Switching to KXStudio

I’ve used AVLinux to my music works past year, but when its development stopped last summer, I finally decided to try KXStudio. At christmas vacation I took time to finally install it, and procedure was really easy.

I installed vanilla Ubuntu 12.10 with Unity and then followed this guide from KXStudio website. All went well, and soon I had a shiny new KXStudio with Unity desktop. I’ll have to give kudos to FalkTX for supporting new Unity features like app indicators: no other music software on Linux uses those, and for example QJackCtl is nowadays PITA in Unity, because it cannot be minimized to system tray.

kxstudio-desktops
KXStudio with Unity desktop looks just gorgeous.

 

(I think supporting those new Ubuntu technologies is really important no matter whether we like them or not: most people use Ubuntu, and if they cannot get any music software working easily, they will not bother at all, but switch back to Windows or Mac. Maybe I should write separate article about this.)

Cadence and Claudia

Anyway, when I switch my computer on and log in, I start with Cadence: it is tool for starting and stopping Jack, configuring soundcard and launching few additional services: Alsa to Jack bridge (nice with Youtube videos and such), Alsa midi to Jack midi bridge and PulseAudio to Jack bridge.

Cadence user interface

Tools view

When Cadence is started and Jack is running I switch to Tools tab and select Claudia.

Claudia is graphical LADISH client and it manages loading and saving projects. It has ready-made templates for all the programs one would like to use, and customizing environment is quite easy if you know how command-line arguments work in Linux. Basically Claudia is a very nice starting point if you want to find out what is included in KXStudio: all the programs and synths are there.

I’ve created one studio for each of my sound cards (two atm), and then I have one room with Basic preset inside of those studios. That way I can normalise all my projects’ connections: no matter whether I use my integrated soundcard or Fast Track Ultra, all projects open inside a Basic room preset and have just the same connections.

Claudia user interface
Claudia loaded with FastTrackUltra studio and basic room called “Perushuone“.
Claudia info bar
Claudia has very nice status bat at the bottom of the window. One can also change buffer size with it on the fly.
Claudia sidebar
Sidebar lists all programs that are included to the project. It also shows wether they are running or inactive. In this example all programs are running.

Working with it

I’ve tested producing few tracks, and my experiences are variable: on the other hand all works better than ever: I can really launch and save my programs quite widely. On the other hand most of the programs crash all the time and there are dozens of quirks to remember: different key commands between programs, buttons that crash everything, synths that don’t auto-save their presets and so-on. And I’ve found so many irritating bugs (or maybe they are features?) from Qtractor that I really consider just installing Ardour 3.

After some weeks of testing I decided to switch from Unity to XFCE. Unity is nice and easy-to-use desktop environment, but my computer hangs up with it. XFCE eats less memory and horsepower, so I can use more softsynths!

Anyway I really recommend KXStudio! There are so many great tools and synths readily installed, and I’m very optimistic that when I find right tools (Ardour 3 maybe?), I can really get to work and do better stuff than ever. Now I just hope that ZynAddSubFX soon gets some kind of session management support and proper midi-learn.

Claudia session management
My first project here. I created this as “studio” because I didn’t know how to work with Claudia. Midi Through comes from Seq24 that I didn’t get working with Claudia. Maybe different A2J bridge settings would’ve done it?

 

And here is the song I made with my new setup:

Further reading

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