Transport Bar

The transport controls

The Transport Bar groups all the actions regarding the control of playback and recording.

The transport controls

This bar is made of (from left to right):

Midi PanicImmediately stops all midi output.
Enable/disable Audio ClickToggles (on/off) a click track (metronome) along the tempo. Right clicking brings up the Click submenu from the Preferences. Scrolling with the mouse wheel adjusts the gain of the click.
Go to Start of the SessionJumps back at the beginning of the session, as defined by the start marker.
Go to End of the SessionJumps forward to the end of the session, as defined by the end marker.
Play Loop RangeRepeats the defined loop as defined by the Loop range, until the "Stop playback" button is pressed. Clicking the "Play loop Range" button while already active switches to normal Play mode, which exits the loop without stopping and restarting playback.
Play Range/SelectionIf a range has been defined using the Range Mode button, plays the range, of if an audio or MIDI region is selected, plays this region. In both cases, the playback stops at the end of the range or selected region.
Play from playheadStarts the playback and optionally record (more below).
StopWhatever the playing mode (loop, range, …) stops all playback. Depending on other settings, some effects (like chorus or reverb) might still be audible for a while.
Toggle RecordGlobal switch button to activate/deactivate recording. While active, the button blinks red. The button doesn't start recording by itself: if one or more tracks are marked as record-enabled, pressing the "Play from Playhead" starts recording on those tracks.

All these actions are bound to keyboard shortcuts, which allows for speedier use and more focused work.

If Ardour is synchronized with other devices then some or all of these control methods may be unavailable—depending on the synchronization protocol, Ardour may respond only to commands sent from its master device(s).

Under these buttons is the Shuttle Speed Control that allows to scrub through the audio quickly. The slider decides the playback speed: the further from the center it is set, the faster the playback will scrub in both directions.

The Shuttle Speed Control supports 2 operating modes, that can be chosen with right click > Mode:

  • Sprung mode that allows for a temporary scrub: it only scubs while the mouse is left clicked on the control.
  • Wheel mode that allows to set a playback speed until the "Stop" button is pressed, which stops the playback and resets its speed.

On the left of the slider is the positional sync button (which might show Internal, or MTC or several other values), than can be used to control whether or not the transport position and start is controlled by Ardour, or by an external positional synchronization source, such as MIDI Time Code (MTC), Linear Time Code (LTC) or JACK (see Timecode Generators and Slaves).

The current playback status (Stop, Play, or speed %) is shown on the right of the speed slider.

Using Key Bindings

Ardour has many available commands for playback control that can be bound to keys. Many of them have default bindings, some do not, so the list below shows both the default bindings and internal command names for some of them.

SpaceSwitch between playback and stop.
HomeMove playhead to session start marker
EndMove playhead to session end marker
Playhead to next region boundary
Playhead to previous region boundary
0Move playhead to start of the timeline

Go to the Transport and Transport > Playhead to find more.