Harrison is a company with a rich legacy in high-end consoles. Mixbus, their software product, is something of an anomaly. Its analog tape saturation, EQ, filter, compression, and mixing should be sold a la carte for a few hundred bucks each, given the usual business model in this industry. The product should run on some proprietary DAW, and should definitely come with a hardware dongle. And it absolutely, positively shouldn’t run on Linux, because everyone knows you can’t sell a product for Linux.

Instead, Mixbus sells for an intro price for US$79.99. You get the whole package: an entire DAW, plus a software version of Harrison’s 32-series and MR-series consoles, with powerful DSP and mixing features baked in. There’s no dongle. The DAW is the open source Ardour. On the Mac, you get support for Audio Unit plug-ins and any Core Audio interface, plus the superb Mac port of JACK.

And now, in addition to Mac support, you can run the package on Linux, benefiting from native Linux technologies like JACK and LADSPA and (now) LV2 plug-ins. Harrison recommends an audio-based distribution, but two of them – Ubuntu Studio and (Fedora-based) CCRMA – make their packages available in standard Ubuntu and custom Fedora repositories, respectively, which means just about any recent, major distribution will work.

Working with an open source DAW, Ardour, has some practical benefits for users. Aside from benefiting from a mature, open source codebase, the fact that Ardour is free software means you can exchange multitrack projects with friends, even if they don’t own Mixbus or do their work in a different DAW. Ardour takes some time to learn – the interface is spartan, to be sure – but because it’s a free project, it refreshingly focuses on the basics rather than the feature creep that has tended to make the major commercial, proprietary DAWs a bit complex.

Mixbus is simply a joy to use, because it consolidates the user interface into an efficient, productive console, and has some terrific effects to boost. Features:

  • “Knob per function” mixing.
  • EQ, filter, compression, analog tape saturation, and Harrison’s summing model
  • 4 mix bus sends on every channel, and channel strips that each feature filter, EQ, and compression.
  • Tone controls, compression, sidechaining, and tape saturation on the mix buses (hence the name), and on the stereo master bus, too – meaning this works nicely for mastering.
  • Plugin delay compensation for features like parallel compression.
  • Metering with peak, peak hold, compressor gain reduction on each track and bus – again, bringing mastering and mixing into a nice interface.

All of this operates in an extremely lightweight system that runs comfortably on a fairly low-end laptop, without having to sacrifice audio fidelity. (As with any multitrack system, just make sure you have a capable hard disk; that’s what I find to be the most significant bottleneck.)

In short, it’s a brilliant tool for plug-in hosting, thanks to all the routing options, and for finally finishing tracks, thanks to mix- and master-friendly features. On the Mac, support for AU means your plug-ins come with you from another DAW when you want to finish your music. On Linux (and on the Mac), you can use JACK to route in everything from a Pure Data patch to a recording for conventional mixing.

On the Mac, it’s a no-brainer purchase that makes a fantastic tool in your arsenal for finishing music. On Linux, it could be the release that finally makes a Linux-based studio practical.

Harrison took what they knew about making big consoles like this, and applied it to software. Photo courtesy Harrison.

Version 1.5 also introduces some new features alongside the Linux release, including a key-mappable “play with pre-roll” Transport command and playhead edit range Transport snapping (huge time-savers), thinning for dynamic automation, and a Gain tool you can use to adjust curves in a region.

I spoke to Harrison about some of the details of what’s on offer here.

CDM: Can you describe what’s built into Mixbus’ console from a processing standpoint? What makes this console special? A lot is made of “summing,” but that’s – unless I’m missing something you’re doing – typically the least interesting part of DSP design in a mixer. So tell us what does make working with Mixbus different sonically?

There’s the obvious stuff…. the built-in EQs, compressors, tape saturation, and final limiter…. done by our in-house DSP guys. But I assume that’s not what you mean.

