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  • Tracking question

    Bit of a novice question.
    A friend of mine (lots of recording experience) was showing me some basic DAW techniques. Saying I should have the basic track, lets say guitar (simple enough). Then he says I should create an aux track fed (bussed) from the original, and put any and all plugins you want on the aux track. Leaving the original clean. So my question....is the aux track really necessary since we can turn the plugin on and off or edit/tweek it with a mouse click without affecting the original track?
    Thanks for any help.

  • #2
    Since you are starting out, I'd skip the aux bus for some of your initial efforts and put the fx on the track... just don't overdo it so you don't get latency from loading a bunch of fx on many tracks. This will allow you to experiment and learn about handling mainly eq and compression for each track. As time goes on, you will learn more and read on forums about using aux busses and sends...
    Maarkr HW: Privia Pro PX-5S, Casio XW-P1, Juno-G, Lucina... Epiphone Les Paul, Schecter Hellraiser C-1, Peavey Valve King 112, Mesa Boogie 2x12, Ovation Celebrity, Ibanez Gio Bass... Alesis D5 EDrums, Yamaha HS-80s w sub, Saffire Pro 24 thru Mackie Big Knob; Live: Behringer B315D, Peavey PV118D, Roland KC550, Zoom R-16...etc. SW: Reason 6, Sonar X3, Reaper, Acid Pro, IKMultimedia , UAD1...

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    • #3
      Great question! Here is a good way to look at it. First of all, some know-it-all is going to come along and tell you about the exceptions as if they are the rule. Ignore them because they are showing off, learn this first and those exceptions will make a hell of a lot more sense later. Time-based effects should go on an aux. Processors like compression and EQ should go on the individual track insert. What is a time-based effect? Basically, reverb and delay. Your track makes sound and the time based effect creates sound after the fact. Reverb. Delay!-ey-ey-ey. Your point about being able to bypass any time based effect when it is inserted on an individual channel is an excellent point. Sure, you can do that, but there is an overwhelmingly fantastic reason not to. As you start tracking you're dealing with smallish track counts. A guitar, vocals, a tambourine, an accordion. And as you continue tracking and of course you will if you're like 99.999% of the human race... you're going to find that those new tracks want to have exactly the same effect that you inserted on guitar1's channel. Guitar1 and guitar2, in this illusion that you were creating through tracking and mixing, are going to want to have some, in varying amounts, of that same exact reverb. What are you going to do? Open a second reverb? A third and fourth? Reverbs will blog your system down quicker then cartoon quicksand. That's the boring reason; computer resources. The more interesting and pertinent reason is for that illusion you are creating, we want to believe that Bob on guitar1 and Phil on guitar2 are smiling at each other in the same room digging the groove of the drummer... all at the same time. That is exactly what the subconscious expects. With an aux track you can send more of the same reverb to guitar1 and a little less to guitar2 if you want. You're going to want. And hey, we all love reverb on snare drum. So you can use an aux send to that one reverb and put a little or a lot on the snare as you desire. Now, those three elements of your arrangement are bouncing around in the same reverb. Just like a live band in a room. Don't fight it, learn it. Every single one, literally every single one of the recordings that you love use this paradigm. Outsmart it at your own peril.:-) more if you desire.
      __________
      Your god doesn't exist but my god does and he is all loving. If you disagree with me I'll kill you. - Prince Ea

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      • #4
        Originally posted by maarkr View Post
        Since you are starting out, I'd skip the aux bus for some of your initial efforts and put the fx on the track... just don't overdo it so you don't get latency from loading a bunch of fx on many tracks. This will allow you to experiment and learn about handling mainly eq and compression for each track. As time goes on, you will learn more and read on forums about using aux busses and sends...
        Sorry... I read your post after I made mine. That know it all comment was not intended for you in the least. I see that it might appear that way so might be sure that you know that. Good post, great point.
        __________
        Your god doesn't exist but my god does and he is all loving. If you disagree with me I'll kill you. - Prince Ea

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        • #5
          Now that makes total sense. Thank you both for the insights!!!

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          • #6
            I use both all the time - it really just depends on the circumstances and what I want to accomplish. EQ usually goes on an insert - same with compression... but sometimes compression on an aux works wonderfully; that kind of "parallel compression" leaves the original signal unaltered, and allows you to blend in as much or as little compression with it as you want via the second fader. The net result is often less "processed sounding" than using an insert. I use parallel compression on a regular basis with things like drums and bass.

            Delays and reverbs, as Lee said, are commonly used with aux sends. Part of the reason is that they tend to use a lot of CPU power, and an aux allows you to route several sound sources / tracks into them at once. For example, you may want to use the same small room or plate reverb for multiple things, such as the drums and guitars... and putting them on an aux allows you to use one instance of that plugin for multiple tracks. If you have the CPU power to spare and / or it's only going to be used on one thing, you can use a track insert instead if you wish... but even then, I typically use an aux anyway - sometimes I like to EQ the reverb separately... and as Lee pointed out, I may find I want to route something else through that same plugin later. Since it's already on an aux, it's easy to do - it would require a second instance of the plugin (which is computer resource inefficient) or to create an aux, do away with the insert, reroute the original track to the aux... it's just easier and simpler, and definitely more efficient to use the aux to begin with.
            **********

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            • #7
              I agree with the other posts. Aux busses are for shared effects where you want more than one track to use them. Single instance effects where you want to shape the sound of that one instrument only go in the track buss. Setting up a buss for only one instrument is a waste.

