Do we need the Mixer Board and Karaoke?

This is more a “removing features from Audacity” post.

The Mixer Board is not particularly useful, and is buggy on Mac and Linux. If it were possible to record fader moves, that would be a different story.

The Karaoke display requires painstaking creation of labels to make it useful. It is my understanding that this was meant to support enhanced CDs (that contained a data area with Audacity projects?). This fell through, and those CDs are not available.

IMNSHO Audacity would be a more professional looking product without these half-baked features.

– Bill

Bill, I haven’t been keeping up with the Forum much this week. Apart from the Mac display issue with the meters at the bottom of the frame, and the pan sliders not displaying on Mac and Linux, what are the other Mac and Linux bugs with it? The “pan sliders” is a P2, so must be fixed if we want Mixer Board in 2.0.

The only other bug about Mixer Board in Bugzilla is (Meter range does not reflect a change in the dB range meter preferences until restart). I think there are other minor bugs, but nothing as bad as the P2.

Almost all the feedback I’ve seen about Mixer Board and Karaoke suggests confusion about their purpose, or not understanding how to use them, but it’s possible people experienced with hardware mixers get on OK with Mixer Board and just haven’t bothered to tell us that. I still feel Mixer Board isn’t that easy to document, and I’ve suggested on Feature Requests that if its documentation is to revolve around being an alternative view to the Track Panel class, perhaps Mixer Board should have wider backgrounds.

As both these features are Vaughan’s babies, this suggests it will be better to improve them than try and remove them, but I don’t see improving them as a priority for 2.0. What concrete ideas are there for improving them (apart from possibly keeping them on top)? Can you explain more about recording fader moves?

In case anyone doesn’t know the background, Karaoke and Mixer Board come from a custom version of Audacity that Vaughan made for Umixit, who isssued multi-track music CDs which could be remixed with the bundled software. Cakewalk are now distributing Umixit with their own software ( but you can still find “Umixit, powered by Audacity” here.


There’s the crash generating tone into an existing track with the Mixer Board open, and the drawing of vertical green lines in the audio tracks when manipulating a slider in the Mixer Window, neither of which has made it to bugzilla yet.

Audacity’s lack of control automation is a shortcoming IMO, but may be too “DAW-like” (we don’t want to become Ardour) and not something the Team wants to implement. Note that when I say “automation” I am using the term as a recording engineer - click a button beside a fader that says “record automation”, play the project and adjust the fader: the software “records” the fader moves and can then later “play them back”. This is similar to the current envelope tool, but dynamic. In this way one can build up a mix, adjusting individual tracks, and tweaking levels until it is just right. “Automation” as used in the wiki and by the devs refers to something I would call “scripting”.

Unfortunately implementing this would mean changing the way envelopes are defined. They currently appear to be log or exponential curves defined by two points. Recording volume fader automation usually requires writing many volume control points with linear interpolation between them, and then possibly smoothing the curve (and removing redundant points) after the fact.

This is a long-winded way of explaining why I think the Mixer Board is not particularly useful. Since there is no possibility of recording the fader moves, the mix is necessarily static. One can raise or lower the level of a track for the entire length of the song using the volume faders, but you can’t “mix” it in the sense that I am used to, e.g. bringing up the guitar for the solo and bringing it back down under the vocals. Yes, you can do it while the project is playing, but you can’t “Mix and Render” what you’ve done.

So I am not surprised that users are confused as to its purpose. It merely replicates the functionality of the Track Panels (volume, pan, solo and mute) in a way that mimics a mixing desk. Users of hardware mixing desks will know what it represents. And DAW users (like me) will look at it and say “where is the automation? What is the purpose of a Mix Window without automation?”. The per-channel meters are useful, but could be added to the Track Panels in the project window.

I note that “Umixit, powered by Audacity” has 2 users. :frowning: I also note that is “under construction”. My impression is that there is virtually nothing out there to purchase that can be used in this way. For the CakeWalk version you can’t download songs (only purchase them on special CDs) and they have some kind of DRM that restricts how you can use and share your mixes

I am still waiting for a defence of the Karaoke window. :wink:

– Bill

OK, though the bug doesn’t present itself in Linux as an exclusively Mixer Board problem.

Leaving aside fitting the meters and the image in, and how useful relatively small meters would be, yes. And if the TrackInfo (Track Panel) was resizable horizontally (taking the vertical scale along with it “as is” without resizing it), it would be even less of a problem.

Like you I can see little hope of including automated recording of fader movements, but votes for this should be recorded on Wiki Feature Requests. Should it be confined to the Mixer Board view, though? I don’t see why.

There are some legitimate multi-track songs around.

