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audio How do you use FX?

Discussion in 'Fix This MIX!' started by DonnyThompson, Sep 15, 2014.

  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Specifically, do you insert the effect into the track directly, or do you create Aux's and then add the effect to those?

    (And I'm speaking of FX only, not processing such as GR or EQ).

    Personally, I much prefer to create Auggies, then insert the desired FX like Verb or Delay on that Aux, adjust the wet-dry ratio on the effect to full-wet, and then tap into that effect using an aux send from the track I want to effect. Reverb is probably the most common of effects, but delays and various modulators also work well in this type of architecture.

    Now...This preference of mine may just be a hold-over from my days working on consoles, when instead of using effect returns, I would use console channels to return an OB effect, which allowed further sculpting through the use of EQ, panning, levels, etc.

    What's your preference?

    FX inserted on the track level? Or sends to auxiliaries where the FX reside?
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I come from the school of having one or more effect channels to which you send a mix of raw tracks that need that particular effect. It's rare that I use an effect exclusively for one track, although it does happen. I still treat those by sending the track to an Aux which feeds the effect, and then taking the stereo effect return in to the mix as a separate stereo source. I prefer to alter the wet/dry balance as part of the mix rather than as a knob in the effect unit.

    One difficulty in simply inserting an effect into a track is that it assumes the panning of the original track. Usually when adding FX I use an effect that has some width, whether it's local about the track's pan position (often centre) or full L-R. It's a needless complication to force a mono track to have width by making it a stereo channel just so effect can be added.

    One technique I have developed over the years is separate M-S processing of effect, primarily for double-miked instruments such as rock piano, marimba or occasionally acoustic guitar. Putting the M channel through an effect such as a subtle reverb and then decoding the result back to L-R and adding to the S channel can produce very interesting results, even generating "How did you do that?" exclamations from other experienced mix engineers. That sort of thing is not possible if you are inserting effects in a track.
  3. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    It depends on the effect and what I want to do.
    EQ, deeser, delay, nearly always go on the track. Compressors; it depends if I want to use sidechain or parallel compression or other tricks
    Reverbs, tape and saturations nearly always go on a aux.

    I just do what the song needs
    If an effect has a mix knob, it can go on the track, if not it will always be on an aux.
    If I need to affect more than one track it will be on an aux..

    I just need to be carefull and convert mono track to stereo if I put a stereo effect on it...

    Very simple really ! (at least for me)
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

  5. Josh Conley

    Josh Conley Active Member

    spatial fx like delays and reverbs, even chorus/phaser stuff can sound better on sends, so you can give a little bit to everybody, and as such that mfm2 delay with all the crazy bounces and filtering for 10 seconds going on doesnt sound so jarring and out of place all at once, but can help to create a homogenous thickness of undertones. a "wall of sound" that you cant really put your finger on... like when you have to hit stop because you werent sure if someone is calling your name, or was the phone ringing? nope. not. ;) your mix is a madman.

    stuff like distortion, fsu, or more locally manipulative fx that defy description (jack dark plugs) usually sound better inline. for me distortion is very intimate, and when you taken 10 minutes to hit the sweet spot on a multiband distortion its not going to translate at all well across multiple sources.

    whatever the setup, if i cant have a mix level control somewhere to control that effect, its worthless to me. 100% wet is almost always too much, so im glad my daw offers infinite send configs, as well as wet/dry controls on every effect channel. mmmmmm yes.
  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    i usually apply efx through aux sends and then back into the master through efx returns. i usually have a basic set up which i use most of the time. this consists of 2 reverbs set to different times /rooms, a delay and a flange/ tubeing / chorus setting (for movement and to make things psychedelic).

    for me, using parallel processing was a hang over from 4 and 8 track days where i could send a mono send and return a stereo send. also using the aux's i could fade the track at the end to cut noise while still preserving the reverb "tails".
    kmetal likes this.
  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I have 2 or 3 reverbs and delays on auxes in general. I use inserts sometimes instead of automation like on a vocal track or something, I might duplicate the track cut all but a or word the end of it, and add the additional effx. I think sometimes it's faster, especially if your wanna change the eq settings and stuff that were copied over, to cater to that one moment.
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Me too. It's interesting - the things that we get used to doing, and what becomes a natural, almost second-nature process based on our own individual workflow(s).

    Another hold-over for me, from when I first entered into the digital world - going in kicking and screaming, I might add, LOL - was that I developed a habit early-on of cloning tracks; it was the first thing I would do after recording a track - to preserve the original, and then work on the clone.

    In those early days, because computers weren't generally up to the task of huge projects, and because memory and storage was at such a premium, this method would often bog down the project, so I began to clone projects instead; leaving one version untouched and original, so that I could return to it at any time.

    These days, with computers as powerful as they are, and because memory and storage is so cheap, I have often returned to the old way, and many times I will still clone tracks within one project - primarily with lead vocal tracks .

