Ten Reasons You Should be Considering Mixbus Over Pro Tools

Ben Loftis at Harrison Mixbus

I just returned from a lunch meeting with Ben at Harrison Consoles. Ben has been showing me some of the new features of Mixbus 3.1.

I know I said “wow!” at least a dozen times. I think Harrison has it right.

There is definitely room for someone to give Pro Tools a good run as new “top DAWg” here in Nashville, so I wanted you guys to know why I think you need to look at Harrison Mixbus.

Here are 10 reasons why  I think you should be looking into what Harrison Mixbus is doing.

1. The Sound

Mixbus is the only DAW made by a company that makes $1M consoles. If your goal is to make a great mix, first think about tracks like Thriller, Back In Black, Another One Bites the Dust, Graceland, and Sweetest Taboo … do those mixes immediately evoke a sound to you? If so, then you may be looking for the sound of Harrison, because all of those tracks were recorded and/or mixed on Harrison consoles. In fact, if you ask any of my members who use Mixbus, they (and I) will tell you that Mixbus just sounds better. No plugins… just playback… it sounds better out of the box.

2. The Ergonomics


The Mixbus Mixer has 3 types of compressors, and the famous Harrison EQ built in to every channel. No need to look for plugins… just mix!

Mixbus puts all of the tools of a mixer’s trade: gain staging, levels, bussing, EQ, compression, metering, and monitoring … directly under your fingertips. Those are the tasks you are doing all day long; shouldn’t they be given top priority of your computer? After using Mixbus for a week, you’ll be asking yourself why other DAWs bury these most important tasks underneath separate windows or pulldowns. I guess somebody who actually makes consoles had to finally get it right.

I teach that you should try your best to “set up templates” and “use presets”… but I’ve found that when I use Mixbus, it’s already setup. There is a Harrison EQ and a choice of 3 dynamics processors on each channels… not to mention the tape simulation on the busses and the master bus… you don’t have to instantiate ANYTHING to make that happen.

3. It’s Full-featured

Mixbus provides all the features you expect in a DAW: audio recording and editing, MIDI, Virtual Instruments, plugins, and (new in 3.1) support for control surfaces.

Adding control surface support is going to be a game changer for me (Kevin). I find that I NEED a control surface to make mixing fun… Although Nashville is a “Pro Tools town”, you can bet that I’ll be looking for a way to mix ALL of my projects in Mixbus now.

4. Sharing is Simple

Mixbus works on the newest versions of Mac, Windows and Linux desktops. It also works on older systems like Windows XP. So you, and all of your friends, can have Mixbus on all of your computers and share session files. Even cooler: if you add a Harrison-provided plugin to your session, the recipient can still hear the effect of the plugin even if they haven’t bought it yet. They just can’t open the plugin GUI and change the settings. How cool is that ?!

5. Exporting is Amazing

The whole point of mixing is to make a great mix, right? Mixbus not only provides all the tools for polishing your mix, it also includes an incredible array of features to help you export your mix into multiple formats. They’ve also got the best stem-export features we’ve ever seen. And they’ve got some amazing new mix-analysis features coming soon. To get a sneak peek, check out this Harrison-funded development that is happening behind the scenes in the Ardour community.

We just finished exporting hundreds of versions of a record. Vocals out, vocals down, vocals up, Orchestra up, Orchestra down… The new “stem exporting” features (both with and without channel processing) would have saved us dozens of hours.

6. It’s Customizable

Mixbus allows you to customize the look (such as the size of the mixer strips), and operation (such as the keyboard shortcuts). But that’s just the beginning. Because Mixbus has an open-source element, it can be infinitely customized by users and developers. For example, we learned that an open-source developer recently introduced the beginnings of a ProTools file import utility (!) In an upcoming version, they say they will allow live, on-the-fly scripting. This will allow users to automate nearly any feature of Mixbus, and you can also write simple scripts that operate as plugins in the channelstrip, complete with auto-generated knobs and switches.

7. It has all the extras

Professional features like SMPTE clock, LTC generate & chase, a video playback window, and other features which are only available in other workstation’s “pro” versions are provided here in Harrison’s entry-level product.