One fundamental difference in Mixbus is the fact that everything is always “in” … for example, when you turn on an EQ, that processing is already allocated so you won’t push your CPU over the edge while undertaking the art of “mixing”. This sounds trivial, but it has significant implications in the workflow, sound, and “immediacy” of the mixer. A second big difference is the fixed number of pre-allocated buses (both graphically and DSP-wise) which is quite different from the normal DAW mixer. This will become more apparent as we develop Mixbus further, in a way that is parallel with – but different than – Ardour and more traditional DAWs.

Summing is a hot-button topic, for sure. On some level, there will be a simple addition, just like there is an addition of voltages/current on the summing bus of an analog console. But nobody would say that 2 analog consoles sound the same. Similarly, there are design decisions to be made on digital mixers. For example, our EQs are implemented in 64-bit, and there is a dither stage in each channel. When multiple channels are summed together, you can handle this dither in different ways. The difference isn’t in the actual summing, but qualitative differences come from these signals when they are summed.

Ed.: That makes some sense – the summing stage itself, which is what people will often describe when comparing DAWs, shouldn’t theoretically be any different, but the way you handle changes in bit depth in various mixing stages prior to summing could make a big difference. I pushed Harrison on this partly because I’ve been having some heated discussions with developers and engineers about this topic, so we can go further into it if interested – but it’s good to know how Mixbus works, and I can confirm that mixing in the software is really a joy. -PK

Finally, there’s the rule that in digital it’s hard to “improve” the quality of sound, but there are a hell of a lot of ways to screw it up. Avoiding these landmines, or designing to accomodate them on a given platform, is something that comes from a lot of experience.

What’s the relationship of Mixbus to other Harrison products? How did they inform this design?

We designed the Mixbus mixer using the same people & process that we would apply to a hardware mixer. Every design has “tradeoffs” associated with it: features, bit depth, gain stages, dithering, oversampling, parameter ramping methods, etc etc. There’s also a lot of thought that gets put into the parameter ranges …. where should the EQ center frequencies be? How wide a range should they cover? These are things that we (a) think about much more frequently than the typical DAW developer and (b) have a very wide experience to draw from.

Aside from the fact that it’s already there, can you talk about some specific advantages of working with Ardour? Any tips you’ve personally found while working with it, from a workflow / usability standpoint?

Coming from the rarified world of high-end audio systems, we recognized a lot of the same qualities in Ardour. Some examples: “The things you do 1000 times a day are very easy to apply, while the things you do once per day don’t matter where they appear” …. “Anything that you do automatically, while really helpful in some cases, will be terribly wrong in other cases” ….. “first-time-user intuitiveness isn’t as important as long-term usability to a pro” ….. “customization on a truly deep level is important for enterprise-class facilities” …. stuff like that.

These are subtleties. How do you make a soundbyte out of the overall “gestalt” that Ardour/Mixbus has? It is the result of many iterations driven by real-world users. Sometimes it’s about going back-and-forth until finally settling on the “least evil” of evil compromises. It doesn’t make good ad copy :)

One huge point: Ardour (in many cases) is a superset of the features of workstations. For example, the AudioFile (a high end hardware DAW by AMS/Neve) had the feature of “transparent regions”… so you could stack multiple sounds on a single track. Ardour has a “transparent” flag for regions, so you can do this. An interesting point here is that the Ardour session file format could conceivably become the shared standard of nearly other DAW. Presumably we’ll be able to support nearly any workflow that a user wants, once we get the UI’s developed.

Mixbus users – or potential Mixbus users – we’d love to hear from you. If you’re using the tool now, let us know how it’s working for you. And if you’re considering using it, let us know what’d be helpful to you. I suspect a tutorial on setting everything up on Linux would be a good place to start; it’s powerful, but not immediately intuitive out of the box.

http://www.harrisonconsoles.com/

  • Tom

    This sounds really quite cool and inspired me to try out Ardour… but they only have a limited amount of downloads available for free per month, and that limit has been reached, so you HAVE to pay some amount before you can download it. Not quite in keeping with the FLOSS philosophy, I'd have thought?

