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User Reviews by KVR Members for Mixbus

Rate & Review Mixbus Now!

Reviewed By tommyzai [read all by] on 6th May 2014
Version reviewed: 5.2.0 on Mac.
Last edited by tommyzai on 3rd December 2019.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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BASED ON VERSION 5.3

Note: I am working on an article and maybe even a video about the confusion, difficulty, and torment in choosing the right digital audio workstation for your needs. One focus will be on the DAWs that I consider under-appreciated underdogs. .. dark horses. Harrison Mixbus is one of them! In my opinion, more musicians, producers, etc. should be using this fine piece of software, and hopefully what I wrote below inspires more investigation.

INTRO
Harrison Mixbus v5 is a consumer level digital audio workstation for recording, editing, mixing, and mastering that takes a unique approach in comparison to the other choices on the market. Not too long ago, many users recorded in another DAW and used Mixbus for mixing. That's changed, or at least should change! Mixbus is now a full-featured DAW that is capable of helping users of all genres complete a project; however, it's clearly geared toward recording and mixing audio. The intention is transparent. It's called, "Mixbus," and it's created by Harrison, a world leader in professional large format consoles. If the name isn't enough, take a look at the interface. It's modded after Harrison's very own hardware. Yet, all DAWs have their own look and vibe. They all have a story and a reason for existing. But what really sets Mixbus apart is the sound. There have been countless comparisons between the major workstations, and the consensus is THEY ALL SOUND THE SAME. .. except one. .. Mixbus! Harrison utilizes an "analog paradigm that embodies form, function, and sound." This DAW looks, feels, operates, and sounds like the analog mixer. The results are wonderful. I have a home studio with budget monitors, and I can hear the difference. I can only imagine a comparison on a high-end system.

Disclaimer: Anyone in any genre can use anything and make great music. You wouldn't believe how I recorded my favorite tracks. However, there's no denying that certain workstations favor certain genres.

Who Should Use This?
Those using mostly live instruments and vocals, who want a "real" studio look, feel, workflow and sound — this is as close as you're gonna get in the virtual world. Those who lean on "found" loops, e.g., Hip Hop, Trip Hop, etc. It has powerful tools for deep audio editing. Note: Mixbus' MIDI handling has come a long way. It's certainly capable and has all the essential tools.

Who Should Look Elsewhere?
Those who work exclusively in MIDI and require deep editing. Those who like to work in clips instead of linearly. DJs.

Tommy Zai's Top Ten Reasons To Use This DAW (not in any particular order)
1. The sound is big, fat, punchy, and warm.
2. No iLok or other annoying protection — uses license files.
3. Attractive, customizable interface with a smooth, user-friendly workflow.
4. Channel strips have built-in high-pass filter and three different EQ bands (low, mid, and high) and "Drive" controls for analog emulation to beef things up.
5. Simulated analog mixing features a sweet in-line compressor with three modes.
6. Master has tone controls, compressor/limiter, and tape saturation for global FX during mix-down.
7. VCA faders are easy to slide and very responsive. The levels don't jump all over the place. — they're silky and smooth.
8. VU meters are accurate, responsive, and easy to read.
9. Harrison knows what's needed to record, mix, and master a great track.
10. Bargain price!!.

Other Reasons This DAW Is Cool
• The whole thing looks bigger than I remember, but maybe it's my eyes.
• Easy to add and tag plugins.
• Resizable transport controls, editing tools, playback modes, counters, etc. are neatly lined-up on top.
• Time-line view.
• Tempo mapping.
• Named buses (convenient and time-saving).
• Bus sends with on/off buttons.
• Real mixer with one knob per function design.
• Channels can be independently resized via toggling between narrow and wide.
• Spill buttons on the mix bus channel.
• Spectral analysis tool is a nice surprise feature.
• CPU will not overload and get sluggish when you decide to adjust channel strip processing as this is "pre-allocated" into host resources.
• I read somewhere that the 'optimize polarity' feature is great, but I never used it. .. need to check it out.
• Sharing and Exporting.
• Well-written manual found online that is downloadable as a PDF.
• Mac, PC, and Linux. Switching computers won't matter.;-).

