7 Reasons to Bounce Tracks to Audio Before Final Mix/Arrange

Before finalizing your project, you might want to bounce to audio. This can yield many benefits. Let’s look into a few.

Reason 1

Bouncing tracks to audio cements your ideas and crystallizes your focus. It keeps you from drifting into that vicious cycle of changing things up repeatedly – only to end up with no direction and lost momentum.

Reason 2

It gives you further options for creative processing. Working with audio allows things like reversing, time-stretching, slicing up & rearranging, etc.

Reason 3

It makes arranging easier. It’s much quicker to try different arrange options when all you have to do is throw big blocks of audio around (instead of small chunks of MIDI note data and bits of automation).

Reason 4

It keeps the arrange page tidy and makes the structure easier to visualize.

Reason 5

When you bounce to audio, you can see the actual waveforms in the arrange instead of just midi notes. This provides a much more exact vision of what’s going on and allows for ultra-precise editing of the timing.

Reason 6

It’s often better to just swap audio files when collaborating. In fact even though Loxy and I both work in Logic, we rarely swap project files. We usually just send wavs. It really seems to help us finish things better and doing this has probably very much contributed in developing our own sound too.

Reason 7

You’ll have stems ready for future remixes/rework. Too many times I’ve tried to open an old Logic project of mine in order to do a remix, only to find out some of the files or plugins have been lost for ever.

Reason 8 (I lied)

It sucks having to think about CPU or memory limitations when mixing. If you bounce to audio before final mix you free up some of those critical resources.


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  • Ben

    Good post as always Ilpo. I’ d be interested to hear a bit more on how your collabs work. Do you guys do much in the studio together or is it mostly online? And do you have any fixed approaches in terms of who does what (sound design / arrange / mixdowns etc)?

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Thanks Ben. The work I do with Loxy, we work mainly online as obviously he’s in the UK and I’m in Finland. But it works really well for us. I quite like that way of working anyway and I’ve always been doing it. We often have a chat on when we work though where we bounce ideas off each other and send audio back and forth. So there is a live element to it. As for who does what – I usually do the final mix as I have a good studio over here, but other than that there is no set formula. Each tune is different. We both start tunes and then just bounce the stems back & forth and kind of see what happens. Sometimes he just sends me a MP3 clip and I do a few things on top of that and send those parts over to him to work with. No set formula really, we just go with what works for the situation.

  • Rhys

    Great to see stuff that I thought I should be doing in black and white.

    I have one question about this and it is when? Where do you draw the line between composition and mixdown.

    I’m always to scared I will want to change this and that, I don’t want to be fooling around with a compressor when I could just adjust and envelope for example. Then there is also the busses, do you make a rule that you won’t bus something until its commit to audio.

    I know I need to commit but am unsure of what to commit too, this mostly leaves me with a bunch of soft synths open and a very warm MacBook.

    It seems I need to rethink my whole work flow!

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      That’s a very good question. I think it boils down to the fact that at some point you just have to decide that the composition is ready. As for my own work – I just “know” when that point comes. I can’t think of a better way to explain it.

      I might wanna change something later but as long as I have the original project saved, I can always go back to things if it comes to that.

      Regarding the buses – I am not sure I entirely understand your question? I frequently use buses with MIDI. For my workflow it doesn’t really matter wether the stuff going into a bus originates from a MIDI or audio track. So bouncing tracks to audio doesn’t really change anything as far as working with buses goes.

  • Brook

    What does it mean to bounce a track?

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Simply the process of rendering the different tracks in your project into plain audio.

      Of course some people work purely in audio to begin with, but even then I think there can be benefits in doing this!

  • I can’t even count how many times I’ve been burned by reason #7. I really like the freeze track feature in Ableton, it acts as a nice middleground between bouncing the track and keeping the raw data.

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Ha, me too. Too many times.

      Yup Logic has got freeze too but personally I don’t really like it. I often like to do little edits on the audio and freezing prevents that. Bouncing straight to audio is way more flexible and just works better for my workflow.

      I do keep the original project saved under a different name in case I need to back though!

  • I’ve worked purely in audio but i know others bounced tracks. For a beginner learning is an everyday process.
    Reason 7 is most like the reason why i’ll start bouncing.

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Yup learning never ends! I’m learning every day too and that’s one reason why I do this website.

  • Mike

    Hey man..!!!!! Thanks for your posts. They are helpful in deed!!!

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Cheers Mike thanks for the feedback!

  • Luiz depalma

    Good stuff, read a few articles, excellent and informative site mate !


    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      That’s great, welcome aboard.

  • KRII! You’re alive!

    Much love from Canada, time to hunt down some of your new music 🙂

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Hey Aaron, yes very much alive 🙂 Hope you’re good.

  • Daniel Gosnell

    When you bounce tracks do you ‘bypass effect plugins’? Or do you do the bounce with all effects included?

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      I prefer to bounce with FX when possible in order to start a clean final mix session. But it depends on the situation. My tracks are usually already sounding pretty close to finished before I get to the final mix – so the final mix is just to polish things up and make sure everything is ok. Depending on your workflow, bouncing with FX before final mix might not be the best way to do things for you. I always keep the original session of course in case I need to go back to anything.

  • BAHH

    Hey, nice info, thanks for the share.
    I’m here because I’m looking of answers and found a few here.

    Do you bounce tracks using the effects that are included with the plug-in.
    For example, Analog-Ultra has amazing chorus that I can’t replicate using my DAW so I bounce using plug-in own effects. any pitfalls to look out for?

    • I usually just prefer to keep it simple and bounce with the effects. Especially, like you said, if it’s something you can’t replicate otherwise.

      I guess the pitfall is if you don’t remember to save a backup version of the original project file, in case you need to go back and change something. I always save the project under a different name before I start bouncing tracks to audio.

  • Jay

    Great thoughts on 6 and 7. I’ve experienced revisiting a song idea after a year or two with only my final mix in hand, only to discover I’ve deleted my original sketch! Bouncing would leave a better breadcrumb trail.

  • I See Dead Trolls

    I had to bounce tracks early on when Cool Edit 2000 (soon to become Adobe Audition with 128 tracks) had only 4 tracks. I foolishly dumped the original waves after bouncing them into each new track, making further edits and mixes impossible. So save those bounced waves, kids. You might need them.

  • Kaosi Kosmos


    What about the reasons NOT to bounce tracks before mixing/arranging?
    I would love to have all tracks as wave files, but one reason not to bounce is not being able to do parameter changes anymore especially on vst synths. Just a thought.

    • Different approaches can work for different people for sure. For me it’s much more beneficial to commit to audio and force myself to move forward. The point is I don’t want to be able to do too many parameter changes on the source level after a certain point in a project – there are other things I want to focus my attention on.

  • Luiz DePalma

    Always keep close to the project before diving in to stems mixing. So you CAN change any automation or VST parameters or notes and timing… With the proccessing power at hand you should be able to do all within the same project on the same box.