[Ardour-Users] a few thoughts

Adriano Petrosillo ampetrosillo at gmail.com
Wed Dec 5 07:49:54 PST 2012

> adriano, this is pretty funny.
> somewhere near the top of this thread you were arguing that the
> limitations
> of hardware consoles shouldn't be propagated into software.

I think you got mixed up, you quoted another user, not me. Anyway, that's
the approach Ableton Live uses, or (I think) Presonus Studio One, judging
from a few screenshots (I mean Ross Johnson's approach, having a separate
window showing plugin settings for selected tracks), which wouldn't be too
bad either (certainly a step in the right direction, in my opinion), but
defeats the ease of use of having all relevant controls exposed, which you
can check with a quick glance.

And again, the hardware limitations I refer to haven't got anything to do
with interface (which I'd like to be able to replicate) but simply
"functionality". A typical hardware mixer is certainly more limited (in
theory, at least) than a digital one, provided you have enough computing
power, because on hardware consoles, you have a limited amount of tracks
and limited sound sculpting possibilities (on most consoles you have only
one kind of EQ per channel, and having other flavours of EQ means buying
expensive equipment... built-in track compressors are usually quite limited
adjustment-wise too). (Of course, you could replicate the flexibility of
digital in hardware, but it's way more expensive, since it means having to
buy large amounts of channel strips or many different kinds of outboard
gear, plus it is more time consuming since you have to patch each module up
each time you need it... and all this without mentioning the space you need
for such a powerful setup: that's why even a small-ish digital studio today
is potentially more capable than many studios in the 70's and 80's, without
putting engineers in the equation, of course). The advantage of having such
a layout and limitations though is that it increases ease of workflow and
speed, so that's why I was proposing to have customizable console-like
interfaces in Ardour: to have the best of both worlds, both immediacy and
focus, and flexibility and power when you DO need them.

I've seen some mixbus 2 screenshots, if I've understood, your approach to
my idea is having some bars with the name of the plugin parameter which you
can tweak directly from the mixer panel. It's not too bad, but I wonder if
you can choose which parameters to have exposed, if you can have more than
one plugin's parameter exposed, if you can create "macro" controls which
control more than one parameter at the same time, if you can separate or
colour-code the bars. Even only applying these adjustments could be
beneficial. Then, my argument for a more "hardware-looking" console (as an
option, I can't stress this enough... an option you can choose to have or
not) is that it is more natural to operate for people used to working with
real consoles (and I know plenty of them) and I think "screen real estate",
"CPU cycles" etc. are not relevant arguments in this day and age, where for
all purposes, any mid-level CPU is more than adequate for mixing and we all
have more than one large LCD screen in our studio (and if you don't, well,
you won't use the option, will you?).

Oh, and another thing: what about track grouping? Reaper for example has a
very useful implementation, where lower level tracks' outputs are
automatically routed to the parent channel (but I think you can configure
the behaviour differently) and where there is a clear distinction between
parent tracks and nested ones. I don't remember Ardour having this feature,
but I may be mistaken (as I never used track grouping as much as I do
today, before, I used to work on much simpler projects before).
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