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Setting up an effects loop

From: Pro Tools 8 Essential Training

Video: Setting up an effects loop

Knowing how to set up an Effects Loop is a key mixing technique. Often used for adding reverb or delay to a mix, an Effects Loop enables multiple tracks to access one Effects processor or plug-in. This saves a lot of computer processing power, gives you a lot of control over the mix and can also help to unify the overall sound of a mix. Let's talk about the components used in an Effects Loop. First, we have the Send, and the Sends are listed right here in the Sends area of the Mix window or the Edit window but we are going to look at the Mix window. You might ask how did I set up this window so that I can see just this individual Send on this track.

Setting up an effects loop

Knowing how to set up an Effects Loop is a key mixing technique. Often used for adding reverb or delay to a mix, an Effects Loop enables multiple tracks to access one Effects processor or plug-in. This saves a lot of computer processing power, gives you a lot of control over the mix and can also help to unify the overall sound of a mix. Let's talk about the components used in an Effects Loop. First, we have the Send, and the Sends are listed right here in the Sends area of the Mix window or the Edit window but we are going to look at the Mix window. You might ask how did I set up this window so that I can see just this individual Send on this track.

Well, go into View > Mix Window Views > Sends A-E and then to show the individual send on the track, I went to view Sends A-E and chose Send A. A Send makes a copy of a track and route it to an output or a Bus. So whatever is on this track, this is the Acoustic Guitar 2 track. The Send makes a copy of that Acoustic Guitar 2 track and route it either to an interface, maybe an analog output or a digital output or to an internal Bus within Pro Tools.

Now Bus carries that signal somewhere usually to another track and I'd like to think of a Bus that's kind of like a pipeline. Finally, a return receives that signal from the Bus, affects it and then routes that signal somewhere usually to the main outputs. And in this case, our return is going to be this Auxiliary track so it receives the Bus 1-2 signal here at the input and then puts it out to the Analog 1-2, which is the main output.

So let me back up and explain this whole process here of how to set up an Effects Loop. First, what you do is you assign a Send on the track. So in this case we assign the Bus 1-2 and that's going to be our pipeline to send the copy of this track to somewhere else. Then we go over to the return, which is this Auxiliary track, and for the input of this track we choose that same Bus, Bus 1 and 2, so that this track is receiving what this is sending. Then we can put our effect on this track so we put an insert and in this case, I'm using a D-verb Reverb plug-in.

So now the copy of this Acoustic Guitar track is being routed here. It's being affected by this D-verb plug-in and then it's being routed to the main output of the session. With this setup, the individual Send Faders, right here control the amount of signal that's sent from each track to the Reverb plug-in on the Aux track over here. So you will see that both of these Acoustic Guitar tracks are routed to this Auxiliary track with the D-verb plug-in. We can control how much of the level from each track is sent to the Reverb plug-in using the Send control right here. The Aux Fader control, right here, controls how much of the reverb effect on those tracks is actually added to or returned to the overall mix.

And the whole idea of an Effects Loop is to have both an affected or a wet signal, and an unaffected or dry copy of each track going to the main outputs, so that you can control the level of both the wet and the dry signals separately in the mix. So you'll see on these two tracks we have the dry tracks being routed out here to the main outputs. And then we also have the copies of them being sent here where they are affected by the reverb. And we can control the Reverb amount here on the Auxiliary track.

One other thing here I want to mention is that I have made this Auxiliary track Solo safe. So it will always be active even if I Solo other tracks in the session, and the way to do that is to press Command on a Mac or Ctrl on Windows and Click the Solo button and you can toggle it between being non-solo safe and solo safe. And when it's kind of ghosted like this that means its solo safe. So let me show you what this means. We are going to go over and actually Solo these Acoustic Guitar tracks and because this is solo safe, we can still hear the effect coming through this track. So I'm going to play this and you can listen to the effect and how these controls, the Send controls and the Auxiliary controls, affect the overall mix of the dry and wet signals. (Music playing.) Effects Loop can be either Pre fader or Post fader. By default any new Send you assign in a session is set to Post fader. However, you can change that by clicking the Pre or the little P button here. Allow me to explain. The signal routed through a Send can either be affected by the volume on the tracks volume fader down here which makes it Post fader or you can decide to make it Pre fader and then the volume fader will not affect how much is sent out here.