    Of course the developers need to make money but there should be some way to try it out without being forced to, e.g. a trial version (of a free open source product – weird concept!). I don't want to pay even 1p if it turns out that it's useless (I'm sure it isn't, but it's the principle).

    Shame. I'm looking for a download hosted elsewhere but otherwise I think they've missed out on a potential customer/user as I doubt I'll remember to try again next month.

  • Seablade

    This sounds really quite cool and inspired me to try out Ardour… but they only have a limited amount of downloads available for free per month, and that limit has been reached, so you HAVE to pay some amount before you can download it. Not quite in keeping with the FLOSS philosophy, I’d have thought?

    Well first thing first, there is no limit to the number of downloads per month of Ardour from Ardour.org that I am aware of. (Exceptiohn being for the paid version for OS X that is precompiled, the free version is still unlimited and the only difference with the paid version is compiled in support for AU state saving) And secondly nothing in the GPL prevents from charging for the program, so long as the source code is always available, which it is and is what you download from ardour.org when you go there.

    Seablade

  • http://multitrack.us parker

    Hi,

    I'm a long time user of Ardour, several dozen start-to-finish album productions and an early adopter of Mixbus, three or four completed albums.

    Here's a link to a song that's in production:
    http://multitrack.us/peeled/windigo07.mp3

    I think that production is good evidence that we can achieve realistic results despite the mix needing a few refinements.

    At $80.00 I am a happy and loyal customer.

    Ron Parker

    Mirror Image Studio

    MPLS, MN

    OS X 10.6.2

    Mixbus 1.5

    UAD-2 plugins + hardware

  • http://noisepages.com/members/rlameiro/ Ricardo Lameiro

    @Tom

    "Not quite in keeping with the FLOSS philosophy, I’d have thought? "

    That philosophy is not that software should be "gratis" or free beer, but free speech. You can always compile it. Free Libre Open Source Software isn't equivalent to "no money to pay for the work made by others". Try to compile some trial versions that doesnt let you save or cripple your experience..

    You can try and download KXStudio Live DVD and try ardour over there if you don't want to install linux,

  • http://www.pari.edu Random CIO

    I've been an Ardour and Mixbus user for a long time; Ardour as prepackaged by the distributions (plain Ardour is available in Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora in the main repositories; apt-get install ardour on Debian/Ubuntu and yum install ardour on Fedora Just Work), and then Mixbus on OS X (in fact, did the whole mac thing just to get the sound of Mixbus, and would do it again to get the smooth sound).

    The mixing in Mixbus is a joy, and the editing I find to be smooth and fairly intuitive, at least as much as any DAW of this level would be. The Mixbus interface is some improved over vanilla Ardour, but either is easy enough to use.

    Now I can go back to Linux for my production needs with Mixbus on Linux. Well worth the price, and then some!

  • Peter Kirn

    Paul answered the confusion about Ardour downloads when we ran a story in December, so I'll repeat it here. I understand people aren't clear on this, or some of the nuance to what "free software" means.

    Linux versions are *always* free to download as either source or in repositories for your distro of choice. (And indeed, in popular distros like Ubuntu and Fedora you'll find a very current stable build read to go.)

    Mac source is always free to download.

    There is a donationware download option when grabbing binaries from Ardour. As Paul wrote in December:

    "For the OS X prebuilt versions, if the inflow of cash for the month is low (I typically wait till the 15th, and if its not 50% of the goal, there’s typically going to be a problem …), then I disable the “pay nothing” download. This flips back at the end of the month.However, none of this changes the basic fact that you never *need* to pay for Ardour, since the source code is always available for free at all times. The work involved in creating a working binary, however, especially on OS X, might give you pause to realize that paying something for the prebuilt version is a good deal."

