Harrison Mixbus and Ardour

I’ve been using Ardour for several months now and recently decided that I would contribute financially (since I have enjoyed using it so far). However, just after I made my contribution I discovered the Harrison Mixbus option, and was so convinced that it would be a great addition to Ardour that I bought it.

After downloading the MIxbus software I noticed that it was not an ‘addition’ at all… it’s it’s own separate application! So, it looks like the version of Ardour that I have is now obsolete… is this true!?

My question: is there a use for the version of Ardour that has now been humbled by the powerful Mixbus software (which I will be sinking my teeth into very soon)? Or… will it become just another dusty application that I will send to the bin…?

Maybe I’m missing something about the difference between the two.


@solardog: mixbus is not a replacement for Ardour in any direct sense. Its a commercially released and supported version that includes Harrison DSP and changes to the GUI that are focused on making the mixing process smoother, simpler and more intuitive. This has some real benefits (you can read the enormous thread on GearSlutz if you want to hear some feedback from users), but also some costs: that Harrison DSP is running on every track whether you specifically need it or not. There are some purposes (such as large scale recording) where this could really be considered a waste of CPU cycles and using “vanilla” Ardour would make more sense. In addition, if you were using lots of other plugins for your mixing process and found the Harrison DSP built into Mixbus redundant, you can’t turn that off and free up the CPU resources that its using.

That said, Harrison and myself both believe that for a wide range of users, Mixbus’ design and incorporation of their extremely well-regarded DSP into the framework offered by Ardour represents a very powerful and extremely usable tool for many things, and is one that might appeal to people in ways that Ardour itself would not.

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@Paul: Thanks! That makes perfect sense. I’ve read through the GearSlutz forum and a few other posts and have seen nothing but incredible reviews coming back from users (which is what eventually convinced me to purchase it).

Using Ardour “vanilla” for tracking and then moving the session into Mixbus when it comes to final mixdown is a great idea. Good to know that Ardour would be less taxing for large scale recordings. I’ve already tracked a few sessions lasting several hours and had no problems at all. Plus the recordings came out sounding great.

Looking forward to see how Mixbus will enhance the sound of these recordings. Cheers!

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Using Ardour "vanilla" for tracking and then moving the session into Mixbus when it comes to final mixdown is a great idea.

For the record this is EXACTLY what I do. It is an amazingly powerful combination, and means I can build a tracking computer with limited resources to run quiet should I choose, and mount it in a FOH rack, but then take it to a more powerful machine to mix in Mixbus.

Other differences I will note, Mixbus is designed and optimized for stereo mixing. If you need anything with more channels than stereo, you need to use Ardour. Obviously for most people creating music this is not so much of an issue, but for other people this can be, and even for some styles of music.

I personally carry both Ardour and Mixbus and enjoy them both. The ease of switching from one to the other is great.


plus vanilla ardour tracks occupy much less space on your screen in mix view if you are monitoring your recording in that view.

Actually I don’t really believe that is true, unless you are referring to the auto resizing widgets depending on screen size that was an often requested feature for Mixbus.