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When you mix, do you prefer using a tangible fader, mouse or trackball?

What is most efficient for you?

And do you use the mouse like a fader, riding it up and down, or do you just make breakpoints and edit your automation while stopped?

And, do you use mixboards at all?

I'm afraid Pro Tools is killing the need for mixboards.

What are your thoughts?

Me? I use a fader 90 percent of the time and clean up missed rides and intricate moves with a mouse and breakpoints in Pro Tools. But, that's just me.

12 Answers 12

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"I'm afraid Pro Tools is killing the need for mixboards."

Are you serious? If so you need to spend some time on a film dub stage with seriously good mixers... I don't mix but I am in awe of good mixers, and they dont tend to mix films with a mouse...

While editing I do a lot of work with volume automation, but I consider that envelope shaping, not mixing... I leave the mixing to the mixers and just try to be the best sound editor/designer that I can be...

  • For real I have never been to one of the big ones. Let me know when you know how I can do that... I'd love to attend a mixing session one of these days... Closest I've been is the ADR stage at Paramount. But, thanks for your answer. – Utopia Aug 18 '10 at 21:53
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I use the Kensington expert trackball. Love it. I have an euphonix mc control (kinda overpriced and dinky) that I can use for fader stuff but I use the Trackball for all my automation. I mainly do small TV stuff, so thats really all i need. Although when I have done movies and cartoons with lots of complex moves its nice to have faders. @Ryanhdd

@justin huss BTW The iZotope RX is the bomb, far better than the Waves w noise. i do use both though

  • @Ryan, you could have just written: "Wow, another" :P @Ryanhdd 1. Be careful, the names are case sensitive and you only need to use the first word of the name if this one uses more than one word. 2. I'm using RX's demo just now, it's gonna run out on Friday and I need to get all my material ready for @Shaun's challenge :) It does do a very good job! – Justin Huss Aug 18 '10 at 19:48
  • @Justin we really have to get you a better pre or recorder - I cringe at the fact that you have to de-noise a recording of yours to make it useable! – Utopia Aug 18 '10 at 20:50
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I use faders for the bulk of the work, especially automation passes. I'll go into the box to clean up or fine tweak the automation that gets written in those passes. I'm still acclimating to all the functionality that's there in my D-Control at work. I'm trying to get out of the box as much as I can, because the work just feels smoother that way.

As for drawing vs. mouse controlled fader...it's definitely drawing for me, unless I'm doing a very coarse adjustment. Outside of that use, I personally just don't like the feel of a mouse controlled fader. There's a weird disconnect for me.

  • @Shaun, I agree with you on controlling faders with the mouse. Scrolling will be slow or imprecise (and not that intuitive for some reason) and clicking-dragging/rolling is not comfortable and too constraining, and I'm not being precious here, it does no good to your wrists. – Justin Huss Aug 18 '10 at 22:13
  • Shaun - Are you saying that you're using the D-Command to be "out of the box", or are you using something else and actually getting out of the box? Don't get me wrong, I love my D-Command (I'm just starting to get into everything it has to offer myself, that thing is deep). But it's the biggest multi-touch mouse I've ever used. – Steve Urban Aug 18 '10 at 23:44
  • @Steve - lol...good point. i know it's just a glorified keyboard and mouse, but it sure as hell doesn't feel like it. i consider anything that helps me tear my eyes off the screen as getting out of the box, because i feel like i HEAR better when i do. i'm getting out of pro tools and back into the acoustic space. – Shaun Farley Aug 19 '10 at 0:39
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I was looking at either the faderport or the AlphaTrack a while back and I ended up choosing the faderport. It's perfect for writing volume automation in pro tools, and the transport controls work pretty nicely as well. I recommend it.

Another option that I've heard is really nice to use (especially panning in surround) is the Wacom tablet.

  • @Dan2997, how do you use the knob in PT? Pointing with your mouse at the knob you want it to control? – Justin Huss Aug 18 '10 at 23:22
  • If it's something I can set for the session, like panning tracks in a music session or EQing a VO on a dedicated track, I just adjust the knobs using the mouse. If automation needs to be written I usually use the grabber tool and add key points, which allows you to quickly write. Here's two tips for mixing with a mouse (if you don't already know): 1)You can subtract key points by option-clicking them with the grabber tool. 2)You can slow the sensitivity of your mouse moves by holding the command key. – Dan2997 Aug 19 '10 at 7:52
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I use a bit of everything.

I have an Apple Mighty Mouse although the main reason I love it so much is the ability to scroll sideways!!! Sadly Bluetooth wont work in my studio so I'm left to hoke out the ball every so often.

I also use a ProControl at work. However, I mainly only use the faders and very little else on there. My flat Apple keyboard (with an Editor Keys silicon cover which I'd recommend to everyone) is directly in front of it and I find it handier to use the shortcuts on there than all those buttons.

I find I use more of the buttons on the D-Control in our larger mix studio, although that's probably as there's no mouse (just the huge built in tracker ball) to quickly use and it's also off to one side.

I hate mixing stuff outside of my day job as suddenly not having faders to mix with seems such a fiddly and long winded operation. There's so much more finesse that you can achieve with faders that takes so much more time but clicking a mouse.