Let me dig a little deeper, Pre fader sends routed signal on a track through the Send before the signal is effected by the Volume fader, the Solo, ad the Mute buttons. Whereas signals that are routed Post fader are affected by the Volume fader, Solo and Mute buttons. So why would you want to make a Send either Pre fader or Post fader? Post fader sends are the default because in most instances you want the levels of the unaffected dry and the affected wet signals to be controlled at the same time. In our example session here, if I mute the guitar track, the dry guitar track will be muted and the reverb signal will be muted as well. That way you won't get a ghost in the machine, a wet track without its dry counterpart and let's have a listen. (Music playing.) Now you did hear the reverb tail but you didn't hear the reverb effect going on while these tracks were muted. In contrast Pre fader Sends are perfect for when you actually do one that ghost in the machine or put it in another way, when you want the original track and the sent copy to be relatively independent of each other. For example, in our session here I'm going to create an effect where the drums slowly disappear into a reverb background. So I'm going to hit the Pre button and then press Play and check out the effect that we get. (Music playing.) With the Pre fader Send, as you pull down the fader on the drum track, the reverb drum signals stays the same level. As the dry track fades away, you're left with only the reverb or the wet version that you can then start fading out or in this case boosting to create whatever effect that you want.

One thing you should note is that all inserts that is plug-ins or I/O choices here affect both Pre fader and the Post fader sent signals. In other words, any effect that you add to a track as an insert will be on the track when it's routed through a Send as well. I found that using Effects Loops for Reverb and Delay effects actually sound better than using Reverb and Delay plug-ins on individual tracks. The setup shown here tends to make the mixes less muddy and have more impact. I'm sure once you learn to create them and understand the signal routing involved, Effects Loops will become an integral part of your own personal mixing technique.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Pro Tools 8 Essential Training
Pro Tools 8 Essential Training