    This is absolutely in keeping with the FLOSS philosophy. Here's what the Free Software Foundation says about charging:

    "“Free software” does not mean “noncommercial.” A free program must be available for commercial use, commercial development, and commercial distribution. Commercial development of free software is no longer unusual; such free commercial software is very important. You may have paid money to get copies of free software, or you may have obtained copies at no charge. But regardless of how you got your copies, you always have the freedom to copy and change the software, even to sell copies."

    From the FSF's FAQ -

    "Does the GPL allow me to charge a fee for downloading the program from my site?Yes. You can charge any fee you wish for distributing a copy of the program. If you distribute binaries by download, you must provide “equivalent access” to download the source—therefore, the fee to download source may not be greater than the fee to download the binary."
    http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#DoesTheG

    Mixbus is not open source software, of course, but it demonstrates how proprietary and open source software can interoperate and make each other better. I think the same is true when you use Ardour on Mac OS and take advantage of the Mac's largely superb audio frameworks.

    One often-overlooked reason to use Linux among people who haven't really gotten to try it extensively is that it can save you a lot of time downloading free software and keeping it up to date. But yes, you can also use Ardour on the Mac with pre-built binaries – and pre-built binaries are what you get when you pay for Mixbus.

  • http://www.inoutfest.org Flplsx

    I haven't tried this out yet, but I think Mixbus is something the digital world needed, and by that I don't mean analog modeling. Part of the appeal, in my experience, of analog consoles is that your basic EQ and compression (things you tend to use fairly often) are right there and the notched, pre-set frequencies were extremely well thought out, so all you had to do when you were "in the moment" was reach for, say, the high shelf and turn a knob a little bit and your change is there. I find myself getting lost in "is this exactly the right frequency I want to be boosting/cutting?" fairly often on the computer. Generally speaking, unless you're doing extreme precision work, all you need is a "boost in the highs", not a 3.2 db boost at 8.235kHz with a Q of 0.71.

    Of course, this is very subjective and I'm sure there are people out there who want this kind of precision at all times.

    Also, it's $80! Absolutely incredible. I guarantee people will still find something to complain about though, this being the internet and all.

  • http://defectiverecords.com Dan Nigrin

    Mixbus (and Ardour) both rock, period. Disclaimer:  I'm part of the Jack OS X team.    But it still rocks, go check it out!

  • Seablade

    @Peter

    Thanks for posting that, I forgot about the financial switch for the pre-built OS X version. Other than that my statements still hold true.

    Seablade

  • Tom

    Should have worded my post better on reflection, my only problem was that I wasn't able to get to any pre-built OS X download without paying – there's no "no save" trial version available for download as far as I can see? Frustrating as I just wanted to try the software out and decide if it's something I'd like to pay for.

    Found a download of the 2.7 SAE version so I'll try that out, but I definitely think it's worth the developers adding an OS X free trial version of some kind.

    Cheers

  • Seablade

    @Tom

    There is a 'no AU State saving' version, but its availability, as Peter posted, depends in part on the financial situation surrounding Ardour ina given month. If it looks likely that donations won't meet the financial needs of Paul, then he turns off access to that version for the rest of the month, Peter reminded me of this, I just forgot.

  • Tom

    @Seablade, yeah I saw that – just seems silly to not offer some kind of pre-built version for free download so people can try it on OS X. I can't possibly see how that's better for the authors – I think they should offer a version which has e.g. no saving (of anything) which is always available, with lots of links to get the full version, which would still be offered in the same way (i.e. no AU saving if you don't contribute).

    The alternative is to pay e.g. 1p to download it, but I think that's stupid – if I pay 1p to download it and try it out, there's less chance I'll go back and pay more if I enjoy it than if I pay nothing for a trial version and then go back and pay to download the fully functional version.

    Just seems a bit counter-productive and less likely to generate income to me :)

  • Peter Kirn

    Right, except, Tom, the *whole program is free* when we're talking about Ardour. So, you're asking for a trial version of a program whose source code is given away.

