[Ardour-Users] a few thoughts

Adriano Petrosillo ampetrosillo at gmail.com
Tue Dec 4 13:51:21 PST 2012

Why is it that having graphical control means risking not having numerical,
precise control?
You can have both, most (well thought-out) plugins with this kind of
graphical interface, ie. with potentiometers, have also a box underneath
each pot with the numerical value, and double-clicking on the pot generally
allows you to input the desired value as a number (but if you want sliders,
they're fine too! It's just that on a channel strip, knobs are more

Just an (OT) thought.

Just to be the devil's advocate, here... if you're supposed to mix with
your ears, not your eyes, couldn't it actually be better not to have a
numerical value for the settings you're going to tweak, simply going with
what you hear? Too many people obsess over boosting or cutting as little as
possible, being influenced by that dB value they see next to the slider,
and taking even +3dB boosts as excessive, when maybe they should forget
about numbers and mix with their ears? If +12dB sounds good, why shouldn't
you do it? Mixing isn't about dogmas, but about results, and too many audio
engineers stick to the book too much, when the listener doesn't really care
if you distorted that kick drum to pieces, if it really works.

I'm absolutely not trying to say you should remove numerical indicators,
nor that you should distort stuff to make it sound good, or that clipping
is good, but hey, lots of mastering studios today deliberately clip the
converters (what many do is take the mix, output it from the audio
interface through some "studio-grade converters", then amplify it through a
preamp and they bring it back in HOT, having another set of "studio-grade
ADCs" slightly clipping the peaks), saying "the customers want it like
this, it's loud, I don't care if it's morally wrong".

I don't agree, in general, and the process sounds dubious to me (why not
clip it in software then? They say that "those" converters clip gracefully
and add a bit of analog saturation before clipping, but I'm not convinced),
especially as it is a "mastering" process which should try to preserve
sound quality as much as possible, while making everything louder, and not
degrade it deliberately for the sake of making everything as loud as
possible (take Californication, for example, a prime example of HEAVY

But as a creative device (on a track or a group bus, maybe, instead of the
entire mix), it could actually be useful and a nice touch for a track which
accomodates the treatment.

Oh, and a last thing: if you bundle (or have the plugins as an optional
package) plugins with Ardour, I assume that you can't break dependancies
and package maintainers have a duty to make sure that nothing breaks during
updates and upgrades, so it is a moot point. It is much worse when you have
them free-floating around the web, and having to compile them too, perhaps,
as some distros, for example, don't really like it when you do it (the
Ubuntu guidelines explicitly advise AGAINST compiling your own stuff).
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