Cons
• Even though this beast has unlimited this and that, users should conserve resources as it's more CPU hungry than some other DAWs. From what I understand, this is due to the analog stuff going on under the hood. This is no big deal for me as I grew up using a Tascam Porta Studio One with only four tracks. I'm no stranger to being a miser. However, if you like to work big and/or messy, you better have a powerful processor that can handle your clutter.;-)
• Great built-in FX and the add-ons are top-notch (Essentials bundle provides delay and reverb; Character bundle offers plug-ins for drums, bass and vocal processing); yet, you won't be wowed by dozens of on-board virtual instruments. You'll have to use your 3rd party synths, but if you're like me you probably would anyway!
• Favors larger screens.

Hey, what about Mixbus 32C?
Mixbus 32C has enhanced features, is an exact emulation of specific board, and cost more. As far as basic features and functions, these two versions are quite similar. There are slight differences that may or may not help users decide between the two. For example:

• Mixbus has three-band EQ; Mixbus 32C is designed after a different Harrison console that has four-band with the switchable top band between shelving and peaking. It also consists of both high-pass and low-pass filters.
• Mixbus has eight stereo mix buses; Mixbus 32C has 12.
• 32C offers more audio routing options.
• The sound! Mixbus is modeled after the general sound of Harrison consoles; 32C is modeled after that specific unit.

SUMMARY
In 1966, The Beatles stopped touring and began using the studio as a musical instrument. This was ground-breaking at the time. With the Fab Four in mind, Mixbus is extremely musical. It's also user-friendly and easy to navigate. I dig the look, feel, and sound. It's both nostalgic and cutting-edge modern. In short, it's a fun platform to use. Completing a sweet sounding song seems more reachable than with many other workstations. Will it, "forever change the way [I] think about mixing in the box?" Not sure yet, but it just might!! For now, I'm having fun with Mixbus, and I highly recommend that you check it out. They offer a free demo version. Way to go, Harrison!.

Note: Several years ago I used Mixbus v3 and reviewed it (see below). I'm now revisiting this fine updated DAW and intentionally didn't read my old review. I wanted to keep my perspective to be fresh without influencing myself.;-)

Latest 1 review from a total of 1

Discussion

Discussion

Discussion: Active
tommyzai
tommyzai
13 July 2015 at 7:06pm

Wow! I just read about the release of MixBus v3. The new features may be enough to change the entire DAW world. I can't wait to get the update. I'll certainly need to adjust my user review.

tommyzai
tommyzai
3 December 2019 at 8:37pm

This was my original review.

BASED ON VERSION 2.6

INTRO
Mixbus is a Digital Audio Workstation developed by Harrison, a famous high-end American large format console company. It's an analog style mixing environments with great-sounding smooth EQs, filters, compression (leveler, compressor, limiter), analog tape saturation (super impressive), dynamics, bus summing, and a knob dedicated to each function. The GUI is clean, and the transports are familiar and comfortable to anyone who has worked in a "real" pro studio. The workflow is simple and powerful with a choice of importing audio from another source/DAW or recording. The design and layout is intuitive, straightforward, simple, and powerful. You won't have to labor through endless windows, popups, and menus to track, mix, and master. Yet, the most impressive thing about Mixbus, IMO, is the sound. Whatever audio I run through it simply sounds better. I don't know if it's because of feel of classic, vintage tweaking or if there is an invisible little wizard inside helping me. To quote another reviewer, "Mixbus improves in areas where others fall short and offers something no other DAW can boast: a million-dollar mixer." I have found this to be very true.

MY FAVORITE Features:

Classic console interface/GUI (based on the famous 32 and MR-series).

Two window approach (editor and mixer).

Small learning curve, especially for those who grew up pre-digital.

Unlimited tracks.

Unlimited plugins.

Plays nice with other DAWs via Jack.

Low latency.

