Mixbus 7.1 arrived a few weeks ago. 7.1 includes quite a few changes, but I’ll be focusing on one specific change: The new plugin window. Maybe?

I won’t be focusing on the difference between the old window and the new window. The new plugin window is an interesting enough story alone, given how every DAW handles plugin selection wildly differently, so it will be more fun to look at it as-is.


What I want

The process of selecting a plugin is pervasive in DAW workflows. We do it potentially 1000s of times a week, and stockholm syndrome quickly kicks in if your plugin-workflow is suboptimal but you like other features of your DAW too much to give it up.

I’ve written a list of what I want from a plugin selection workflow before I looked at the new plugin selection window in Mixbus (and Ardour).

  • Search
    • Fuzzy Search - Search should at least convert spaces to wildcards and case-insensitive i.e. the search term “hi comp” should give me results that include “High End Compressor”.
    • Search is selection - Plugin management workflows require selecting multiple plugins to act on (“Hey! Hide all those duplicate Waves plugins… actually, hide all the Waves plugins.”) The search results should in some way be an implicit selection to act on.
  • Settings
    • Transfer - Manually hidden plugins, categories, tags etc… should be easily transferred to another computer.
    • Persistence of user input - If I need to wipe a cache or a blacklist, I don’t want to have my manually input settings also wiped.
  • Categorization
    • Tags - Each item (plugin) should support user input tags. A single item can have many tags. Tags do not affect sorting, but do affect search. Possibly affect filtering.
    • Categories - Each item should support categories. I do not care if a single category is supported per plugin or multiple. Categories affect sorting/filtering, but not search.
    • Separation of developer and user categories - Most plugin formats allow the developer to specify a category. It should be possible for the user’s input to override this or inherit it.
    • Favorites - Some plugins are used frequently and I want to mark those as a favorite. Bonus points if it supports tiers of preference.
  • Display - I want to see the following information about each plugin:
    • Name
    • Manufacturer
    • Supported I/O
    • Category
      • Label indicating if the category is developer defined or user defined
    • Tags
    • “Favorite”
    • Format
    • Last Used
    • Times used (number of times instantiated)
    • Time used (time that GUI is open)
  • Browsing
    • Ordering - The user should be able to order the browser by any of the displayed traits of each plugin.
    • Presets - If supported by the plugin format then presets should be directly selectable from the browser.
      • Any presets saved by the user through the DAW should be associated with the plugin in the browser.

What it does right

What it does wrong

Bonus - DSP Stats


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