Learn about insert behavior on audio tracks, aux input tracks, and master faders and about plugin inserts vs. hardware inserts.
- [Instructor] Using appropriate effects processing is a key component to creating a polished mix. Here, I'll review some options and considerations for using inserts for effects processing on your tracks. Pro Tools allows you to place up to 10 inserts on a track, which are applied in two sets of five... Inserts A through E and inserts F through J. These two insert views are available in either the Mix or the Edit windows. Now the inserts on Audio and Aux Input tracks are always pre-fader.
That means the processing is applied before any changes made with the track volume fader. In other words, the fader does not affect the signal level coming in to the insert. So this helps keep signal processing consistent for things like compressors and other dynamics processors so that you don't have to adjust the threshold each time you change the volume fader position. Inserts on Master Fader tracks are always post-fader. That means the processing is applied after any volume fader adjustments. It also means that any clipping that's occurring at the insert, can be attenuated by adjusting the signal level with the volume fader.
In Pro Tools, inserts can be used for two types of processing. You can use inserts for internal plug-in processing or you can use them for external hardware processing. Plug-in inserts are software-based signal processors that are added using an insert selector. One of the advantages of using plug-in inserts is that plug-in parameters can be set and recalled in Pro Tools. And additionally, most plug-in parameters can be automated, making it easy to store dynamic processing changes. By way of example, consider an EQ processor on Insert A of a guitar track, followed by another plug-in on Insert B, such as a compressor.
In the Pro Tools mixer, the track displays the EQ plug-in on Insert A at the top, followed by any other plug-ins in use below that. And here you can see a compressor on Insert B. The EQ plug-in can be opened to change the settings from within Pro Tools. The signal flow in this case starts with the recorded guitar playing back from disk. That signal is fed into the EQ processor without any prior gain change. From there, the signal continues on to any other inserts on the track.
Remember, inserts are processed in series. And finally, the signal gets passed on to the fader section in the mixer strip, where the process signal level is set. So the other option is to use a Hardware Insert. These are external signal processors connected to the audio interface. To use a Hardware Insert, you will need to have adequate I/O on the interface to connect your external device. And of course, this will require configuration outside of Pro Tools, both to connect the device and to set its parameters.
By way of example, consider an external graphic EQ being used on Insert A of the same guitar track, followed by that same compressor plug-in on Insert B. In the Pro Tools mixer, the track displays the output path used for the graphic EQ on Insert A, followed by the other processors in use below that on Inserts B through E. The graphic EQ must be patched-in to the audio interface manually, and the settings must be configured on the hardware device itself.
The signal flow, again, starts with the recorded guitar playing back from disk, and that signal is routed to an output on the audio interface. In this case, we're using output three on an Mbox Pro since outputs one an two are being used as the main system outputs. Next, the output three connector is patched to the input of the external graphic EQ device. And the output of the graphic EQ is patched back into the matching input on the audio interface, input three.
From there, the signal continues on to any other inserts on the track as before. And finally, the signal again gets passed on to the fader section in the mixer strip, where the signal level is set. So those are some options for using inserts on your tracks in Pro Tools. Keep in mind that while inserts are pre-fader for Audio and Aux Input tracks, they are post-fader on Master Fader tracks. You can use inserts for plug-in processing within Pro Tools and also for external signal processing using outboard gear.
Using Hardware Inserts requires that you have an audio interface with sufficient I/O to allow you to patch in your external gear using available input and output connectors.
- Starting a new session
- Customizing settings
- Optimizing the performance of Pro Tools
- Importing loops and tracks
- Working with meter changes
- Recording multiple takes
- Changing the track timebase
- Editing MIDI clips
- Warping sound and tightening rhythm with Elastic Audio
- Using the Smart Tool
- Color coding tracks
- Editing on the grid
- Working with AudioSuite plug-ins
- Working with sends, plug-ins, and master faders
- Working with track subsets
- Finalizing and exporting media