    You don't have to pay $45 for the download. You could donate $1 (or whatever PayPal's minimum is) if you really wanted to, and then, as you say, go back and donate more if it's meaningful.

    You could also install Linux (an OS for free – Ubuntu has extensive Mac install guides) and then grab a package for free. You could probably complete the whole process in under an hour and dual boot.

    Harrison Mixbus was developed separately. It uses Ardour as the underlying DAW, but otherwise, the two aren't associated with one another.

    But that means, just to be clear, the developers of Ardour are giving away an entire DAW, source, documentation, and all. They're asking you to pay a small toll in exchange, and literally, you could give them the couple of bucks you pay for an iPhone app.

  • Seablade

    @Peter

    Time for me to clarify a statement of yours…

    Keeping in mind I don't work for Harrison…

    Harrison Mixbus was developed separately. It uses Ardour as the underlying DAW, but otherwise, the two aren’t associated with one another.

    Actually this isn't really true. Any improvements to Ardour itself that are done in Mixbus are submitted right back to Ardour's SVN so that Ardour benefits from it. It is only the DSP processes themselves that is closed source and specific to Mixbus, as well as a few UI tweaks that don't make sense going back to Ardour for various reasons, that are not in Ardour's SVN.

    In fact all the actual development for Mixbus that concerns Ardour is typically dont first in Ardour's SVN, then merged into Mixbus's SVN(Which is also publicly accessible) afterwards, so you could easily say the two are very related in many ways.

    Seablade

  • Peter Kirn

    Oh yeah, absolutely – I mean only in respect to people looking for a demo *of Ardour*, they're not associated with one another.

    There's no "demo" to speak of for Harrison, and the idea of a trial version of Ardour doesn't make any sense when the thing is free. You can either spend a buck or two for a prebuilt binary, or run Linux, or compile the source code, or wait until the beginning of the month. That sounds more than reasonable to me. You sure as heck risk more than a few bucks to try most music tech products. ;)

  • Seablade

    @Tom

    You may have a point, I can tell you that over the years many methods have been tried for making certain Ardour gets funded by the community when commercial support wasn't there to fund it(In the past this has included SAE and SSL as well as Harrison sponsoring specific features). One idea that was thought about was specifically what you mentioned, but the thought is to try to allow anyone to use it as much as possible, it is just a different manner of approaching it is done at the moment.

    Does it mean it won't ever change? Not at all, but it does mean that for the moment it was decided that it was more beneficial to everyone to be able to download a primarily working version on occasion at least, and not have access to it all the time, than it was to provide a primarily crippled version all the time. That being said, your feedback is always useful on this to show differing opinions.

    Seablade

  • anechoic

    it's no secret that I am a *huge* fan of Ardour…this wonderful DAW functions as the main compositional environment (other than pd) in my Linux audio based studio…Mixbus is an amazing development of Ardour which everyone should check out…the godlike powers you get for $79 is utterly mindblowing

  • cdbsn

    but how does it sound?

  • Peter Kirn

    @cdbsn: I'm still integrating Mixbus with my own workflow, but I just completed mixing several tracks with it. I love the way it sounds; really transparent. It really does feel like using a console, both in terms of usability and sound. I'm hoping to spend some time showing it to some folks with better ears than mine, though; I'm neither a mixing nor mastering engineer, and I think that requires some specialized skill and experience. But I'm personally very impressed – the way the EQs work, the tape saturation (which can be quite subtle used sparingly), the compressors…

  • http://indenti.ca/reverendgreg Greg

    . . . so this is just a big plugin package, right?

  • http://ardour.org/ Paul Davis

    @greg: not really.

    Although the core DSP functionality in Mixbus is implemented via a plugin, part of the reason why Mixbus is very, very different than some other DAW plus a bunch of plugins is the level of integration between the DAW and the DSP. If you want to regard that as uninteresting that's fine – this argument was hashed out on Gearslutz in one of the longest threads there ever.