120 video lessons · 10801 viewers

David Franz
Author

 
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  1. 12m 54s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. Exploring the different versions of Pro Tools
      2m 30s
    3. Optimizing your computer before installing Pro Tools
      3m 51s
    4. Troubleshooting
      3m 1s
    5. Using the exercise files
      2m 16s
  2. 23m 41s
    1. Connecting your Pro Tools system
      5m 8s
    2. Powering up and powering down
      58s
    3. Optimizing Pro Tools performance
      6m 55s
    4. Setting essential preferences
      3m 42s
    5. Creating a Pro Tools session
      3m 56s
    6. Identifying elements in a session folder
      3m 2s
  3. 47m 9s
    1. Exploring the Edit window
      4m 50s
    2. Exploring the Mix window
      2m 21s
    3. Exploring the Transport and Big Counter windows
      4m 0s
    4. Using the Color palette and window arrangements
      2m 55s
    5. Investigating Pro Tools menus
      4m 37s
    6. Creating new tracks
      4m 10s
    7. Understanding samples and ticks
      3m 36s
    8. Viewing and manipulating tracks
      5m 54s
    9. Adjusting the I/O setup
      7m 7s
    10. Understanding signal paths and gain stages
      3m 50s
    11. Utilizing keyboard shortcuts and keyboard focus
      3m 49s
  4. 30m 43s
    1. Using DigiBase and the Workspace browser
      5m 6s
    2. Importing audio
      5m 13s
    3. Importing MIDI
      3m 55s
    4. Importing session data
      6m 17s
    5. Importing tracks from a CD
      4m 18s
    6. Importing video
      2m 57s
    7. Unmounting a hard drive
      2m 57s
  5. 1h 2m
    1. Recording audio
      5m 6s
    2. Playing back audio
      10m 31s
    3. Creating a Click track
      4m 53s
    4. Overdubbing and using the record modes
      9m 25s
    5. Recording with playlists and the Loop Record mode
      3m 6s
    6. Punch recording and using the monitoring modes
      5m 28s
    7. Dealing with latency
      4m 17s
    8. Creating a group
      4m 33s
    9. Adding effects while recording
      7m 41s
    10. Creating a headphone (cue) mix
      5m 34s
    11. Assigning disk allocation
      2m 13s
  6. 1h 26m
    1. Understanding nondestructive editing and region types
      3m 31s
    2. Using the Selector and Grabber tools
      3m 29s
    3. Using the Trimmer and Scrubber tools
      6m 57s
    4. Using the Zoomer tool and Zoom presets
      5m 14s
    5. Using the Pencil tool
      3m 27s
    6. Using the Smart tool
      1m 26s
    7. Understanding the edit modes
      7m 54s
    8. Arranging regions
      8m 38s
    9. Undoing an edit
      2m 3s
    10. Utilizing fades and crossfades
      10m 29s
    11. Building a comp track using playlists
      5m 28s
    12. Locking and muting regions
      3m 36s
    13. Special buttons in the Editing window
      8m 16s
    14. Creating an audio loop
      5m 11s
    15. Editing a voiceover
      10m 59s
  7. 18m 43s
    1. Working with region groups
      5m 47s
    2. Setting time, tempo, meter, key, and chord
      5m 46s
    3. Creating memory locations
      7m 10s
  8. 35m 30s
    1. Setting up MIDI on a Mac
      4m 25s
    2. Setting up MIDI on a PC
      2m 50s
    3. Setting up MIDI in Pro Tools
      2m 46s
    4. Recording MIDI data
      5m 24s
    5. Recording multiple MIDI tracks with one virtual instrument
      2m 15s
    6. Recording options for MIDI
      6m 27s
    7. Using step input
      4m 45s
    8. Making a drum loop with MIDI Merge
      2m 51s
    9. Composing with virtual instruments
      3m 47s
  9. 48m 41s
    1. Using the edit tools for editing MIDI data
      8m 23s
    2. Editing MIDI data with the MIDI Editor
      7m 20s
    3. Working with the MIDI event list
      2m 41s
    4. Editing MIDI data with event operations
      8m 25s
    5. Quantizing MIDI tracks
      11m 31s
    6. Creating and using groove templates
      5m 59s
    7. Utilizing real-time properties
      4m 22s
  10. 18m 51s
    1. Exploring the Score Editor
      5m 22s
    2. Using the Score Editor
      6m 33s
    3. Setting up a score
      4m 30s
    4. Printing and exporting a score
      2m 26s
  11. 19m 0s
    1. Utilizing the Time Shift plug-in
      7m 41s
    2. Editing with Elastic Time
      8m 30s
    3. Editing with Elastic Pitch
      2m 49s
  12. 48m 20s
    1. Working with Boom
      11m 23s
    2. Working with Xpand2
      7m 21s
    3. Working with DB-33
      6m 58s
    4. Working with Vacuum
      7m 55s
    5. Working with Structure Free
      7m 12s
    6. Working with Mini Grand
      3m 57s
    7. Using Midi Learn
      3m 34s
  13. 25m 55s
    1. Writing and editing automation
      6m 4s
    2. Drawing automation with the Pencil tool
      4m 56s
    3. Editing automation with the Trimmer and Grabber tools
      2m 9s
    4. Cutting, copying, pasting, and clearing automation
      4m 5s
    5. Turning automation on and off
      4m 25s
    6. Automating plug-ins and virtual instruments
      4m 16s
  14. 1h 40m
    1. Setting up a session for mixing
      8m 0s
    2. Setting up an effects loop
      9m 18s
    3. Working with plug-ins
      3m 53s
    4. Dealing with delay compensation
      6m 51s
    5. Applying EQ
      9m 19s
    6. Adding compression
      11m 17s
    7. Applying limiters
      2m 57s
    8. Using Gates and Expanders
      4m 40s
    9. Working with Side Chains
      3m 35s
    10. Working with De-Essers
      3m 4s
    11. Adding delay
      7m 34s
    12. Utilizing modulation effects
      4m 43s
    13. Adding reverb
      7m 5s
    14. Adding harmonic effects
      5m 7s
    15. Renting and purchasing plug-ins
      2m 2s
    16. Applying AudioSuite plug-ins
      5m 19s
    17. Bouncing down a mix
      5m 50s
  15. 25m 44s
    1. Setting up a session for mastering
      8m 56s
    2. Using plug-ins for mastering
      8m 47s
    3. Applying Dither and Noise shaping
      4m 5s
    4. Bouncing down master recordings
      3m 56s
  16. 19m 52s
    1. Importing and displaying video files
      4m 20s
    2. Adding music, foley, ADR, and FX
      12m 28s
    3. Bouncing down video and audio together
      3m 4s
  17. 4m 50s
    1. Archiving an entire session
      4m 50s
  18. 31s
    1. Goodbye
      31s

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