recomended trackers

scream and impulse revisited

I used to be a big user/fan of screamTracker and ImpulseTracker (infact I found a disk with old tunes). I loved their simplistic interfaces and what I considered ease of use.

What are people using now to replace these? (I need something that runs in xp well). I tried a few (can’t think of the names off the top of my head) that had interfaces that were similar (albeit windowed and prettied up), but sounded horrid. There seems to be quite a few out there so i’m curious what people are using that used to use those tools.

I like the granularity of control you have and the way I could set up patterns of any length then link them together in a song (couple measures of 5/4 followed by 4/4 then maybe a 6/8 pattern and change the tempo). …

thanks for the help!

I tried a few windows trackers and came to the conclusion that all Windows based trackers are a blasphemy and God never intended for man to track in windows. I still have a 486 desktop and a 486 laptop with Impulse Tracker installed.

In my opinion you don’t need anything else for tracking.

Windows is for nTrack/Cubase etc.

This is just my own snotty opinion.


A little bit of history for the rest of the guys…

The first trackers were Amiga (Protracker, etc.) and the earliest PC tracker was ModPlayer. Basically, this help start the evolution of using audio samples for music on a computer platform (as opposed as on sampling synths). Tracking went on its own evolutionary line apart from MIDI sequencing happening simultaneously, though MIDI was first. There are also some trackers for the C64 (which I still have). Incidentally, the engineers (primarily Bob Yannes) that left Commodore (who created the C64) due to the 8-bit microcomputer shakeouts of the mid 1980’s founded Ensoniq. I’m sure some of you guys know that company. So now, anyone here who still has Ensoniq keyboard sampling gear should be reminded that the sound chips in them are progeny of the C64’s SID chip (reknowned as the world’s first subtractive synth on a chip… in a computer). Also, the one in the first Ensoniq came from the QChip that was in the Commodore Amiga.

Eventually, the evolution of MSDOS-format trackers ended with the most popular PC tracker of them all: FastTracker(v2.0). There are now some commercial trackers out there that are based off this evolution of tracking, namely Acid, Renoise, Madtracker and now Tracktion.

Anyway, this is a very small summary of tracking history, which I’ve been listening to since the late 80’s. Some good tracking community/repository sites are and . One huge worldwide music tracker/compo contest is Assembly, now in its 13th season: .

I use a little bit of MadTracker2 (MT2). This is designed to be a step up from FastTracker2, but is fully Windows-compatible. Head over to . You can also find me at their forum (same name). Stable version is 2.3.2. There is also now a public beta release candidate, RC5, that you can download. Download is around 12MB, because it comes bundled with lots of approved VST’s and some audio loops/samples. Note, it’s meant for Win2k and XP, so it will be buggy for Win9x, unfortunately (which I mainly use). Heck if you won’t use MT2-RC5, you can always use the bundled VST’s with nTrack or another VST host.

I have not tried Renoise, but this and MT2 are the most fully-supported commercial trackers today that have kept the legacy interface of using hexadecimal coding for effects routing.

There are many other less-known PC trackers out there, like MPT and OctaMed. I was learning a little of ModPlugTracker (MPT) a couple of years ago. The author finally gave up the source code a year ago, so now it’s open source. Unfortunately, their home website crashed (hacker worm, I think), so development is slow. Head over to to find them as well. Main site is (was) . I’m sure I’m missing some other new trackers, but can’t remember at the moment.

Crap, I think I overwrote. :D

Friends don’t let friends track in Windows!

But seriously guys, do you have links to some of your tracks?


But seriously guys, do you have links to some of your tracks?
i'm not sure you'd want any of mine, well unless you are into weird house and drum and bass type stuff. Some of them are pretty embarrassing as well (lots of doubled up tracks to make a quite sample louder etc).

I'll have to check out modplugtracker for fun (I assume it was the same guy as modplug which was my fave player). I did take a look at renoise once and it looked quite promising.

thanks for the responses.

Thanks Technoid,
Pretty cool description of recording history software. We’ve been adding more and more to the recording of tracks…especially with a DAW.

Your history was great!

OKay, you have piqued my curiosity. Explain tracking in more detail as I have never heard of it until now. I read through a few of those sites and I don’t quite understand how the concept is different than something like Fruity Loops. Is it sample based, synthesis based, a combination, or something totally different? How does it differ from sequencing?

check this out.

What I can describe: It is sample based. Most trackers use their own format for the samples but they are imported as a raw wave (or from another “song” that already has that sample). So I guess it’s just a sequencing of wav files. The samples can be played at different pitches with different effects and cutoff times etc.

oh i found another good link. Actually i think that one is better. Hope it helps.

