What happened to me
I used inserts for external plugins that I don’t want to use as an internal plugin. (Guitarix doesn’t share presets between plugin and standalone mode, which is a problem for me)
Without further thinking about it I thought the inserts would get the track signal at 0 dB gain, no matter how the fader gain setting is set. I was sure the fader is applied after the insert. (edit: That happend because the plugins are above the faders UI element and I remembered that the signal goes from top to bottom)
This assumption was wrong. They somehow were influenced by the fader and that was a problem for me. I ignored it for a longer time. Now I did the research and found out that there is a fader plugin and there are pre and post fader plugin positions in the plugin area.
I totally ignored the possibility when I started using ardour to add an insert before the fader plugin, because it is placed at the top of the plugin space by default and there is no obvious space to place plugins above. (Sure thinking a little longer about it might get you there)
This view or layout can be seen in the current manual: The Ardour Manual.
So far my experience with this topic.
Problem is solved now
I now moved my inserts up above the fader and I am happy about the results.
Suggestion on how t avoid this problem in the future
The suggestion i want to make is that the possibility to add a plugin before (pre) or after (post) fader could be shown in the UI more explicitly to show the user that there is a choice.
For example the fader plugin entry could be in the middle of the plugin space (vertically) to provide space above and below it.
*This (I think) would have made me ask myself where to put my inserts at. *
Maybe a hover popup hint shows me that pre and post fader positions influences the plugin signal gain. But that might be too much and problematic, when there are many plugins already in.
I just checked the insert page in the manual, and there is no mention of being able to set inserts as pre- or post-fader.
Manual inserts page
At the very least there could be mention of placement on the plugins page. I am going to try to find time to review the manual in the next few weeks, I will make a note about that page.
Should I make a draft for it?
That should probably be obvious to someone that already knows audio production. But I remember the first times I launched Ardour to make some music and I was also confused with that.
I’m not sure there should be anything in the ui to change that. Maybe the issue lies more in the lack of audio production tutorials using Ardour?
This is something i knew about and it never really bothered me, but i’ve always been wondering: Why is the post-fader plugin the default?
The way i see it you use the trim for gainstaging (basically a pre-plugins-fader), then you treat your signal with plugins, most of which you can control the ouput of, so each plugin in the chain will get hit by those magical -18dB and finally you place the track in the mix with the fader itself.
I know there are endless ways of doing this and none of them are inherently wrong or right but it always seemed odd to me that as soon as there’s a plugin at its default place in the chain, the fader won’t directly influence the volume-meter, that is sitting right next to it, anymore. Am I missing something here?
Post-fader is not the default. Managing the vertical space in the processor box is very complex. If you move the mouse pointer up into the pre-fader area or on the fader itself and right-click, a space will appear above the fader indicating where the plugin/insert etc. will be placed.
We know this is not as self-evident as we’d like it to be. But we also don’t have a good solution for this (we’ve discussed many over the years).
I see. Yeah there is some kind of indication. I remember that I noticed it, but I was unable to get the idea out of it.
Sure this is not ideal, but having a UI element that indicates it better, might confuse one if the space is already filled with plugins.
Perhaps it is good to just add it in the manual. Reading it should be the first thing newcomers should do if there is something not working as intended.