Feature Request: Busses

I use audacity for mixing/mastering songs with my buddies. The most time-consuming part is searching through the effects menu repeatedly because you can’t dynamically edit most effects and if you save with the effects applied, you can’t undo those changes. Additionally, I tend to forget what effects/settings I’ve already applied so unless it’s written down, there’s no way to know for sure. Since no first mix is perfect, it would be really handy to be able to apply effects to a track without altering the original recording.

Currently the only workaround I’ve found is to duplicate the track and apply your desired effects to that. If you could save your effects to a bus, you could skip that step and your effect’s settings would be saved for you.

Custom presets would be cool too.

Most DAW’s have this feature, albeit for a price since few are free. I don’t know of any open source/free-to-use programs that have it.

I apologize if this has already been suggested in the past but I searched around for a bit and didn’t find it.

The developers are working on adding real-time effects to Audacity. I’m not sure when it will be available, but real-time effects are near the top of their priority list.

You mean like this? :slight_smile:

This is planned for Audacity 3.2 (3.1 should get released later this month)

LWinterberg wrote:

You mean like this?

That is a very good addition, something that would make me upgrade.
However, to support busses (over and above real time effects), one should be able to route several tracks
to one “new” track and then apply a single effect to it, or indeed, a chain of effects.

Not only does it make things easier, but cuts down on resources.
Example, one has 3 percussion tracks, instead of applying say a compressor on each one, all three can be routed
to another single track where they are mixed together and a single compressor instance used.

The mix amount of each track can be controlled with the usual level control on the left and the original
tracks must be able to be muted so only the audio from the bus is audible.

That would be amazing and it’s how other DAWs work.

As for real time effects, I’m assuming that the Mac version would support VST and AU, whereas the Win version would be
VST (2 & 3) whilst the Linux version would support VST and LADSPA plugins.
(Obviously the VST binaries would need to be compiled for the correct OS to be compatible).

VSTi support would also be great but that I understand would be rather complex to code and probably require a complete
overhaul of the Audacity code base.

Ah, I see. That is a thing that is vaguely planned as well, though we’d like to make Audacity more usable just generally before heading into full-on DAW territory. So yes, one day!

Thank you.

This is incredibly exciting news! How exactly is it going to work? From what I understand, it appears that we’ll be able to run multiple real-time effects at once, but we won’t be getting full-on busses quite yet.

Will we actually be able to save these effects to the “bus”; or will this simply grant the ability to tune your effects in real-time before you apply said effects to the track? Will customizable presets be available?

Either way, it’ll be a huge step forward in the ease-of-use department. :slight_smile:

If it will behave somewhat like a bus (where effects are saved to the bus, rather than altering the recording file), could one of these busses be applied to more than one track at a time? If not, could we run multiple “busses”(one per track) simultaneously? Or will it be one “bus” at a time?

Side Note:
This probably belongs in its own post, but what are the odds of replacing the arrow buttons in the menus with a scroll bar, or at least adding it as an option? The arrow system has a tendency to make Audacity expand/contract from full-screen, to a smaller window, then back, etc. when you’re not in the F11 full-screen mode. This is very minor but it gets obnoxious at times. Is this in the works by chance?

We haven’t thought through every design intricacy just yet. In general, it’s most likely we’ll build upon the capabilities we already have. We don’t have busses as a stand-alone concept, so any effects will be per-track instead. We do have a preset system already (hidden in the “manage” button on many effects), so that should be in the cards, even for external VSTs and stuff. And yes, it is planned to save the effects in a real-time state to the project, so (provided you only ever need to apply effects to an entire track at once) you’ll be able to do the entire thing non-destructively.

We have found that things take longer to build than expected with Audacity because edge cases or weird bugs keep creeping up on us, so the expectation for the first release doing real-time effects should be “minimum viable product”. Maybe we’ll have enough time to have a concept of “effects chain applies to 2 tracks at once” or even “copy-pasting for real-time effects”, but if not, I’m afraid you’ll have to live with a somewhat limited better-than-nothing.

I should also note that Audacity doesn’t really have multi-core capabilities right now. That’s an entire other can of worms and probably worth a release on its own, but it does mean that any sort of serious real-time effects chains will quickly run into some sort of CPU bottleneck.

I hope we can dejankify that effects menu. I will note that there already exist grouping options in the preferences (Effects > Sort or group) which may shorten them to something which is short enough to not scroll.

I appreciate your thoughtful response.

I apologize. I know very little about programming and thus had no concept of what’s realistic but that makes sense.

That much alone is a game changer—simply for ease of editing.

Great tip! I had no idea this option existed. It dramatically reduced the menu size. Thanks!

Also, if there’s any effects that you never use, you can disable them in the Plug-in Manager so that they don’t appear in the menus (you can re-enable them later if required). See: Plugin Manager - Add / Remove Effects, Generators and Analyzers - Audacity Manual