    I suppose it's an insecurity issue, in that I don't trust myself to not destroy tracks through the various levels of editing or processing, and the funny thing is that these days, I hardly ever end up returning to those original tracks... but it's almost a second nature, knee-jerk thing for me. I realize it's silly, and based upon the habits of a much younger - and far less experienced - engineer, back in the beginning of his digital career... and with so many powerful features and multiple levels of undo now at our disposal, it's completely unnecessary, but it's just one of hose habits I haven't been able to completely shake-off.


  9. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    This all makes interesting reading. Although, as I have stated MANY times, I do not have the overall time involved you guys have, I do have the overall times from the 80s to now. I never ever write effects to my tracks these days. Maybe I should?. I used to record with effects on into a track. For most of the time since about 2002 I have been recording clean, with maybe a temp reverb say on a voice, not always. Once I had the source done, then I track stuff like maybe a channel strip (ie: Neve off UAD), EQ maybe an individual reverb or delay, say snare snap use whatever. Always setup AUXs Rev Dly COMP, for those things too, use a COMP on a sidechain to duck stuff etc. I am looking forward to going hybrid soon thanks to the SSL X Patch I have now :). Still can't really beat a hardware bit if you have it to use hey?.

    So, curious to know, how many of you write a separate track with effects applied, mute the clean, then mix?.


  10. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Makzimia, There is two reasons I would duplicate a track
    1. if I need to keep un untouched track as a backup before extensive manipulations (cuts, lenght changes, etc)
    2. To mix a clean version with an effect track. I would keep an almost clean track to blend with a tracks with too much of effects and keep that balance option the whole mixing phase. You could use a very wet reverb track and blend a clean one.. it gives you a intimate yet spacy sound.
    Other than that I don't keep a clean version of the tracks because I can deactivate all the effects at once in Sonar. (There's a button in the menu bar for that)
    Of course, if you record with effect already applied, I can understand you could use a clean version, just in case. For that reason I sometime record the clean electric signal splited before the amp for reamping.
  11. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    Hi Marco,

    Thanks for the reply, I am absolutely familiar with Sonar too (turn all effects off etc) I use Logic Pro X these days. In terms of cutting, manipulating the original track, I can see the need to copy over and use a new one if you are worried you can't undo something. The point I was making is, if you are happy with the actual take, and in terms of effect use tracked live or bused, would you bother though with a copy these days?.

    I have read a lot of people who use Protools talking about printing the effects to the track, old school versions using RTAS stuff I guess. I can see if you did that, you would want the clean original version. So, other than destructive editing, there is no need in my opinion to double up on tracks. And, I always save save and save again, and multiple copies on external drives etc.

  12. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I get you Makzimia. There is a few school of thought about this. Some will say that printing effects to tracks will force you to commit the sound and move on. Others will say, keep a clean copy or the tracks with plugins intact cause you never know what will come in the future. I guess I try to evaluate the Customer and ajust my way of doing things. But I rarely process the effects before the mixdown because each time you do so, the computer recompile the file and may degrade it. (at least that's one thing I fear)

    Usually I don't use much plugins, I like minimal mixing and I try to get the best sound at tracking time. So I'm not too concern about CPU usage and memory. When getting back becomes important to me is when creative effects are used and the band members are not there (or not all there). In those situations, rather that duplicating tracks I keep different version of the whole mix. My first reason is, if I use a special effect (let's say a delay on the vocal), you can bet that because the delay exist in the mix, I might modify my mix to give it space and modify other instruments. But if I remove it later, all those modifications are to be undone. Instead I try save the project/song with another name (including the date). Next day or next week, if a band member says 'I like it better how it was' I just recall that project file !! It needs a minimum of space cause the wave files are the same.
  13. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    do you guys mix as you track? do you use plugs on recorded tracks while you record new tracks?

    i like to mix while i am tracking. i like to put gates on the drums compress guitars / bass / eq all tracks as i overdub.

    needless to say doing this on DAW is a pain in the ars. so now i have to turn off all plugs when i overdub and then turn them on for playbacks and do the tweaks then. otherwise things get out of sync.
  14. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    Heya Kurt, why I mentioned I am looking forward to using the SSL. I have used my TC-Helicon as an I/O a few times, that worked in a way. I do mix as I track as far as level and sound type goes. The UAD 2 Quad has helped me get nicer mixes just as you like to do.
  15. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I also like to mix while tracking, which is handy on a digital mixer. It just sux when it's time to 'mix' and it's all just raw audio in the DAW. So I'll print pertinent effects of eqs.

    Even w plugins, w decently small buffer sizes I've tracked w all sorts of pluggsins on and been fine, doing one track at a time, but on a very very simple interface mic CPU system. No clocking or midi, some could see where sync could get thrown off very quickly.

    Kurt you might like having a dsp based pluggin system, if your having probs, maybe a uad2 card or something?

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