Renoise music tracker for Mac and Windows

The tireless developers behind the modern tracker Renoise announced a new beta on Tuesday. While the devs themselves are calling this a “maintenance and improvements release”, they’ve introduced enough bug fixes, new features and workflow improvements, along with multiprocessor support, that any other company would have slapped a new major version number on the top and called it a day.

Renoise music tracker for Mac and Windows

Here’s a short list of the changes:

  • Multiprocessor support
  • Much-improved preset handing for internal FX devices, including user presets & A/B preset compare buttons
  • MIDI driver improvements: support for WDM drivers and improved timing on MME drivers
  • Improved MIDI Clock Slave support, with more live jamming-friendly features
  • MIDI device sharing on Windows
  • MIDI hot-plug support on OS X
  • Automate-able states of internal devices
  • A whole host of new internal FX types: Bus Compressor, Maximizer, Chorus, Distortion 2, Gate 2
  • Also adds a new “Velocity Device”, which lets you automate other FX parameters via the (MIDI) velocity of live played or recorded notes.
  • Many improvements to the LFO device, including user-drawn waveforms
  • Various improvements to other internal devices, including the EQs, Gainer, Delay, Flanger, mpReverb (now v2), Phaser, Compressor, etc.
  • Added beat, 09 effect, ms and sample rulers to the sample editor. For working with sample offsets using the 09 effect, this is a godsend.
  • NNAs adustable now per sample, rather than on entire instruments

The full list with more detailed descriptions is available here:

Quite the list for a humble point release.

While Renoise might not appeal to you as a sequencing solution (I myself have pretty much stopped using Ableton Live and now do everything with either Renoise, Five 12’s Numerology or my trusty MPC), you have to respect their responsiveness to their users. This is a company that actually listens to its users and works at near light-speed to fix outstanding bugs.

For those of you who have never worked with a tracker before, don’t be mistaken: Renoise is not a toy, but rather a serious tool for music (noted users include Venetian Snares and virtually the rest of the breakcore community). Given its 49.99 Euro pricetag, I’d say it’s the best bang-for-buck sequencer on the market.

Ed.: I’m eagerly awaiting ReWire support and/or ability to run as a plug-in, to make it easier to integrate this app with others (though it does support plug-ins). But this looks otherwise terrific. Let us know if you’re using it, or if you give it a try.

  • Definitely my favorite computer sequencer right now. It can drive its internal sound engine, plugins or hardware midi synths.

    Interface is very quick. The demo version is not very crippled. And the price of the full version is rather low.

    Renoise = great

  • Sinjin

    Let me get this straight…

    you stopped using LIVE for a TRACKER?

  • Sinjin — what's wrong with that?

    I know some people who use trackers *with* Live. And Live itself I think came to popularity because it challenged the notion that there's one, right way of producing music on computers, and that everyone should copy that. So, if anything, these notions are compatible.

    Ten years ago, you had lots of look-alike programs, all of which worked the same way, and virtually none of which really asked questions about how you explore actual musical ideas. Now we're spoiled for choice, and across the board, the emphasis has shifted to what makes you creative or what makes a performance. I think that's a great thing.

  • I agree with Peter, the quest for the right tools to make good music is very personal.

    For some people, they find a toolkit and stick with that for years, because they like that they know every little secret of their toolkit and they know how to achieve their artistic targets with that toolkit.

    Other people jump between tools, because for them, the tools and learning those tools are an inherent part of the inspirational process.

    Still others specifically seek out antique gear to make their music.

    For example, I know a young music maker, who makes dub style remixes specifically on 20-40 year old analog gear, including 2" reel to reel recorders. Yep, he downloads the remix track files from the web, transfers them to separate tracks on the 2" reel-to-reel studio tape deck, connects that to a console with all kinds of vintage analog outboard gear, and real-time mixes it the way it was done in studios 30 years ago. That's just what inspires him. And yeah, his remixes sound great!

    Now that would drive me crazy (having a nice modern DAW on a quad core processor with a TB of disk space). However, the longer I've been making music and the more music makers I interact with and read about, the more I have come to deeply respect the wide variety of tools, processes and skills (out of choice or necessity) used by music makers everywhere.

    Thinking there's a "best way" of doing things is often true in engineering and the sciences, but seldom in art.

  • Fred Riahi

    i'd gladly give up live for renoise when it comes to composing. renoise, in my opinion, has superior control and editing for midi sequences.

    when it comes to sequencing whole songs or recording audio. i'd rather use live.

    glad to see multiprocessor support. probably not very important when using samples, but for vsti's it's needed.

    one thing i feel that renoise needs is better support for multichannel virtual instruments.

  • I spent a long while trying out various music tools, including the Live demo.

    Turned out in the end that Renoise was the one that i liked most to do what i want to do. I also often make music using strictly hardware.

    Nothing wrong with picking a tool or another. Of all the people i know, very few use the same software. Some use big name DAWs, some use lesser known commercial apps, some use open source apps, etc…

    Don't get me wrong, i liked Live when i tried it but Renoise and me got along better.

