Pro Tools 9 Essential Training
Illustration by Richard Downs

Setting up an effects loop


Pro Tools 9 Essential Training

with David Franz

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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. It also gives you a lot of control over the sound of the mix and can unify the overall sound of a mix. Let's talk about the components used in an effects loop. First, we have the send. A send makes a copy of the track and routes it to an output or a bus.
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  1. 13m 13s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. Exploring the different versions of Pro Tools
      2m 30s
    3. Optimizing your computer before installing Pro Tools
      4m 6s
    4. Troubleshooting
      2m 18s
    5. Using the exercise files
      3m 3s
  2. 31m 3s
    1. Installing and authorizing Pro Tools
      1m 50s
    2. Connecting your Pro Tools system
      4m 1s
    3. Powering up and powering down
    4. Choosing the Playback Engine and Hardware settings
      4m 13s
    5. Optimizing Pro Tools performance
      5m 52s
    6. Utilizing Automatic Delay Compensation (ADC)
      1m 38s
    7. Setting essential preferences
      2m 35s
    8. Creating a Pro Tools session
      3m 43s
    9. Identifying elements in a session folder
      2m 33s
    10. Creating new tracks
      3m 40s
  3. 42m 9s
    1. Exploring the Edit window
      6m 52s
    2. Exploring the Mix window
      3m 11s
    3. Exploring the Transport and Big Counter windows
      2m 57s
    4. Using the Color palette and window arrangements
      2m 36s
    5. Investigating the menus
      3m 13s
    6. Understanding samples and ticks
      3m 34s
    7. Viewing and manipulating tracks
      4m 31s
    8. Selecting inputs, outputs, and buses
      3m 58s
    9. Selecting an I/O Settings file
      4m 12s
    10. Understanding signal paths and gain stages
      3m 46s
    11. Utilizing keyboard shortcuts and keyboard focus
      3m 19s
  4. 19m 31s
    1. Using DigiBase and the Workspace browser
      4m 22s
    2. Importing audio
      3m 1s
    3. Importing MIDI
      2m 46s
    4. Importing session data
      3m 44s
    5. Importing tracks from a CD
      2m 44s
    6. Importing video
      2m 54s
  5. 1h 0m
    1. Recording audio
      6m 14s
    2. Playing back audio
      10m 0s
    3. Creating a click track
      5m 25s
    4. Overdubbing and using the record modes
      8m 29s
    5. Recording with playlists and Loop Record
      4m 3s
    6. Punch recording and using the monitoring modes
      4m 17s
    7. Dealing with latency and ADC
      4m 58s
    8. Creating a group
      4m 52s
    9. Adding effects while recording
      5m 17s
    10. Creating a headphone (cue) mix
      4m 29s
    11. Assigning disk allocation
      2m 17s
  6. 1h 19m
    1. Understanding nondestructive editing and region types
      3m 3s
    2. Using the Selector and Grabber tools
      3m 29s
    3. Using the Trimmer and Scrubber tools
      8m 16s
    4. Using the Zoomer tool and Zoom presets
      5m 41s
    5. Using the Pencil tool
      2m 46s
    6. Using the Smart tool
      1m 28s
    7. Understanding the Edit modes
      5m 9s
    8. Arranging regions
      5m 33s
    9. Undoing an edit
      2m 8s
    10. Utilizing fades and crossfades
      7m 22s
    11. Building a comp track using playlists
      4m 50s
    12. Locking and muting regions
      2m 52s
    13. Special Edit window buttons
      6m 47s
    14. Creating an audio loop
      4m 13s
    15. Editing a voiceover
      8m 37s
    16. Using Elastic Time and Elastic Pitch
      7m 38s
  7. 19m 27s
    1. Working with region groups
      6m 39s
    2. Using time, tempo, meter, key, and chord
      5m 37s
    3. Creating memory locations
      7m 11s
  8. 30m 47s
    1. Setting up MIDI on a Mac
      4m 7s
    2. Setting up MIDI on a PC
      2m 13s
    3. Setting up MIDI in Pro Tools
      2m 37s
    4. Recording MIDI data
      3m 7s
    5. Recording multiple MIDI tracks with one virtual instrument
      2m 17s
    6. Recording options for MIDI
      5m 44s
    7. Using step input
      4m 14s
    8. Making a drum loop with MIDI Merge
      3m 36s
    9. Composing with virtual instruments
      2m 52s
  9. 54m 25s
    1. Using the edit tools for editing MIDI data
      9m 47s
    2. Editing MIDI data in the MIDI Editor
      8m 17s
    3. Working with the MIDI event list
      2m 13s
    4. Editing MIDI data with event operations
      8m 35s
    5. Quantizing MIDI tracks
      12m 16s
    6. Creating and using groove templates
      5m 35s
    7. Utilizing real-time properties
      3m 49s
    8. Using MIDI Learn
      3m 53s
  10. 17m 44s
    1. Exploring the Score Editor
      5m 56s
    2. Using the Score Editor
      5m 11s
    3. Setting up a score
      4m 48s
    4. Printing and exporting a score
      1m 49s
  11. 25m 45s
    1. Writing and editing automation
      7m 21s
    2. Drawing automation with the Pencil tool
      3m 58s
    3. Editing automation with the Trimmer and Grabber tools
      2m 26s
    4. Cutting, copying, pasting, and clearing automation
      4m 2s
    5. Turning automation on and off
      4m 0s
    6. Automating plug-ins and virtual instruments
      3m 58s
  12. 1h 33m
    1. Setting up a session for mixing
      7m 53s
    2. Setting up an effects loop
      9m 30s
    3. Working with plug-ins
      4m 33s
    4. Utilizing ADC while mixing
      9m 11s
    5. Applying EQ
      9m 25s
    6. Adding compression and limiting
      13m 27s
    7. Adding depth effects: Delay and reverb
      12m 45s
    8. Applying AudioSuite plug-ins
      4m 14s
    9. Bouncing down a mix and making an MP3
      5m 44s
    10. Setting up a session for mastering
      4m 36s
    11. Mastering a session
      7m 35s
    12. Bouncing down master recordings with Dither and Noise Shaping
      4m 52s
  13. 10m 6s
    1. Importing and displaying video files
      2m 42s
    2. Adding music, foley, ADR, and FX
      4m 32s
    3. Bouncing down video and audio together
      2m 52s
  14. 4m 22s
    1. Archiving an entire session
      4m 22s
  15. 52s
    1. Further Recommendations