    Note that everything you're looking at in the screenshot above is not "a plugin" – the entire GUI of Ardour's mixer strips (and a few other elements of the GUI) was reworked to facilitate the workflow that Harrison wanted to provide. You won't get that by just loading a plugin into any DAW, including Ardour.

  • Random Chance

    This is great. Now, I'm a bit less worried about the future of the products I use on Mac OS or Mac OS itself for that matter. With all that is happening I'm thinking that it would be nice to go back to GNU/Linux, but as it stands I have too much invested in audio software, financially and most of all time and effort spent making everything work the way I want. Now, what I'd like to see is Linux drivers for MOTU interfaces, but I guess that won't happen any time soon.

  • dyscode

    Don´t want to be a party pooper but

    Besides the LINUXability, this is exactly how superior to Reaper?

    I stumbled across Harrison Mix already a year ago and it did not impress me back then.

  • http://ardour.org/ Paul Davis

    @dyscode: I suggest you spend some time in the Gearslutz thread (http://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-computers/427378-harrison-mixbus-virtual-harrison-mixer-plus-full-featured-daw-os-x.html) from the OS X release. Its only 71 pages, 2071 posts long, and features a very vigorous debate and discussion about the merits (or otherwise) of Mixbus over other possibilities.

  • spinner

    I've been using MB since it pretty much came out. The comp and eq on channel makes for a very neat workflow and it's very reminiscent of how I used to work OTB.

    Instead of using tons of plugs I only use plugins on certain channels for a specific character i.e 1176 comp or tube comp exactly like you would do when mixing on a board.

    I do most of my recording / programming in either Live or Logic and have in the past mixed in PT.

    MB has a very light CPU cost compared to to other DAWs and sounds infinitely better..

    There are some growing pains though and things that the Harrison team need to at some point look at.

    It's not there yet and I find myself getting tangled up in issues that puts too much time on an average mix. 

    A small thing like not being able to search in the keybinding window makes for too much scrolling and frustration that I don't have time to deal with when I'm mixing…especially not with a client in the studio..

    Some of it is learning curves but not all.

    Having said that any issue I've had have been dealt with either with a solution or taken onboard as a consideration.

    The Harrison team have been top notch in returning and dealing with any queries.

    I would like to see some substantial upgrades for this DAW and I'd be happy to pay a lot more if they were implemented..

    And… I'm very much looking forward to the Harrison dedicated MB controller ;)

  • Peter Kirn

    @dyscode: Come on. I spent the entire story above trying to explain what makes Mixbus unique. Yes, there are many, many, many choices in DAWs. You can certainly use any of them to do the task.

    @random chance: ffado supports most MOTU audio interfaces under Linux:
    http://ffado.org
    YMMV, but Traveler, 828mkII, 896, and UltraLite all have been reported to work.

    Other audio interfaces have better support, but it's worth a try, especially since trying doesn't cost anything!

  • strunkdts

    that is one ugly ass gui

  • http://ardour.org/ Paul Davis

    @spinner: "A small thing like not being able to search in the keybinding window makes for too much scrolling and frustration that I don’t have time to deal with when I’m mixing"

    I'm a little suprised that you'd even want to being doing this while mixing.

    There is a cheat sheet available that is referenced in the Mixbus docs and can be found at http://ardour.org/support (the keybindings are more or less identical between Ardour 2.X and Mixbus). It seems far more useful to me to just print this out. Why would you want to be searching through an exhaustive, non-semantically arranged list for the names of operations that you might not even know, while mixing?

  • spinner

    @Paul Davies:

    It was an example of some the functions that are poorly implemented in MB. Admittedly maybe not the most common occurrence in a mixing situation and possibly not the best example.

    However my intention was not to list some of the issues I have with MB on this forum but to simply point out that this DAW is not yet fully matured.

