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"Plugin Stack" feature. Who wants this?


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So for a long time, one of the things I would love to see implemented is some kind of "stack" for plugins so we could save groups of plugins as a single insert.

For example, let's say I have my channel strip with an EQ, a compressor and a limiter. Now let's say that in between the EQ and the compressor I add distortion, phaser, and delay.

What if I love that effect I created with those 3 plugins and want to save them for other scenarios? Pretty much like a "multi-effect" plugin that we would buy from a third-party company where in the same plugin we can control different effects.

So we would have:

>EQ

>Plugin Stack

>>>>Distortion

>>>>Phaser

>>>>Delay

> Limiter

 

Now we could save that combination of plugins and their settings and then load them again on a different channel strip or project.

And when we click the button to edit the stack, we could see a scrollable window with all the plugins (the way Kontakt works, you know?) and we could easily edit parameters on all plugins.

 

What do you guys think of this feature? Would it be something you would use? Does it deserve to be sent as a suggestion to Apple? Let me know :)

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I can see why this could be useful. However I'm not a huge fan of the idea of having a wrapper plug-in containing other plug-ins inside that you can't immediately see or access fro the Inspector or Mixer.

 

Maybe keep it simple, and offer a way to merge only Audio FX from patches onto Audio FX already present on the channel strip. What I mean is, in your example:

 

1. Save a patch with

Distortion

Phaser

Delay

 

2. On a channel strip with

EQ

Limiter

 

... click the line that appears when you hover between EQ and Limiter and load the saved patch.

 

3. End up with

EQ

Limiter

Distortion

Phaser

Delay

 

It would offer the result you want but still look cleaner in my opinion on the resulting channel strip as you can directly see exactly which plug-ins are in your Audio FX section.

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I can see why this could be useful. However I'm not a huge fan of the idea of having a wrapper plug-in containing other plug-ins inside that you can't immediately see or access fro the Inspector or Mixer.

 

Maybe keep it simple, and offer a way to merge only Audio FX from patches onto Audio FX already present on the channel strip. What I mean is, in your example:

 

1. Save a patch with

Distortion

Phaser

Delay

 

2. On a channel strip with

EQ

Limiter

 

... click the line that appears when you hover between EQ and Limiter and load the saved patch.

 

3. End up with

EQ

Limiter

Distortion

Phaser

Delay

 

It would offer the result you want but still look cleaner in my opinion on the resulting channel strip as you can directly see exactly which plug-ins are in your Audio FX section.

 

 

It kinda gives the same result. Yes, it would load the plugins, but let's say you decide that a patch has 10 plugins. Now you have 10 plugins plus all the other ones you already had, which is huge.

Also, one of the goals was to have a dedicated window for all plugins that you could easily access without opening and closing windows, just scrolling. And since Logic has this weird behavior that I've already discussed here (the fact that once you change the order of the plugins in the channel strip, the opened windows for those plugins change - it's completely ridiculous in my opinion), it's a mess when you want to have several plugins opened.

 

Sure, your solution would be a step closer to that. But hey, it could have both options for those who just want to load all plugins and a plugin stack for those who want the wrapper :)

 

And what if there was a key that you could press while clicking the stack and it would expand/collapse? That way you could still see it in the Inspector and Mixer. See it as a normal track stack. You can select the top track and add effects, but then you can expand and see the other tracks inside. But for plugins.

So you can still click the main Plugin Stack button and open the wrapper with the scrolling window or if you want to work individually, you click the extra key.

 

You said that you are not a fan of plugins inside a wrapper that you can't individually access from the mixer, but I believe that's a matter of habit. For example the Remix FX is just that. You have multiple effects inside the same window. This would work the same way, but with the regular plugins. :) And to make it even better you could maybe right click certain parameters and add those parameters at the top, like a smart controls window so you could build a section with the parameters you would like to control, faster, without scrolling all the time. What do you think?