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I only wish I had faders. In the meantime it's all mouse based, but I must say that my MacBook Pro's multitouch trackpad is better than a mouse. Besides, I recommend to everyone, but probably don't need to as you'll undoubtedly have tried it already.

But I wish there'd be a controller offering one fader and one knob that you merely need to point at the target with the mouse and use your fingers to do the rest. And, of course, nothing is like a big nice forest of knobs and faders :)

  • Ah. I do know they make a 1-fader assignable unit out there. Forgot what it's called. You can also get the Euphonix 8-fader Eu-Con controller - works pretty good. – Utopia Aug 18 '10 at 17:57
  • What would the knob be for? – endolith Aug 18 '10 at 18:02
  • @endolith, panning, EQ, everything that's represented using a knob in the plugins. @Ryan, I read a review about it and it wasn't flawless. But then without even having a look at the Euphonics I can already tell it's out of my budget (I don't have a budget at this time, and whenever I have one it'll be for an NT1-A and maybe iZotope RX). I'll check it out though :) Gotta go back to the challenge for now! – Justin Huss Aug 18 '10 at 18:14
  • I think this is what you are looking for. One fader, panning and some transport. Presonus Fader Port youtube.com/watch?v=Wev3t5Cgxj8 – AzimuthAudio Aug 18 '10 at 21:18
  • @AzimuthAudio, to be honest I don't remember exactly, however that one would be a candidate. I did read about issues with PT though, whether it was this one or another one, so I'd need to check the DUC. Cheers! – Justin Huss Aug 18 '10 at 22:06
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Also a mouse jockey here, with aspirations of taking it more toward the board.

For now, I've inherited my boss's six button Kensington mouse: http://us.kensington.com/html/4011.html

Have it custom so you can flip between tools in ProTools without touching the function keys. Works pretty okay for down and dirty mixing (we do a lot of reality TV). Have had people say "Wow, I would never have guessed that it was mixed on a mouse" (whatever that means).

Tools are tools and only tools so for me it's faster than the trackball.

  • I hope the mouse comment was a positive remark! – Dan2997 Sep 8 '11 at 7:25
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... tablet. and faders.

mousing is great until you have surgery on your wrist because of it.

  • I hope that didn't happen to you... – Utopia Aug 20 '10 at 16:42
  • be sure it did. i don't think people look after their wrists enough.. – georgi Aug 20 '10 at 18:57
  • how do you use that tablet? – Robin Arnott Aug 21 '10 at 23:51
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First off, i would LOVE a mixboard. I've got access to a Euphonix MC, but it's only the command module and has just 4 faders. And seeing as Protools doesn't like Eucon (yet!), it's just using the HUI protocol. I know they're an evil, monopolising corporation, but i love mixing on Digi (i only know Protools) mixboards; everything's so accessible.

I'll use the mouse controlled fader over drawing, just so i can hear what i'm doing. Then i'll touch up the breakpoints. For the record; the mouse fader is terrible when using a Macbook trackpad, but the trackpad is great for drawing out clicks. For panning and plugins i won't even bother with writing automation; i'll just draw it.

  • @Roger funny how Avid bought Euphonix. Haha. They said at NAB (the guys I talked to) that they are coming out with way more Pro Tools/Euphonix integrated products. – Utopia Aug 18 '10 at 20:52
  • @Roger, do you mean the "new" multitouch trackpad or the original one? I find the new one very practical for faders although it does not compare to physical faders. – Justin Huss Aug 18 '10 at 22:18
  • @Ryan - I'm hoping they somehow make Protools Eucon friendly, but i'm not expecting it any time soon... @Justin - I just mean the basic mouse-replacement trackpad. I find it hard to make small moves because the friction of my finger on the pad makes things kinda jumpy. – Roger Middenway Aug 18 '10 at 22:47
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I just recently got my feet wet mixing for post and I'm sad to say that with the exception of music I can't imagine using anything but a mouse or stylus (just looking at a trackball makes my hand cramp up). Perhaps that's because for each 45 min ep. and I have two days to mix. I take a day on dialogue and it's all +/ this and breakpoint that. I can't imagine getting my dialogue to hit the meters where they should, without sounding over or under compressed in the amount of time I have using the Control 24 that's sitting right in front of me. Mixing the music against the dialogue is the only time I touch a fader.


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I'm a mouse user, but only because I don't have any other option. I use an M-Audio Oxygen keyboard that does have faders and knobs, but it's always seemed like too much hassle to get it to work right, when I could do the same thing with a mouse or an envelope much faster.

UPDATE 9/8/2011: That said, I still prefer consoles. I grew up in the music world, where mixers will always reign supreme. I bought my first one (Behringer 32 track) when I was 18, and I use a smaller mixer as my monitor control and for most of my i/o. The moment I can afford even a Faderport for my automation, it's a done deal.

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It depends on what I'm doing. When designing sounds or making music i use my Magic Trackpad. Great for easy navigation both horizontally and vertically too. When mixing TV shows I ride the fader for dialogue and music. Faster and smoother. What I would really like is the Avid/Euphonix Transport with one fader. That's all i need really.

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