    I have had a very good experience of communicating via email with Ben Loftis and that is how I want to and will continue to raise my thoughts visavi MB.

    Open forum discussions can sometimes be useful but more often than not they tend to become opinionated subjective on the side line commentary slug fests…

    I am not interested in discussing with you or anyone else the reason why I might want a specific function in my working tools.

    Although my example might not have been the best after having worked for over 15 years in both Logic and tools I have a certain workflow which includes knowing at least more than 70% of all the key commands in both DAWs.

    Regardless of that knowledge I still come across situations where I have to look up a certain command or function if there's one I rarely use.

    At such a point I do not want to have to spend more time than absolutely necessary to find the function, especially if there is client in the room.

     

    Thanks for pointing out that there is a cheat sheet. As it's been mentioned before I did know about it.

    However I have no intention of learning another set of commands when there is a way of converting MBs current commands to something that I am already familiar with.

    Cheers 

  • dyscode

    @Peter Kirn

    yes you did and all that came through to me was that it runs on Linux. Sometimes your points really elude me, sorry.

    But also your are so right: there are tons of DAWs out there and your only criteria in choice should be which one suits your workflow best. :)

  • http://rhythminmind.net Eric Beam

    Great concept & great price. But how is the Harrison EQ, Saturation, & summing DSP actually preferable? Or is the real focus/selling point on integrated usability?

    I see no technical/quality advantage to use MixBuss over any other DAW. Many other engines have a true 64bit end to end advantage over this, but that's near irrelevant

    .

    For myself & many others, knowing most DAW's are bit for bit transparent is a huge benefit giving peace of mind.

    Actual digital Harrison consoles are transparent. This is something the professional post world takes for granted.

    I like knowing what DSP I insert into the path.

    On a side note Harrison impressed me a few years ago with an on site console demo. Having audour integrated into the hardware console won over the Linux geek in me.

    I've been waiting for Linux to play nice with my TC/SSL hardware & 3rd party vsts.Until then most current Windows uses would have to drop many of there current tools use MixBuss. I would like to have Aurdour/MB as an option with my current investment.

  • http://ardour.org/ Paul Davis

    @spinner: I wasn't trying to put you on the spot over your working style. You probably don't realize that I'm the lead author of Ardour, and therefore of the majority of functionality in Mixbus too. I was asking the question because I'm always interested to find ways to improve the program. Forums are not my preferred mode of communication, but sometimes its where issues arise that are worth taking of.

    Background: in the 10 years I've worked on Ardour, it has been my experience that listening too carefully to any one person's experience with a given piece of technology always tends to be misleading. We have heard from people who tried Ardour and found it mostly unusable. We have others who have had years of experience with Logic or PT who find Ardour much more functional for them. Both these points of view are right, and its taken me a long time to realize that once a tool becomes even remotely complex (possibly at the point where there is any user choice at all), there's no way to make that tool be the choice of all possible users. So these days, while I try to listen very carefully to the reports I get from people who have issues when using the software, I've learnt to not take anyone's verdict (e.g. "its much harder to use than Logic", "its ugly", "its not mature yet") as a comment about their specific working style and the way that Ardour fits into it rather than anything more general.

    So, with all that said, the issue of new keybinding maps is an interesting one, and the main reason why the dialog you mentioned doesn't really as well as you would like is because for us developers its far, far from the best way to develop new binding sets (such as the "protool-ish" and "cubas-ish" bindings that we've come up with recently). As a result, it hasn't received much design attention as a convenient, efficient way for someone to completely remap the bindings. Instead, its there mostly as a convenience so that someone who wants to just tweak a couple of bindings can do so easily without having to do anything more "substantial".

    If you're actually interested in ways to define completely new binding sets, I'd be happy to go into more details with you on the way we do this, but I suspect that email would be a more productive medium. You can reach me at paul@linuxaudiosystems.com. You're also welcome, of course, to continue talking to Harrison about this rather than me, if you prefer to do so, especially since Mixbus is their product (even if its substantively based on Ardour).

