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Understanding the signal chain
Old 12th September 2012
  #1
Gear Head
 
Macavity224's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Understanding the signal chain

I'm having a little bit of trouble understanding the signal chain...the best advice I've seen here is "use your ears" and "try it yourself," which I've been doing, and noticing some slight effects, but I want to understand the signal chain a little bit more in theory...for instance, what are some examples of a chain to get a certain effect? I've read that noise gates should always go before compressors, but other than that, I really don't know what other effects I can achieve by moving around the signal chain. I've switched EQ's and compressors around and noticed a slight difference in sound, but I really can't put my finger on. Can anyone elaborate or give me some examples of common practice with altering signal changes?

Thanks. :D
Old 12th September 2012
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
right lets say your talking about bussing tracks and puting the effects directly on a track. that is a difference on its own.

lets reference the audio as the fact. or the source. if your putting effects eqs and reverbs on a bussed channel your add an effect ontop of the source or after the fact.

which helps with retaining clarity and atack of the original sound but then adding what you want ontop of it so you retain the character.

if you add it directly onto the channel your affecting the sound at the source.
personally i like to uses busses when i can unless its a desired effect that i want.

as for singal chains there really is no right or wrong. its an art in itself. there are some general guide lines. stuff like maybe putting an eq after the reverb so that the tone of the reverb doesnt mess with your overall mix.
you have to see it in order of dominance too. just like how a guitar pedal board works. effects on the signal is like plugging straight into the amp.
effects bussing are like plugging into the effects loop.
and you arrange it in such a way that whatever comes first is the thing you wanna hear the most.

hope that helps
Old 12th September 2012
  #3
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
The goal is to not to have to even use a "signal chain". Try to focus on not pressing record until you are hearing the sound you want; never have the "fix it in the mix" mindstate. Effects are cool, no doubt, but a great effect on a properly recorded sound is better. Good luck!
Old 12th September 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
It doesn't sound like you are that far off. I don't think your question is answerable, or if it is, it is quite simple.

For example, SOURCE > GATE > COMPRESSOR > DISTORTION > EQ > DELAY would be quite different from SOURCE > DELAY > GATE > COMPRESSOR > DISTORTION > EQ. Most would say the latter is wrong, or at least not a normal starting place. The Why? should be obvious. Your gate is not going to work as well if it comes after all the "extra" audio generated by the delay!

Switching EQ and compressors around may only give you a slight difference. If you have a lot of boost in an EQ, it'll make more difference if it's before the compressor, because it will change the threshold where the compressor kicks in.

To understand how moving things around in the signal path will change the sound, you have to really understand what each piece does and why first.
Old 13th September 2012 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Head
 
Macavity224's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaoTzu ➑️
right lets say your talking about bussing tracks and puting the effects directly on a track. that is a difference on its own.

lets reference the audio as the fact. or the source. if your putting effects eqs and reverbs on a bussed channel your add an effect ontop of the source or after the fact.

which helps with retaining clarity and atack of the original sound but then adding what you want ontop of it so you retain the character.

if you add it directly onto the channel your affecting the sound at the source.
personally i like to uses busses when i can unless its a desired effect that i want.

as for singal chains there really is no right or wrong. its an art in itself. there are some general guide lines. stuff like maybe putting an eq after the reverb so that the tone of the reverb doesnt mess with your overall mix.
you have to see it in order of dominance too. just like how a guitar pedal board works. effects on the signal is like plugging straight into the amp.
effects bussing are like plugging into the effects loop.
and you arrange it in such a way that whatever comes first is the thing you wanna hear the most.

hope that helps
Alright that makes a lot of sense...so it depends on whether I want the actual source to be affected by the effect or whether I want it "on top" of the source. So would you put chorus/delay/flangers, etc. on a bus and keep something like reverb at the source? It's all preference, obviously, but am I getting the point?
Old 13th September 2012 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macavity224 ➑️
Alright that makes a lot of sense...so it depends on whether I want the actual source to be affected by the effect or whether I want it "on top" of the source. So would you put chorus/delay/flangers, etc. on a bus and keep something like reverb at the source? It's all preference, obviously, but am I getting the point?
exactly but to be more specific i like to have the rule of if you want more of the original source you get more attack and clarity. say if you put a reverb directly on (no bus) youll muddy up the source.