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Watch the Online Video Course Pro Tools 9 Essential Training
8h 23m Beginner Nov 05, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Pro Tools 9 Essential Training with musician and producer David Franz demonstrates concepts and techniques necessary for recording, editing, mixing, and mastering in the industry-standard software for music and post-production. The course covers creating music with virtual instruments and plugins, editing with elastic audio for time and pitch manipulation, creating a musical score, and mixing with effects loops. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Exploring the Pro Tools interface
  • Choosing a playback engine and other settings
  • Setting up Pro Tools hardware and software properly
  • Importing audio
  • Recording and editing audio and MIDI
  • Arranging a session
  • Writing and editing automation
  • Mixing and mastering a session
  • Using automatic delay compensation
  • Bouncing down a mix as an MP3
  • Importing and displaying video
  • Archiving a session
Audio + Music
Pro Tools
David Franz

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. It also gives you a lot of control over the sound of the mix and can unify the overall sound of a mix. Let's talk about the components used in an effects loop. First, we have the send. A send makes a copy of the track and routes it to an output or a bus.

Let's go create one. On this particular track I am going to go to SEND A, and if you don't see the sends on your track, you can go to View > Mix Window shows sends A-E. There is also sends F-J, so we have a total of 10 sends per track. So I am going to go down here to send A > click and choose bus 1-2, and that opens up the Send control. In the Send control, we've got a lot of options.

I am just going to adjust a couple of them really quick. First, I am going to adjust the panning. I am going to pan this exactly the same as what the track is over here all the way to the left, and I am going to boost the level. We will go up to about 8.9. As you can see here, I have got sends on both the acoustic guitar tracks, both routed to bus 1-2. Now what's a bus? A bus carries a signal somewhere, usually to another track. I like to think of a bus as a pipeline, or a path to get a signal somewhere else.

When you choose your bus, you can actually choose mono or stereo, and we can look at that here, Bus. So if we choose bus 1, that's just a mono bus, but we have bus 1-2, and that gives us panning controls right here. The third component of creating an effects loop is called a return. A return receives the signal that's on the bus, and then it affects that signal and routes the signal somewhere else, usually to the main outputs.

