Harrison Consoles: Mixbus

Mixbus was nominated for a 2010 TEC (Technical Excellence and Creativity) award by the TEC Foundation for Excellence in Audio! Harrison has received 10 TEC nominations. Our first was in 1986 with the HM-4 Sound Reinforcement console.


"I would certainly recommend Mixbus as a very affordable alternative to conventional in-the-box mixing."

Mix Magazine

"...definitely worth a look, especially if you miss the workflow of a console-based studio"

Electronic Musican

"The first time you open Mixbus, you take one look at it and say, "Oh, yes. I get it.""

Recording Magazine

"here's the thing: I put that mix together in half the time, and had twice the fun doing it. This is, to me, what makes Mixbus worth owning and using."

Sound on Sound

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Tutorial Videos: (Visit the Harrison YouTube Channel for All Mixbus Videos)

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Mixbus sound better?  What are the "well known flaws" of other workstations?

The Mixbus mix engine was crafted by the same engineers who make our ultra-fidelty high-end consoles; both analog and digital. When our company made the transition from analog to digital, we had to guarantee that our digital consoles sounded as good as their analog counterparts. Working with high-end facilities and mixing engineers has allowed us to refine digital mixing techniques for over 2 decades. Most DAW developers spent that period focusing on plugins, file management, editing, and similar tasks. Mixbus uses the Ardour open-source workstation platform for those details, and it allows us to focus our attention on the mixing engine.

The DAW+Plugin paradigm was invented when computers were far too slow to process an EQ on every track. Plugins were a compromise that solved the problem: users were allowed to add EQ to the tracks where they were deemed most important. Early DAW developers were also unlikely to have in-house DSP engineers, so utilizing 3rd party specialists was a welcome solution. These compromises were only intended to solve the immediate problems that faced early DAW developers, but they became so ingrained that the original intent of "recreating a studio workflow" was lost. They threw out the baby with the bath water!

From a technical standpoint, it is our opinion that the gross defects in many workstations include internal clipping, lacking dither stages in the DSP processing, insufficent ramping of dsp coefficients, multiple bit-depth/format conversions, out-of-control gain stages causing plugins to work outside their intended range, routing choices that cause latency/timing errors, inability to see meters such as compressor gain reduction without opening the plugin dialog, and poor user-interface integration.

Of course different workstations will exhibit these problems to different degrees. Our goal was to design a mixer using the "best practices" that we have developed over the course of 40 years. Multiple subtle design decisions, accumulated over a long history, allows Mixbus mixes to sound better than other DAWs.

Is there a downloadable demo for Mixbus?

Yes! You can download a demo by clicking the image below:

Does Mixbus support MIDI sequencing or virtual instruments?

YES, Starting with Mixbus v3, Mixbus supports MIDI tracks and virtual instruments.

Does Mixbus use an iLok or other hardware copy protection?

No, Mixbus does not utilize hardware copy protection.

The Mixbus license file is a simple text file with your name embedded alongside an encrypted key. Simply saving the file to your HOME folder will enable Mixbus. You can keep a backup of the keyfile, and even use it on multiple computers. Mixbus will show that it is licensed in your name.

What is the Mixbus user license? If I have a desktop and a laptop computer, can I install it on both?

Yes. Mixbus is licensed to a "single user". This means that as long as you are the only user, you can install it all of your personal computers. If multiple people will be using the software, you will need to purchase a license for each user. Commercial businesses and educational facilities should purchase a license for each computer.

If I have a problem, where do I get support for Mixbus?

First, see our list of Common Support Questions.

Mixbus customers receive free, unlimited email support from Harrison. If you have a problem, please email Harrison at: mixbus@harrisonconsoles.com

To connect with other Mixbus users, you may want to join our community at the Mixbus User Forum, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn. Tech-heads may also click Help->Chat from within Mixbus to join our online IRC chat discussion between users and developers.

Is Mixbus 32-bit or 64 bit?

Starting with v3, Mixbus is now available in both 32bit and 64bit versions.

Why does Mixbus require a 3-button mouse and fullsize keyboard?

Mixbus is a professional application that operates most efficiently if functions are immediately accessible.

Mixbus uses the middle-click button to quickly enable and disable plugins among other features. The scroll wheel is used for zooming and panning in the editing canvas. The right-click button provides popup context menus. Many OSX laptops do not support right- or middle- clicking very well. We suggest that users purchase an inexpensive USB 3-button mouse for operation with Mixbus.

Similarly, Mixbus has a very wide range of keyboard editing functions available. A full-function keyboard with number pad will allow the user instant access to many more features than a typical laptop keyboard allows. We suggest that users find an inexpensive full-size USB keyboard for use with Mixbus.

What audio file formats are supported?

Mixbus can record files in these formats, using selectable 16bit, 24bit, or 32bit (float) precision:

  • WAV ( normal Microsoft wave file )
  • Broadcast WAV ( Microsoft wave file with, extended header information ) ( default )
  • WAV64 ( Microsoft Wave file with 64bit header, for extended recording periods exceeding 4gig files )
  • AIFF ( Apple format )
  • AU

Import file formats ( all platforms ):

  • WAV and Broadcast WAV (Microsoft)
  • AIFF/AIFC (SGI,Apple)
  • AU/SND (Sun, DEC, NeXT)
  • RAW (Headerless)
  • PAF (Paris Audio File)
  • IFF / SVX (Commodore Amiga)
  • WAVE (Sphere Nist)
  • SF (IRCAM)
  • VOC (Creative)
  • W64 (Sound Forge)
  • MAT4 (GNU Octave 2.0)
  • MAT5 (GNU Octave 2.1)
  • PVF (Portable Voice Format)
  • XI (Fasttracker 2)
  • HTK (HMM Tool Kit)
  • CAF (Apple)
  • SD2 (Sound Designer II)
  • FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec)
  • Ogg (Ogg/Vorbis)

Additional import file formats supported on OSX:

  • AAC (.aac, .adts)
  • AC3 (.ac3)
  • AIFC (.aif, .aiff,.aifc)
  • Apple Core Audio Format (.caf)
  • MPEG Layer 3 (.mp3)
  • MPEG 4 Audio (.mp4)
  • MPEG 4 Audio (.m4a)
  • NeXT/Sun Audio (.snd, .au)

What controller formats does Mixbus support?

  • Generic MIDI devices can use “MIDI Learn” to assign MIDI controls directly to on-screen knobs or use MIDI profiles to select many pre-configured device layouts from a pull-down menu, with more to come.
  • Mackie control protocol is provided for motorized fader controllers, and the Mackie protocols have been extended to ergonomically control the Mixbus channelstrip EQ, compressor, and 8 mixbus sends. Dedicated support is provided for popular devices like the Presonus Faderport, Mackie MCU, and Behringer X-Touch controllers.
  • OSC (Open Source Control) protocol supports ethernet-based wireless tablet controllers such as TouchOSC and Lemur for iOS and Android to remote-control Mixbus.