I just don’t know whether the “Umixit, powered by Audacity” concept included karaoke labels ready supplied in .txt files. Just like some people painstakingly create MIDI files (or Nyquist plug-ins), I assume there is no reason open source music could not have such files supplied.

I think when Karaoke was discussed on -devel a lot of points were made such as the lyrics text being too large, and some felt a more conventional screen display of the lyrics would be better. Also if there is music after the last label, I don’t understand why the first label appears at the end of the lyrics window.

Thanks for your detailed responses. Sorry, I didn’t mean to take up so much of your time :wink: I was hoping some others would jump in here.

Quickly …

Per-channel meters in the Track Control Panel, but not the image. Small meters are still useful, but would need to be the “green > yellow > red” style seen in most DAWs so one can tell at a glance if clipping is near or happening. IMO this would replicate the most useful “extra” feature seen in the Mixer Board.

Tried a couple of those downloads. IMO you don’t need the Mixer Board to do interesting things with them.

Yes, folks could supply text files that could be imported as labels and used with the Karaoke window along with their open source music. If they’re doing that they might as well supply you with an Audacity project complete with a label track.

– Bill

And on Linux the ToolTips are hidden under the Mixer window.

I think the Mixer Board looks like a good idea, but if it was removed I would not miss it because in its present form it offers (almost) nothing that can’t already be done.
Track automation would be fantastic and then I think that the Mixer board would start to become useful. At present, if using the Mixer Board for mixing it is necessary to be constantly changing which screen is in front so that Envelope control points can be added (manually).

The long term usefulness of the Mixer Board depends on what it adds to Audacity. At present I think that is not very much, but some features that could make it really useful:

  • Automation (volume and pan),
  • Channel Groups (either collapsing selected channels into a single slider, or “Sub Group” slider),
  • Resizeable channel Channel Strips,
  • Real-time EQ,
  • Master Faders
  • Channel Inserts (jackd only?)
  • Aux sends (jackd only?)

Except that would massively increase the “file” size.

There are lots of song lyrics on the Internet, and (other than Copyright issues for some songs) there could be a niche for adding label position data to create “Audacity Karaoke” files.

Having a distinct file name extension (.AUK) and using XML rather than TXT could help popularise the format and also include additional data such as Metatag data, the associated audio file path, comment notes, …

Just a quick mock-up of adding meters to the Track Control Panel.
Likely to be objected to because: a) meters are non-standard (standard is green for playback, red for recording) and b) too colourful therefore distracting.

– Bill

Years over time, yet I’d like to express my entry level opinion that the Mixer Board is a very useful tool, because it gives me insight and control over the track input levels.
It is much better than the feeble teeny winy sliders in the Track panels.

What I miss from the Mixer Board is an option for it to stay on top, and/or be added to the main UI similar to other toolbars, and/or have the possibility to embed the Meter Toolbar.


(v 2.1.0)

I’m not a user of either of these features - but five years on I’d back Bill’s suggestion to remove the karaoke functionality.

I would want us to retain the mixer board though - it looks useful for multi-track work (IIRC it was a custom piece of work that Vaughan undertook for a paying client).


The karaoke feature certainly does not seem to be widely used, but there could be hundreds / thousands of people using it that we don’t know about, and suddenly removing it (which would be of no great benefit to anyone else) would be a bad blow to those that do use it. Rather than just deleting it, perhaps better to convert it into an optional module.

Probably the simplest way to use Mixer Board is to tile it alongside Audacity then you don’t have it disappearing when you click in the main Audacity window.

Or you can use PowerMenu or some other tool to keep Mixer Board on top on Windows. PowerMenu doesn’t always work for more recent apps but it does work with Audacity windows.


The Karaoke feature is great. I use it to create my own backing tracks. It would be awesome if when you open the window the keyboard shortcuts would remain active. You have to click on the audacity window after the pop up opens and then the pop up disappears and it is a back and forth thing. I use them live to assist in songs I have not memorized the lyrics to or …really new material. is there a way to export a mix including the Karaoke window as a video? Also the mixer could be better but should remain. All in all Audacity has served me well. Is there a way to record multiple tracks? Does anyone know. I just dwnld the most recent version 2.1.1 . Thanks!

Most of them do, on Windows. What operating system are you using?

Make the main project window smaller then place the Karaoke window alongside the project window.

Or you can use your favourite search engine to find a utility that lets app windows to be placed on top.

No. Use a screen recording application.

Do you mean multi-channel (more than stereo)? It does not often work on Windows using Audacity as shipped. See Multichannel Recording - Audacity Wiki.

If you need more help with multi-channel recording, please start a new topic in the board for your operating system: