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Using sends and creating FX returns

From: Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

Video: Using sends and creating FX returns

While inserts are a great way for applying effects processors directly to a signal in line, another method that engineers commonly use to route effects is via track's send output into a common effects return channel. A send-return relationship allows the mixer to share a single effect amongst multiple tracks and is ideal for time- based effects like reverb and delay. So historically, when people wanted to add reverb or echo effects to their mix, they would generally do so by having some sort of echo chamber or a room maybe in the basement of the studio where they would play the mix out or play a track out of a speaker and then record it at the other end with a microphone.

Using sends and creating FX returns

While inserts are a great way for applying effects processors directly to a signal in line, another method that engineers commonly use to route effects is via track's send output into a common effects return channel. A send-return relationship allows the mixer to share a single effect amongst multiple tracks and is ideal for time- based effects like reverb and delay. So historically, when people wanted to add reverb or echo effects to their mix, they would generally do so by having some sort of echo chamber or a room maybe in the basement of the studio where they would play the mix out or play a track out of a speaker and then record it at the other end with a microphone.

Recording and blending that echo back in with the original signal. Now, if they wanted to add reverb discreetly to each track, sort of like an insert effect, they would have to have tons of these echo chambers and that just wasn't the case. And so sort of the signal routing concept of effects returns and using sends to send multiple signals into a common effects bus kind of came up in order to share these precious resources of reverb and delay processors which weren't so abundant in the signal processing kit.

And so how it works in Pro Tools, in a send and return relationship additional signal from a track is sent out, we send output on to a bus and this bus acts as an internal routing pathway inside of Pro Tools. The audio that accumulates on that bus is then picked by an aux input track that acts as a return. On the aux input, the bus's signals are processed by the shared effect and then returned to the mix via the aux track's output. And so if we see in the Take Me Down exercise, a Send patched to Room Verb on multiple tracks is sending out signal and that's collecting on the Room Verb bus and that's going to accumulate down here at the end on this aux input track with its input set to that same bus, Room Verb.

And what I'm doing is I'm processing that track with a series of inserts on the return track. In this case I'm interested in the D- Verb, which is giving me my reverb effect. So if I wanted to set one of these send-return relationships up from scratch, go over here. So let's say I wanted to add a special delay to the Tamborine and the Shaker track. What I could do is create my return. So I'm going to create a Stereo Aux track and I'm going to assign that Aux track's input to a free bus.

So it's going to listen or collect signals from an internal routing pathway in Pro Tools called the bus. So I'll choose Bus 29-30. That's free. Now I'm immediately going to rename this. I'm going to right-click and choose Rename to rename the pathway. I could also do this in I/O setup, but this is a quicker way to do this and I'll call this SpecialDelay. And now I'll go ahead and insert the effect that I want to share on this return track. So we'll choose a Delay and I'll just choose the Extra Long Delay.

And I would configure my Delay plug-in and generally I would have the Mix set to 100% because the wet dry blend is going to come from the channel's dry signal flowing through the track through its outputs and the wet signal is going to be the sends as they accumulate on the effect's return track. Now I'll name this track. I always want to name our tracks. Now when I want to use these effects, all I need to do this from my Sends, I'll just right-click to get my Assignments view. And I'll use a free send to send to the bus, SpecialDelay, do it on the Shaker.

And now what I can do is if right- click again and I'll choose Send A, I can control the individual output of each send into that effect, right. So signals play out these two tracks, they are going to make their way into the SpecialDelay bus and accumulate here on this return, which is going to send its output into the Main Mix. So I'm going to get that wet and dry blend between the effect and the dry signal running out to the Mix Bus in this case. Now because I'm actually mixing my entire mix to a submix, which is what we'll talk about in the next video, I'll set my return's output to match that submix called my Mix Bus.

Now what I usually do is solo save my return tracks and that prevents them from getting muted when I solo other elements. So if I Apple-click on the S or it would be Ctrl-click on the PC, that would gray out the Solo button and that means when I solo other tracks, this track does not get muted. Allows me to preview or listen to the effect return even when I solo things and listen to them by themselves. So if we want to listen to the results of setting up this send and return relationship, I'm just going to select a section that has Tambourine and Shaker right here for verse two, and then I'll solo up these two here and let's listen to the result process through the delay.

(Music playing) So if I want to increase the amount of wet to dry signal or increase the amount of effect, I could just increase the Send level. (Music playing) And I can look at the send outputs as either this sort of small fader view or as a breakaway view just by clicking on that Send. Now I could continue to send this output from the Delay track into additional effects by using sends on the return.

So it's sort of like putting a return into another Return. So if I take and I bus the Delay track out into maybe the Plate Reverb and I turn this up here, what I'll be getting effectively is reverb on the delayed signal and this is actually sometimes a cool way to route effects if you want to apply effects just to the return tracks. To remove a send, you can click on its letter and say no send. Sends can also be copied by Option+ Dragging or just moved by dragging.