I am going to close this really quick, and we can look over here at the aux track, and this is our return. Notice how these sends are routed to bus 1-2. Well this aux track, the input is receiving bus 1-2, so the signal is returning into the mix on bus 1-2, and this aux track is routed to Analog 1-2, so it's going to the main outputs. So to recap, these tracks, the acoustic guitar tracks, a copy of their signal is being routed out to bus 1-2.

That signal is received here at the aux track, and because we have up here a D-Verb plug-in, we are getting reverb on to the copies. So this is a copy of both of the acoustic guitar tracks coming through here, sent through the reverb, and let's hear what this sounds like. I am going to solo the acoustic guitars first, and then I'll add in the effect. (Music playing.) As you could hear when I was playing this back, the auxiliary track fader brought in and out the level of reverb. And we can also adjust how much signal from the acoustic guitar tracks gets sent here, and that's in the Send controls.

We can use this level to send a different amount to the auxiliary track. Let me show you one cool little thing. If you go to View > Sends A-E, right now it's set to Assignment, so we can see all 5 sends, but if we choose Send A then we can open up these controls and not really need these big send faders. So we can create a little mix of how much signal goes to the auxiliary track. And the whole idea behind an effects loop is to have both the affected, or the wet signal which is coming from this auxiliary track, as well as the unaffected signal, which is coming from these two tracks out of the main output, and mixing those two together at the main output, so you can control the level of both the wet and the dry signals separately in the mix.

One other little Pro Tools trick here: instead of having to solo the auxiliary track, we can press Ctrl and click the Solo button, and that makes it so that it's grayed out, and that's called solo safe, and that means that this aux track will always be active even if I solo other tracks in this session. So let me show you. I am going to press Play, and you're still going to hear the effect. (Music playing.) Effects loops can either be pre-fader or post-fader.

By default, any new send that you assign in a session is set to post-fader. However, you can change that by clicking the Pre-button or this little P button. This makes the send 'pre' if you choose it. Let me explain this. A signal routed through a send can either be affected by the volume on the track's volume fader down here, or not. When it's affected by this fader down here, it's called a post fader send.

If you hit the Pre button here, this volume level on the track does not affect how much signal is sent out onto this bus. Pre fader sends route the signal onto the bus before the signal is affected by the volume fader, the Solo button or the Mute button. Whereas signals that are routed post fader are affected by the volume fader, Solo button and Mute button. So why would you want to make a send either a pre-fader or post-fader? Pre-fader sends are the default because in most instances you'll want the levels of the unaffected or the dry tracks and the affected or the wet tracks to be controlled at the same time.

In our example here, if I mute the guitar tracks, the dry guitar track is muted and the reverbed wet signal is muted too. That way you won't get a ghost in the machine: a wet track without its dry counterpart. Let's listen. (Music playing.) Oops, I am going to have to undo this. Let's listen to these tracks in post fader, so let me unclick that. (Music playing.) When the acoustic guitar tracks are muted, the reverb effect is also muted because there is no signal being sent to it from these buses.

However, if we choose Pre so that both of these are Pre fader, and we keep this muted, now listen to what we are going to hear. (Music playing.) Now we are hearing just the reverbed effect on the guitars. Let me show you another cool example of why we might want to use a pre-fader send. I am going to undo that, unsolo that and solo the drum track and make this pre -fader.

Now I'm going to actually want to create this 'ghost in the machine' effect. And this is when the original track and the send copy can be relatively independent of each other. So here I have its set up so that the drums will slowly disappear into a reverbed background. As I pull down the fader on the drum track, the reverbed drum signal stays the same level while the dry track fades away, and you're only left with the wet, or reverbed version. Let's check it out. (Music playing.) You can create some pretty cool effects with this signal routing.

And you should also note that all inserts affect both pre-fader and post- fader send signals. So if I look up here, we have got EQ on both of these guitar tracks. So these EQ plug-ins are going to affect the sound of the guitars that are sent, no matter if these sends are pre or post-fader. Now I have found that using effects loops for reverb and delay effects actually sounds better than using reverb and delay plug-ins on individual tracks. This setup tends to make the mixes less muddy and have more impact.

I'm sure once you learn how to create effects loops and understand the signal routing involved, effects loops will become an integral part of your own personal mixing technique.

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