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Something like this:

 

Normal State

1-Stack.jpg.84985d75208b09234849a7c3ac74a61e.jpg

 

When hovering over while pressing ALT/OPTION

876533188_2-HoverwithOPTIONpressed.jpg.e75a2de99b857a4c5fdd831d4d855624.jpg

 

Final result, expanded, with different colors to make it easier to see what's what

3-expanded.jpg.0ec677106be8fc3f1a2e5385af634ea1.jpg

 

 

Window with option to toggle ON and OFF the Smart Controls option

window.png.fd9e53509af1e6ae3e04e27a913259ee.png

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I can see why this could be useful. However I'm not a huge fan of the idea of having a wrapper plug-in containing other plug-ins inside that you can't immediately see or access fro the Inspector or Mixer.

 

Maybe keep it simple, and offer a way to merge only Audio FX from patches onto Audio FX already present on the channel strip. What I mean is, in your example:

 

1. Save a patch with

Distortion

Phaser

Delay

 

2. On a channel strip with

EQ

Limiter

 

... click the line that appears when you hover between EQ and Limiter and load the saved patch.

 

3. End up with

EQ

Limiter

Distortion

Phaser

Delay

 

It would offer the result you want but still look cleaner in my opinion on the resulting channel strip as you can directly see exactly which plug-ins are in your Audio FX section.

 

Another issue I see with your approach: how do you just save a patch with those plugins? You need some kind of "wrapper" for Logic to know which plugins to include, right?

The idea is that while you are working on a project and come up with a good combinations of effects you just save them. I'm assuming that what you are suggesting would be creating a new channel strip with just those effects and save them as a patch?

If so, here's another issue: what if suddenly you changed the order of the plugins? (which is the main purpose of this stack, to experiment different combinations, different parameters, and easily save them). Now you would have to keep creating patches on a separate channel strip.

With the stack you can just drag and drop plugins, enable them and disable them, change parameters and then save them as a plugin preset, the way you save a Space Designer new preset, for example. That way you can also easily go through different presets by just clicking the "Next" and "Previous" arrows :)

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Yes, I see your point. I was thinking of some way to incorporate your idea in the current patch system. Maybe some kind of more flexible patch merging options would be welcome, for example where it displays all the plug-ins inside the patch you're about to load, allowing you to select exactly which ones you want to load.

 

But I hear you on the container kind of thing, it has its advantages that my solution does not offer.

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I think about this every now and again, and actively look for plugin chainer plugins but non really do the job well.

 

• SmartControls but it's an FX Rack/wrapper instead

• FX Chains like in studio one

 

I would literally kill for this idea. I love linking more controls to a single knob, you can make "your own" plugins sort of. (i.e. saturation knob but with linked pre/post emphasis).

 

I extremely like your idea of this and would 100% support it. Off to write feedback

 

They already did this "wrapper" thing with DMD

 

EDIT:

The key here is MACROS. I want to be able to open just the pre-saved 3 plugins with smart controls as i would open a plugin.

I wouldn't need channel strip plugins anymore, i could build i.e. my own FabFilter channel strip and assign stuff to Smart control knobs, insert it as a plugin, and then add reverbs/additions plugs before after all while having smart controlled channel strip as it is, and accessible as i usually access my other plugins.

 

God, i want this SO BAD. :D

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I think about this every now and again, and actively look for plugin chainer plugins but non really do the job well.

 

I would literally kill for this idea. I love linking more controls to a single knob, you can make "your own" plugins sort of. (i.e. saturation knob but with linked pre/post emphasis).

 

I extremely like your idea of this and would 100% support it. Off to write feedback

 

They already did this "wrapper" thing with DMD

 

I can see more people have this need ;) Good!

The issue with third-party plugins that could potentially do this is that stock plugins would not be able to be inserted. At least, from what I remember reading somewhere here, stock plugins are programmed differently so there are a lot of things that can't be done by third party companies, unless Apple changes how things are "wired" internally.

 

I would love this to be implemented. It comes to my mind quite often, actually. It would create so many creative possibilities!

