Free DAW for live and producing

Hello fellow button ninjas,

after quite a long hiatus not using the monome, i had a gig last month which went quite well and i really want to use it more often for producing and upcoming live gigs.

I own a 256 and 64.

Is there a free DAW which i can use for gigs and producing.
i own logic, but it is not suitable for live gigs.
Many will recommend ableton, but are there free alternatives?

thanks in advance,

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that’s awesome to hear! to help with recommendations, could you summarize what you felt went really well about the show so we know a bit more about your strengths and preferences?

i only used the 256 and mlrv for the show, quite the minimal setup.
Before that, i used the 256 running mlrv or mlr2.51 and on the 64 insanity triggering effects in ableton. The problem is, i don’t own a ableton license anymore, but want to have a similar setup.
I can always use logic and pages for producing, but i want to have everything covered in one daw, because i don’t want to draw a line between producing and live gigs.
hope that makes sense.

Hey! Welcome back bro!

Nothing free as such, but someone might have an “ableton live lite” code you could have? They come with everything these days, I’ve given away 2 myself in the last couple of years.

The “Lite” software is surprisingly functional, and would be great for a simple live setup.


This seems to be a very good option, never thought about that. Anyone here have a code for lite? This would be fantastic!

thanks Simeon for the suggestion

Check out Reaper. It’s not free, but it’s very inexpensive. Extremely powerful and customizable as well, but works great out of the box. Free to use for 60 days, then it’s $60…

Thanks for the suggestion will give it a try, 60 days seems a fair amount to get an overview.
A few years ago i used audiomulch a lot and loved the modular approach of it.

Ardour looks like a decent daw, but is it stable enough for a live gig?

Had a setup years ago with linux2.6 & ardour2 that was absolutely rock solid - never saw it crash or do anything dumb, even running flat out 98% cpu <1ms latency or something stupid…

Currently running ardour4 at ~ 4ms latency on a desktop it’s pretty stable, though I have seen occasional weirdness with daily use for months. The challenge for live gig setup with ardour is always going to be getting decent portable linux setup. You have to go nuts with realtime kernel, tuning interrupts etc to get everything tweaked up right.

Maybe a thinkpad would do the job, otherwise for low-latency, high stability I would advise against usb audio interface + linux/jack. Pretty fraught with problems tuning for reliability below 30ms or so, then weird bugs like audio latency not being consistent when you restart jack ughh!

Well it’s all free software, so if you have a lot of time to mess around with linux at least you can try setting up a working system on whatever hardware you currently own. But don’t go into it unless you feel an the urge to tinker with your computer. Probs best to just buy something if messing with computers doesn’t feel like an end in itself…

maybe i’ll try ardour, i read it also supports osc. thanks for the reply.
no problem with tinkering at all.

Occasionally I dream of a portable linux setup built round:

& might as well fill up the rest of the skiff with eurorack goodies.

I’m too tight-fisted to start down this road for now… (sorry for the off-topic this probably belongs in the thread on mindless GAS)

np at all. i use an old macbook pro / air with a motu 828 and i had never issues with latency.

oh yeah I forget you can probably run a jack/ardour setup on mac without installing linux. Never tried it though. Never owned thunderbolt or Mac though yeah from what I hear, much more fit-for-purpose than USB for RT audio…

fixed it for you :joy:

the reason behind all this is that i want to step down from acquiring new gear/software and just find a setup where i can enjoy making music and not getting lost in possibilities.
When i prepared for the gig i really rediscovered the monome for me and its perfect tactile and visual interaction with the music/samples.
synesthesia for the poor

indeed, there has been a “golden age of linux audio” ten years ago, the pure:dyne distro with the 2.6.? rt kernel made an audio setup more solid than any other ever since. The only showstopper was an overheating CPU :slight_smile:
Bloat has taken over the world since then…

As for a DAW for live as well as producing… maybe Renoise, or any other 3rd gen tracker ? I remember having had fun improvising with Jeskola Buzz, as well as spending hours producing tracks in it. (On the more expensive side, Usine might be interesting).

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Funny I was thinking the same way! But always chalked the impression of stability up to dumb luck with the combination of hardware & youthful enthusiasm…

haven’t tried this out myself but it looks very interesting:

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I’ve been having a lot of fun with Lnx. Real simple/intuitive

There’s also Integra Live, totally free, and you can import pure data Patches inside. I never took quite the grasp of it because my old macbook can’t run the newest version and the old one can be quite buggy, but it looks like a cool piece of software.


Thanks for all the suggestions. I will report back which daw i chose.