Bundling effects for reuse? (and temporary application)

I’ve been acquainted with Ardour recently and it’s fantastic. I’m mostly learning by trial-and-error and googling around, and I want to ask you experts about a few related use cases I’ve encountered, to see if you have a neater workflow. I have no experience with other DAWs, only with old MIDI sequencing. The basic problem is creating a chain of effects for reuse. For example, a filter + compressor + reverb + etc. I see no way of “logically” creating a bundle, nor of copying plugins from a track to another, so I end saving in each individual plugin a preset for each desired configuration, having these plugins in favorites, and re-adding all of them when needed, selecting the preset.

Second problem: for applying momentarily (for a few seconds of the session) such a bundle, I haven’t found a better way than having a dedicated bus with the effect chain, and automating the fader. I haven’t found a way (I don’t think there is one) of tying plugins to regions. Not sure if that would be commonly useful though.

Finally, if I want to momentarily replace the original track with the filtered one (instead of adding the output of both), I use the sjh crossfade plugin on the dedicated bus, having a sidechain insert from the original track. I do this to use only one automation parameter (the crossfade) instead of the two faders in both tracks. Only quirk of this thing is that I need a dedicated bus for each track receiving the effect bundle, if its application overlaps.

(Incidentally, I saw in very old posts that plugin enable/disable automation was on the table, but I don’t think it is in v5? Many effects don’t have the dry/wet saving option.)

So, basically, would you do something differently? Thank you for any feedback!

For your first issue: save your track with the desired plugins as a track template. When adding new tracks, specify that track template, and the new track(s) will be created with all the specified plugins in place, with the same settings.

Plugins can not process selected regions in Ardour (as far as I know). This concept exists in some other multitrack editors (Pro Tools) that has special plugins just for that (Audiosuite - plugins). There is “Bounce with processing” option if you right click on a region, but that does not do anything on Ardour 5.1. But it might be just me doing something wrong.

You can simulate something similar to Audiosuite plugin processing regions like this:

  • Create a track dedicated to region processing and add needed plugins to its insert points.
  • Drag regions you want to process to this track and use the Range selector mouse tool to select the range you want to process.
  • Right click on the selected range and from the menu select: “Consolidate range with processing”. This will create a new region from the selection with plugin processing.
  • Drag the new range back to its original track.

You can bypass the plugins you don’t need in the processing chain.

Regarding plugin bypass automation: The problem is that this is not click-free, unless the plugin itself provides a bypass/enable. Only the plugin “knows” how to click-free en/disable itself.
This is not a feature Ardour can provide, Ardour can only facilitate plugin authors with means to do that:

Since version 5.0 Ardour allows a plugin to designate one of its inputs as “bypass/enable”, in which case the “Bypass Button/LED” in Ardour controls that port. A few plugins have started to pick that up, and the bundled a-* plugins are in progress to support that. You can simply automate the plugin provided enable.

Mosteo I don’t know if I understand your final question correctly, but I think you may find playlists useful. Playlists lets you have different versions of regions / takes on the same track. If you right click a track (its leftmost part where the track name is), then you get a menu where you can create new playlists on the track and easily change which of the existing playlists will be shown on the track.

Each audio track has by default only one playlist, the one you see when you create the track. A playlist is the part of a audio track that regions are placed upon. If you create more playlists on the same audio track, then you are kind of creating new “tracks” inside it. You can have different regions on each playlist or different version or differently edited versions. Only one playlist can be shown and played at a time. This lets you have all different versions of you regions to go through exactly the same plugin processing and outputs you have on the track. You can also create a new playlist making copies of all regions shown on current playlist.

One common use for playlists is to record different takes of the same part of a song to different playlists. Then you select the best parts of each take from different playlists and copy them to the same playlist.

Ok, guys, thanks a lot for the insights. I take several things away from your posts that sound promising and I must investigate: playlists, region consolidation… Even if they don’t end being useful for the particular topic I asked about, they seem powerful tools to have in store.

Paul, the track template seems so obvious now, thanks.

And I will keep an eye on the new bypass/enable feature. x42, I don’t really understand the click-free implications, but I’m happy there’s work in that direction being done.