Transport and Meter toolbars dockable in the Mixer Board.

This topic raises the question/difficulty/feature request for allowing the Mixer Board to be pinned on top of other windows.

On Linux this can already be done.
For example on Debian, click on the top left corner of the Mixer window and select “Always on Top”.

In the Feature Request page of the wiki there is:

Mixer Board:

  • Needs to stay on top with main window. > (13 votes) > Although it gets in the way if you have a lot of tracks, you can resize it horizontally. Making it disappear when you use the main window is not the answer. That means shortcuts don’t work when it has focus (or developers have to add separate shortcuts for it). Tiling doesn’t help if you want to work with maximised windows.

Assuming that this will eventually be possible on Windows, it will then be useful to be able to dock the Transport Toolbar into the Mixer Board window.

On Linux it is often convenient when working on large projects to move the Mixer Board onto a separate Desktop (multi-Desktop environment), but it is then necessary to switch to the Desktop with the main Audacity window in order to play, pause, stop. It would be a lot more convenient if the Transport Toolbar could be docked in the Mixer Windows AND in the main Audacity Window.

It would also be useful to see the “master” mix level also.

Suggestion: You can undock the Transport Toolbar and VU-Meter windows from the Audacity Project window and make them sticky across desktops, so they will be visible on the Audacity Project desktop as well as on the Mixer desktop, but this may work only under window systems using X.

  • edgar

Hey steve, you wanted me to check this out well here are my 2cents

Have you ever used Krystal Audio Engine for windows? The dev of that daw already saw this issue and dealt with it by doing this… he made sure that the Mixer was always within the window and resizeable within the daw’s main window (no seperate windows), minimizing the daw would force it out of the way to the tiny bottom corner out of the way. X-ing the Daw would make it disapear but could be brought back via the on screen menu or keyboard shortcut. I suggest you use KAE for a little bit play with it and see how the mixer reacts and if it fits audacity’s model and see how well you think that concept will integrate into the audacity daw. As for now, that is all I can suggest. Hope it’s useful :smiley:

Here is a video displaying KAE in action take a look at how the live mixer behaves. It is an idea at times it may feel clunky or annoying to have it there but note you can hide or X it away(all the plugins stay faders etc it just hides it better when X’ed)

This video is not mines, if it violates any rules then go ahead and remove it before approving this reply:
around 0:45 he digs into the mixer check it out its the best video I found displaying the mixer to give the devs an idea.

Another thing you can do with PowerMenu and Afloat is to set transparency levels of application windows. So you could still see the waveform though the Mixer Board while moving the Mixer Board sliders.

MasSergio’s suggestion is another idea, too.


Yes I have. I agree that it has some nice features.

We agree that there needs to be a quick and convenient method for switching between the mixer and the main window, but there are a number of ways that this can be accomplished. Krystal uses a panel within the main window. Adobe Audition uses a similar method (but has separate editing and multi-track views). Pro Tools and others have a separate mixer window with “hot key” switching between windows. Audacity has gone for this latter approach but does not yet have a consistent cross-platform way to switch between the windows. The OS window switching method (Alt+Tab for Linux/Windows) work to a degree but is a bit awkward if there are a lot of windows open and I think that a dedicated hot key (for example using a pair of “F number” keys) would be more convenient.

The main issue that I’m wanting to look at in this “new feature” topic is that Krystal/Audition/Pro Tools/Others all have some way to see the mix level and some way to access the play controls while the mixer is active. I don’t think that Audacity needs to copy the feature from another application, but when mixing these are two essential usability features so I think that Audacity needs some method of doing so.

To break this down into bullet points, my feature request is for enhancements to the mixer board:

  • A mix level (master) meter.
  • Play controls for the mixer view.
  • Fast switching between the main window and the Mixer Board window.

To which I would add:
Fader automation.

– Bill

I thought that there was already a feature request on the wiki for that, but I don’t see one.

Of these features I’d prioritise the first two, but I agree that fader automation would be a great enhancement.