Right now the only way to achieve something similar, but it's not very productive when it comes to workflow is:

1 - Create the channel strip

2 - Channel strip's output goes to a specific aux

3 - That aux would work as the "stack" to load patches

4 - That "stack"'s output goes to another aux.

 

This way you can have the same workflow while saving a set of effects.

 

What you would get with the Plugin Stack:

1 - Less tracks/auxs

2 - Scrollable window to easily edit each plugin

3 - Using the idea of having a "Smart Controls" at the top of the window, we could have certain parameters easy to manipulate.

 

To make it even easier and cleaner, we could have buttons like the Sampler has to toggle on/off certain sections, so for example we could have one for "Controls" and one for "Plug-Ins" and we could turn those on and off to make the window less cluttered when necessary :)

 

What are your thoughts?

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I think about this every now and again, and actively look for plugin chainer plugins but non really do the job well.

 

• SmartControls but it's an FX Rack/wrapper instead

• FX Chains like in studio one

 

I would literally kill for this idea. I love linking more controls to a single knob, you can make "your own" plugins sort of. (i.e. saturation knob but with linked pre/post emphasis).

 

I extremely like your idea of this and would 100% support it. Off to write feedback

 

They already did this "wrapper" thing with DMD

 

EDIT:

The key here is MACROS. I want to be able to open just the pre-saved 3 plugins with smart controls as i would open a plugin.

I wouldn't need channel strip plugins anymore, i could build i.e. my own FabFilter channel strip and assign stuff to Smart control knobs, insert it as a plugin, and then add reverbs/additions plugs before after all while having smart controlled channel strip as it is, and accessible as i usually access my other plugins.

 

God, i want this SO BAD. :D

 

 

Something like this:

window.png.c0997a072c2c23dccc020b34d1be4c9d.png

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I really like your stack mockups for mixers, but all plugins in a single window could become unmanageable quickly.

 

If i think about it, a double height insert would make sense.

 

I.e.:

First slot would act as a plugin:

- Clicking center of a stack would open smart-control view of the stack (like it opens a plugin window)

- click left side would bypass all plugins

- clicking right side would open a plugin menu

 

Second slot would be the arrow, that expands the stack so you can see what's inside, and can open separate plugs inside the stack.

 

To adjust the macros you would have a small (i) on top of the smart controls window (like now) which would allow you to assign the knobs, the stack would auto-expand if you hit the "(i)" so you could assign parameters by learning?

 

RE: management of plugin windows, instead of having all plugins in a single window you could have "expanded view" of the smart controls handled like having smart controls at the bottom, and selected "plugin GUI" at the top.

stacks.png.b68d6ef9d3c074c56557bf842fcfd3f1.png

1778362611_Screenshot2022-02-04at12_31_27.thumb.png.1c026881fcfc06f94b53d2845da06c8c.png

Edited by Ploki

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I really like your stack mockups for mixers, but all plugins in a single window could become unmanageable quickly.

 

If i think about it, a double height insert would make sense.

 

I.e.:

First slot would act as a plugin:

- Clicking center of a stack would open smart-control view of the stack (like it opens a plugin window)

- click left side would bypass all plugins

- clicking right side would open a plugin menu

 

Second slot would be the arrow, that expands the stack so you can see what's inside, and can open separate plugs inside the stack.

 

To adjust the macros you would have a small (i) on top of the smart controls window (like now) which would allow you to assign the knobs, the stack would auto-expand if you hit the "(i)" so you could assign parameters by learning?

 

RE: management of plugin windows, instead of having all plugins in a single window you could have "expanded view" of the smart controls handled like having smart controls at the bottom, and selected "plugin GUI" at the top.

 

 

I'm a bit confused about some things you pointed out... Not sure if I didn't explain my idea that well, or if you missed something I said. Or maybe both haha

 

So to me having 2 slots being occupied by something that's supposed to act as a group: I don't see any great value in it? On one of my replies to David I mentioned that for the user to see the arrow, they would have to press ALT/OPTION and it would show it, so hovering over without it, would show what you just described (the way a normal slot has those 3 areas to disable, open the plugin, open the menu). So for that, having an extra slot seems unnecessary.

