Importing Audio

Sections of audio are known as Regions in Ardour. A Region can be an entire sound file or a portion of it. Here you will learn how to import audio files from the hard drive of your computer so they can be used in your Ardour session.

To import an audio file, first Right-Click on the Region List, located at the far right of the editor window. Please note there are other tabs which change the function of this area. Before you Right-Click, make sure the Regions tab is selected.


Once you have Right-Clicked, a menu will appear with the option to Import to Region List. Click this option.


You will now see the Add existing audio dialog. On the left side of this dialog you will see a file browser which allows you to search your hard drive for appropriate sound files to add (preferably, start with a common file format, such as WAV or AIFF). At the lower left corner there is a menu which indicates how these files will be added. This should be set to "Add files: to region list".

Note: if you do not have any suitable audio files on your hard drive to follow these steps, we recommend visiting the website, where you can find a large collection of Creative Commons–licensed samples in a variety of Sample Rates and Formats

Tip: if you compile Ardour yourself, you can add freesound support, which allows browsing the website directly from this dialog. The process of compiling applications, however, is outside the scope of this manual.

On the right side of the Add existing audio dialog you will see a section allowing you to inspect the properties of the file you selected. Here you will see the name, number of channels, sample rate, format and length of the sound file, along with any tags you have chosen to add to the file.

The Play button allows you to preview the file, using the Audition bus. Finally, this dialog gives you the option of copying the file(s) into the folder of the current session (Copy Files to Session). This is safer, but it uses more disk space. If you leave this option unchecked, Ardour will use the sound file from its current location on the hard drive. In this case, if the file is moved to a new location on the hard drive, you may run into trouble, because Ardour won't be able to find it the next time you open this session.

Click OK to proceed. The file(s) you have selected will appear listed in your Region List.


If the sample rate of the file you have chosen does not match the sample rate of the current session, Ardour colours the mismatched sample rate in red. If you try to import the file, Ardour will also warn you of the mismatched rate and ask you to confirm if you want to embed it anyway. If you do choose to embed the file in question, it will not play back at the sample rate it was recorded with, but rather at the sample rate of the current Ardour session. This will cause the sound to play at the wrong speed and pitch.


Once you have successfully embedded your audio file in the Region List, you will see it on the screen.


And by dragging and dropping the Region onto the Main Canvas, you can insert it in an existing track.


Release the mouse-click to complete the drag-and-drop operation. The Region will be inserted at the exact time point where you dropped it.


Importing Audio Directly to a Track

The Add existing audio dialogue also allows you to import audio files directly onto tracks.

Choose Add files: as new tracks in order to automatically create a new track and add the selected file to it.

Choose Add files: to selected tracks in order to add a sound file into an existing selected track.

In either case, the chosen sound files will always be embedded in the Region List, from which you can drag-and-drop them into tracks as explained above. Below is an example of adding a file as new track.


The Region appears in a new track in the session. The new track automatically receives the name of the imported sound file.


The sound file will also appear in the Region List so that it can be inserted into other tracks as well.


To remove a region, one can select it with the mouse and use the Cut function from the menu, the Control (or Apple) key and the X key, the Delete key or the key combination of fn and Backspace (which is used, for example, on a laptop keyboard that does not have a proper Delete key).


At this point, you may wish to add some new material to your Session by Recording Audio in the following chapter, or you may want to skip directly ahead to the Editing Sessions section to learn how to arrange the Regions you have Imported into a composition. You should also have a look at the Understanding Routing chapter to discover how audio can be sent to other Tracks or Busses, to the soundcard of your computer, or even to other JACK-enabled audio programs.