If you have some background in audio, but are new to computer recording, then you’ll find Mixbus very easy to learn and navigate. If you are coming to Mixbus from another DAW, here are some of the conventions that might seem different to you:
Console-like signal flow
Most DAWs allow the user to create tracks and buses, but the user is expected to assemble the tracks and buses into a sensible signal flow. To do this, you create one or more buses as-needed, and then assign the track output(s) to the bus inputs. If you later realize that you want another track assigned to that bus, you’ll have to make that connection; and at the end of the day you might have lots of nearly-invisible and arbitrarily-ordered connections all over the place!
Mixbus provides a fixed signal flow, modeled after an analog console. You don’t have to “choose” how many buses you will need, or where they are assigned. This provides several benefits. The bus assignments/sends are displayed in a fixed order, so you can quickly determine what channels are feeding the reverb bus, for example. Additionally, the assignment and/or send-level to a bus can be automated.
Flexible signal flow in the channel makes lots of tasks easy!
Mixbus allows you to drag&drop the order of the plugins in the signal flow. This includes the channelstrip inline EQ, compressor, and fader as separate elements. If you’d like to add a reverb “post fader” ( so the reverb continues to ring-out when you turn down the volume of the instrument… ), you can do that directly in the mixer strip. This saves you from creating a “bus” for adding effects to a single track.
Advanced users can right-click on a plugin and choose “pin connections” …. this opens up additional possibilities ( depending on plugin capabilities) such as sidechaining, mono->stereo effects, mid-side, or similar tasks. This is another way that Mixbus can save you from adding additional “aux buses”, with all of their complexity and overhead, that is normally required in other DAWs.
Plug-ins are encouraged, but are not considered part of the core workflow.
Most other DAWs serve as a “container for plug-ins”. They provide little or no signal processing or bussing, by default. They expect third parties to develop the actual DSP processing.
Mixbus is different! Harrison provides our own high-quality DSP processing for the channel strip EQ and compressor. We’ve tweaked the various EQ, compressor, saturation and limiter stages to complement each other. You may still add plug-ins if you wish, but it is no longer necessary to purchase, and choose between, multiple plug-ins each time you want to change your sound. You can make a great mix without any plug-ins at all!
Regions may be stacked in layers
Each audio “region” (or “clip”) is a discrete sound that exists on the timeline track, and it may have other regions stacked above or below it – on the same track. Deleting the topmost region layer does not create a hole; instead, you will see&hear the audio that was hidden underneath it. You might think of this like the layers of an image editing program. Like an image editor, it is even possible to make regions “transparent” so that the regions underneath it are still visible (or in this case, audible).
This provides 2 benefits. Firstly, it allows you to record an overdub, or part replacement, on top of an existing track. You can then move, trim & fade (or even delete) the replacement part without having to worry about the audio layer(s) underneath it. Secondly, you can use “transparency” to stack lots of sounds (such as bird chirps) on a single track, and effect them together, without having to allocate multiple tracks so each individual sounds is heard.
Region Fades are Crossfades
The start and end of each region has a “fade”, which gradually raises or lowers the volume. When you listen to the region by itself on a track, you hear it fade from silence into the audio, and then back to silence. But if the region is on top of another region, then something even more interesting happens: you will hear a crossfade from the underlying region, into the top region, and then back to the underlying region. This allows you to stack regions on top of one (or more!) regions underneath it, and set your crossfade to match perfectly. Later, even if the underlying audio is changed, you’ll still preserve the fade of the topmost region.
Because digital audio streams don’t like abrupt changes in the audio stream, EVERY region has a start and end fade. Mixbus’s default fades make it easier to edit with confidence that you won’t introduce a click.
Less emphasis on Tools, more emphasis on Actions
Most DAWs have a set of “tools” (or “mouse modes”) which modify how the mouse behaves. For example, you select the “scissor” tool to make cuts, and the “trim” tool to trim region ends. In Mixbus, we have very few tools. You can do most of your work using the “Grabber” (hand) tool. Point where you want to perform the action, and then use the keyboard shortcut to initiate an action such as “S” for split, or “J” to trim a region’s start (you can also grab the edge of the region to trim it, but the keyboard actions are faster).