 

On that image I sent you, you have the option at the top of the window to show/hide the Controls or the Plugins. Pretty much the way you sent your image with Fab Filter and the smart controls at the bottom, That would be the same thing, I just didn't include that in my image, because, as you can see, the CONTROLS button is deactivated (not yellow).

 

Also, if you don't have all plugins in the same window that you can scroll, what makes the plugin stack different from having a plugin open as we do now and opening the smart controls window? ;) The idea of the stack is to actually have all plugins stacked and open, ready to just scroll and change parameters. Then right click a parameter (for example, the Feedback on a delay), choose "Assign Smart Control" and it would automatically add a knob to the smart controls window. Unlike the current smart controls "devices", these smart controls on the stack would not have predefined sizes or knobs. It would be empty at first and for each learned parameter it would add a knob that maybe we could then change to a fader, if we wanted to. This would avoid cluttering the window with empty space

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Okay yeah lol sorry :)

two slots is just because it would be cool if the "stack" itself had identical controls as plugins do, that is:

- bypass

- open GUI (smart controls)

- open menu to replace

I guess a key modifier (CMD/ALT) could be used instead to "unstack" it temporarily.

 

So yes - scratch two slots, it's a space-waster, i just didn't know where to put the arrow to "expand" stack.

 

I see now what you mean. The key functionality for me would be to be able to recall "Smart control groups" as an insert - so you can easily build recallable macros. Which is only a partial functionality of your idea really.

 

I completely missed the "CONTROLS/PLUGINS" tab on your mockup :roll:

 

EDIT:

okay you already said "when hovering with OPTION button".

 

Sorry, that was abhorrently sloppy reading on my part.

I was kind of excited someone else started pushing this idea finally :D

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two slots is just because it would be cool if the "stack" itself had identical controls as plugins do

 

Yeah it would be exactly the same as a normal plugin when you hover over it. Then when you hover over it while holding ALT/OPTION, you would see the arrow instead and that would expand the slots :)

Unlike the DMD which doesn't have those 3 options.

 

The key functionality for me would be to be able to recall "Smart control groups" as an insert

I guess what you mean here is pretty much what a lot of people have been asking for years, which is a way for you to save smart controls settings and then recall them, instead of seeing them up every single time, correct?

Well, that could be included in the CONTROLS tab, for example, A menu with an option to save/delete/load next/load previous. That way you could map certain parameters, save them as a Smart Controls preset and then load them. The only "issue" I see with this particular case of having the plugin stack is that you would have to have the exact plugins loaded, otherwise some parameters would not be assigned to anything, you know what I mean?

But to be honest, at this point if the plugin stack was included and included smart controls, I would be a happy man! :)

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I wrote feedback to Apple and linked them to this thread :)

I hope someone takes notice.

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I wrote feedback to Apple and linked them to this thread :)

I hope someone takes notice.

 

Great! I sent them as well ;)

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...
Just copy Ableton. I'm pretty sure I'm going to end up in Ableton full time soon, outside of recording and comping multi-take vocals and instruments. I wondered how so much great sound design was done by so many in that DAW, and its because the workflow is so immediately encouraging of it.
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IOW some kind of pedal board fx elaborated implementation…

In the mean time I wonder if the I/O plugin and or the Selection based processing could be of some use (to some extent)?

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Personal observations from using features like this in other programs:

 

- You could basically copy Ableton’s Groups and Effects racks approach and many would be happy. If you look at Kilohearts Snap Heap and Multipass those would be great inspiration too, as they are just a little more graphical and easy to set up versions of Ableton’s Racks in a way.

 

- If incorporating plug-in stacks with signal splitting and routing, I think the idea of keeping everything represented in the mixer (while it seems logical at first) becomes extremely messy. Studio One tried this approach and it makes it much more difficult to tell what’s going on. For example: you have four delays with different amounts. In the “Stack” GUI you see a button that says Delay Designer you can click next to each knob to see the interface- Short Delay, Long Delay, Feedback Delay, Slap Delay. If you were to represent that in the mixer it would just say “Delay Designer Delay Designer Delay Designer Delay designer”. That’s, in my experience, totally useless.