Amazing algorithms.

Flexible looping and auto-punch.

Versatile audio routing.

Levels can be dragged up and down by swiping across the waveform.

Phase, trim, filters, compression, mix bus sends on every track.

Impressive shuttle wheel speeding, slowing, and scrubbing audio with or without pitch-changing.

Excellent metering (channel meter, compressor gain reduction meter, tape saturation meters, peak limiting meter, K-14 average level meter, and a final peak limiting meter).

Automation.

Amazing $ value.

Responsive, innovative developers (frequent updates + great communication).

OTHER THOUGHTS:

I have heard that Mixbus will soon release a version with advanced MIDI capabilities. Wow!! At that point, "Fully Featured" will have a new meaning.

Snapshot saving is something I have never encountered before.

Sync via Jack can be buggy at times.

Hey, throw in that highly acclaimed G-verb. I'm greedy.

SUMMARY
Harrison Mixbus delivers the very best of analog-style mixing to eMusicians, producers, film/game scorers, DJs, sound designers, etc. It helps to create great tracks; it does not get in the way and suck the creative juices out of your muse! The workflow is fast and fun. Tracking with Mixbus is a breeze and the virtual real console mixing is a dream. There is something unmistakably special about this software that helps bring recordings to life — nice bottom end, punchy mids, and crisp, clean (not shrill) top end. Mixbus is linear and will probably not be the primary DAW for those who use a Launchpad and link clips a la Live or Bitwig; however, even in such a case, Mixbus provides an excellent secondary DAW for mix-downs and mastering. Even with its limitations, i.e., lack of MIDI, this is a must buy — the mixer section is do die for! Once I used it, I couldn't imagine not using it. It provides lots of analog without much effort. Don't let the price tag fool you — this is pro stuff. Tommy Zai gives Mixbus two tracks up. Thank you, Harrison, for developing such an amazing workstation. Fantastic.

*As soon as Harrison releases an update with MIDI is implemented my rating for Mixbus shoots up to 10+.

VERSION 3.0
Harrison just released MixBus v3. .. I've been asked, "Which features have they added that you were waiting on?"

My response: These two features, when combined with the power of a virtual Harrison console, make the new version amazing:

Unlimited MIDI tracks & virtual instruments.

No longer requires JACK.

I am also excited about the enhanced compressor/limiter that is on-board and the more accurate scalable interface.

For me, what this means is. .. unless I'm doing a project that requires intensive, sophisticated MIDI, I can exclusively use MixBus. Having said that, I do have Numerology by Five12, which will continue to be my application for MIDI madness, and now I can import MIDI tracks into MixBus. Version 3, in theory, will simplify my setup and workflow. Yet, this MixBus update really changes things for me and probably for many other eMusicians, producers, etc. It's especially wonderful for those who prefer and appreciate the power and hands-on feel of a hardware console. .. old school cats and young dudes, who find their other DAW of choice is getting in the way of their creativity.

I will adjust my user review and possibly the rating after demoing the new version. So far, it's all just anticipation.. .

tezza
tezza
18 July 2015 at 3:50pm

This tool is a joy to use. I've used it for mixdowns of live band recordings. I really really like being able to work without loads and loads of plugin user interfaces to faff around with. This product is pretty unique in its focus to deliver the analogue mixing console EXPERIENCE not just in terms of sound (which id does), but also in terms of quick/easy access to all the controls you need for mixing. This means your flow is never interrupted - you're totally focused on the MUSIC the whole time, not the software GUI. Hope that makes sense. Just give it a go and mix down a couple of songs in it to get what I mean. Just as an experiment, use absolutely no plugins at all, with EQ, Compression, and tape saturation built into the board, you can get the job done. The only time you'll need a plugin is for reverb, chorus, and delay. This would be the best tool for a busy studio thats pressed for time in getting mixes done. The editing is not too shabby. Crossfades are implemented nicely. It has stretch markers etc. I have licences to 3 other DAWs not including this one, but it always has a special place in my toolkit.

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