Recording - September 2015 - 43

As is common on these DAW displays,
audio and MIDI in Tracks are displayed
from left to right; what's uncommon is the
fact that each Track can actually have
multiple layers of audio playing at once,
which can be displayed with varying levels of transparency. You can crossfade
between these layered audio regions,
blend them, and retrieve what's under
your latest record pass with a simple
Undo command. This is an intuitive way
to work with overdubs and multiple takes.
One huge addition to Mixbus 3 is MIDI;
while there are DAWs out there with finer
and fancier MIDI capabilities, it's likely that
Mixbus will now do the job for many engineers who rarely use virtual instruments.
Note data can be recorded, played back,
edited in piano roll form, and even stepentered with an onscreen keyboard.
...and then we mix
First and foremost, Mixbus is a DAW
designed for mixing. The Mixer Window is
instantly recognizable and easily navigable, with mono and stereo channel strips
that feature everything you'd be used to
seeing on an analog console, pretty much
where you'd expect to find it. The screenshot shows the main Mixer Window with
four of the subgroups on display.
On each input channel there's a list of plugins with defeatable EQ (3-band semiparametric) and a compressor on each channel, switches and send knobs for each of the
eight groups, pan, mute, solo, and metering.
If you want to use Mixbus to control a monitor section, that pops up in an extra pane to
the right of the Master bus strip.
You can insert your own plug-ins, or
add hardware inserts to run signals out of
your DAW to analog gear and back
again; the effects chain can be reordered
at will. This reordering is particularly
interesting, because as you can see in the
screenshot, the channel fader is included
in the list of effects. It too can be
reordered, so you can easily make certain effects or plug-ins pre-fader and others post-fader. Note that the EQ is up top,
where it normally would be on a console,
but the compressor (which works as a
standard compressor, limiter, or Leveler à
la LA-2A) is next to the fader so its gain
reduction meter is in an obvious place.
Speaking of which, you'll notice that
the console has all kinds of metering.
Since knowing what's happening as you
mix is critical, Mixbus gives you plenty of
visual feedback at every stage of the mixing process so you can quickly find problems. In addition to mono and stereo level
meters on each channel, the groups and
Master have VU-style pointer meters with
realistic ballistics that display the Drive
tape saturation. The Master also has a KMeter for keeping an eye on levels for
mastering, and an animated horizontal
phase correlation meter above that.

Each group has a simple 3-band Tone
control, its own compressor identical to
the ones on the input channels, and a
knob labeled Drive. This engages a saturation algorithm to mimic the sound of a
real analog console. All of these features
are also present on the Master bus, in
addition to a final peak limiter with its
own gain reduction meter.
The sound
A lot of people have purchased and are
using Mixbus simply as a summing mixer.
They import audio from other DAWs (easily done with the Import function and the
Add Existing Media window) or route it
live into Mixbus using JACK, Cycling '74
Soundflower, or another inter-application
audio router, so they can do their mixes.
Why would you want to do this? Because
Mixbus sounds phenomenal.
There are lots of plug-ins out there now
that offer "tape saturation" and "analog
mixing channel modeling" and so on.
Some of them are quite good. Mixbus,
however, has all that analog mojo built
in. Turn up the Drive knob and your mixes
develop punch, heft, and that indefinable
sweetness that we once associated only
with an all-analog signal chain. I heard
the difference immediately and really
came to appreciate it as I used Mixbus to
prepare tracks for my next CD release.

Harrison allows you to launch plug-ins
within Mixbus (as long as they match the
DAW's bit depth, 32 or 64, and its format, AU for Mac and VST for Windows).
But the goal is for your mixes to sound
dynamite just with the built-in tools. The
EQ and dynamics control built into
Mixbus are meant to sound like they're
from a Harrison console, and result in better-sounding, more organic mixes.
Harrison has written its own plug-ins for
Mixbus (a subject for a future article!) but
is proud, and rightfully so, of the sound
you get the moment you run audio
through its mixer.