 

- assignable Macro knobs are the way to go. It would be cool if you could wiggle a parameter and then hit a command for “Assign to New Macro Knob “, or “Assign to Macro Knob 1-16”- if devs use plug-in automation to find these parameters, keep in mind many plug-ins constantly spit out this data so perhaps a list of recently used plug-in parameters would be better.

 

- Windowed plug-ins tend to be weird, inconvenient, and buggy. I would much rather have a “Stack” GUI with a bunch of knobs and a button you can click to “flip” it and see the routing, knob assignments, and buttons to choose plug-ins and open their GUIs. Reaktor took a similar approach with a Simple/Complex toggle view, but I think doing it the actual routing/selection/etc like a spreadsheet or very minimal GUI (like Groups and Effects Racks in Ableton) is better for a DAW. Making it look like a schematic sounds cool on the drawing board but just becomes an annoying thing to manage in every program I’ve seen try it. The user just ends up scrolling around a lot to see the diagram and make adjustments, and/or tracing signals around. Wasted effort!

 

- The other programs that do this (Ableton, Bitwig, Studio One, Fruity Loops Patcher, Kilohearts Snap Heap and Multipass) have signal splitting (by duplicating, frequency, L/R, or M/S) and faders for each split. This is very helpful. Then you can run plug-ins in separate parts of a signal.

 

- include in knob assignment a way the user can setup inverted values, value ranges, and modifiers.

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IOW some kind of pedal board fx elaborated implementation…

In the mean time I wonder if the I/O plugin and or the Selection based processing could be of some use (to some extent)?

 

Yes, the general idea would be similar to the pedal board, but for plugins.

I mean, even if they just created a single plugin slot (without the extra feature to expand it in the channel strip), that would already be an awesome improvement. It's something I would be using over and over again, to be honest.

 

I've never used the I/O plugin, but reading about it, it seems it wouldn't do anything about this particular situation.

 

The selection based processing isn't an option either, because it's not something you can save for other projects and the idea here is that you are also able to move that group of plugins to a different position in the channel strip. And of course, if we are working with MIDI, how would selection based processing work?

 

But I guess your idea of the pedal board could be the beginning of something if they could somehow reuse that plugin, duplicate the code and transform it.

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In the meantime, there is a plugin I stumble over lately which seems to do pretty much all of what has been described so far (and a little more): Blue Cat's PatchWork...

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In the meantime, there is a plugin I stumble over lately which seems to do pretty much all of what has been described so far (and a little more): Blue Cat's PatchWork...

 

I've used that in the past, but it doesn't allow stock plugins, which is 99% of what I use :/

My idea with this thread was more about something native to Logic, which would be way more interesting (and less prone to error in the future when Apple decides to make radical changes and all companies have to update their own products).

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In the meantime, there is a plugin I stumble over lately which seems to do pretty much all of what has been described so far (and a little more): Blue Cat's PatchWork...

 

I've used that in the past, but it doesn't allow stock plugins, which is 99% of what I use :/

My idea with this thread was more about something native to Logic, which would be way more interesting (and less prone to error in the future when Apple decides to make radical changes and all companies have to update their own products).

That make sense!

I think it would be even better if that sort of implementation would also permit to stack 3rd party plugins as well...

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I've used that in the past, but it doesn't allow stock plugins, which is 99% of what I use :/

My idea with this thread was more about something native to Logic, which would be way more interesting (and less prone to error in the future when Apple decides to make radical changes and all companies have to update their own products).

That make sense!

I think it would be even better if that sort of implementation would also permit to stack 3rd party plugins as well...

 

Yes, I was not expecting this feature to just allow stock plugins. I mentioned stock plugins on my previous reply, just because any 3rd party plugin I found would not allow stock plugins, such as the one you suggested, Plogue Bidule, etc.