  • Would you call this a rebirth of trackers or have they been here all along? I ask because I used them for the first music I made on computers, around 1995/96 (I didn't know they were called trackers, all I knew was that I was making .mod files). I used to use MacMod Pro and then later PlayerPRO… anyone remember these?

    Anyway, I really had a creative flow figured out with these things and then once I got some money to buy gear I thought I was supposed to start using sequencers, and I forgot about trackers, assuming they were inferior amateur stuff and I should move on. I can't say I ever found the same creative flow and inspiration with any other system though… and while I'm glad I learned about everything else, I wish I had kept working with trackers all along and I'm excited to get back into them.

    Also, I think more big name artists than we think use them.

  • For those who are from an impulse tracker background, there is a remake of it named schism tracker. Works on windows / mac os x / linux.

    The prebuilt cvs snapshots versions are updated every few days.

    Midi timing was iffy last time i tried it but if you don't use midi it is fairly solid. It is free. Renoise is more powerful and supports more things tho.

    Chris: from my viewpoint, i've kinda thought trackers died a bit around 2000 and now i guess they are somewhat making a comeback. This is what i feel has happenned but i could be wrong.

  • thanks for your good words about our work.

    Fabio "It-Alien" Napodano of Renoise Team.

  • it'd be nice if some piano roll DAW software such as Live had an integrated tracker. Like you could create a "tracker" track on the arrangement view and start tracking away…. but only for a track or two in the mix, not for the entire song — like let the piano roll handle everything else, as trackers are only "good" at some things like percussion and otherwise creative/intricate sampling. Having come from tracking into the world of MIDI and softsynths, I still miss that aspect.

  • first: thx for sharing about renoise.

    second: don't believe people, no matter the way you're making music, people who care about tools before than music are dickheads (kthxbyez)

    third: schism is

  • Good news! I like ReNoise a lot, actually brought me back to trackers after I haven't used one for several years. I would also like to see Rewire support, that would truly kick ass.

  • Along the lines of what te2rx was saying. I always though Traktion would merge well with Renoise. I myself got into ModPlug a few years ago and was strung out on trackers for some time. Renoise became my choice tracker as well. Great software and community.

  • the moral question is.. do I learn renoise shortcuts, or remap everything to match impulsetracker?

  • PROTMAN: as more and more features (with their shortcuts) are going to be added to renoise, I suggest you to try learning the new shortcuts

  • Sinjin

    Wow. Renoise must be one hell of a tracker. I think I'll have to get a look at it.

  • Eroc

    it’d be nice if some piano roll DAW software such as Live had an integrated tracker. Like you could create a “tracker” track on the arrangement view and start tracking away…. but only for a track or two in the mix, not for the entire song — like let the piano roll handle everything else, as trackers are only “good” at some things like percussion and otherwise creative/intricate sampling. Having come from tracking into the world of MIDI and softsynths, I still miss that aspect.

    You might wanna Its a VSTi tracker that works great. I sometimes drop it into my cubase projects. It looks like their main web site is down for right now but you can still get to the download links.

  • I used a lot sequencing apps but now its renoise & protools.

    The best solution ever for me.

    p.s. In the past it was FT2, SKALE & Nuendo.

  • Re: working with Ableton —

    I'd say any app that has a plug-in mode or ReWire support is potentially a companion to Ableton Live. I don't imagine Ableton will ever add tracker capabilities to the app; Live has its own approach for the same tasks, and that's what the program is. But while for some readers here an either/or formula is best, that still wouldn't stop you from using these tools side by side. (In fact, even without ReWire/plug-ins, you could stream audio and MIDI easily between apps on Mac, for instance.)

  • Wallace Winfrey

    Anyone who wants a tracker inside of Live (or any VSTi host) should check out reViSiT, which is basically Impulse Tracker II inside a VST plugin. Windows-only, but there you go:

    My only issue with it is that it's not Renoise.

  • I write almost ALL of the synth parts, drum tracks, etc. in my music in ReNoise–and have for the past three or four years, since I first discovered it by accident. It has to be the easiest, most intuitive, and most powerful tracker/sequencer I have ever used. Period.

    Honestly, I hate MIDI. Everytime I try to do something like sequence a bassline with Sonar, I have to doublecheck 8,000K settings and I/O options before I can even so much as make the damn program utter a blip. All I have to do with ReNoise is load a bass sample and start sequencing.

  • If you use OS X, you don't really need Rewire. The IAC driver (midi) and the open source soundflower app pretty much fill the gap, at least for me.

  • John

    Renoise is cool. I'm still waiting for AU support on the Mac. I used to be a heavy Tracker user long ago and was happy to discover Renoise at v1.281. It keeps getting better. It might not be for everyone. But it's a great sounding app and if you get proficient in some of the effects you can do stuff that is really difficult to do in other apps and can make your stuff maybe a little different. But there's a million ways to mash-up and tweak sound these days. If you just pull some good samples off your sample CDs, you can be up and running in renoise so much faster than the time it takes to setup an environment in other apps like Cubase. I recommend everyone give the demo a shot at least. I like it more than most other host apps out there, but it does have it's limitations.

  • Dan

    Im used to soundtracker on the amiga so renoise is simply an amazing piece of software. loving it.

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