So using sends and reverbs is an extremely common routing task in mixing and it's really critical to becoming a strong mixer as it provides signal processing changes that are not possible with inserts alone. Not only does this help save on DSP by using fewer plug-ins and sharing effects, but in the case of time-based effects like reverb and delay, it provides sort of a common space for individual tracks to come together in the Mix, helping things gel a bit more and sit better.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Mixing and Mastering with Pro Tools

77 video lessons · 9230 viewers

Brian Lee White
Author

 
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  1. 14m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 12s
    2. The past, present, and future of mixing
      6m 20s
    3. Strategies for mixing and mastering
      5m 38s
    4. Using the exercise files
      1m 40s
  2. 40m 24s
    1. Mixing "in the box"
      5m 9s
    2. Setting up the studio: Speakers and acoustics
      13m 12s
    3. Staying organized: Effectively prepping the mix
      10m 50s
    4. Managing system resources during mixdown
      11m 13s
  3. 41m 39s
    1. Introducing the Pro Tools Mixer
      2m 24s
    2. Understanding mixer signal flow
      3m 42s
    3. Using inserts and plug-ins
      7m 4s
    4. Working with plug-in settings
      5m 1s
    5. Using sends and creating FX returns
      6m 55s
    6. Submixing with aux tracks
      4m 30s
    7. Using groups while mixing
      3m 46s
    8. Using master faders effectively
      8m 17s
  4. 21m 11s
    1. Conceptualizing the mix and making a plan
      7m 45s
    2. Using volume and pan to balance the mix
      11m 18s
    3. Knowing when to process: Mix problems vs. mix solutions
      2m 8s
  5. 1h 3m
    1. Understanding the mechanics of sound
      3m 53s
    2. Learning the basics of EQ: Frequency-specific level control
      4m 29s
    3. Using DigiRack EQ III
      16m 3s
    4. EQ strategies in mixing: Corrective vs. creative
      7m 18s
    5. EQ workflow example 1: Kick drum
      5m 39s
    6. EQ workflow example 2: Filtering loops
      5m 10s
    7. EQ workflow example 3: The "telephone" effect
      3m 7s
    8. Mixing tips and tricks for EQ
      17m 36s
  6. 1h 15m
    1. Understanding dynamics and dynamic range
      2m 1s
    2. Working with dynamics processors
      2m 57s
    3. Using the DigiRack Dyn III compressor/limiter
      10m 6s
    4. Balancing and shaping track dynamics
      3m 19s
    5. Using gates and expanders
      9m 22s
    6. Using de-essers to eliminate sibilance
      5m 47s
    7. Dynamics workflow example 1: Vocals
      10m 0s
    8. Dynamics workflow example 2: Drums
      9m 29s
    9. Mixing tips and tricks: Dynamics
      11m 37s
    10. Building parallel or "upward" compression
      7m 53s
    11. Reviewing dynamics concerns: How much is too much?
      3m 28s
  7. 47m 48s
    1. Using time-based effects to add depth and width
      3m 22s
    2. Using DigiRack D-Verb
      14m 27s
    3. Using the DigiRack delays
      9m 18s
    4. Mixing with reverb
      7m 59s
    5. Mixing with delays
      6m 19s
    6. Mixing tips and tricks: Creating mix depth
      6m 23s
  8. 18m 8s
    1. Working with the Creative Collection
      9m 8s
    2. Building distortion and saturation
      9m 0s
  9. 37m 33s
    1. Understanding automation
      4m 10s
    2. Recording real-time automation moves
      7m 6s
    3. Viewing and editing automation
      10m 17s
    4. Automating plug-ins
      7m 36s
    5. Automation strategies for mixing
      8m 24s
  10. 29m 31s
    1. Understanding the characteristics of a great mix
      7m 2s
    2. Working to reference tracks
      4m 35s
    3. Avoiding some common pitfalls
      7m 50s
    4. Building healthy mixing habits
      3m 36s
    5. Crafting your mix from start to finish
      6m 28s
  11. 1h 5m
    1. Understanding mastering
      4m 15s
    2. Bouncing the mix
      7m 9s
    3. Working with general mastering strategies
      8m 50s
    4. Using limiting and compression to maximize track level
      10m 57s
    5. Working with multi-band compression
      7m 9s
    6. Understanding sample rate, bit depth, file formats, and dither
      7m 30s
    7. Using Pro Tools for CD track sequencing
      10m 11s
    8. Compressing audio for the web
      9m 41s
  12. 44m 51s
    1. Tips for evaluating plug-in processors
      6m 51s
    2. Using EQ plug-ins
      5m 35s
    3. Using dynamic compression plug-ins
      11m 3s
    4. Using reverb and delay plug-ins
      10m 46s
    5. Reviewing additional plug-ins
      10m 36s
  13. 57m 18s
    1. Effectively using saturation/analog style effects
      13m 40s
    2. Setting up side chains
      7m 5s
    3. Master buss processing
      5m 34s
    4. Creating and using mix templates
      6m 54s
    5. Surround mixing
      6m 22s
    6. Dealing with plug-in delay and latency
      6m 26s
    7. Drum sample replacing
      11m 17s
  14. 32s
    1. Goodbye
      32s

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