JACK, Ardour & Hydrogen on a mac

Written by Ben Powers
All words and images Creative Commons by-nc-sa 2.0


There is nothing I value more than freedom, except maybe sharing, and that is why I am always looking for new ways to promote and use free software.

Today, I am writing to let you know that in the field of digital audio recording arts, there is a burgeoning Free Software movement that is churning out amazing pieces of work for us to use, share and contribute to. I have written here before about the JACK Audio Connection Kit, and the super-hot Hydrogen Drum Machine. Today I am writing about the Ardour Digital Audio Workstation for GNU/Linux and Mac OS X that ties Hydrogen and Jack together.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to record a drum pattern from Hydrogen directly into Ardour, import a melody from a soundfile to go along with the drum beat, and finally export our little song into a soundfile. I HIGHLY reccomend the use of a two-button mouse with ardour, as some features are currently inaccsessible without it.

The first thing you will have to do is get the software. Some users will prefer to get the source for each program and all it's dependancies and compile them all "by hand". If you are one of these users, I assume you already know how to do this. Compiling the long way is super fun in its own way, but I think (or at least, I'm led to believe) that most macintosh users would rather get pre-built binary packages and use those. No problem for you, (you lucky folks, ya) because someone else has already done the work for you!!! Here are links to all the software you will need. X11 and JackOSX are installers, Hydrogen and Ardour are compressed disk images.

In case you'd like to try compiling Ardour yourself, It's simple really. I installed gentoo-macos from the Gentoo-Macos page then I downloaded the latest source tarball from the Ardour site. Then, I did:

cd ardour0.9-beta28 && ./configure --disable-nls --disable-ksi
In the ardour dir, then watched the output for errors. I saw the packages that I needed to install from ./configure output, for each dependancy:
  1. I checked if i had it installed already
  2. If I did, I checked if the paths were set right.
  3. If not, I installed the package using gentoo
Most of the packages were missing keywords for ppc-macos so I had to do
sudo emerge gentoolkit-dev
sudo ekeyword ppc-macos /usr/portage/path/to/package.ebuild
sudo emerge package
If the build failed, I got the source of whatever package from that packages homepage, built it myself, then did for example:
sudo emerge inject media-libs/libsndfile-1.2.3
or something like that. after each package, i tried with ardour again. eventually it worked =)