You are here

Where to Route Effects Returns?

For everything after the recording stage: hardware/software and how you use it.

Moderator: Moderators

Where to Route Effects Returns?

Postby ITHertz » Fri Apr 23, 2021 2:57 am

Hi All,

I'm interested in where others are routing their effects returns?

As I see it, there are several options.

Let's say we're talking about a snare reverb.

1. Snare reverb returns to main mix bus.
2. Snare reverb returns to a dedicated FX bus (handling all FX returns) that then goes to the main mix bus.
3. Snare reverb returns to drum bus post any drum bus effects.
4. Snare reverb returns to drum bus pre any drum bus effects.

My thoughts are that 2 is useful as it means all FX can be muted from a single point.
3 is good because it means that if you lower the drum level then the snare reverb will decrease too. 1 is good because it's simple.

What about effects that are used for the whole kit (i.e. a chamber). Where do you return them?

I realise there are many ways to do this, each with its own pros and cons.

Thoughts, opinions?


Posts: 182
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2008 12:00 am

Re: Where to Route Effects Returns?

Postby shufflebeat » Fri Apr 23, 2021 6:12 am

Just a few more things to consider:

In Reaper I like to put reverb as the first track in a folder of, for instance "melody instruments" or "percussion". I send from other tracks within the folder and then can control those grouped elements, including reverb "return" with the folder fader.

I can pre/post process the reverb in it's own track and keep things looking clear so my simple brain can keep up.

If I remember correctly I did this on the strength of a Kenny Gioia suggestion.
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6213
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 1:00 am
Location: Manchester, UK
"Dance, dance. wherever you may be, for I am the Lord of the damp settee..."

Do yourself a favour, wear earplugs at gigs.

Re: Where to Route Effects Returns?

Postby CS70 » Fri Apr 23, 2021 8:17 am

ITHertz wrote:I realise there are many ways to do this, each with its own pros and cons.

Thoughts, opinions?

Indeed there are. What matters is only the relative balance of which signals end up mixed together, so for any given balance there's infinite routings that can achieve that.

In practice a big difference imho is if it's a live setup or a studio, DAW-based setup.

For the former you have a limited amount of buses, so sharing (or even going directly to the main buss) it's usually the best way - or even the only possible one!.

With DAWs you have infinite buses - my approach is to "package" direct signals and effect returns together for a given part (say VOX) to get the final signal on a single bus fader. So for example, there will be the VOX recording take going to a VOX DRY bus, which in turn feeds one or more reverbs, delays, sending also to a parallel compression bus etc, and all of these buses will merge into a final VOX bus.

Then the various individual "final" buses have sends to further group buses (for effects which are shared between parts) or global effects (say a room reverb or a "room mic" bus).

These in turn are routed to the main bus.

It's kinda practical and allows me to know what's doing what when - but it's just one way.
User avatar
Jedi Poster
Posts: 7801
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Where to Route Effects Returns?

Postby The Korff » Fri Apr 23, 2021 1:11 pm

Yes, pretty much 'wherever you like' in a DAW, because you can (usually) route channel outputs to busses, sends, or both, and there's no limit to how many busses or sends you can set up.

If I'm using an actual mixer, and I've got enough channels free, I'll always prefer to send effect outputs back to input channels. That way you can (for example) send some reverb to foldback or a stage monitor, or send a delay into a reverb — and not all mixers let you route the dedicated stereo returns back out to the auxes.
The Korff
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2198
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 12:28 pm
Location: The Wrong Precinct

Re: Where to Route Effects Returns?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Apr 23, 2021 6:43 pm

For me it depends on if I'm going to treat the FX as part of the instrument or as a separate effect. E.g. if I've got a dirty compressor in parallel on the drums, I don't want the relative level of the compressor to change if I tweak the drum bus level. So the drum tracks go to the drum bus and the compressor, and the compressor track then goes to the drum bus.
If I'm treating something as a standalone effect though it will likely live on its own fader until it goes to the candy bus.
I don't know if that makes sense to anyone else but it works for me! :D
User avatar
Jedi Poster
Posts: 14525
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...