For now, the only workaround is to send the channel strip's output to a bus (that would act like the wrapper) then the wrapper's output to another bus, and that would be going to the main output. Then you could create a stack out of those 3 channel strips and save patches/channel strip settings for the 2nd channel strip.

But it's a waste of time and resources every time you want to apply this kind of workflow. A separate feature would be awesome.

Danny Wyatt (formerly known as 3ple here on the forum)
Musician, Music Producer, Songwriter, DJ
Official Website: http://www.iamdannywyatt.com  - Join my Discord: https://dwyatt.me/discord

Logic Pro 10.6.3 • M-Audio Fast Track Pro 4x4 • MacBook Pro 13" Mid 2012 || 2.5 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5 || 8GB 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM • macOS Catalina 10.15.7

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  • 2 weeks later...
Personal observations from using features like this in other programs:

 

- You could basically copy Ableton’s Groups and Effects racks approach and many would be happy. If you look at Kilohearts Snap Heap and Multipass those would be great inspiration too, as they are just a little more graphical and easy to set up versions of Ableton’s Racks in a way.

 

- If incorporating plug-in stacks with signal splitting and routing, I think the idea of keeping everything represented in the mixer (while it seems logical at first) becomes extremely messy. Studio One tried this approach and it makes it much more difficult to tell what’s going on. For example: you have four delays with different amounts. In the “Stack” GUI you see a button that says Delay Designer you can click next to each knob to see the interface- Short Delay, Long Delay, Feedback Delay, Slap Delay. If you were to represent that in the mixer it would just say “Delay Designer Delay Designer Delay Designer Delay designer”. That’s, in my experience, totally useless.

 

- assignable Macro knobs are the way to go. It would be cool if you could wiggle a parameter and then hit a command for “Assign to New Macro Knob “, or “Assign to Macro Knob 1-16”- if devs use plug-in automation to find these parameters, keep in mind many plug-ins constantly spit out this data so perhaps a list of recently used plug-in parameters would be better.

 

- Windowed plug-ins tend to be weird, inconvenient, and buggy. I would much rather have a “Stack” GUI with a bunch of knobs and a button you can click to “flip” it and see the routing, knob assignments, and buttons to choose plug-ins and open their GUIs. Reaktor took a similar approach with a Simple/Complex toggle view, but I think doing it the actual routing/selection/etc like a spreadsheet or very minimal GUI (like Groups and Effects Racks in Ableton) is better for a DAW. Making it look like a schematic sounds cool on the drawing board but just becomes an annoying thing to manage in every program I’ve seen try it. The user just ends up scrolling around a lot to see the diagram and make adjustments, and/or tracing signals around. Wasted effort!

 

- The other programs that do this (Ableton, Bitwig, Studio One, Fruity Loops Patcher, Kilohearts Snap Heap and Multipass) have signal splitting (by duplicating, frequency, L/R, or M/S) and faders for each split. This is very helpful. Then you can run plug-ins in separate parts of a signal.

 

- include in knob assignment a way the user can setup inverted values, value ranges, and modifiers.

 

^^^^ All of this, yes.

16" 2019 Macbook Pro, 32gigs RAM, Logic 5.whatever's newest
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  • 4 weeks later...

I think I'd like to have something like Digital Performer's virtual rack.  For those who aren't familiar, in DP you can create auxiliary mixers (racks) that contain common effect stacks, and/or software instruments. You can send to and return from these.  Keeps the main mixer cleaner. It's easy (1 key press) to toggle between the two.  I think it's a project object, but would be nice to be able to save these and load them into any project.

I've sort of simulated this by using mainstage as the host.  A little more awkward, but it works.  Many of my projects use the same (or super set) of instruments and effects.

Logic: 10.5.0 | MacOS: 10.14.6 | iMac (Retina 4K, 21.5-inch, 2017) | Steinberg UR242 | Motu 828MKII FW
Bored out 90 Over with three Stromberg 97's

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