  • A mix level (master) meter.
  • Play controls for the mixer view.
  • Fast switching between the main window and the Mixer Board window.
  • Fader automation.

I notice that MasSergio has also proposed some mixer board features so perhaps this needs a proposal page on the wiki. There are a lot of desirable features but I’d rather concentrate on those that are possible within the current Audacity framework. From a non-programmer point of view I think that these four look possible.

Maybe that is because only Bill has actively requested the idea? Does anyone else want to vote for it while this topic is open?

In Bill’s post here explaining about it ( ) he seems to suggest that even this needs a rewrite of envelopes.


+1 for fader automation.

He says:
“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.”

Personally I’m in favour of envelopes using linear interpolation whether fader automation is implemented or not. Log/exponential curves may be nice on paper, but they are horribly fiddly to use (and fading to silence is impossible).

OK I added your vote here (and those of a couple of other people that have asked in the past):

Someone claims in that FR section that you can fade to silence but I cannot manage anything below -130 dB when in 32-bit float. Perhaps you should comment there?


Do you mean this:
"Too fiddly/unintuitive to fade out to zero (3 votes). Pinching the point hard to the zero line makes volume fade to zero almost after the beginning of the fade. "

On further investigation, it depends if you are just fading out, or fading down and back up again.
When fading down and back up again I get the same result as you.
When fading the end of a track to silence it does go to absolute silence.

I didn’t write on the FR page anything implying that you can fade to zero with the current envelopes. I maintain that you can’t.

You can get very very close to zero but never all the way.
New project, 32-bit float
Generate tone amplitude 1.0 length 30 seconds
Envelope point at t=0, level=1
Envelope point at t=30, drag it down as far as you can
Select last two seconds
Apply Amplify until you can amplify to new peak level of 0 dB.

There’s still some audio there, even right at the end.

This also demonstrates

Pinching the point hard to the zero line makes volume fade to zero almost after the beginning of the fade.

My proposal page is here:

– Bill

New project, 32-bit float
Generate tone amplitude 1.0 length 10 seconds
Envelope point at t=0, level=1
Envelope point at t=5, drag it down as far as you can
Mix and render
Select last three seconds
The Amplify effect says the new level is -infinity, indicating that it is true silence.

I’m not suggesting that this is intuitive or useful, just that fading to zero is not impossible.
So now let’s say that you want to create , non-destructively, a linear fade from t=0 to t=10 on a 10 second track. It’s very fiddly to get a reasonably close approximation and as Bill says the end point is not silent.

All good points imho.

Floating an idea here:
Perhaps a first step to fader automation could be to have a “Master Fader” track with a corresponding “Master Fader” slider in the Mixer Board.

For users that have no use for this option, the Master Fader functionality could be enabled or disabled in the Tracks menu.

Selecting “Rec” in the Master Fader mixer bar (or the Master Fader track) would cause envelope points to be created in the Master Fader track in response to moving the Master Fader slider.

When not being moved by the user, the Master Fader would follow the envelope in the Master Fader Track.

“Locking” the Master Fader slider would prevent accidental adjustment of the slider, though the envelope points on the Master Fader track could still be moved in the usual way using the Envelope Tool (This is possibly one place that logarithmic fades makes sense as linear motion of the slider will create a logarithmic (equal dB steps/time) fade).

Moving the Master Fader slider would cause all other fader sliders to move by the same amount.
For example, moving the Master Fader slider down by 3 dB would cause the gain sliders in all tracks to move down by 3 dB from their current position (very useful if a mix of multiple tracks was clipping).

The new Mixer Board, with Master Fader enabled, might look something like this:
(note also the transport toolbar and meter toolbar docked at the bottom of the Mixer Board)

Yes, that’s a good place for the master fader.

Yes, turn it off if not needed. Can we assume if it is disabled it will be set to unity gain, even if previously set to a different value?

There seems to be a contradiction there: either the Master Fader draws an envelope, or it moves all the gain sliders in sync.