              An example would be an EQ setting for an instrument. This may be highly sculpted response curves designed to make that specific instrument sound good. It makes no sense putting it in an Aux Buss because its going to shape any other instrument you send to that buss. On the other hand, is you want to even up the kick and bass you may want to send both to a Buss and use a comp there instead of on individual tracks.

              Another example may be stereo effects. I record my guitars with dual amps and pseudo stereo effects, so I wind up with two tracks for a single take. I can use separate effects on the two tracks for some things. In other cases I may want to send that pair of tracks to an aux buss and use a single stereo effect.

              This not only reduces CPU resources running a single effect, it also lets you take advantage of the effects control over the stereo image. A ping pong echo might be an example or a stereo chorus. Running two mono versions in the separate tracks means you have to open one effect then the other to get the balance you want. If you use a buss, any built in LFO's or timing that occurs in stereo works for both tracks.

              I'll add this. If you were dealing with analog mixer and effects, this may be a different story. You follow the same basic reasons for putting effects in aux busses but you have the added complication of tone sucking caused by using additional wires and circuits. An effect may sound better in an insert vs a buss because of the added noise, impedance issues and gain staging the preamp circuits.

              In any of the DAW programs I've used this tone sucking doesn't exist. The effects plugins sound identical whether its run in a buss or as a track insert. This is because you're dealing with ones and zeros, not analog waves. DAW's and effects plugins have realistic looking GUI's, and its easy to forget you're dealing with binary data. If you're an old timer like myself, its hard to forget old habits learned from using analog gear for so many years.

              Not sure about your friend but he may be making suggestions based on analog gear that no longer applies in digital audio. You put effects in the buss because analog effects were bulky and expensive and you'd "want" to use them fro more then one instrument to justify their footprint in a rack. That's something that doesn't exist any more and with a good computer, even the CPU usage is not a big deal. If it is you can always render the effects permanently to the tracks so they aren't needed in the buss any more. Of course you'd want to make sure you have the ideal sound you need because you wont be able to tweak that effect after its been rendered to the track. Saving a backup copy of the project is highly advised too.

              I used that method allot back in the late 90's when I was using low end computers as DAWs. Some of the high end plugins would crash the computer when you ran more then one, so you'd tweak it for optimal results and render the one track with it. Then you can remove it and free up those resources. Haven't had to do that in a long time and I'm not even using a high end processor. I get by fine just using a dual core, but I do use busses for items I want to share the same effect. I may use reverb on a full drum buss to give that set a specific room sound, but also use individual effects on the separate drums to make those tracks sound better within the drum set.

              It all just takes experimentation and using your ears. Like others said, If your stuff is simple, you may not need busses. Later you may want to expand the use of busses for creative reasons like side chaining or using master effects. I'd be sure you become competent using them on tracks before you start getting complex. Your buddy may have just been giving you a peak into the complex creativity possibilities ahead for you. It may be where you'll wind up but focus on the simple stuff first. Then take on those challenges with a mind that knows exactly how they can and should be used and "you'll" have the control over the sound and not vice versa.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post
                I use both all the time - it really just depends on the circumstances and what I want to accomplish. EQ usually goes on an insert - same with compression... but sometimes compression on an aux works wonderfully; that kind of "parallel compression" leaves the original signal unaltered, and allows you to blend in as much or as little compression with it as you want via the second fader. The net result is often less "processed sounding" than using an insert. I use parallel compression on a regular basis with things like drums and bass.

                Delays and reverbs, as Lee said, are commonly used with aux sends. Part of the reason is that they tend to use a lot of CPU power, and an aux allows you to route several sound sources / tracks into them at once. For example, you may want to use the same small room or plate reverb for multiple things, such as the drums and guitars... and putting them on an aux allows you to use one instance of that plugin for multiple tracks. If you have the CPU power to spare and / or it's only going to be used on one thing, you can use a track insert instead if you wish... but even then, I typically use an aux anyway - sometimes I like to EQ the reverb separately... and as Lee pointed out, I may find I want to route something else through that same plugin later. Since it's already on an aux, it's easy to do - it would require a second instance of the plugin (which is computer resource inefficient) or to create an aux, do away with the insert, reroute the original track to the aux... it's just easier and simpler, and definitely more efficient to use the aux to begin with.
                Thanks Phil. I had mistakenly put a compressor on a send trying to save processing power without knowing what I was doing. A channel insert, whether hardware or software is more effective. But I've heard talk about parallel compression for this or that musical effect. Configuring this as a send makes good sense. Just blend the two together! Using a pre-fader send makes it even easier.
                Mac Pro 2008 - OS 10.6.8MOTU Digital Performer 8.1, Machfive 3, Sibelius 7, Eastwest QLOrch

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