Ever feel music creation apps are too similar? Imagine an alternative universe in which music making software evolved along different lines. In this universe, the “tracker” isn’t some arcane novelty, but the detailed, bottom-up music editing approach that becomes the basis of music construction tools for any genre. Now imagine a breakthrough software release in that alternate universe.

Maybe it’s the Large Hadron Collider, but the release of Renoise 2 means that this is actually our universe: we have a cheap, community driven, unique app that runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux. And it’s getting a big update Thursday – almost in time for my birthday (Tuesday).

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you picked the right moment to tune in. Renoise always had potential as a unique tool for music making, and with the shipment of Renoise 2, some very key pieces are falling into place. I’ve just gotten an exclusive look at what’s coming in the final release. Dac Chartrand has shared some details that weren’t previously public.

You heard it here first:

  • Renoise 2.0 FINAL launches January 15, 2009, “8 years in the making, 4 months of beta testing.”
  • Launch details on January 15 will be at http://www.renoise.com/launch/
  • It’ll work with netbooks. Dac tells us: “Renoise can now be resized to fit on small Netbook screens. Here’s an interesting thread where a user reviews Renoise on his new MSI Wind U100:” http://www.renoise.com/board/index.php?showtopic=19175"
  • Additional tweaks and bug fixes made it in, including Universal Audio UAD2 DSP support and latency compensation.
  • Renoise 2 will support fraction BPMs, like 127.56.
  • It’ll have new demo songs. “Two of the songs were selected from submissions by the Renoise community in a competition called "Beta Battle, Round 1 & Round 2". The developers chose their favorites and have included them in the final release of Renoise 2.0. More info here:” http://www.renoise.com/indepth/category/competitions/
  • New native DSP effects: RingMod, Scream Filter

Read on for more details, plus tips on making this work with the tools you already use…

Renoise 2.0 New Features

Here’s the rest of what’s new in Renoise:

  • Automatic plug-in delay compensation for everything – effects and instruments
  • Latency compensation and fixing when recording
  • Improved audio performance, lower-latencies on multiple CPUs on Mac and Linux
  • Channel and polyphonic aftertouch
  • Note quantize options, real-time quantize on record, nudge, and keyboard shortcuts

Plug-in improvements, including one big one:

  • Mac AU support, removing the big obstacle for Mac users
  • Multi-output VSTi/AU (that’s good news for Kore users, among others)
  • Send notes to VST/AU effects (instead of just instruments
  • Plug-in management improvements, including info, custom sorts, sort by manufacturer, hide, move, rename (and that was listed under “minor features”)

A lot of the best features are related to timing improvements. You will need to update old songs, but for new songs, there’s a lot of power. And this really gets into the significance of Renoise as a tracker, something I hope we’ll cover this year:

  • Custom track delays for audio and MIDI to offset an entire track
  • You can now set time via “Lines Per Beat” – how many lines in the pattern make up a musical beat. (That’ll make sense to tracker users and not to anyone else, but until we whip up a demo, just trust me that that’s a good thing.)
  • There’s a delay column for fine-tuning specific grooves at up to 4096 parts per quarter (PPQ).
  • You can set pitch and volume glides, independent of the “tick” of the sampler.
  • In the future, Renoise will support “zoomable patterns,” piano roll for those who want it, greater timing accuracy, and other new improvements.

There are also tons of other improvements, performance tweaks, shortcuts, and other little features:

New in 2.0: Complete Feature List

Integration and Tips

Of course, the hype that usually accompanies software launches at NAMM and elsewhere usually has to do with convincing you the tool is the One True Tool you need, replacing everything else. That’s nonsense, of course. Just as in the pre-computer days, what made a studio productive was the right combination of gear and easy ways of connecting it, software lovers find combining software to be what makes them happiest and most expressive.

Dac passed along a few ideas for integrating Renoise. These immediately make me think of other possibilities, but here are a few gems to get you started:

Guide To Connecting Reason To Renoise: http://www.renoise.com/board/index.php?showtopic=15683

A workaround for sending SYSEX to your synth: http://www.renoise.com/board/index.php?showtopic=11777

GarageBand in conjunction with Renoise: http://www.renoise.com/board/index.php?showtopic=12590

Convert Renoise files to MIDI files using PHP: http://xrns-php.sourceforge.net/xrns2midi.html

How to use Windows VST on Linux: http://www.renoise.com/board/index.php?showtopic=15347

If you can’t wait until next week, there’s a release candidate available for download in demo mode right now:

See also:

Renoise + FM8 Drum Kit, Free Download: FM Meets Tracker [our own kore.createdigitalmusic.com]

Renoise 2.0 Public Beta Amps Up Popular Tracker for Windows, Mac, Linux

Wallace clued us in back in summer 207 that this would be big

And for pure, absurd fun:

Renoise Tracker Made Into Animation

  • Darren Landrum

    What would be really cool is if there were an API for making one's own native DSP effects. Maybe there is and I just haven't found it yet? Maybe they can make that a nice 2.0 feature? 🙂

    I do have to admit, that with the shift in my attention to found sounds and musique concrète, that a tracker does start to look like the best tool for the job. Renoise has certainly taken the tracker to the next level. Time to play with the demo…

  • Looks like the feature list is getting closer to Buzz.

