I am using LMMS on Debian Linux, and I want to take input from a USB microphone and run it through some of the effects (delay, pitch modification, etc) in LMMS. I don't want to do this post-recording though - I want it to be live, in the same way that when I connect my MIDI keyboard to LMMS, I can set filters that are automatically applied to the keyboard input in real-time. How do I do this with vocals from a mic input?

I am primarily interested in how to do this in LMMS, but I am open to other tools besides LMMS if it isn't possible, or if there is just better (free, open-source, Linux-compatible) software that I should use for vocals effects instead.


  • I don't know that rig at all so can't provide an answer - but generally, you'll find latency is too high to handle live vocals. By the time you hear yourself over the PA, you'll be delayed badly enough that you'll start to over-think what you're singing. It gets really difficult to concentrate. It's harder than compensating for a keyboard.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 20, 2018 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


Ardour does it. that's almost free.

SOX does it. that is just built in. http://sox.sourceforge.net/sox.html#EFFECTS

You can get a list of your inputs a few ways sox -d -e ms-adpcm -b 16 -c 1 -r 8000 and then other stuff.

If you are stuck not knowing what to use arecord -l will give you the list of input names

With a realtime kernel JACK can do very low latency

  • 1
    I'm intrigued to know what the latency figures can be slimmed down to without being in danger of audible jitter. I've never done this live, but for studio work, especially guitar, which I 'amp' in the puter rather then beforehand, I can get down to an acceptable 10ms or so, but a lot of my processing plugs, reverbs, compressors etc need a whole lot more lead time. By the time I'm at the mix stage, I'm eating half a second to get everything running smoothly. [btw, i'm also on a big old Mac Pro... so comparing ... ermm Apples to oranges, I guess ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 21, 2018 at 17:02
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    Thanks twobob. I couldn't even manage to get ardour started bc of my audio device configuration problems. But reading about ardour online, it definitely seems like the best approach for what I'm trying to do, so I'll do more research... And your sox solution seems like it could work too. Going to leave open for a few more days in case someone has solution using lmms, which would be ideal because I'm using it for rest of the project besides vocals, and it would be easier to integrate. But if nobody has a way to do that, I'll mark yours as accepted answer. Appreciate it!
    – J. Taylor
    Dec 25, 2018 at 1:36
  • linux audio has come a long way. There are a PILE of effects that you could just pipe natively in a variety of wrappers. as just one suggestion lsp-plug.in but honestly just research LADSPA and you'll probably find a solution that is native, if not LMMS
    – twobob
    Jun 7, 2020 at 1:54

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