busses and submixes

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Apprentice, Apr 18, 2003.

  1. Apprentice

    Apprentice Guest

    Can someone explain these to me? I've had experience with neither, and I know I'm going to need to know what the two are and how to approach them very soon.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    A bus is an output on a mixer. Any place where two or more inputs are summed and then sent out from the mixer to a destination. Aux sends are buses, Main L/R outs are buses. Submasters are buses also.
    Mixers can be a stereo mixer with 2 main buses or can have 4 submix buses and a stereo bus. There are also 8 bus, 16 bus and 24 bus mixers. These mixers have the ability to send any of the input channels to any of the submix buses or the stereo bus and is most cases both submixs and stereo bus. Additionally, a submix bus is assignable to the stereo bus.

    This is done to facilitate sending multiple tracks from a recorder, or mic inputs, to a track or tracks of a recorder, to 2 track mix or so you can group several channels of the mixer to one bus for processing with an EQ or compressor and then send them on to the stereo bus, for 2 track mix. It's all a lot simpler than it sounds. As soon as you get your hands on a good mulit bus mixer, it will all become appearent to you. Hope that helps. ... Kurt
  3. GT40sc

    GT40sc Active Member

    Jan 14, 2001
    Seattle WA, USA
    When a bunch of people want to go somewhere, they "get on the bus."

    When you want to send a bunch of different sounds to the same place, they "get on the bus."

    The primary use of the bus is to combine tracks BEFORE recording...for example, you may have 8 microphones on a drum kit, but only 2 open tracks on your recorder...you could make a stereo mix of the drums, and then "bus" them to the open tracks...

    However, keep in mind that the bus is big and slow, and is only practical when lots of people need to go somewhere. This also holds true in recording. Do not use the buses if you don't need them.

    If you are recording "one instrument per track," just go from the microphone to the preamp to the recorder, and don't bother riding the bus all over town. The simple path will give the highest sound quality.

    On to your other question...the term "submix" is often used as a way to "simplify" a complex multi-track mixdown.

    Let's say, for example, that you have multiple "stacks" of backing vocals in a song, perhaps nine to 12 tracks or more. Once you have the harmonies balanced with each other, it becomes impractical to move 12 faders when you need to adjust the overall vocal level.

    Therefore, the 12 vocal tracks may be assigned to a single stereo submix, allowing you to move all 12 vocals with one fader instead.

    hope this helps,
  4. Apprentice

    Apprentice Guest

    Thank you for the explanations. I actually had a situation today where someone wanted to be able to listen to his recordings on headphones as he recorded, but then playback through his speakers when he was done tweaking some things. I'm not sure exactly why, but I grouped everything to 1-2 on a mackie 1604vlz mixer, dropped the main master volume all the way down, got the bus to travel to the control room/heaphone area of the mixer and put the volume up on that. Then all he had to do was turn up the main master volume when he wanted the tunes to come out of the speakers as well. I'm not sure if that was the best way to do what he wanted, but it worked, and I think that was busing. So, yes the explanations make sense, and they helped right on time.
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Anything that works is ok... but the way to do that is to use the aux 1 and 2 sends to feed the headphones. These are pre fader auxs which means any changes you make on the board eq or faders won't reflected in the 1 & 2 sends. So you can make adjustments to the playback while your tracking and it won't change anything in the phones. The Mackies are set up this way intentionally. A completely different mix for the phones from the control room mix.

    But like I said, you made it through the session and the client was happy. That's what matters the most. I had an intern/apprentice once who would find the most bizzar way to route things.. but I always thought it was cool because at least he wasn't on the phone all the time calling me into the studio to help him out. I really respected that about him.. Good job Apprentice... Kurt
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