    It's nice that there's a Linux version.

    I still prefer Buzz's the per-plugin patterns & overall sequencer though, only a lost spin-off of psycle has tried to copy that afaik.

  • Darren: There is a way to create DSPs… it's called the VST SDK :p

    I'm pretty sure if Renoise gains an API, it's probably going to be to create metadevices… but then, that's just conjecture, so I'll be quiet now.

  • Darren Landrum

    @BYTE-Smasher: I'm an avid Linux user, and I saw that LADSPA is supported, so I could always go that route, and they'd likely integrate quite well.

    To be honest, after my experiments with Impulse Tracker 2.x, I'd avoided trackers and anything tracker-related because it seemed to me that they were always best at and always used for techno and dance music. Every demo video is on making breakbeats, and so on. I'm a progressive rocker, into Porcupine Tree, Ezra Winston, and Gabriel-era Genesis, so I'll really have to be sold on the idea of trying out trackers again. But as I've said, I'm also very influenced by the BBC Radiophonics Workshop, and really like playing around with found sounds, and suddenly a tracker seems like a decent way to go.

    I'm eternally caught between two worlds…

  • Human Plague

    Darren: Check out the Demosongs by IT-Alien, Neurotix, and NT in the free Release Candidates download for tunes that aren't dance music.

    Neurotix tune is particularly interesting because it uses no samples or instruments, but instead manipulates erroneous audible artifacts from built-in flangers, hipass/lowpass filters, and compressors. Nt's tune is straight up rock, and IT-Alien does a bizarre flavor of progressive.

    Might not be the sound you are after, but people using Renoise to do techno is like people using Cubase to do techno. It's people doing it. Not the software. No?

  • Hey, check out the Remixta podcast. Specially episode three, which starts with amazing space rock tune by Aflare. All done in Renoise. Renoise is not just for Techno, it's the person who makes the music that matters. 🙂

  • Darren Landrum

    I'm sure that's true for the most part, but the design of the tool can be a huge influence on what is made with it. Back when I first tried trackers, every event was hard-synced to an essentially perfect clock. It was very difficult if not impossible to get anything out of them that had a natural-feeling rhythm. Thus, they were extremely well-suited to techno, and not well-suited at all to music with changing time signatures. I'm curious to see if this has changed.

    Thank you for the tips, though. I'll definitely check those artists out.

  • Darren Landrum

    Okay, "Symphony for a Dead Planet" is definitely starting to sell me. As soon as I get my sound card back from Echo's service department (insert sad face here), it'll be demo time.

  • @Darren: wait a minute, the problem with trackers is that their clock works too *well*? 🙂

    I think I partly agree with you. Sequencing every single event is going to sound rigid, whether in a tracker or step sequencing in a traditional sequencer or just quantizing everything. But on the other hand, the lack of real-world timing precision in many sequencers doesn't necessarily make things sound more human. I think detailed timing as a foundation could be ideal, particularly with the ability to precisely delay events and tracks.

    And techno can absolutely be about some grooves, not just rigid quantization, especially these days.

    So, I'm with you on wanting more groove, but it is possible to build that into the tool.

  • Lots of trackers have groove, littlegptracker, and lsdj for one 😀

  • @Peter: Yes, and Renoise, too. 😉

    Well, and I'd argue having more precision in editing means that, if you put in the effort, you can maintain the rhythmic accuracy you need to keep everything grooving.

  • Most trackers (even back to FT2) have note delay commands.

  • Martin

    The sad truth is: if you like trackers you'll love Ableton Live. Which is not cheap at all. But once you have it you'll never want to look back. At least this is what happened to me.
    Trackers are dead. Maybe with the exception of Buzz.

  • I took this thing for a spin, with no prior experience to trackers. And boy, was it complicated. I'm determined to learn how to use it though.

  • Rex Rhino


    Ableton Live has crossed the "easy to use program for live performance" threshold, and now is really just an alternative all-in-one-DAW type thing.

    Some people WANT software that is less sophisticated. There is a reason people still pay good money for old Emu SP-1200s or Akai MPC-60s, and likewise there is a reason that people like tracker software.

    I hope that the Renoise people keep with the less-is-more philosophy and keep doing a really tight, solid, music tracker. To me, Live has become an expensive and bloated (although very powerful) monster.

    On the other hand, as much as I liked Renoise when I downloaded the demo, I would say there are some things that Live does way better. The reverb, compression, synths, etc. that come built into Live sound a lot better that the Renoise ones (at least the version I tried, if those have improved recently let me know). Probably half the people who use Live or Renoise use it exclusively for everything, and having really nice-sounding built in synths and effects is very important for a product.

  • Well, aside from the fact that Live and Renoise share some interest from people of … certain musical persuasions (okay, electronic) … they're pretty different. Live is oriented toward larger groups of samples triggered in scenes, traditional-style piano roll editing and timing, etc. Renoise is more about building patterns from the ground up with trackers, which is also a very different paradigm in terms of how timing subdivisions work. That's hard to put in words, I now realize, but the thing about traditional apps is they have a fairly fixed approach to time as the sudivision of a bar from the top down, whereas trackers construct the bar based on the length of little atoms of time from the bottom up. And so while some people choose to live in one world or the other exclusively, I can certainly see coupling Live and Renoise (or Renoise and something else, like Reason) for various reasons.

