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What is a Mix Bus? Best Mix Bus Tips!

Are you searching for your mixes to have more sonic control, be more organized, and be more CPU friendly? You’ve found the appropriate tutorial. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered if you’re not sure what a mix bus is, how to make and utilize one, or how terms like aux channels, sends, returns, or the master bus fit in. We’ll clarify each idea and explain why, when, and how to use a mix bus (or two) while mixing music.

What is a Mix Bus?

A mix bus is a way to “route” or transport many audio tracks to a certain location. Aux sends, subgroups, and your main L/R mix are some popular places to transport audio. Your required channels or audio will be routed to the bus of your choice (Aux Send, Main L/R, VCA, etc.), where you can then feed that signal to the desired location by cranking up the faders or knobs for those channels on that bus.

The phrase “mix bus” is frequently used in the live sound and recording industries and refers to the output channels/busses that were previously described. One of the most advantageous aspects of having several busses available is the ability to control a number of sources or channels with a single “group” fader.

Why use a Mix Bus?

It might seem strange to route your entire mix to one channel before routing that to the master fader. Why wouldn’t you just route everything to the master fader itself in spite of everything? The reason for this is that many DAWs only offer a “pre fade” master. The input ranges of any plugins on that channel may then be affected if the position of the fader is changed.

Sending everything to an auxiliary channel first is the solution. A person who is going to “post fade.” Next, send the auxiliary track’s processed signal to the master fader. Any adjustments to the extent of the fader will not have an impact on the input ranges of any plugins on that channel because a post-fade auxiliary track will appear as your “mix bus.” With the fader, you may now adjust the processed audio’s volume without changing your plugin settings.

What is Bus Routing?

Bus routing essentially means using completely distinct buses for different parts of the mix. Let’s elaborate. When you start with the drums (kick, snare, hi-hat, toms, overheads, room), then all the other instruments (bass, guitars, vocals, etc.), you’ll have a ton of channels feeding into the master bus.

Keeping control of so many different instruments is a little bit difficult. To control tracks, do automation, and apply compression to your mix, you should have a much better approach if you establish an auxiliary channel and set all of the drums there. You may then make a another channel and set the bass there, and so on.

What’s the difference between a mix bus and a master bus?

The main stereo bus, often known as the “2-bus” or “master bus,” is the most popular mix bus. This is the bus to use if you only have one in your mix. Any new channels you create in your DAW will be routed there by default, and it nearly always exists. Unless you’re working in surround, it’s also often a stereo bus with left and right channels. Your whole mix is ultimately reduced to only two channels, which is then utilized to produce the final stereo export, render, or bounce. Additionally, it usually determines what goes to your speakers or headphones.

Before the audio leaves your DAW, you can make any last-minute modifications to your complete mix using the master bus. To effectively utilize headroom and prevent clipping, this might be as simple as adjusting the overall level. However, you shouldn’t develop the habit of using your master bus fader to manage your monitor gain; instead, use the level control on your interface. For tonal shaping and “glue,” the master bus could also contain elements like EQ and compression. Later, more on this.

But you can construct several mix buses in a mix session than the master bus. Subgroups and aux channels are at least two more ways to use mix buses that can greatly aid in maintaining order and control in your mix. Let’s first examine how to make a mix bus before going into these in more detail.

Why route tracks to a Mix Bus?

Why bother making a mix bus track in the first place? Because a bus track duplicates the transmission, the original signal is unaffected. Consequently, you have more authority over both the original and the copy.

You want to give your vocal some reverb. It would be fine to apply the reverb effect directly to the vocal recording. It’s challenging to adjust the quantity of reverb (i.e., the wet vs. dry signal). You must edit the plugin by opening it.

When you have many vocal tracks using the same reverb effect, this is a serious issue. Change the reverb settings for all of them or for each one individually.

You can alter the setting on the bus track, which will alter the impact on all of the tracks, as opposed to opening the effect on each individual track. Alternately, the bus track allows you to instantly change the amount of reverb on each track. Your life will be considerably simpler if you use bus tracks, and your mixes will sound much better.