Notes and final thoughts
Mixbus is designed primarily for fast use
with a standard keyboard (with a numeric
keypad) and a 3-button mouse with scroll
wheel (although a 2-button mouse does
give you most of the fast shortcuts). While
every function can be accessed by clicking
and dragging with the mouse, learning
your way around the key commands
speeds things up dramatically.
If you're wondering about using a control
surface with Mixbus, the answer is "not yet,
but soon". Control surface protocol support
is currently disabled on Mixbus 3, but
Harrison hopes to be able to turn it on in a
forthcoming upgrade. Mixbus is otherwise
very capable when speaking to outboard
hardware; it handles various timecode formats, clock sources, and can even show a
video track in thumbnail form as you work.
Little touches abound all over Mixbus. If
you're looking at the Editor Window and
you see that a Track's miniature level meters
have turned red rather than grey, that means
that the mixed Track has suffered a severe
overload. MIDI I/O can be enabled or disabled for any MIDI Track in the Mixer with a
simple icon click. Any or all automation
types can be displayed in automation lanes
under the relevant tracks (the screenshot
shows simple fader automation on one track
as an example). Optional floating windows
include a full meter bridge, a large timecode

clock, and more. And for every function I've
mentioned, I've missed at least ten...
Many DAW users are perfectly happy
with what they have. Others aren't content with the sound of the mixes they're
getting. Considering that Mixbus costs
less than most single plug-ins, it's well
worth a try if you're looking for a new
way to record and mix at high quality.
You very well might find it appealing
enough to become your go-to DAW.
Price: $79
More from: Harrison,
www.harrisonconsoles.com
RECORDING September 2015

43


http://www.harrisonconsoles.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - September 2015

Contents
Recording - September 2015 - Intro
Recording - September 2015 - Cover1
Recording - September 2015 - Cover2
Recording - September 2015 - 1
Recording - September 2015 - 2
Recording - September 2015 - 3
Recording - September 2015 - 4
Recording - September 2015 - 5
Recording - September 2015 - Contents
Recording - September 2015 - 7
Recording - September 2015 - 8
Recording - September 2015 - 9
Recording - September 2015 - 10
Recording - September 2015 - 11
Recording - September 2015 - 12
Recording - September 2015 - 13
Recording - September 2015 - 14
Recording - September 2015 - 15
Recording - September 2015 - 16
Recording - September 2015 - 17
Recording - September 2015 - 18
Recording - September 2015 - 19
Recording - September 2015 - 20
Recording - September 2015 - 21
Recording - September 2015 - 22
Recording - September 2015 - 23
Recording - September 2015 - 24
Recording - September 2015 - 25
Recording - September 2015 - 26
Recording - September 2015 - 27
Recording - September 2015 - 28
Recording - September 2015 - 29
Recording - September 2015 - 30
Recording - September 2015 - 31
Recording - September 2015 - 32
Recording - September 2015 - 33
Recording - September 2015 - 34
Recording - September 2015 - 35
Recording - September 2015 - 36
Recording - September 2015 - 37
Recording - September 2015 - 38
Recording - September 2015 - 39
Recording - September 2015 - 40
Recording - September 2015 - 41
Recording - September 2015 - 42
Recording - September 2015 - 43
Recording - September 2015 - 44
Recording - September 2015 - 45
Recording - September 2015 - 46
Recording - September 2015 - 47
Recording - September 2015 - 48
Recording - September 2015 - 49
Recording - September 2015 - 50
Recording - September 2015 - 51
Recording - September 2015 - 52
Recording - September 2015 - 53
Recording - September 2015 - 54
Recording - September 2015 - 55
Recording - September 2015 - 56
Recording - September 2015 - 57
Recording - September 2015 - 58
Recording - September 2015 - 59
Recording - September 2015 - 60
Recording - September 2015 - 61
Recording - September 2015 - 62
Recording - September 2015 - 63
Recording - September 2015 - 64
Recording - September 2015 - 65
Recording - September 2015 - 66
Recording - September 2015 - 67
Recording - September 2015 - 68
Recording - September 2015 - 69
Recording - September 2015 - 70
Recording - September 2015 - 71
Recording - September 2015 - 72
Recording - September 2015 - Cover3
Recording - September 2015 - Cover4
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