Proposed change for auditioning a selection

Based on input from some “pro” Mixbus users, I’d like to propose a new feature for the Ardour editor.

This change will likely appear in the upcoming Mixbus v4.3 release. It can appear in Ardour as well, or it can be hidden.

My proposal is to remove the “audition” tool button entirely, as it does not provide enough useful functionality. As I mention in the video, I believe it is better to use “actions” rather than tools or modes.

Here’s a short video that demonstrates the new feature:

Another note:

I’ve assigned this action the “A” key shortcut, which is a very prominent key on US keyboards. This concentrates the most common actions: (E)dit, ®ange, (A)udition, (S)plit, (D)raw, (G)rab, and (Z)oom on the left side of the keyboard. ( Tab, Q and W are also important: drop marker, previous marker, next marker … although they aren’t mnemonics )

This means that the “A” key is no longer “Align regions”. I’ve moved that to the “x” key which was available, and although it’s not a mnemonic it does look like an “align” symbol if you squint.

I look forward to any thoughts that you might have!

-Ben at Harrison

Disclaimer: I might not be the best person to give an opinion on DAW usability as I mostly just used Ardour, but…

Yes, please, also add this feature to Ardour! :slight_smile:

I was always confused by the audition mode such that I stopped using it all together. What you show in the video seems to be both inutitive and powerful and I see a lot of situations where this exact audition action is useful. I also completely agree with the standard key bindings you are suggesting.

I like the proposed audition feature. I even wonder if replacing the ordinary spacebar by the auditioning action would be a good idea - but that might perhaps go too far.

I like it a lot from my “basic user” perspective.
One question is “discoverability”. Maybe this action could be (aside from the ‘A’ key) set as a button in the Transport Bar ( so that it can be accessed with the mouse too.
Another (lot lesser interesting) point is, in the video there’s a “Mondo Bass” track that seems disabled and (as expected) doesn’t play when the Audition action is triggered. I can see some use cases for a “Super Audition” action (like e.g. CTRL + A) that would override even the mute/disabled status.
Last point (for me) is, as it’s a kind of “play” action, maybe the shortcut could be a (modifier) + space.
Anyway, your proposal would be a very good addition.

This is a great improvement for the audition feature. One question: how will auditioning work now for regions in the the region list but not on the timeline?

I like the proposed features and can see myself using them all the time while editing a song. Please go ahead and add these to Ardour.

Yes, please include this in ardour also. In general, ‘actions’ to replace or be a quick alternative of ‘modes’ help streamline workflows.
As @mpk suggests, it would be great if this also could make a quicker way (press ‘a’, or play while some mouse-click combo is held down) to ‘aurally’ browse regions in the region browser.
A way to keep auditioning while ‘a’ is held down and stop on release, instead of toggling using two separate keys - ‘a’, and ‘Space’ - would also be good.

I rarely used the audition tool; this seems more utile. Now Jeff Raskin would be have been glad to hear of a move away from modes, but be careful about actions that do bring along state. While the immediate outcome are changes of state that already exists separately (soloing and transport), there’s the addition that transport stop will now undo the soloing the audition action caused, right? If so, that seems harmless enough to not require a signifier.


There is indeed a Menu menu for the action, and it is bound to “A” but you can change it to another key, if you like.

The “Mondo Bass” track happens to be colored grey, it’s not disabled: if you didn’t hear it, it’s only because it is very low frequency. You might need to wear headphones.

Regarding the “super-solo”: I considered this very strongly, and finally decided to wait until some future date to see if it’s necessary. There is a preference “Solo overrides muting” which will approximate your needs, at least in the case of muted tracks.

Currently the Audition feature is a “solo in place” - meaning that the track’s plugins, panning, routing, etc is applied. If you want to guarantee that you can hear the region (“super-solo”), you’d have to temporarily override the region mute, region gain, channel trim, fader, mute, plugins, routing …etc etc.

One could argue that we also need a solo which uses the auditioner path: bypassing all region “mute”, region gain, plugins and routing. In this case it would be a super-solo as you describe. But of course it wouldn’t have the effects of the track. Perhaps in the future there will be a “shift+A” action, which route the region through the auditioner path. ( same as right-clicking on the region and choosing “audition” )

And yes… I realize that there’s a name collision between the auditioner “action” and the auditioner “path” … but the “A” key was a useful mnemonic, and the prior auditioner “tool” had the same name collision anyway. In the -code-, the new feature is called solo-selection.

Thanks for the nice comments !
-Ben at Harrison

@mpk: there’s a difference between auditioning a region thru the auditioner path, and the “Audition” action.

The name collision between the 2 different operations is unfortunate. See my notes to Headwar above.

When you “audition” a region through the auditioner path, you are hearing the file sent directly to the monitor bus (or straight to speakers if you don’t have a monitor bus).

@avard: I like the idea of “holding” the A key to audition. Currently, Ardour doesn’t have a convenient way to assign keybindings with a “press” and “release”. The code exists, but it is not accessible via the keybinding files (yet). This might be something to investigate in the future.

However I think you’ll find that holding the A key would prevent you from easily doing other stuff ( zooming, scrolling, etc ) that you often need to do while the audition is occurring.

Regarding holding a key, the 3D app Softimage had a scheme where depressing and immediately releasing a key associated with a tool/mode would activate it until the next mode change. But holding the key down would activate it until the key up event. A thing one needed to know, but nice and easy to get use of if you did.

@thorwil: I like that. We should consider how to implement that for all tools. would be very nice to temporarily switch to “Internal Edit” and then back to Draw mode, for example.

When will this make it into Ardour?

The feature was developed in ardour-git, and will be in upcoming Ardour6.

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Thanks, that’s the one feature I’ve been waiting for. Any guess on the ETA?