Mixing Tools: The Bus (Part 2 – Sends)

Article on how to use pre-fader and post-fader sends for mixing

In the first part of our discussion about using the Bus system in your DAW, we talked about creating submixes (routing the main outputs of different sources to a single track). Now we’ll discuss another common way of using buses to send a “copy” of the output signal to additional locations.

Using a bus for this purpose allows you to have a separate fader to send the same signal to an auxiliary track while keeping independent control over the original track, thus giving you the ability to blend them as needed.

Understanding how to use these tools will open up a world of creativity and will help you explore different ways to even save some processing power in your system while mixing complex projects.

Different Kinds of Sends

2 keywords to remember when using sends: Pre-Fader & Post-Fader. In a Pre-Fader send, the level is totally independent from the track fader. In Post-Fader send the track fader will affect the level, for example, changing the fader position will change the amount being sent to that send.

(Here is a great article from Graham at the Recording Revolution about pre-fader vs. post fader.)

Setting up a Headphone mix using Pre-Fader Sends

In practice, we can use sends to configure a monitor mix. Say you have a mix coming through your monitors while tracking a few background singers at once. More than likely, each one will want to have a mix in their headphones set to their taste.

For example, maybe the tenor singer doesn’t want to hear the drums too loud, or the lady doing the alto part can not stand having the guitar part as loud as her voice in her headphone mix…and the list goes on… So you’ll need to come up with different mixes!

You can accomplish this using sends set to pre-fader so the mix changes you make while monitoring in the control room will not affect the settings and levels you have adjusted for the background singers.

Setting up a reverb send using Post-Fader Sends

On the other hand, when using sends to send the signal to a reverb Aux Input track for example, we will want to use our sends set to post-fader so we can control how much we want to blend in between the dry and wet signal.

Setting up a reverb send using Post-Fader Sends

Remember to use pre-fader when using sends to create different monitor mixes so you’ll have more independent control without changing your main mix and use post-fader when setting up reverbs, delays or any other parallel effects so the fader will affect how much signal is being sent.

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