August 21, 2003

Sends Versus Inserts  [ Edit ] 

While reviewing a couple Logic books, I finally learned once and for now what Send and Insert mean when you’re talking about effects.

For each audio track in your song, you can turn on effects that will process it and change the sound. This could be a compressor, gate, limiter, reverb, or whatever. You can do this in two ways:

  1. You want to have this effect change only one track in a very specific way. Usually when you compress your vocals, for example, you have different settings than you would for your snare drum track. If you do this, you will Insert the effect into that track. It will affect only the track that you insert it into. Each track that you compress will have its own instance of the compression plugin, with its own settings.
  2. You want to apply the same effect, with the same settings, to more than one track. In this case, you set up a place, called a bus, where you Send the audio track to get processed. In Logic, the application of the effect happens in addition to (or rather, in parallel with) the unprocessed audio. So you’ll end up with your vocal track playing back without reverb, and with reverb, simultaneously. You can then adjust how much of each you want using Logic’s mixer.

The rule of thumb that is always used is: if you are applying one effect with one setting to lots of tracks, use Send. If you need specific settings for specific tracks, use Insert.

More on this can be found in this Logic FAQ.

Posted by Joe | TrackBack

great site. i came for the logic and got drum advice too! would send any non-drummer like myself here for some good advice on drum tracks.
thanks for sharing

Posted by: chris at May 7, 2004 1:26 PM

My pleasure. I'm glad you enjoy it.

Posted by: Joe Chellman at May 7, 2004 5:36 PM

Why use sends? The only reason I use sends is if I want to effect the wet signal for example I may want to process the reverb signal through a compressor or phaser etc. But this whole "If you're using the same effect on a lot of tracks then use sends" is really doing my head in. In theory it makes sense but really it's just not efficient. I always use delay and reverb as inserts because I want to have complete control over every track and I always feed the delayed signal through the reverb now if I was to do this using sends I'd have to set-up 2 or 3 of the same effects so that I can cross-feed different delays through the reverbs and it's just not efficient. My computer is more than powerful enough to tolerate tons of plug-ins and if it does ever become an issue I'll just render the effect as audio but I've never had to do that. Sends are just for lazy people who haven't really thought about signal routing properly.

Posted by: Me at November 22, 2009 1:56 PM

Thanks for the perspective, "Me". What you said, except for the belittling language you used, sounds pretty similar to the rule of thumb above. If you want control over the effect individually on individual tracks, as you say you do, then using an insert is the way to go. That's what I said, and that's what you said. Agreement!

If you want to use an identical effect with the same settings on multiple tracks, it's more efficient in terms of CPU and workflow (if settings need to change, you can just do it once on the bus) to use a send. There are other reasons to use them, but that is one.

Posted by: Joe Chellman at November 22, 2009 2:25 PM

I have just finished writing an essay on this topic then i found this post and thought you might like to read it. The essay is about Pro Tools but still applies to other DAWs.

In Pro Tools there are many ways to alter the sound of audio. This can range from adding processors to change the sound, or adding effects units to add to the sound. Either way will edit your audio signal to sound anyway you like. Depending on what you are trying to achieve, there are different methods to take into consideration. You can add processors and effects on to the audio channel directly, by using the ‘INSERTS’. This will change the sound of the signal. You can also send a copy of the signal to an auxiliary bus and add your processors and effects to the copied signal adding to the overall sound.

If you wish to change the dynamics of a sound, you should use a dynamic processor. The main dynamic processors you would use, would be an EQ, a compressor, a limiter or a gate. There are other processors available on Pro Tools and other DAWs, but these are the most commonly used ones. The way these are used is by opening them on the insert section on each channel strip. This is beneficial, as it lets you edit each individual audio signal differently, obtaining exactly the sound you desire. At the top of each channel is where the inserts are located. From here you get a drop down menu of all the plug-ins on offer. For example, if you wanted to use an EQ unit, you would select ‘plug-in’ from the drop down menu, then select EQ and finally select the type of EQ you would like to use. From here you would use the EQ to lessen or heighten frequencies of your choice. You now have the original audio signal going through a processor, creating a new sound. If you find later in your Pro Tools session that what you have done to the audio no longer sounds appealing, then you can always go back to it and change the settings on the processor, or remove it completely.

If you wish to add an effect such as reverb or delay to your audio signal, you could use this same method. However this is not the best way to do it. If you added effects on the insert section, you would change the audio to a completely effected sound. You do not want to do this, as you will lose all the definition and characteristics from the original sound. When using an effect you want to add to the sound, not change it, so when adding an effect to a signal, you should use an auxiliary bus. To do this, you must send an identical copy of the signal trough an auxiliary bus in the ‘SENDS’ section of your channel strip in Pro Tools, to a selected ‘Aux Input’ channel. Once this has been completed, you will have the original audio signal playing on the original channel and a copy of it in the auxiliary channel that you will add effects to. To add the effects you simply go to the ‘INSERTS’ section on the aux track and select the effect you wish to use. With the effects on a separate channel, you are now able to mix the ‘dry’, unaffected signal, with the ‘wet’, affected signal, getting the perfect balance. With this method you can send multiple audio signals to the same auxiliary track, affecting more than one thing at the same time. For example; you could send a snare drum and vocals to the same auxiliary track where you could add a reverb unit. This way, both the snare and the vocals would have the same amount of reverb on them.

There are cases when you may wish to combine these methods or use them differently. For example; you might want to use dynamic processors on a parallel channel. To do this you would again send a copy of the signal through an auxiliary bus to an auxiliary channel. On this channel you could add a dynamic processor such as a compressor. This technique is known as ‘Parallel Compression’. With this technique you have the ability to heavily compress a signal on the auxiliary track, whilst keeping the original signal lightly compressed or free from compression completely. For example; you could send all parts of a drum kit to an auxiliary channel and heavily compress them giving them a lot of power and on the original tracks you can apply some dynamic processors to give the drums some definition are character.

Another case when you might want to change these methods could be if you wanted to completely change the sound of an audio signal. If you wanted to do this, you could add an effect on the ‘INSERTS’ section of a channel and you would have a completely affected outcome.

Posted by: James at May 16, 2012 11:49 AM
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