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Renoise is a complete, multi-platform and expandable Digital Audio Workstation. It lets you record, compose, edit, process and render production-quality audio using a music-tracker-based approach.
In a tracker, the music runs from top to bottom in an easily understood grid known as a pattern. Several patterns arranged in a certain order make up a song. Step-editing in a pattern grid lends itself well to a fast and immediate workflow. On top of this, Renoise features a wide range of modern features: dozens of built-in audio processors, alongside support for all commonly used virtual instrument and effect plug-in formats. And the software can be extended too: with scripting, you can use all of your MIDI or OSC controller to control it in exactly the way you want.
Renoise has been one my two go-to trackers since the late 2000's(the other one being OpenMPT).
Renoise is a tracker, which means it is good at intricate sequencing and lends itself to a percussive workflow. In a piano roll you are inclined to view parts as interlocking pitches with an appendage of modulation on top; in trackers it's almost the opposite, as the note data is squashed down into parity with everything else. The "clean tracker sound" comes from it being easy to make every note fine-tuned - it's informationally dense and you can see every velocity and pan for every track at every moment, which means that your first pass at mixing can be done without adding anything to the FX chain, just by tweaking some velocities or panning to make everything sit a little better - and then you can add in some processing to finish it up, but less than what you might have done otherwise. A side effect is that you are likely to rely on hearing your parts, not reading them, because it's harder to read a cluster of A-4, D#5, etc. than it is to see a triad in the piano roll.
On the subject of note entry, Renoise also offers a snap-to-scale feature which helps greatly in using the computer keyboard for part-writing. As well, there is a "phrase" feature which lets you write a detailed sequence and then trigger it from a single note-on event. Phrases are great for simplifying loops, chord vamps, and articulations, and they're a great antidote to the intimidating aspects of seeing hundreds of notes scrolling down a grid - turn some of those parts into phrases and your main sequence gets less dense, easier to manipulate.
Renoise is primarily a sampler. The VST support is good - not perfect, I have seen bugs - but good enough that I can and often do rely on it. But it's second-class and a bit "bolted on" in that it's not totally seamless to automate VSTs. In contrast, the sampler and built-in effects are clearly the star of the show and they are very powerful, letting you write multisampled and sliced instruments with of all the effects used as modulations. If you're after minimalism, it can easily be made into your sole instrument and mixing tool. There isn't a huge amount of built-in content, but what does exist is usable and does a good job of demonstrating the power on offer.
There is a lot of programmability in Renoise. Just about everything, including UI state changes like "select track", can be assigned to a hotkey or MIDI event, so it's easy to set up some knobs and buttons for live performance. There is a lot of "more than one way to do it" as well - many functions are duplicated across the various sequencing and sampling features. You can automate on the grid with FX commands, but you can also automate in a graphical interface. You can arrange in the classic tracker mode, one pattern at a time, or you can use the pattern view to toggle track muting for something more like an Ableton session. And if that's not enough, you can write Lua scripts and extend the UI further. It can be overwhelming, but it helps to get familiar with a classic tracker first and then gradually upgrade your process to add the extra stuff. A laptop with Renoise plus a cheap knob controller is more than enough to achieve some expressive parts and speedy mixes.
In summary, I suggest seeing Renoise as a complementary tool to a clip-based multitrack DAW, with potential to be the sole tool if you're primarily a solo producer. While you can arrange and remix all sorts of things in it - sliced jungle loops, multisampled orchestral instruments, session backing parts, etc. - one thing it doesn't really accommodate is "record a band in the studio". That said, even in that scenario, you can definitely make use of it to generate backing material.Read Review
Renoise is part of a rich tradition of music development software that tracks its lineage all the way back to the 90's Amiga demo scene. Trackers have been around for years and left their mark on electronic music in ways many musicians may not realize. And while Renoise is not the only game in modern tracking, it is almost certainly the most successful modern implementation of that concept.
Tracking music in Renoise may be different than using a standard DAW, but pretty much everything you might need is in there : sampling, composition, plugin integration, MIDI sequencing, seamless Rewire integration, and even a built-in development environment for installing and if you wish, creating new sequencing tools of your own. Add to that the fact that Renoise is rock solid and cross platform, and you've got the full package - albeit turned on its head, in the best possible way. An inspiring piece of audio engineering all around.
This is a very special piece of software. It's obviously not for everyone, and the developers know that.
That being said the scope of what it can do is unbelievable
They nailed it, best tracker ever IMO.
I've just discovered DDFM Metaplugin, which provides stable VST3 and side-chain functionality that can be used within Renoise. Awesome.
I've been using Renoise for 14 years (since v1.28), and regard it as my primary DAW for composition. I primarily write EDM, Ambient or Glitch in a home studio using plugins (monitors or headphones on a laptop). I also sing, but don't use Renoise for vocals/recording (currently using Reaper for that).
One liner: It's an amazing composition tool with a highly functional workflow geared for getting ideas down quickly and working to completion (sans raw audio).
I've looked into a few other trackers, but nothing has been as polished and complete as Renoise.
Trackers aren't great for every music workflow, but I've found Renoise to be an unparalleled sequencer for modern composition. Workflow subtleties, like the fact that notes are assumed to keep playing on a track until hitting a cutoff, make them ideal for sound design and construction using external plugins. In almost every major DAW on a Mac or PC, composition like this commonly requires drawing every unique note and it's duration using a mouse, and the sheer pain of that experience has not been taken seriously enough for DAW-makers to incorporate this style of composition (nor really take the time understand why accommodations to their own workflow are both ineffectual and unsavory).
In my time using Renoise, I've used many versions/tiers of other DAWs or hardware sequencers:
Most have unique merits, but none have been as near to a complete and reliable solution for me as Renoise for composition. For vocal work, I'm currently using Reaper. Don't want to start off poking at the DAWs other people use and love, but if you ask, I'll respond with my personal experiences in some cases.
It works quite different than any other DAW as it's a tracker.
It's perfect for samples, has lots of powerful built in effects and tools, supports VSTs, it's stable and very effective when you know how to use it.
If you mainly use your DAW for live recordings it's probably not the best choice, but even for that, with combinations through Rewire, it may be a great companion.
It works in Windows, Mac and Linux, it looks good, it's inexpensive and has great support.
If i could bring one thing to a desert island i'd bring Renoise.Read Review