Running Ardour on a Raspberry Pi 4

Q: Is a Raspberry Pi 4 (4Gb) powerful enough to run Ardour?

A: Yes

I set out to discover how it would cope with the modest requirements of this excellent digital audio workstation.

A word of caution: running the Raspberry PI 4 with the official case is not recommended. Even with trivial non-audio operations the whole thing gets so hot that it quickly throttles down to a grind.

For that reason, I ordered an acrylic case with heatsinks and fan which turned out to be the perfect environment for the PI. Not only it keeps everything cool but looks so too!

I installed Raspbian Buster and downloaded the latest ardour sources. If you use are going to use this software please make sure you make a contribution – there’s a lot of work in there that should be supported!

The list of dependencies to install includes:

libaubio-dev libboost-dev libcppunit-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev libfftw3-dev libglib2.0-dev libglibmm-2.4-dev libgtkmm-2.4-dev python-isodate libjpeg-9 libarchive-dev libart-2.0-2 liblo-dev libsamplerate0-dev libsndfile1-dev libusb-1.0-0-dev libxml++2.6-dev liblilv-dev liblrdf0-dev lv2-dev libpangomm-1.4-dev libreadline-dev librubberband-dev libserd-dev libsord-dev libsratom-dev libsuil-dev libtag1-dev vamp-plugin-sdk libasound2-dev libudev-dev libjack-dev

The Raspberry is currently installed on my Rehearsal/Live rack and is connected to a Behringer u-phoria umc 1820 audio/midi interface (8/10 In/Outs, 18/20 In/Outs with ADAT).

Jack is configured to run at 96KHz. The 21.3 millisecond measured latency is sub-optimal but as I normally monitor directly, it does not matter to me.

In my tests I was able to consistently record 8 tracks without a single xrun, although I was not using any plugins. Ardour was running remotely using X11 display forwarding:

In retrospective, I doubt I have a valid use case for running ardour in this setup. In the studio, I will continue to use my desktop computer to run ardour, whether trough my old dependable M-Audio Delta 1010LT PCI card, or with a new setup based on a Soundcraft Ui24R mixer.

For live recording, having to carry a laptop (or alternatively a monitor + keyboard + mouse combination), defeats the purpose of having it all inside a tiny device, specially if you need to record multiple inputs simultaneously, which anyway requires a sizeable audio interface. In this case a simpler recording solution using ecasound would be more manageable, not least because you could control it from a tablet running Termux. Again, in my case I would probably use the Soundcraft Ui24R to multitrack-record every channel and later transfer everything to the studio computer for processing.

Disclaimer: I am not in way associated with the products linked or referred to in this article.

Helping to clean up the mess

Photos from this weekend expeditions helping to clean up the mess we all have been leaving behind.

Monsanto, Lisbon. Pretty clean surroundings but still some plastic lying around.

The following day, picking up garbage accumulated along a small creek feeding Tejo river.

Police was called to investigate a bag with what seemed to be animal remains discovered during the cleanup.

My 2000 BMW E46 is gone

On March 15th 2018 my old faithful BMW E46 was hit by another vehicle whose driver ran a red light on a busy intersection near Lisbon airport. Fortunately no one suffered any injuries as both vehicles accomplished their ultimate role: to protect their occupants.

The other vehicle was clearly a total write-off. Mine suffered heavy damage to the front too, and the estimated repair cost largely exceeded its market value, which technically made it a write-off too.

As it apparently did not suffer any structural damage other than a couple of bent supports, I considered to repair it myself in my spare time (and budget), but then my limited garage space would be completely blocked for a quite some time and it would make it impossible for me to service my other vehicles.

So I decided it was time to let it go. Afterwards I called the company who bought the vehicle and they told me it would be repaired and resold, so I might see it on the road again in the near future.

So when you decide to run a red light for the sake of saving a couple minutes from your trip, please think about the consequences it might have on yours and others’ lives. Better still, use the short time you will have to wait to appreciate any old and well maintained BMW that passes by!