Welcome to Part 3

To make the best use of this article you need to read the first and second and third parts in the series, however if you are already familiar with Ardour and JACK you can jump right in here. If there is anything in this article that you do not understand you will find the answer to your questions in the first three articles (I hope). In those articles the basic techniques that we are using in this article are explained, but in this one we are going to pick up the pace. As always questions are welcome.

You should now be at a stage where you have made your drum beat/track and you want to get recording. If you do not already have them running fire up Qjackctl first then Hydrogen. Now open up ardour and start a new project, which can be done through the convienient dalogue window that you are greeted with upon starting Ardour. Right click the grey space underneath the "master" track control to get the "add track" dialogue to appear. Because we want to get our hydrogen beat into ardour and record an input add 2 stereo tracks. Rename the tracks to something sensible that you will recognise. This is because the tracks will have their own inputs and outputs in the jack connections window and if you leave them with their default names it can become confusing when routing audio to and from them.

Ardour Tracks with Sensible Names

Tracks in ardour
Credit: Michael Keen

Open up the connections window in JACK and connect the output of hydrogen to the input of one of your new tracks using the technique detailed in part 2, this should be easy to find because you gave it a sensible name within ardour (didn't you?). You should also disconnect your audio capture output from the hydrogen track in ardour, because if you do not you will record both the drum track and your audio into the same track.  If it is not already connected by default, connect the capture output to the input of your audio track which also has a sensible name and so is easy to find (right?). Your connections should look something like the image below.

Jack Connections

Connecting to Ardour tracks
Credit: Michael Keen

Pay attention to this bit, because it is really cool. JACK has its own built in timer that Hydrogen and ardour can connect to. This means that when you press play in Ardour, hydrogen starts playing. The opposite is also true. That means that you can start recording and start your drum beat with one press of the space bar. to set this up is simple, in hydrogen go to tools, preferences, then click the audio system tab on the window that appears. click the drop down menu in the top left and select jack. Then in Ardour look to the right of the secondary clock and you will see a drop down menu that says "internal". Change this so that it says "JACK" and then press play in ardour, you will hear your Hydrogen drum beat playing. I have highlighted the relevent controls in the picture below.

These controls link timers to JACK

Connecting ardour and hydrogen to the JACK timer
Credit: Michael Keen

Sync your BPMs

If you changed the BPM in Hydrogen you should also change the BPM in ardour. This is not essential but it will make the grid lines align with your drum beats and therefore make editing very easy in the future. To do this look at the line at the top of the track editor marked tempo. You should see a little red marker at the very beginning of the line, right click this and you will get a small menu. Click "edit" and change the numbers to match your hydrogen BPM. As i said it is not essential but you will really appreciate the fact that you did it, because it allows you to place chunks of audio into the editor and get them in the correct position by eye.


You can now "arm" the tracks for recording. When you do this you are allowing audio into the tracks. Before you start recording anything check your computers line in volume so that you do not get clipping. This article will help you with this, and the level metre in ardour will also indicate the signal that ardour is receiving. To do it look at the track controls and you will notice that one of the buttons on them is a record button. Click this button in both your drum track and your audio input track, you are now streaming sound into the track. to prove this press play on the main control, because this starts Hydrogen (because both Ardour and Hydrogen are linked to the JACK timer) you should notice the track audio meter jumps up and down with the drum beats. If you make some noise on your audio input you should see the meter for that track jump up and down. If either Hydrogen or your audio cause both (or neither) of the meters to move then you have made a mistake in your jack connections window. Once you have your connections correct you are ready to record. Click the record button in the main controls and your recording will start. You can create new tracks to drag audio into so you can do many takes. The track controls have a mute button so you can record without previous takes interfering with the current take.

Recording, Finally
Credit: Michael Keen