chapter 11 Mixing and Bouncing Mixes

In this chapter, we’ll focus on working in sessions with higher track counts and more comprehensive routing setups. We’ll take a closer look at the I/O Setup window, hardware considerations and playback engine settings.

Configuring the Playback Engine

The Playback Engine dialog allows you to select a connected interface to use for recording and playback. Here you can also specify buffer size as well as other optimizations.

For the following demonstrations, use any session file or refer to one of the Pro Tools demo sessions available for download from

Configuring Pro Tools Hardware Settings

The Hardware Setup Dialog lets you configure settings that are specific to your connected audio interface such as clock source and sample rate as well as internal analog and digital routing. To bring up the Hardware Setup Dialog, choose SETUP > HARDWARE… If you’re using an Avid interface, the settings will be accessible right from the Hardware Setup Dialog. If you’re using a third party interface, this dialog will simply provide a button to launch the connected interface’s control panel software or the Audio/MIDI Setup application if you have Pro Tools Aggregate I/O selected in the Playback Engine Dialog. It’s beyond the scope of this guide to cover third party interfaces but we can take a quick look at what might happen when choosing SETUP > Hardware….

Configuring Pro Tools Aggregate I/O

If you’re using Pro Tools Aggregate I/O as your chosen interface, the Hardware Setup dialog will include a button that will launch the Audio/MIDI Setup utility where you can specify which devices to include in the aggregate device.

Configuring I/O Settings

The I/O Setup Dialog offers options for customizing audio and bus path names as well as manage I/O Setup settings. From here you can also reset all paths if necessary. Choose SETUP > I/O… to bring up the I/O Setup dialog.

Key Shortcuts:
  • Input Tab: Command+1
  • Output Tab: Command+2
  • Bus Tab: Command+3
  • Inserts Tab: Command+4
  • Mic Preamps Tab: Command+5
  • HW Insert delay Tab: Command+6

Resetting Default Paths

You may find yourself in a situation where the I/O Setup has been changed because of a session being opened on another Pro Tools system with a different interface and hardware configurations. Sometimes it might make sense to reset the I/O Setup. Doing this will eliminate all current paths in the session and create a new set of paths based on the currently connected audio interface. To use the newly created paths, it’s necessary to reassign track input and output paths in either the Edit or Mix window.

saving and Importing I/O Settings

Once you have an I/O configuration that properly reflects your connected interface and any custom path names, it’s a good idea to export configuration as an I/O Settings file that can later be imported if necessary. If you do import an IO Settings file, you’ll need to reassign track inputs, outputs and sends to reflect the newly available paths.

Opening a Session or Project and Adding Tracks

Let’s open a session and take another look at the New Tracks Dialog and some path assignment shortcuts.

Opening a Recently Used Pro Tools Document

Opening a Pro Tools session file from the finder will automatically launch Pro Tools and open that session. If Pro Tools is already running, you can quickly open the most recently closed session by pressing Command+O or you can select from a list of recent files by choosing fILE > OPEN RECENT and navigating the items in the submenu.

Adding Tracks as You Work

Although it’s possible to change the order of tracks in a couple of different ways, it helps to understand what to expect when creating tracks and where they will be positioned in the Tracks List. If no tracks in the session are selected, Pro Tools will simply add new tracks to the bottom of the list (or to the right if you’re thinking of mixer channel strips). However, if there’s a track selected, any newly created tracks will appear immediately next to (or below) the currently selected track.

For the following demonstrations, use any session or refer to the “Blank Session.ptx” session from Chapter 3.

Key Shortcuts:
  • Speak Selected Tracks (with Flo Tools): Option+Shift+L
  • Deselect All Tracks (with Flo Tools): Double-tap Option+shift+L

Adding Multiple Tracks With the New Tracks Dialog

You can add multiple tracks at a time from the New Tracks dialog and even change their position relative to each other before adding them to a session.

Key Shortcuts:
  • Add Row: Command+Shift+Down Arrow
  • Command+Shift+Up Arrow to delete row

Configuring Track Routing

Using the “Do-To-All” and “Do-To-Selected” global shortcut function (with Option or Option+Shift respectively), you can quickly route all tracks or all selected tracks to the same I/O path.

