Pan Law, -"Unified"- Routing Matrix, and Reaper-Style Grouping

So after being a Reaper user for quite a while, I finally got tired of my frustrations with windows (the most recent issue being partitions corrupting themselves, go figure), and moved to linux for (possibly) good.

Not wanting to fight with wine every time something changes, I decided to go the Ardour/MixBus route, and so far I’m loving it.

That being said, there are some Reaper features I miss, which I will get into further below. Mainly, custom pan law settings, Reaper’s “Unified” routing matrix (all IOs in one view in one square window, yes I know we have the “by type” matrix now, but I’m talking about a full view of everything at once), and lastly, Reaper’s grouping settings.

Pan Law: Settings such as -2.5 db, -3 db, and -6 db would be fine, AFAIC, but maybe other users’ input would add/retract from that.

Unified Routing matrix: This isn’t a huge issue, as we already have a comprehensive window. It’s just that having everything – on one page – can make things a fair bit faster, especially with a large session.

Reaper has really in depth grouping controls, where you can set individual or multiple channels as a group “Master” for various settings like volume (fader), mute, solo, pan, rec-enable, etc. You can also set multiple channels to multiple groups. IE: if I wanted a drum bus to be the volume,mute,solo “Master” for my drums, but also make this a “slave” to my actual Master Bus, or if I wanted to group snare top and bottom channels and still make them a slave to my drum bus. It works similarly to the Master/Slave function on digital consoles like a Calrec.

As I understand it right now, Ardour only allows channels to be part of one group at a time, and all channels in the group control all of the active group settings. This is counter-intuitive to me.

Reaper also incorporates VCAs, which is another great grouping feature.

I was wondering if there were any plans for any of these types of features into Ardour, and if anyone else agrees that these would be useful.

Sorry for the super long-winded post.

TLDR: Will we get Pan Law and Reaper-style grouping?


There are no plans to add Reaper style grouping, but VCAs (done better than Reaper in my opinion) are under active development right now. This will radically overhaul what you can, but it will via VCAs not grouping. The relationship between the two is not yet clear. Trust me, you’re going to love our VCA implementation. It combines both the SSL and Harrison style of VCAs, so you can both chain AND nest masters/slaves.

We are never going to do a “unified patchbay” because it doesn’t scale. If you’re used to using Reaper with devices that have 2-8 channels, try it with a MADI card (let alone two chained MADI devices). Then add in the fact that if you use JACK, you also have access to a potentially large number of connection points in other JACK clients. It doesn’t work.

Panners are plugins in Ardour (not using any 3rd party API). If you want to write a new panner, it is relatively trivial. Nobody around has expressed much interest.

Thanks for the reply paul!
That’s awesome that VCAs are being developed. My only physical console experience is with the Calrec Artemis and Yamaha M7CL, as I do live TV broadcast audio for the Oklahoma Sooners, and they’re the consoles we use. My main experience is with the Calrec. So, I’m not familiar with how SSL and Harrison’s style works, but being able to chain and nest VCAs sounds great.

Also, I wasn’t thinking about the nightmare massive amounts external IOs could cause with the patchbay. I work pretty much entirely in the box, so I had really only been considering “internal” routing, from channels to busses, etc. I definitely see your point though.

Lastly, I’m kind of surprised that pan law hadn’t been brought up before. Also didn’t realize Ardour’s panners were just plugins. I don’t know enough programming for that at the moment, but I am studying computer engineering, so I might look into it once my skills are up to snuff.


Also, I wasn't thinking about the nightmare massive amounts external IOs could cause with the patchbay. I work pretty much entirely in the box, so I had really only been considering "internal" routing, from channels to busses, etc. I definitely see your point though.

I will give a perfect example of this. I literally just did a nice comparison between the two with a live musical theater session. Namely this is tracking off a CL5 console via Dante, so 64x64. I initially tracked the sitzprobe as my mixer couldn’t be there that day and I wanted him to have something to practice with (ala 'Virtual Soundcheck). If you are familiar with mixing musical theater professionally this would make sense, trust me:) He then came in and repeated the process with a rehearsal a few days later to get a more up to date run for updated timings etc. for his practice. I did the tracking in Mixbus v3 which has Ardour’s matrix window. He did it in Reaper.

It was pretty painful figuring things out in the reaper window, only because of the massive amount of ports without a whole lot of clear delineation between what they were in all cases. It took several minutes just to do the patching in reaper as a result. It took us about 30 seconds, probably less to accomplish this in Ardour/Mixbus however, as all that we had to worry about in as far as what we saw, was the ports we were concerned with.

So yes, for smaller session I could see Reaper’s layout being better, but for larger sessions I will take Ardour’s in a heartbeat:)