Session folder layout

Navigating to a session folder will display a series of files and folders:

  • instant.xml : this file stores the most recently-used mouse mode, playhead location, and other transitory information.
  • {snapshot name}.ardour : each of these files represents a Snapshot, which stores all of the edits, settings, and properties of a session.
  • {snapshot name}.bak : backup files are occasionally generated for each snapshot
  • {snapshot name}.pending : pending files snapshots that get created when an audio recording is initiated. this allows us to recover audio data, even in the event of a crash or power outage. If a pending file is found when Mixbus is re-launched, you will see the Crash Recovery dialog, and you can choose to ignore or recover any lost information that was saved to the pending file.
  • {snapshot name}.history : every snapshot file has a “history” file. The history file saves the UNDO history for that snapshot.
  • analysis: This folder contains data relevant to any audio files that Mixbus has analyzed for transient-detection and note-detection. By storing this information, Mixbus doesn’t have to re-analyze audio when you initiate one of these functions.
  • dead: This folder serves as a waste basket for unused audio. Menu>Session>Clean-up>Flush Wastebasket: will delete audio files located in this folder. Click here for more
  • export: This is the default location for exported files. Click here for more.
  • externals: This folder contains a list of external files that are used in the session, but were not copied into the session
  • interchange: This folder contains imported audio, recorded audio, and MIDI files.
  • peaks: Contains waveform images for display in the editor. It is safe to delete the contents of this folder, and Mixbus will create new data when the session is re-opened.
  • plug-ins: Contains plug-in settings. Some plugins (such as impulse-response based reverbs) need to store more information than is practical in the session XML file. The extra plugin data is stored here.

Session XML file format

Mixbus session files use the industry-standard “Ardour” session file format. These files are plain human-readable XML. Other workstations that use this format include Ardour and Waves Tracks Live.

A detailed description of the session format is beyond the scope of this manual, but here is an overview of a session file contents:

  • Config : defines the Session Properties that were chosen for this session.
  • Metadata : the metadata information for the session ( personnel details, etc )
  • Sources : a list of the audio and MIDI files that are used in this session
  • Regions : a list of the regions (segments of an audio or MIDI file) used in the session
  • Playlists : a list of playlists that are used in the session. A playlist is a sequence of regions, and their specific settings (trim, fade, etc)
  • Locations : a list of locations (markers, cd markers, region markers, loop/punch markers) that are used in the session
  • Bundles : a list of bundles ( a bundle is a group of input (or output) ports that are associated, such as the 2 inputs of a stereo track )
  • Routes : a list of “routes” ( tracks and buses ) that are used in the session. A Route has many sub-fields:
    • Currently selected playlist
    • Channelstrip fader, EQ, compressor, and pan settings
    • Plugins used in this route

Mixbus Preferences folder

The Mixbus “preferences” folder stores all of a user’s preferences, as shown in the Preferences dialog.

The preferences folder location varies with each OS, but it is always found inside the HOME (“~”) folder:

  • Mac OS X: ~/Library/Preferences/Mixbus6
  • Windows: ~/AppData/Local/Mixbus6
  • Linux: ~/.config/mixbus6

Inside the Preferences folder, you will find a list of files and folders:

  • config : this file stores your user preferences
  • instant.xml : this stores transitory information such as the last playhead location and window locations
  • bindings file : this file stores your customized keybindings
  • recent : this file stores the list of recently-opened sessions that is presented to you when you launch Mixbus
  • sfdb : this folder stores your metadata-info for any audio files that you’ve tagged in the Import dialog
  • my-dark.colors : this file stores your personal Theme colors for the Dark theme. (Light theme is not yet implemented)
  • plug-in cache ( VST and/or AU ) : this folder stores a list of plugins that have been identified on your computer. If you delete this folder or its contents, you will have to re-scan your plugins.

More details about the “instant.xml” file

The instant.xml file is a “semi-persistent” preferences file. It serves this purpose:

When you save a session, many of your preferences for this session are stored in the session’s local instant.xml, and the global instant.xml. When you create a NEW session, the global instant.xml file is used to create the new session’s instant.xml

There are many parameters that are stored in the instant.xml file:

  • Window positions ( editor, mixer, meterbridge, plugins, etc )
  • Action-Buttons assigned to the buttons in the toolbar
  • Control Surface settings
  • Clock mode selections
  • Visibility of the Editor List and Mixer List panels
  • Grid (snap) options
  • Playhead position & zoom scale ( some instant.xml settings like this are ignored for a new session )
  • Selected mouse mode (tool) in the editor
  • How the region-list is sorted ( by date, name, or whatever )

These settings do not have any effect on the session’s sound. They are not part of the session data.

A session can have multiple snapshot files, but it has only one instant.xml that is shared among all the snapshots.

What does this mean?

  • When you create a NEW session, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that some of your most-recent settings ( window positions, action-button assignments ) are already set-up for you in the new session.
  • When you return to an OLD session, you’ll find the session exactly as it was when you left it. Your more recent sessions & preferences will not be applied. The session’s instant.xml will define the window positions, etc.
  • NOTE: if you visit an old session and save it, you will overwrite your current global instant.xml, and those settings will be used in the next NEW session. This can be a nice feature, or a big annoyance.

This behavior is a compromise that was reached after many years of discussion & feedback. We are constantly re-visiting these issues to see which parameters should be stored globally ( in preferences ), in the global instant.xml, in the session’s instant.xml, and the session snapshot file(s).


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