Ardour vs Mixbus

When looking at Ardour and Mixbus, it is hard not to think that the share at least parts of the same codebase, or at least one is very much inspired by the other.

What is the history of the similarities and differences between the two?

Mixbus is built on Ardour. Some of the developers (well, at least one) work on both projects. How do you like Mixbus? My understanding is that you are limited to a certain number of busses. Do you ever find this to be problematic?

Hi Saam,
I don’t own Mixbus, I just stumbled over it while doing a search on DAWs for linux and thought “well, that looks familiar”

Oh, right on. Yes, that is why they look familiar. I’ve considered making the switch only because they’ve already incorporated support for the Faderport 16, but I’ve already waited this long and I am really happy with Ardour. It’s surprising some of the ways that it bests the more popular DAWs. I was staying with a friend a months back who used Ableton and re-routing signals to reamp a signal through outboard gear was a damn headache. He’s been using that DAW for a minute and after I watched a couple videos on it and taught him how to do it, it still took a while for it to sink it. The Audio connections grid in Ardour is absolutely priceless.

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Harrison-consoles collaborates with Ardour since over a decade and they have contributed significantly to Ardour. Their expertise helped a lot to shape Ardour. History aside…

While Ardour is pretty generic, Mixbus is a more specialized product, streamlined towards mixing and focusing on the workflow prevalent in the console mixing days.

The Editor is largely the same in Ardour and Mixbus. However Mixbus’ Mixer is customized to include fixed routing to emulate a console+tape workflow, and also automatically loads effect plugins (EQ, Compressor…) on each Track and Bus. Apart from built-in sound characteristics, the main advantage is the mixer-layout with controls directly visible and accessible, as well as sensible presets.

Anyway, have a look at or

Both projects are free software (GPL) shearing the code-base, however Harrison’s DSP is a proprietary plugin that is bundled with the binary.

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Not quite. You can add as many Aux-busses (aka Ardour-busses) and custom sends as you wish. The dedicated Mixbusses with internal sends are fixed (8 in Mixbus, 12 in MIxbus-32C). Those are easily accessible and always present busses with a dedicated EQ and tape-saturation to model the console/tape-workflow. On the downside those Mixbusses require a bit of CPU power for the processing.

MIxbus is focusing on a stereo-workflow. – As opposed to Ardour, you cannot easily add a 51 channel track for higher-order Ambisonics. YMMV.


For anyone interested,
I just found this interview with Paul, it pretty much explains it all :slight_smile: