Ten Reasons You Should be Considering Mixbus Over Pro Tools

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

Mixbus_mixer
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.

25 comments

  1. 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!

    1. 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

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

    1. I know this is more than 2 years after your question- I’m trying out Mixbus in Sept. 2018. I’m able to send MIDI clock out to the sequencer on my synth, but the tempo is slightly off (5 to 10 bpm too fast) for some reason, not following the tempo in my project.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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?

    1. You *dare* them to give you free stuff? They have a trial, which you can definitely use just like us little folks. If you want to see a review by a UX designer on a blog that nobody reads, there’s no need to do your own, I already did it. It doesn’t have a lot of presumptuous self-important stuff, though.

      As for your criticism: The idea here is console emulation — the “everything exposed” nature of the UI is a huge workflow benefit.

      Even slapping the same channel strip on every track in PT/Cubase/etc is not the same as having input gain, EQ and compressor/lmiter on every channel (including a meter on the compressor), saturating summing busses, and phase/loudness meters on the master. Everything you need, without opening plugin windows for maybe 80% of the mix — you only put plugs on when you need surgical EQ, reverb, or special effects.

      So yeah, there’s a lot of “stuff” on the screen, but it’s stuff that console users (or DAW users) will find pretty familiar. I was able to, without much of a learning curve, get a solid mix out in a fraction of the time that it would take in Pro Tools, which I’m already familiar with. I don’t think it’s ready for mission-critical stuff for me, but it’s a valid approach and it works.

    2. It’s a DAW enginered from the prospective of a real Mixbus console. not a modern digital workstation UX fantasy.what you see is what you would see if you were facing a real board. but you knew this.

    3. Have you seen the MPC5? That’s Harrison’s flagship multi-million dollar motion picture sound console. A company that builds and designs that league of a console is more than qualified to build a UI that works on a DAW. Are you aware of Harrison’s pedigree? These people *know* consoles. Think about it…do you really like opening and closing a plugin window *every* time you need to adjust an EQ or compressor? How insanely inefficient is that? I’ve done mixes in Mixbus opening no plugins at all. You simply can’t appreciate that until you’ve done it because that approach is so entrenched in every other DAW. Try to mix in any other DAW without opening a single plugin. Mixing is insanely fast on Mixbus because the tools that really matter *are* always available. Do you like setting polarities for a dozen mics on a live recording manually and hoping you’ve got them all correct? Of course, it can be done, but Mixbus does that in about 10 seconds. Do you like doing a separate export for every format you need? Mixbus exports as many formats as you want in one pass. Those are just a few ways it rocks, and I’m a user of other DAWS as well, including S1 and Sonar.

    4. I agree with you. The mixer in Mixbus it absolutley tiny. If you nama a track the font must me something like 1.2! (not 12). Every year or so, I try the ‘new’ mixbus – v4, v5, v6 etc. I try it for 10 minutes and then put it in the trash and open pro tools again. The designers of Mixbus are clueless. It’s totally unuseable on a laptop period. Such a shame – but it really is crap. I long for the day to trun my back on pro tools – but sadly mixbus is a non entity.

  8. 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?

    1. Nothing here. I don’t have a UAD card so I can’t verify whether that stuff will work in Mixbus, but it does use VST rather than RTAS or AAX so any plugins you rely on need to have a VST version if you wanna use them. Other than that, I encountered no issues.

  9. This thread is very interesting to me….. It reminds me of a post on another forum that published the response curves of a group of measurement microphones. They all looked essentially the same, that is to say flat, so I posted a comment that if we plugged them in and listened to them would they would all sound the same? I seriously doubt that, because it is hard to find two of the same model microphone that sound the same. So what does this mean? I think there are things about audio and sound that have not been quantified yet. There are specs that we do not have and haven’t been written to describe tone fully. So anyone that stands up and says something sounds good because it has good specs is instantly suspect to me. I still believe that the best measurement equipment for sound is ears.

  10. I still haven’t found what I’m looking for Bono. I use Logic Pro X. How will this enhance my projects and do I integrate Mixbus into Logic or use it after tracking?
    Carlos

  11. I’m ready to dive in. Good bye Cakewalk. Goodbye Protools. I’m getting on the “Magic Bus.”
    Dr. Ruff

  12. hi. i got an opportunity to listen to two mixes done in ableton live and mixbus and was blown at the analog feel of the mixbus output. i am sold already and would really want to use it but read somewhere that its MIDI implementation is a problem. i am just starting out and doing everything ITB, would i be able to work with mixbus?

    and how does this compare to the other Harrison softare that is modeled on Bruce Swedien’s console? sorry, the name escaped me

    1. Mixbus32C. It costs more but modeled on the Harrison 32C console. Very, very nice. More eq per channel, lots of other features.

      I use it on linux and love it!

  13. Hello,

    I received Mixbus v6 as a gift, thus the person who gifted it to me is listed as the owner.

    Is there a way to change it to my name?

    Also, I don’t have any MIDI instruments. I plan on using Mixbus v6 to record myself singing using karaoke instrumentals.

    I have a USB mic, will this be enough to record my vocals?

    Thank you.

  14. MixBus is better than Pro Tools in many ways except one thing which is very important IMHO. You purchase MixBus currently version 7 you do not get all the effects plugins. Nope, they are extra we have to purchase and this is a huge con IMHO unlike Avid that adds tons of effect and instrument plugins as part of Pro Tools Package. IMHO HarrisonConsole should move to a monthly subscription plan and add their plugins as part of the plan. There are ways to secure everything from pirating like many companies do by using secure thumb drive keys.

    Other than this MixBus is awesome..

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