The Channel Strip in Ardour 3

This is an assignment for the Coursera course Introduction to Music Production


Hi, I’m Sungwon. I grew up in the United States, have been in South Korea the past 9 years and am now living in France for the time being. In this post, I’ll be explaining the signal flow through the channel strip or mixer in Ardour 3.

The Channel Strip

a2 mixer edit


To examine or change the signal flow through the DAW, open up the mixer window from the main menu by going to “Window => Mixer”. The mixer window will open. You will see a list of strips (tracks or buses) and on the right the master strip as shown in the image below.

Track Name

Obviously, the track name is not part of the signal flow, but you may want to change the default name so it’s less confusing as your project grows.

a2 rename


This can be done by clicking on the name of the track (“Audio 1” in this example) and selecting “Rename…” from the pop-up menu.


The signal flow through our DAW begins with inputs to the individual tracks.

a2 inputs edit

To check or change inputs for an individual track. Click on the button below the name of the track (“Audio 1” in the above example) and an input window will open displaying the current inputs. Here you can also configure your signal flow of inputs and inputs for inserts.  (Note if you are using Linux, you may also have to connect inputs using the Jack audio connection service.)

Inserts and Sends

In a physical mixer, we would usually have inputs for inserts, then AUX sends and an EQ. In the Ardour DAW, all these functionalities can be enabled in one section circled in the screenshot below.

a2 inserts edit

An insert, send or plugin such as an effect can be inserted by right-clicking in the area and selecting “New Insert”, “New External Send” or “New Plugin” respectively. Inputs for the inserts can be configured by bringing up the inputs window as described in the inputs section. Output for sends can be configured in the same way (and not by opening the outputs window described later below).

a2 pre-post

Note that the placement of sends and inserts is important. Above the main track fader (the large blue one) and show in red are pre sends and inserts. Below are post. Pre-sends (and inserts, etc.) are usually sent out for monitoring the track (for example when playing live). The main track fader and post effect will have no effect on the pre-send signal. Post-sends (and inserts, etc.) will not be sent out to the pre outputs, but will be sent to the main bus for recording. Note that the sends have their own independent faders.

Pan Knob

The next stop in our track signal flow is the pan knob, which in Ardour is not a knob but a slider.

a2 pan


Moving the slider towards the left increases the amplitude in the left channel and decreases it on the right, and vice versa.

Track Recording Configuration Buttons

The next section includes a number of largely self-explanatory buttons that help configure recording for the track.

a2 buttons


In and Disk: these two buttons select how to monitor the track. Selecting “In” will monitor the input into the track. Selecting “Disk” allows monitoring of track playback.

Rec – This enables recording on the track.

Mute – Mutes the track

Solo, iso and lock – Selecting “Solo” will mute all other tracks, except those that have also been set to “Solo”. To mute all tracks, even those set to Solo, selecting “iso” (isolate) will do so. Enabling “lock” keeps the Solo status (either enabled or disabled) at its current value and disables the “Solo” button, helping to prevent any accidental “Solo” enabling or disabling.

Volume Fader

Next we have our main track fader controlling the amplitude of our track that is sent out to the main bus. It can be set by clicking directly on the fader, using the mouse wheel or by inputting a value in the input box above the fader graphic.

a2 fader

Track Output

The main track output can be set by clicking the “master” button at the bottom of the strip. A separate window will pop-up allowing for configuration of the output.

a2 outputs

Master Strip

For other tracks, the strips are the same. Other tracks and buses are all connected to the main bus controlled by the master strip on the far right. The master strip has nearly the same layout and functionality as any other track and can be configured in the same way.


Thanks to my fellow students for peer reviewing this assignment!

Originally, I wanted to do a how-to or practical assignment as I thought that it would be more useful for visitors coming to my blog (there is less information on the web about Ardour and Linux audio production than for other platforms), but I don’t have much equipment currently and I didn’t have much time to spend. However, going through this assignment I learned a lot more about Ardour and how to configure it than I expected, knowledge that I will put to good use when I start on my own projects.