    And that's what makes it interesting. Whereas, say, Cubase and Performer and Logic and such all competed feature-by-feature in the 90s, now we have competition from tools that may take entirely different approaches. Some will stick to one, others will put them together.

    If all this sounds complicated, it isn't going to make much sense the first time you've seen it. Do check out the nice getting started guide in Renoise's demo and see what you think. I'm very eager to hear how people respond to it, and also what the experience of learning it is like musically. So don't be shy about asking for help — we can get it for you!

  • I actually use Renoise and Live and I think these two programs complement each other amazingly.

    I come from a tracker background, bought Renoise when it was version 1.1 and used it almost exclusively until I started a project with a friend who used Live almost exclusively and did show me a few things.

    Creating/Composing/Editing Stuff in Renoise – just a bliss. It's amazing how easy and fast you can edit stuff on a "single-note-level" in Renoise.

    But once I have a sketch and want to fool around with what I have on a phrase/element level I usually take the stuff to Live, because creating a quick arrangement and fooling around with phrases or loops is just simply easier in Live.

    And when I have that basic arrangement set in Live I usually recreate it in Renoise to iron it out, take care of all the details (back to note-level again) and finish the song.

  • joem

    Peter Kirn, it's not often that I'll read a whole article about a software update, but I liked this one, for what it's worth. Especially the "alternate universe" bit… I think that's an apt way to compare a modern tracker like Renoise with the rest of the computer-y music scene.

  • @joem: Thanks!
    Well, all updates are (at least potentially) of interest to existing users. But some updates are indeed more important in the big picture than others.

  • I use schism tracker for a lot of my tracks. It's an impulse tracker clone. It's quite more limited compared to Renoise and i enjoy using it a lot.

    I played a bit with Renoise and it's very well made. I found it very easy to use and it's loaded with features i liked. Ableton didn't feel like a tracker to me. I tried the demo a few times and never saw anything looking like a typical tracker interface. It seemed to rely more on the mouse than typical trackers do.

    I barely use the mouse when i track.

    If someone is just starting to use a tracker, it might take a bit of time to get acquainted with the mindset behind trackers but i think it's worth learning. You can easily do so many tricks in a tracker that are harder to realize with other tools.

  • bliss

    I downloaded Milky Tracker the other day — have yet to install it yet. Look forward to it though. Maybe a good way to begin learning about trackers, since it's free – and before actually investing in something like Renoise.

  • annide

    bliss: it's more likly that you want to grab a demo version of renoise to start with. learn something, go to the nearest source of what you want to work with in the future. And, the demo only have render to disk restrictions.

  • Milky is useful because it runs on portables.

    Sketch out tracks on the train etc and load the .mod into a fuller featured tracker later. I would say it is a good way to start, especially if you save as .mod rather than .xm as the older format can be imported by more apps when you want to move on.

  • Paul

    So many things are being released/updated on January 15th that the interwebs is bound to break.

  • kristi

    my birthday is on tuesday too! happy birfday to us!

  • gbsr

    the end of internet as we know it.
    @Peter and that other guy: happy birthday.

    @Rex: i agree.

  • @ Peter & others about the timing.

    Renoise has what you described:

    * Perfect timing
    * Ability to precisely delay patterns and notes.

    So the grooviness of the music is in your hands not in the hands of Renoise. Check out the delay column (Renoise has special column for delaying note events) and Advanced Edit tab which lets you do all kinds of fancy automatic stuff with the delay (or any other) column in renoise.

  • Switch

    #renoise up in this mother

    what what

  • tracker man

    I love a renoise but this beta has small bug. When you push play ,and even when you dont have checked loop mode -it playing in loop all over. But besides it its great ,pure pleasure and all new features are really kicking ass.

  • i use Renoise for several years…thanks for the upgrade.

  • @ tracker man

    You may be misunderstanding the loop button. The button loops one pattern. I don't even know if you can stop the song looping with a button. I have always used F100 to stop the song in last pattern.

  • Looks good, a new version of Renoise.

  • fonnnky

    I've been playing with renoise last week end and i must thank all the team for their hard work, this tool is awesome. If renoise was a girl, i'd make love to her right now…

  • Robert

    Renoise is my favorite software program and to say that I didn't know anything about trackers before!
    I usually work with hardware(I make hiphop beats)and I love how easy it's fast to come up with an ill groove and honestly it's perfect for hiphop.
    Live is really cool but I find it bloated,but that said those programs complete each other really well.
    Renoise,for composing and Live for arranging:)

  • Renoise isn't only for techno/breakbeat/IDM :-).

    I personally use if for orchestral/ambient music, you can check out my stuff here: http://www.reverbnation.com/wanderlustproject

    Everything was created in Renoise.

  • are there other softwarefor making simple techno songs, i wanna know and where to buy, i love techno songs