Test Drive: Harrison Mixbus Multitrack Editor and Mixer

by Steve Cunningham

We’ve been recording, editing, and mixing digital audio for long enough that most of us long ago settled on a favorite program (or perhaps two of them) for their work, and generally we tend to stick with it. For voiceover folks, the editor of choice seems to be Forge or Audition on the PC, and Twisted Wave or even Pro Tools on the Mac. For production pros, you can add Vegas on the PC and still more Pro Tools on the Mac.

These are our old friends, and occasionally our antagonists. We know and usually understand them, and we’re comfortable with them. It can be a rare occurrence when we switch from one to another. We may go, but we don’t go quietly.

Yet there seem to be more software editors available, stereo and multitrack, than ever before. Most of the newer ones are oriented toward music, and some specifically toward modern electronic music. But now and again one appears that seems a good fit for radio producers, and interesting for voice actors as well.

Harrison Consoles <www.harrisonconsoles.com> is long known for large-format “big iron” mixing consoles, often used to mix movies and television shows, along with a few record albums (can you say “Thriller”?). With software “in-the-box” (ITB) mixing becoming the norm, the company decided to take advantage of their reputation and perform a preemptive strike by introducing a software representation of their console product. The mixer layout borrows from both their legendary 1970’s vintage 32-series, and their 1980’s MR-series consoles. Harrison integrated that console representation with an existing open-source multitrack recorder and editor known as Ardour <www.ardour.org>. They then tweaked the whole business to their liking and released it as Mixbus.