio inputs into Ardour tracks. The software's perfect stability, its compatibility with plenty LADSPA plug-ins, and the number of functions it has worthy of a truly pro software.
To be honest, I don't see any cons for the time being.
The installation is more or less simple depending on your distribution. Although Ardour is starting to be packaged for all distributions. To use Ardour you need the Jack server, which is launched from the qjackctl graphic application.
Assembled PC with an AMD Athlon 1.6 GHz processor, 1 Gb ram, 250 Mb HDD, Echo layla 3G soundcard
The software works fine.
Ditto the reproduction.
I used it 1 year with an Maudio 44 soundcard and have been using it for several weeks with the layla 3G
It's fine for being free
Yes, Id' buy it again
The installation is automatic on Linux and MacOS, if you have the right package (which isn't necessarily the case for all Linux distributions nor all Ardour versions). If there's no package, you need to type in the commands in the terminal to compile the software.
The learning curve isn't steep if you already know similar tools and you have basic notions of how Jack works. Otherwise it can be hard to find the right check box to activate the different sync modes with the external world, among other things. I must admit that the interface of version 0.9x is pretty plain. With a bit of luck that may change for the upcoming version 2, I'll have to wait and see.
The documentation is a wiki, which isn't as accessible as a printed manual, in my opinion. However, it isn't really necessary for basic usage, although it will come in handy when you want to do more complicated stuff.
I record and, mainly, mix on an "average" PC (Athlon 1800+, 1.5 Gb RAM, M-Audio Delta 44 soundcard, under CentOS 4). But I also record on a Powerbook G4 alu with an Edirol UA-5 USB interface running MacOS 10.4. It works relatively fine on both systems. On the PC I've had some painful crashes using certain LADSPA plug-ins, but it's gotten better after version 0.9beta30 and 0.99. It really blew me away on the Mac. I've only used it once, for a live recording in desperation, because neither Garage Band, nor Logic Express, nor Digital Performer worked correctly. I recorded two hours of concert without a single issue.
In terms of performance, I have never had an issue with Ardour itself (I've never mixed huge projects, 12-15 tracks at most). However, certain LADSPA plug-ins take ages to process things (the TAP Reverberator is horrible in this regard). It struggled when my PC had only 512 Mb of RAM, but I went to 1.5 Gb at the same time a new Ardoour version came out, fixing a lot of bugs (from 0.9beta29 to a development version close to beta30). I don't know if the problem was solved due to the additional memory or the new Ardour version, although probably both played their part.
I've been using it for 4-5 months. It's the only serious environment to work with audio under Linux. Rosegarden and MusE are far from reaching this level. I wouldn't be able to tell whether it's better or not than its counterparts on other platforms, I guess that's a matter of habit (I have never understood how you can use Logic without going crazy). It only lacks MIDI support (which is foreseen for versions 3.x or 4.x) to be perfect. And I suppose that the new interface that's being currently developed will address the problems with the present version.
Did you have any problems during the installation? I had no installation problems (version 2.8.1)
Did you have any incompatibility problems? I work with an rme hammerfall 96/52 and the result is very professional
How complicated is the overall configuration? You need some time to get used to it, but once you're comfortable with it, it's very user-friendly, with a couple of minor bugs, but nothing too nasty.
Is the user's manual clear and comprehensive? You can get help in forums.
What's your computer setup? (motherboard/CPU/RAM/HDD/sound card..) Quadcore 2.6 ghz, 8 gb ram, 300 gb western digital velociraptor, rme hammerfall 96/52
Does the software work correctly with your setup? yes
How is the performance? (if measurable) Excellent (as for MIDI, version 3.0 will support it...)
Is the hardware+software configuration stable? Everything works great
How long have you been using the product? One year
Which feature do you like the most / the least? The most, the punch in and out, which are a great idea. The least, the bugs.
Did you try any other models before buying this one? I've worked with digital performer and sonar
How would you rate its value for money? Value for money? It's free!!!
Based on your experience, would you buy this product again? Of course