8. Licensing is a breeze

No iLok, passwords to remember, or online activations. Just save the provided file to your computer, and you are done. Lost your license file in a hard-drive crash? Just email Harrison a request, and they will send you everything you need. Which brings us to:

9. Rock-star support

Harrison’s support is amazing. You just write questions and they answer directly in plain language. They don’t make you verify that you are a customer; that’s handled by Harrison when they recognize your name or email. No databases, ticket systems, or runaround! Furthermore, Harrison doesn’t have a dedicated “support” staff. Instead you just talk to the developers and engineers. Harrison allows the developers to be directly driven by -users-. Isn’t that how it should be??!

10. Price…

Mixbus is, incredibly, only $79.

Full disclosure.  I’m not using Harrison Mixbus on every session, but with these new features, the addition of control surface support, and the slightest possibility of Pro Tools import, you can bet I’ll be doing more and more in Mixbus v 3.1.


  • Alexis Marzin

    Reply Reply February 27, 2016

    I am a user of the large format console, the MPC5 film console. And I totally agree with you, the sound is just incredible…. Which is very important for us because we handle sound with very approximative quality and we need the console to be able to make abusive treatment and conserve a great consistency, plus we need the console to be able to handle very large dynamic range and she is doing it very very well!! And the support is amazing ! 2 years a ago I went to the factory , I met the guys and you can really feel the passion for what they do!

    • Kevin Ward

      Reply Reply February 27, 2016

      I agree Alexis. Mix bus really has a great sounding product. I am looking forward to mixing more projects on Mixbus 3. I will keep you updated on my progress

  • Kobi Timmons

    Reply Reply February 28, 2016

    Sound is great truly the best Daw in my opinion. Has the Midiclock and miditime code issue been fix so it can sync?

  • Mark

    Reply Reply March 2, 2016

    Dearest Patrick Hogan, oh Patrick, Patrick, Patrick you ridiculous man …you clearly haven’t tested different DAWS and actually LISTENED. Anyone that really was a managing consultant at IBM would do this. You daft douche.

  • Sal

    Reply Reply March 2, 2016

    I will agree that it sounds great. Whether it’s the summing or the tape emus I don’t care it still sounds good. However, while it has improved a lot from version 2, I still don’t think it’s ready for prime time. I can only speak for the windows version but it’s still kind of buggy and it feels clunky to work in for me.

  • Rieuwert

    Reply Reply March 2, 2016

    I use Mixbus for all my mixes. It seems the most natural in feel to me having grown up mixing on consoles. I still use Reaper for my editing though, just because I’ve done all my editing there in the past, and again feel most comfortable with it.

  • Jed Demlow

    Reply Reply March 3, 2016

    Regardless of technology my ears will always be the final judge. If Kevin Ward says it sounds better than PT, then I believe it is worth taking a listen. $79.00 … I’m going to check it out now!

  • Davy Strange

    Reply Reply October 9, 2016

    I have to say the screenshots make it look like it has an opaque and overwhelmingly intimidating UX. Software should make some choices for you, if it well written, and not put every possible option on the screen at the same time. A UX that is as impenetrable as that cannot help you make the right choices for your music.

    If the makers of Mixbus would like to prove me wrong and show that their software is easy to use, I would be very happy to accept ownership of a copy for Windows 10 and spend a week or so immersing myself in it to see if it does improve the quality of my music with transparent ease. If it does I promise I will write an effulgently positive review on my remarkably popular tech site. If my analysis, based on those horrible screen shots, turns out to correct I will write a review detailing the problems with the software and how to improve them.

    I dare you,, Harrison Consoles, how confident are you in your software? Do you think a daily user of Sonar Platinum, Live Studio and FL Studio Producer will be won over by your software; or don’t you think it’s really that good and you are going to ignore this challenge because you make software with ugly, over-loaded UI’s that cannot compete with better designed software already out there?

  • Russ Russell

    Reply Reply October 10, 2016

    So I can load this up on a system with Protools/UAD already on it with no fear of screwing anything up? Would love to try it but always wary of installing anything new that might cause some conflict.

    Anyone got any horror stories?

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