Key Shortcuts:
  • Speak Input Path of Focused Track (with Flo Tools Inspector): I
  • Set Input Path of Focused Track (with Flo Tools Inspector: Double-tap I
  • Speak Output Path of Focused Track (with Flo Tools Inspector): O
  • Set Output Path of Focused Track (with flo Tools Inspector): Double-tap O
  • set Path for All Tracks: Option-click path selector
  • Set Path for All Selected Tracks: Option+Shift-click path selector

Edit and Mix Window Display Options

In Part I we learned how to show and hide certain items in the Pro Tools interface. Let’s take a closer look at these elements and how their visibility affects navigation with VoiceOver.

Narrow Mix View

Pro Tools can display mixer channel strips in the Mix window in a narrow view that fits more tracks within the boundaries of the window but with smaller controls and abbreviated names. This view is more beneficial to sighted users who would like to fit more channels on screen. The Narrow Mix View doesn’t offer any particular advantages for screen reader users since the UI element names remain the same. Some controls do disappear and are not available in Narrow Mix view so it’s probably best to avoid it.

Key Shortcuts:
  • Toggle Narrow Mix View: Command+Option+M
  • Toggle Narrow Mix View (with Flo Tools): Double-tap Command+Option+N
  • speak Peak value on Focused Track (with Flo tools Inspector): P
  • Reset Peak Indicator (with Flo Tools Inspector): Double-tap P

Optimizing Views in the Mix and Edit Windows

The names of the Mix and Edit windows are named for their primary functions. There are some UI elements that are common to both. In the interest of minimizing the number of elements through which one might need to navigate, it’s a good idea to optimize the user interface to display only what’s needed.

For the following demonstrations, use any session file or refer to one of the Pro Tools demo sessions available for download from

Track List Display Options

Let’s take a closer look at the Track List and how to manage its display and use.

Showing and Hiding the Track List

The Track List can be shown or hidden in both the Mix and Edit windows. When the Track List is hidden in the Mix window, VoiceOver no longer sees the table that contains the list of tracks. However, when the Track List is hidden in the Edit window, it is visually hidden but VoiceOver still sees it as being present and can access its functionality. This quirk may change in a future version of Pro Tools.

Selections and Hidden Tracks

Moving the insertion cursor from track to track only works for tracks that are shown in a session. If a track is selected, then hidden, pressing Control+P or Control+Semicolon to move the selection (i.e. the insertion cursor) will introduce a new insertion cursor on a shown track but the original track will still be selected but with no insertion cursor. Without the insertion cursor, edits will not apply to the selected track that is hidden but a more global command like some of those found under the Track menu will still apply because the track itself is selected.

Using the Track List Pop-Up Menu

The Track List Pop-Up Menu is useful for quickly showing or hiding all tracks or showing and hiding selected tracks. In addition, there are some organizational options.

Key Shortcuts:
  • Speak Shown Tracks (with Flo Tools): Option+Shift+W
  • Speak Hidden tracks (with Flo Tools): Option+Shift+H
  • Open Tracks List Pop-Up Menu (with flo Tools): Double-tap either Option+Shift+W or Option+shift+H

Changing Track Order

We’ve seen how new tracks get added to the Track List immediately following a selected track and how it’s possible to add new tracks in multiple formats at a time. While this is helpful to an extent, it’s often necessary to change the order of tracks in a session for organizational purposes. There are several ways to reorder tracks. Some approaches are more reliable than others. Let’s look at each method.

Sorting Tracks

You can use the Track List Pop-Up Menu to sort tracks by name or type, among other ways. Once you sort tracks in this manner, you cannot unsort them to reflect the order in which they were created or some other custom order. You can only choose another sort order or use “Revert to Saved” to discard all changes and return to the original, unsorted order. Keep in mind, though, that this command will also discard any other changes you might have made to the session since the most recent save.

Using Folder Tracks to Move Tracks

From the Track List, it’s possible to move a selected track to a a new folder or existing folder. This is an easy way to reposition tracks reliably.

Note: Before opening the next demonstration session file, make sure to decompress the “Audio” archive in the session folder. For the following demonstrations, refer to the “Chemical Reaction Multitrack.ptx” session.

Dragging tracks in the Track List

It’s possible to drag tracks into position within the Track List. This generally works well for sessions with moderate track counts of up to 60 or so. Beyond that, it’s necessary to scroll the Track List table. Since there’s currently no easy way of doing this with VoiceOver, this method isn’t recommended for sessions with high track counts.

Dragging Tracks in the Mixer

You can drag tracks within the mixer area of the Mix window to reposition them. This method is a little more tedious but we’re including it here for informational purposes.

Written on January 1, 2022