What are Mute and Solo?
The simplest explanation of Mute and Solo are:
Mute: When enabled, the mute button prevents the track from being heard.
Solo: When enabled, the solo button mutes all the tracks except this one.
….but there are many subtleties, especially for Solo, that are called upon to solve vexing problems that we encounter as audio engineers.
Mixbus provides Mute and Solo buttons, and a wide range of options, to meet these needs.
By default, when you solo a track, the other (non-soloed) tracks are drawn with a yellow frame. This indicates they are “implicitly muted”. ( i.e. muted by someone else )
You can disable this “implicit mute” display in Preferences->Mixer->Solo
ctrl + alt + click on a Solo button (OSX: command +control + click). Normally, if more than one track/bus is solo’d, they will all play, but this allows you to listen to only one solo’d track when more than one have been solo’d.
On the solo/mute controls left-button (button 1) mouse clicks do the following, depending on holding these keyboard modifiers:
- no mod: toggle solo on/off
- Primary mod (usually ‘Shift’): override track group
- Primary + Secondary modifiers (usually ‘Shift’ and ‘Ctrl’): exclusively solo this track
- Primary + Tertiary modifiers + click: apply to all
Middle-click (button 2):
- no mod. : momentary toggle (until release)
- Primary mod: assign generic MIDI. (if generic midi control surface is enabled)
Right-click (button 3) brings up a context menu:
- Solo Isolate
- Solo Safe
“Solo Isolate” is a mode which prevents the channel from muting when other channels are soloed. This mode is used, for example, on a reverb return where you’d like to always hear the reverb, even when a channel is soloed which would normally mute this channel.
You can Ctrl-click (Cmd on Mac) on a channel to Solo isolate it. Or Right-click on a Solo button to see a context menu with this option.
When a channel is Solo-Isolated, the word “ISO” will appear in the “switcher” area at the top of the strip.
“Solo Safe”, when enabled, will “lock” the current state of the Solo button so the user cannot accidentally change it by clicking on the Solo button. If the channel is Solo’ed, it will not be possible to un-solo the channel by clicking the Solo button.
To activate this option, Right-click on a Solo button to see a context menu.
Solo’ing with a Monitor section
If the session has a monitor section (Session > Properties > Monitoring), there are additional controls for Exclusive Solo, Mute/Solo overrides and Pre/After Fader Listen available. Click here for details.
Like a real console, the mixbuses are a separate mixing stage. Imagine the 8 (12 in 32C) mixbuses are like a second, standalone mixer. So when you solo a mixbus, the other mixbuses are “implicitly muted”. There’s no interaction between the inputs and the mixbuses, so soloing a mixbus does not implicitly mute or solo any tracks.
Utility buses aren’t really a mixing stage at all; they are just a signal path where you can combine other paths (or split them out from a multichannel plugin, for example). In this case, when you solo a utility bus then it also has to solo all the things feeding into it. Similarly, if you solo anything, it has to make sure that the “utility buses” that it feeds are soloed and this causes other stuff to get implicitly muted.
The best plan is to keep your signal paths simple, and you’ll get the best results. Just because you “can” add a bunch of buses and options, doesn’t mean that you “should”.