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Mix bus questions! Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 24th January 2006
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Mix bus questions!

So, I'm finally trying to learn how to record things properly after doing it my own little way for a while. I just came across this site, and I was hoping that someone here could explain some of the basics of a mix bus to me. I'm sure this is most basic of the basic to everyone here, so I hope you guys are willing to help out a newbie!

I've always done everything in the box before, and I use a few different programs like Audition or Cubase. When I've recorded before, I've just recorded everything onto tracks, adjusted their volumes and EQ'd them some, placed them in the mix, and then just mixed everything down to a single file. But after reading a lot here and getting into it all more, I want to learn how to use buses more.

I now understand that I can use mix buses to send groups of tracks to and then process them all at once. For example, I could create a drum mix bus and send all of my individual drum tracks to it to apply compression to them all at once. So, I have some questions about the mix buses I'll be using in my DAW. Here we go...

1. When I send tracks to a mix bus, there is a volume fader and a wet/dry function. How does this volume mix with the normal volume of the tracks? If I have the volume set on my tracks and I boost the volume of my bus, am I just increasing the volume of the tracks all at once, or is this bus like another separate track that's in addition to the individual tracks?

2. With the wet/dry function, I assume that this is the amount of the effects and the original signal that I have in the bus. Should you keep both balanced (like 60% wet and 40% dry), or does it matter if you have both at something like 70%?

3. I see many people talking about parallel compression in the mix bus, especially on drums. In my DAW, I can use either serial or parallel effects. What advantage does using parallel have?

4. Finally, I hear people talking about the 2 mix bus. Is this the same thing as the mixdown I'm doing when I mix all my tracks down to one file, or is it something completely different?

Sorry I'm asking a bunch of newbie questions. I just hope someone has the patience to answer me! I'm just looking to learn. This is a great site!
Old 24th January 2006
  #2
Here for the gear
 

Almost 30 views and no answers...maybe I'm too much of a newbie! I'll gladly read other boards or articles too if someone can help point me in the right direction. I've tried doing some searches here and on Google, but I haven't found anything that addresses the questions I have.
Old 24th January 2006
  #3
hey this question is somewhat different depending on what software sequencer you use, however from your questions I think you seem to have a basic misconseption on busses.

in response to your questions:

1) I use cubase sx and when you setup a new fx track i blend in the audio tracks I want fx on using the sends on each track. Usually i dont touch the volume fader for the fx channel as it should be set at unity gain. This channel is in the mix just the same as any other audio channel. What you want to make sure is that whatever plugin your using for the fx channel is set to 100% wet so you can get just the fx back and not the original signal.

2) The send channel isnt exactly the same as wet dry but blend to your taste.

3) If you setup a 1176 compressot fx channel bus and sent your signal to that you are doing parrellel compression. The send bus compression and original signal both now exist in parrelel

4) 2 bus is mixdown, final stereo track

this may be somewhat confusing gicing the topic but i hope it helps
Old 24th January 2006
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowman
So, I'm finally trying to learn how to record things properly after doing it my own little way for a while. I just came across this site, and I was hoping that someone here could explain some of the basics of a mix bus to me. I'm sure this is most basic of the basic to everyone here, so I hope you guys are willing to help out a newbie!

I've always done everything in the box before, and I use a few different programs like Audition or Cubase. When I've recorded before, I've just recorded everything onto tracks, adjusted their volumes and EQ'd them some, placed them in the mix, and then just mixed everything down to a single file. But after reading a lot here and getting into it all more, I want to learn how to use buses more.

I now understand that I can use mix buses to send groups of tracks to and then process them all at once. For example, I could create a drum mix bus and send all of my individual drum tracks to it to apply compression to them all at once. So, I have some questions about the mix buses I'll be using in my DAW. Here we go...

1. When I send tracks to a mix bus, there is a volume fader and a wet/dry function. How does this volume mix with the normal volume of the tracks? If I have the volume set on my tracks and I boost the volume of my bus, am I just increasing the volume of the tracks all at once, or is this bus like another separate track that's in addition to the individual tracks?

2. With the wet/dry function, I assume that this is the amount of the effects and the original signal that I have in the bus. Should you keep both balanced (like 60% wet and 40% dry), or does it matter if you have both at something like 70%?

3. I see many people talking about parallel compression in the mix bus, especially on drums. In my DAW, I can use either serial or parallel effects. What advantage does using parallel have?

4. Finally, I hear people talking about the 2 mix bus. Is this the same thing as the mixdown I'm doing when I mix all my tracks down to one file, or is it something completely different?

Sorry I'm asking a bunch of newbie questions. I just hope someone has the patience to answer me! I'm just looking to learn. This is a great site!

Let me start with #3 and give you my cynical snarky answer - parallel compression is great for when you don't know the difference between compression and limiting, and therefore don't know how to set a subgroup compressor.

What happens is people limit the subgroups rather than compress and it totally destroys the sound (in a bad way, not a cool way). Since it's blended in with the uncompressed signal, they can mask the sound of the limited signals wimpy attack and it doesn't sound like it's set wrong.