  • http://ardour.org/ Paul Davis

    @Eric Beam: "But how is the Harrison EQ, Saturation, & summing DSP actually preferable? Or is the real focus/selling point on integrated usability?"

    Can "both" be the answer? Harrison's DSP is really not bad at all :) , and although you can certainly get copies of it (e.g. from Waves), that tends to be expensive and the result is much less integrated from a usability perspective. So, if you happen to think that a DAW with that kind of DSP builtin seems attractive and/or you want it properly integrated into the DAW rather than done as a series of individual plugins, then Mixbus could be of interest to you.

  • Peter Kirn

    Yeah, not sure what's so hard to grasp here – if you're a Windows user and don't want to make the jump to Linux, it's probably not for you. But if you're willing to give it a try (many Windows VSTs do work), or if you're on the Mac, or if you have a Linux install already, you get:

    * Some superior-sounding tape saturation, EQ, mixing, metering, and compression (as I say above, I'm dubious of claims regarding "summing," but if you look at the whole mixing signal flow, that's relevant)

    * An integrated console UI

    * A free DAW with superior file exchange support and its own native, human-editable XML file format — which, combined with the fact that anyone *else* you know with Mac or Linux can install the same DAW for free means you have a good choice for file exchange.

    None of this requires you give up your current DAW, as I said; it'd make a lot of sense for final mixing/mastering.

    And it's $80 – I can't think of any other way of getting this quality suite of effects alone for anywhere near $80. I can think of a range of possibilities, and some superb options, but all a couple of hundred dollars or more *each*. 

    Getting them all for this price is an absurdly good deal. And because they are integrated with the console, you get an actual mixing experience – both in terms of sound and usability – that plug-ins can't accomplish.

    For anyone toying with installing Linux, that's a big deal. But I also here this "Mac" thing is pretty big, eh?

  • http://www.last.fm/music/(noou) (noou)

    here's something related: http://www.sknote.it/Roundtone.htm
    what's interesting is that multiple instances of the plugin can be linked and summed to the same virtual multi-track tape.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/mfrasconi/ Miguel Frasconi

    I've been using Mixbus since I read about it in Sound On Sound magazine (May 2010). I use it as the front end for both Logic and Live (not at the same time). It's almost to the point where any audio coming in or out of my laptop passes through Mixbus on it's way to/from whatever software I'm using at the time. At this point, I hardly ever use Ardour itself, since I already know Logic and Live so well. But it is looking pretty cool these days. I'm wondering if Mixbus will start using Ardour 3 sometime soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com Chimuelo

    It's the best mixer I ever heard, better than hardware.

    In my upcoming Midget Porn trailers I used it for realtime mixing and the UI was smooth and had no artifacts like hardware mixers.

    Excellent…

  • warriorline

    Love, love, love the sound of Mixbus, but does anyone else have consistent problems with audio dropping out? I'm on a quad core iMac, and I produce in Ableton….have tried mixing some 24-32 track sessions in Mixbus, and I get tons of hiccups/stutters. I'm guessing either there is just some quirk to JACK that I don't really understand, or something doesn't play nice with my Apogee Duet. Any advice?

  • BenLoftis

    Send us a note at mixbus@harrisonconsoles.com and we'll help you figure out what's going on.

    -Ben, Harrison Consoles

  • s ford

    What's the CPU hit like?  

    $79 is very little for even a decent saturation plugin, so it seems like excellent value. 

    Is the usage of JackAudio a must?  Or can you do a similar thing using Soundflower? 

  • Peter Kirn

    You can use Soundflower! Think they even have a YouTube video up on that… have to look…

    CPU hit was nominal for me.

  • Ben Loftis

    If you have JACK (which is required by Mixbus and included in the download ) you don't need Soundflower.

  • LJN

    Can this be used as a VST plug in in Cubase Mac? I'm thinking not, as I only see AU mentioned?