For this function I would still prefer the Pro Tools “controller level” model for the master fader envelope. I would still prefer linear fades. Recording automation from fader moves requires writing many points, then smoothing the curve.

I don’t like it moving the gain of all the tracks in sync. That’s not what any DAW does. It also means that very small changes to the Master Fader could cause large changes in the mix volume in a project with many tracks (8 tracks each reduced by 1 db?).

The “Lock” button is not needed. Have “Rec” and “Play” buttons. If “Rec” is selected you are recording fader automation. If “Play” is selected you are playing back fader automation. If neither is selected the current setting of the Master Fader applies.

That said, I like this solution for “where to put the master fader”. It could be implemented in stages. First without automation, then automation added if it is thought worthwhile.

– Bill

That’s how I would program it (if I could :wink: )

No contradiction, it would do both.
The envelope that is drawn is only on the Master Fader Track, not on the individual audio tracks. The Master Fader Track does not contain audio, just “controller data”. The envelope in the Master Fader Track causes the Master Fader to move up/down, which in turn adjusts the audio track gains.

That is another possibility, but I’m not sure that it fits so well with the Audacity model. The paradigm for ProTools (and most other DAWs is one of real time processing, which is not what Audacity does. It makes sense for ProTools to mix, then adjust the mix volume in real time, but for Audacity, what I’m suggesting is that moving the Master Fader adjusts the track gain for all tracks and, in consequence, adjusts the mix level.

You could be right. :stuck_out_tongue:


I may have the sums wrong (the “math”) but I don’t think it works like that.
I think what happens is that if you reduce the level of all tracks by “x” dB, the the level of the mix also reduces by “x” dB (irrespective of the number of tracks).

I thought of that (as I initially wanted to hide Master Fader from the unwary), but what if someone uses the Master Fader to adjust their mix, then turns it off because it’s now in the way, then exports? Clipped export?

I don’t think you should need to open Mixer Board to get to the Master Fader slider.

That seems to be correct. If I have two tracks that clip at +4 dB (as tested by mixing them and looking in Amplify) then I have to reduce the gain sliders on both tracks by -4 dB to prevent clipping.


Oops :blush: Right you are. I should know better. Log scale …

– Bill

Actually, in my experience it is very rarely that you want to automate the master fader. Perhaps for a slow fade out of the entire mix, but that’s about it, which can be accomplished with one of the Fade tools. You’re much more likely to be twiddling the individual instrument/vocal faders. So getting a simple non-automated master gain functionality into Audacity would definitely be a good start.

Gale makes a good point about the user who adjusts the master gain then hides it - what happens? So I’ll go back to my original suggestion that the master gain and record sliders be integrated into the meter toolbar, and the mixer toolbar contains just the playback slider (which is, in effect, a monitor gain control).

– Bill

With the scheme that I’m suggesting you wouldn’t need to. You could adjust it from the “Master Fader Track”.

If they delete the Master Fader Track, then there will no longer be any Master Fader control points, so the master gain will revert to unity.

I’ll mock up a graphic of the Master Fader Track to try and make it clearer what I have in mind.

Yes, fade-outs are exactly the user case that I had in mind.
I would eventually like fader automation for all audio tracks. The Master Fader Track automation is proposed as an initial implementation where the feature can be worked on without messing up how normal audio tracks behave. The developers may find it easier to work on track automation for all track, or initially “trying it out” on the Master Fader Track only. That would be their decision.

“Hiding” the Master Gain is not relevant because that’s the same as “hiding” the Mixer Board.
“Disabling” the Master Gain is the same as deleting the Master Fader Track. If there is no Master Fader Track then there are no Master Fader control points, so the master gain reverts to unity.

One of the benefits of the Master Fader controlling the Track Gain levels is that if the Master Fader Track was deleted, then the user could see the Track Gain sliders revert to their unmodified positions. There’s nothing going on “hidden in the background”.

Mock-up graphic to follow.