If I were to be positive with my answer, I'd say it's an easy way to mange dynamics, but the truth is, ultimately, if you're really careful with your subgroup compression, you'll wonder why you'd have the uncompressed signal at the same time. Seriously, if you want an uncompressed sound, why would you be sending it to the subgroup compressor.

This is all a generalization anyway. There's lots of reasons for both approaches, but I do believe that the parallel approach allows people to be lazy.


Going back to #1. I don't understand what you've written. When you've got a subgroup buss, you've got a send and a return. Adjusting either which affect the volume of the compressed tracks. Adjusting the send will also increase the compression.

If I were you, I start by sending the group to the subgroup buss compressor. Monitor only the group return. Tweak the compressor until you've got the sound you want. Then monitor everything with the fader for the return all the way down. Then gradually bring it up until you've got the sound you want.

That might also create some gain staging problems. You might also want to consider bussing the same source (we're talking drums, right?) to a dry bus with puts the uncompressed signal on a fader. That will allow you to pull down the dry (uncompressed) signal to achieve the balance between wet and dry and keep proper gain staging. If you pulled down all of the drum faders, that would affect the level your sending to the compression which you may not want to do. Also, I'm pretty sure if you put the same compressor plugins acres the dry send, but bypassed, you'll get the same latency and avoid phase problems.

I don't understand what you're asking in #2 at all.

For #4, the 2 buss or mix buss or stereo buss are all the same thing. Do you use a master fade for your mix and put anything on that? That's what people are talking about.
Old 24th January 2006
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Thanks to everyone for all of your help! It's definitely helping me understand it more. I think I should explain my primary DAW a little more so that eveyone can get a better idea of what I'm working with. Although I've used Cubase, I've been using Audition 1.5 more than anything recently. Let me show you what the track and bus mixers look like here by attaching some pics.

If you look at the track mixer, I have both a wet/dry send function there for each individual track that is being routed to a bus. When you look at the bus mixer, you'll see that I only have one fader for the bus. From what I can tell, the bus is a stereo bus in that you can pan individual tracks how you want them in a mix, then send them all to the bus. Once they're in the bus, they stay where you panned them in the stereo field. What I'm confused about is the wet/dry send function.

Let's stick with the drum bus scenario. Let's say I have a snare track that I want to apply some reverb to. Then I'm going to later send it to a drum bus I create. Does this wet/dry function on my DAW determine how much of the signal with FX is sent to the bus? If not, what exactly is it used for?

Also, I'm trying to figure out if the original tracks that were sent to a bus will still go to the master, or does only the bus signal get routed there? For example, I have a kick drum track, and it's routed to my drum bus. Is my original, single kick drum track still going to be sent to the master along with the signal in the bus, or is only the signal from the bus being sent there?

Sorry if I'm so confusing!
Attached Thumbnails
Mix bus questions!-track.gif   Mix bus questions!-bus.gif  
Old 24th January 2006
  #6
Lives for gear
 
John The Cut's Avatar
 

It does get confusing talking about mix, aux, group, subgroup and FX busses.. different terminology but essentially the same thing. I will try and stick with Cubase speak...

The 'Mix Bus' is the master bus, with the master fader (sometimes called 2 bus or Stereo bus). All channels, groups, fx and aux end up here (assuming they are routed to the Master Output).

In Cubase you have channels - individual tracks, Group Busses - a stero bus which has individual tracks routed to it. The Group Bus then outputs to the Master Bus, FX Busses (used to be called AUX busses) - basically the same as groups but with less routing options used for FX.

So take your scenario.

You have multiple drum tracks (snare, kick, hats) and you route them all to a drum Group Bus. Now all your drums are in one group (the group still outputs to the master bus). The actual 'sound' is coming out of the group bus to the master bus.

If you want to add reverb to a snare, you need to setup an FX channel (a bus with a reverb on it, used to be call Aux Bus). There are 2 ways to 'send' the snare to the FX channel -

- Use the Wet/Dry send (from the snare channel). This allows you to determine how much signal is sent to the reverb. The actual reverb unit itself should be set to 100% Wet, so then the channel send becomes your wet/dry control. If you set this up you will see that on the FX channel you now have a signal going through the channel. The FX channel outputs to the master bus. But! The snare is routed to the drums Group - so you have snare (dry) in the drums group and snare (wet) on the FX channel >> Master Bus.... The snare channel fader still controls the level of the snare, but now you can control it from the group as well...
..... blimey does that make sense ?

- Output the snare directly to the FX channel. In exactly the same way as you route it to the group.. but now of course you see why its its better to use the Send Wet/Dry.. because you cant route a channel to 2 places at once.. directly. With this method, you adjust the Wet/Dry of the reverb in the plug-in itself. Since the WHOLE snare track is routed through the reverb and not a portion of it via send.

Obviously there are many more weird routing options you can come up with and it would pay to really check the manual of your app to see how routing is handled.

i hope I have helped although now I cant remeber where I live or what my name is
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