Where Ardour 7.3 Ends and MixBus begins


I’ve been a MixBus user for some time now and decided to download 7.3 to have a go at the roots. I recognize the editor and small bits of the mixing area, but can someone give a short synopsis of things to explore in Ardour that aren’t found in MixBus32c v8, just to get my feet wet?


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In short: Ardour and Mixbus are identical except for the Mixer and signal flow.

Harrison Mixbus is Ardour with Harrison’s signal-processing added to the mixer.
There is nothing in Ardour that cannot be found in Mixbus.

The main differences are

  • Mixbus focuses on a stereo workflow; while Ardour allows arbitrary channel-counts (useful for ambisoncs)
  • Mixbus has an EQ, Compressor and Gate on each track as well as a bus send matrix.
    Ardour does not have any built-in signal-processing, so by default it requires less CPU power and can run reliably on more lightweight systems.
  • Mixbus has a “sound” (choices made my Harrison which plugins to provide and build-in).

Versions do not always exactly match, so at times Ardour is ahead since many features are developed in Ardour first before they reach Mixbus, but sometimes Mixbus moves ahead.

The current Mixbus 9.0.1 release is based on Ardour 7.3.74


Thanks, Robin.

That is a far more succinct explanation than I could coax out of a search engine. I appreciate it.


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Some examples of additional use cases may be helpful here -

  1. Record Wet.
    Ardour does this by exposing the Disk IO recorder and player signal routing points. Mixbus chose not to support this feature. Replication in Mixbus would require a send to an extra channel used for tracking and playback mixing.

  2. Any type of raw signal processing without Mixbus coloration or additional DSP overhead; for example, sample editing.

  3. As Robin previously stated, anything that might require a non-stereo Master. For example, exporting 15-channel output files for Drumgizmo kits.


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Something else:
Stereo strip panners are by default stereo balance controls, like Mixbus, but have an alternative mode giving width and position control.

Thanks, johndev & mc888.

Hearing you describe the features from your perspective definitely sparks a few ideas on how to play with the features.

The unprocessed tracking/mixing was one of the main things that drove me to try this (for a second time, actually. I had a brief encounter with 6.7, but had too many pressing projects at the time and abandoned the process quickly).

I’ve wondered why the MixBus overlay wasn’t given the option to universally kick in/out the coloration components, though I respect the idea of having a signature sound and simplifying the workflow.

The agnostic io count and positional panning definitely ignite an interest in chasing the three dimensional possibilities, and using it to drive early/mid process production tools (The DrumGizmo idea) had not even occurred to me.


Keep in mind there are two Mixbus versions, Mixbus & Mixbus32C. I’m a 32C user so I see some of this a little differently than other responses, but take my input with a grain of salt.

I’ve used a lot of DAWs over the years. Acid Pro, Pro Tools, Pro Tools LE, Ardour, Mixbus, Mixbus32C and recently even the lest expensive ($59) Cubase LE. I’ve also recorded and worked (a long, long time ago) in real studios. Of all the DAWs Mixbus32C ‘feels’ the most like I’m sitting in front of a real console while the others, with the possible exception of Pro Tools, feel like I’m mixing in the box. There may be little to no difference in the final result once you mix and export your work, but on a TV sized monitor, for me it’s easy/easier to forget it’s a computer.

As for the perceived ‘stereo’ focus of the Harrison products, Mixbus32C-V9 can automatically break out a single MIDI track with a larger than stereo output into a wide group of individual stereo audio tracks. I.e. - drop in EZDrummer and if you ask it to you can get 10 or so stereo tracks of the individual drums which I believe can be armed for recording to print stems when you’re ready. Drop in Halion and, if you allow it, it will automatically create a massive group of stereo tracks, one for each instrument in your Halion Rack. I’ve only played with this feature and not done any recording, but there are new features coming along all the time.

  • Mark

Thanks, Mark.

I agree on the console headspace, though I miss the tactile part of it. I still do a lot of work in the base version MixBus v7 for the interface, though 32c v8 is the main tool.

Good to know about v9. I bought it, but have yet to run it so as not to have too many learning curves in play while getting to know Ardour.


imho Mixbus has that really cool phase optimization feature I really like.

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