Using the Mixer Strip
Mixing is the process of converting multiple Tracks into a Stereo Mix where all the instruments can be heard clearly. Levels, Panning, Equalization (EQ), and Compression are the main tools used to achieve a good Mix. In addition to these core tools, a wide range of Plugin effects can also be used to enhance to sound, such as Reverb and Delay.
Introducing the Mixer Strip
The Mixer Strip is the vertical column that contains various controls related to signal flow. Each Track and Bus in Ardour has its own Mixer Strip. The Mixer Strip is also the main tool we will use in the process of Mixing our Tracks. In this chapter, we will get a general overview of the Mixer Strip, with each section described. We will also provide references to chapters containing information specific to each aspect of the Mixer Strip.
The Mixer Strip from Top to Bottom
Mixer Strips can be accessed from both the Editor Window and the Mixer Window. Mixer Strips in either window (Editor or Mixer) mirror each other: any actions performed on a Mixer Strip in the Mixer Window will be reflected in the corresponding Mixer Strip in the Editor Window, and vice-versa. The Editor Window and Mixer Window are more fully explained in the An Overview of the Interface chapter.
Here we see the entire Mixer Strip, as it would appear in either the Editor Window or the Mixer Window.
Regular & Narrow Modes
In the image above, you will notice that the Mixer Strip can be switched between the regular width and a more narrow width to conserve space. The very first section of the Mixer Strip, pictured below, switches between regular and narrow modes using the left button. The right button hides the Mixer Strip entirely.
Track Name/Routing/Record/Pre-Fader Plugins&Sends
The next section of the Mixer Strip contains three narrow regions. The first of these regions, named "Audio 1" in this image below, lists the name of the Track which the Mixer Strip controls. The next region, named "1" in the image below, is a button which allows access to the input Routing. Please see the Understanding Routing and Recording Audio chapters for more information on input Routing. The last narrow region is a button to Arm the Track to record, as discussed in the Recording Audio chapter.
The large black region at the bottom of this section is the Pre-Fader Plugins and Sends region. Please see Using Plugins and Using Sends for a detailed discussion of this area.
The most prominent control present in a Mixer Strip is the Fader, used to adjust the overall gain for the corresponding Track or Bus. The Peak Meter shows the Peak Value of the selected track, and is located directly to the right of the Fader. Each Peak Meter consists of one Bar Graph in the case of a Mono Track, and two Bar Graphs in case of a Stereo track. The small rectangular field above the meters shows the highest Peak Value that has been played on that track so far.
As you can see in the image above, there is a smaller version of the Mixer Strip in each Track, called the Track Mixer, which contains a Fader and Peak Meter which mirror those found in the Mixer Strip for that Track.
By clicking the right-hand button at the bottom of the Mixer Strip, you will be able to select the Metering Point, in other words whether the "input" from the sound card, the "pre" Fader signal or the "post" fader signal is metered.
Please refer to the chapter on Mixing Levels for more detailed instruction about using the Fader and Peak Meters.
Click the Solo Button to Solo the Track/Bus. When a Track or Bus is on Solo, all the other Tracks or Busses which are not likewise on Solo will be inaudible through the Master Bus or the Audition.
As with the Fader and Peak Meters, we can also find a miniaturized Solo Button in the Track Mixer.
Note that soloing a bus will not silence any tracks and vice-versa.
When any Track or Bus is on Solo, the Solo Indicator in the Auxiliary Controls menu will flash red. Clicking the Solo Indicator while it is flashing will deactivate every Solo in the Session.
Click the Mute Button to Mute the Track/Bus. Any Track or Bus on Mute will be inaudible through the Master Bus or the Audition. The Track Mixer also contains a miniaturized Mute Button, in between the Record Arm Button and the Solo Button.
Right-Clicking on the Mute Button gives the options for it to mute the signal at different points its path, such as "Pre Fader", "Post Fader", "Control Outs" and "Main Outs".
Continuing downwards in the Mixer Strip, we next find another large black region for using Plugins and Sends, this time arranged Post-Fader. Please see Using Plugins and Using Sends for a detailed discussion of this area.
Under the Post-Fader Plugins & Sends region, we find the Panning Sliders and their related controls. These controls are discussed at length in the Panning chapter.
Finally, we reach the bottom of the Mixer Strip. Here we find the Output Routing Button, marked here as "master", which is discussed in the Understanding Routing chapter.
The last button on the Mixer Strip opens an area where Comments about the Track can be written for later reference.
Now that we've had a look at the main areas of the Mixer Strip, we can proceed to the Mixing Levels chapter to see how we can start to use it.