Actually, that helps a lot. I think I get it. It is sort of the combination of a sequencer and a sampler. So the tracker pitch shifts and time changes everything to match the “sequence” kind of like Acid, but it is based on a more of a sequence idea rather than Acid’s multitrack paradigm. I assume it is chipmunky/DarthVadery in the pitch shift and time correction?

I went to Novus’ site and wow, I didn’t know this whole scene existed. This is really cool. Kind of a mix of Soundfonts and MIDI sequences all in one file. I got ModPlug Player and there is some amazing stuff out there. I am listening to this one tune Redemption and wow… It certainly doesn’t sound like “real” instruments, but very electronic and cool… Get the tune here.

Get ModPlug Player here.

It certainly doesn't sound like "real" instruments, but very electronic and cool..
Certainly you can say it today. But i heard this kind of music before that you can play with and awe32. I remember compare this tracker files with the FM synth of my old mediavision card and feel that they really sound like the real instruments. The popularity of soundfonts is one of the factors that make that this wonderfull idea go a little down, beyond that today it have still lovers. I remember out there a tracker called "BushTracker" that work with soundfonts. I still have a demo file made totally with human voices, that sound like electronic synths. I will search it in my hardisk for the enjoy of the trackers.

Hey, here is:
World of Voices
to hear it, i believe that you can use winamp if dont have a tracker. or xmplay is good also

Man, I haven’t tracked seriously in years. I used to make all sorts of crazy electronic/industrial junk, though. Up until 2001 I was using Impulse Tracker to make drum tracks for multitrack recording. I’ve since switched to FruityLoops and haven’t looked back – I find that the only thing I really miss is the variable-length patterns. Everything else is there, and more (although, to be fair, the interface isn’t as quick-and-easy). I really think that FL is the best Windows substitute for a tracker.

that’s right, fl-stdio is the best.

Renoise i the best tracker with hold style

Guys, guys! They don’t need to cost money. There’s a free FTII-like tracker (a beta version but under accelerating developement) called Skale, This is what I use nowadays for composing, it’s just the easiest way to get drumtracks done. some of the features:
- sample based, but currently compatible with about 30% of VSTi’s also. Check out the compatibility list on the skale-board. Also reads akai instrument files and has a handicapped soundfont support (reads samples but multilayered samples get pitched wrongly). VST-effects also supported.
- can be used with cubase like a multi-out VSTi (see compatible hosts list)
- can import the song as *.wav

Other very promising tracker (also free) is Bero tracker, that currently suffers from denormalization bug when using some VSTi.

The difficulty of using a tracker is that it looks difficult at first, but when you get into it, it’s plain fun and very handy. Basically what you have to do is load a sample, press a record key for record mode, and ‘write’ the notes with you keyboard that acts as if it was a piano.

Hey Bubba,

Glad we piqued your interest. Note that tracking has been around since the mid 80’s. Apps like Acid and FLStudio come partly from this long line of sampling-based sequencing. Not many people outside of the tracking scene (a part of the “demoscene”) are aware of that. I remember the first time I heard about Acid several years ago, I got disappointed, because here was this tracking scene doing music for fun and for free for a decade and then somebody decides to make another app, but this time you had to buy it. Oh well, I thought, hey, the first Amiga trackers were commercial anyway.

Yeah, there are tons of mods out there, stemming from the past 1.5 decades. You’ll notice the earliest ones use 8-bit samples, for obvious reasons. Note, they are called mods, short for modules, from their Amiga history. Also, not sure of this, but this whole scene is called Tracking/Trackers, as it comes from the name’s of the Amiga music applications, such as Protracker (mentioned earlier) and Soundtracker (the matriarch of them all… fileformat is .MOD). I know I’m missing lots of other crap, although that modplug link does give a little more detail. Actually, there is the Trackers Handbook you can take a look at. There was a really good historical article on it. Gonna have to find it.

Ah yes, SKALE was one of the newer trackers I said I forgot about, heh. I’ve looked at it and demo’d it and it looks nice, but I’ve never used because I think it still uses a DOS interface, right? I should trot back over there and see what progress it’s made in the last couple of years.

Nectarine has streaming radio, so that would be one good place to listen the oldies as well as some new mods. Go back to and find the menu called Listen Now. Not sure if it’s working since I don’t have WinAmp installed here (I’m at work, heh). There have been many talented musicians (not me, lmao) over the years. The more famous ones out there are Purple Motion of Future Crew, Skaven and Lizardking, etc… Jonne, (Purple Motion) now works as a computer game music composer and has his own studio…

I’m gonna have to find that historical article again.

EDIT: Oh, speaking of WinAmp, you’ll notice how popular tracking is by checking WinAmp’s accepted file formats (in Preferences). The ones in lowercase in the middle of the list are all for trackers… that’s one third of the file formats listed (reference: WinAmp v5.08c)!!

/Overwrote again/