the linux studio

the state of studio-ing with Linux

the linux studio
current setup

I used to be one of those linux neckbeard fan boys (even though I could never successfully grow a beard...). You know, those people who would go around and whisper into people's ears I use arch btw. But now I'm old, I don't have the unlimited free time I used to pretend to have, and I no longer list linux as a hobby on online profiles. I now just want to use the tool that gets the job done, because, among other life stuff, I need to make time for my actual hobbies. Like music and recording.

I have been going back and forth on this for quite a few years. To be frank, since the past decade, I never really enjoyed working with any other OS than linux. Both Windows and MacOS have been extremely frustrating to use for their own respective reasons. So alas, here we are.

Audio production on Linux have loads of problems. It all does start with just a lack of users on this end. And I understand. I have been so close to switching to MacOS due to the gaping lack of software manufacturers supporting Linux. And a lot of people on linux forums will be like "well we have everything we need", maybe. I just don't feel that way for my situation. I have anecdotally noticed that the Linux musicians community is very EDM and heavy metal, while my interest lie in more naturally recorded sounds such as acoustic, blues, soft vocals etc. For the former I have seen a lot of great tools, synths, plugins, etc, but for the latter, I have struggled to find both software plugins (natural sounding drums, emulations of analog hardware) as well as lack of support for more popular audio interfaces.

As an example, I have been having issues recently getting good drum sounds. Now there are fantastic plugins out there for Linux, both on the all-in-one (AVL Drum kits that I currently use) and drum sampler loader side (DrumGizmo). But personally, I find the AVL Drums sound to be very low quality, and Drum Gizmo is too complicated for my small brain. What I want is something I can plug and play and with zero skills I can get amazing drum sounds (like with ez drummer that a lot of people are using). Take my money and give me some time back. But there is no one to take the money.

Another frustration I face is when configuring the hardware mixer in my audio interface I have to plug in my work macbook, every damn time. I have come up with a configuration that works for me largely without regular fiddling, but that required me to set certain inputs and outputs to static configurations and limited flexibility as a result, even with 8 inputs and 6 outputs that are available (we will explore more details on my current setup in a future post)

But even after all this, I still just enjoy Linux. And I feel comfortable here. JACK is amazing to work with. Also, in the theme of me complaining about not having that much time, changing an OS also takes a lot of time, more than just turning on my computer and making music. And quite anti-climatically, that's the main reason I am still here. I don't recommend Linux to people who want to start with this, we are just not there yet.

my beloved hardware for recording

My intention with this space is to have a sort of working journal of my setup, struggles, and results exploring the Linux studio. I have learned a lot, but most of it was just learning there is a lot more to learn. I feel like there is a lack of dialogue about music production on Linux that is not FOSS and Linux purists (trust me I get it), so my goal is to face the reality of all. This may just be a long-winded set of journal entries to finally convince me to give up on Linux and move to MacOS or something. We will just have to see.

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