as compared to bussing it it will keep the clarity of the source but add it on top. it depends on what you want from the sound. most people here would probably try a bus and have that free then see what sounds best and stick to it.

the great thing about having a buss is that you can eq the effect added in itself if you eq teh source with an effect your eqing both which makes it sometimes hard to put together. imagine compressing the source and having a heavy chorusing effect youd be squashing them together. making it hard to hear the source and hard to hear the effect. if you compress on both channels the bus and the source you will hear things clearer. because youll compress the chorus on its own. and or eq it so its not interfering with the mix. then add the compression to the source channel so your only compressing the source. this will give a much clearer result.

but still its all preference. you may like the sound of it all together. or you may like the sound of it clearer.

personally i like to isolate everything into its own eq space even the reverbs and effects on busses and then when mixing you bring the space closer by compressing everything a tiny bit. too much compression will destroy the songs dynamics and push things into loudness wars.
Old 14th September 2012 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Head
 
Macavity224's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaoTzu ➑️
exactly but to be more specific i like to have the rule of if you want more of the original source you get more attack and clarity. say if you put a reverb directly on (no bus) youll muddy up the source.

as compared to bussing it it will keep the clarity of the source but add it on top. it depends on what you want from the sound. most people here would probably try a bus and have that free then see what sounds best and stick to it.

the great thing about having a buss is that you can eq the effect added in itself if you eq teh source with an effect your eqing both which makes it sometimes hard to put together. imagine compressing the source and having a heavy chorusing effect youd be squashing them together. making it hard to hear the source and hard to hear the effect. if you compress on both channels the bus and the source you will hear things clearer. because youll compress the chorus on its own. and or eq it so its not interfering with the mix. then add the compression to the source channel so your only compressing the source. this will give a much clearer result.

but still its all preference. you may like the sound of it all together. or you may like the sound of it clearer.

personally i like to isolate everything into its own eq space even the reverbs and effects on busses and then when mixing you bring the space closer by compressing everything a tiny bit. too much compression will destroy the songs dynamics and push things into loudness wars.
Alright, awesome I think I'm starting to get it...one of the main questions I've had ever since I started messing with auxiliary channels is why use one for an effect and affect the wet/dry signal with the send when you can just change the wet/dry signal in the settings for the specific effect anyway. But that clears it up a little bit. Thanks a lot!
Old 14th September 2012 | Show parent
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macavity224 ➑️
Alright, awesome I think I'm starting to get it...one of the main questions I've had ever since I started messing with auxiliary channels is why use one for an effect and affect the wet/dry signal with the send when you can just change the wet/dry signal in the settings for the specific effect anyway. But that clears it up a little bit. Thanks a lot!
dont take my word for it get evidence for my approach.

record one with the effects on the channel
and one bussed then solo the two side by side see which one you like. or if you can handle it pan them hard left and right and let your ears decide.
Old 15th September 2012
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
So if you want vocals clear and up front you center pan it. Send it to a n aux, put a stereo delay on the aux and spread it wide. Then your vocals are still clear and up front.
Old 16th September 2012
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
When sending a signal on an aux channel, you can EQ the signal on the aux before going into the effect. For example, rolling off the low end and other unwanted frequencies of a vocal before hitting the reverb. This will take out the rumble mud (low frequencies) and also makes a more natural reverb by cutting some highs as well.
And you can cut high frequencys and low frequencys after the reverb wich is a common thing.
You can also move pan the reverb off the middle to avoid masking over the vocal.

I don't normally want to EQ the original voice that much but the reverb input and/or tail I do.
In a scenario like this one, I would keep the send and aux volume to default, put the reverb at 100% WET and use the EQ volume to gage how much I want to attack the reverb. Very nice trick I picked up from a studio pro...

Just an exemple of why I wouldn't put the reverb on the track but rather on a bus.


Aux tracks gives you infinite possibilities...
Old 16th September 2012
  #11
Gear Head
 
alge's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Soundsgoodtome ➑️
When sending a signal on an aux channel, you can EQ the signal on the aux before going into the effect. For example, rolling off the low end and other unwanted frequencies of a vocal before hitting the reverb. This will take out the rumble mud (low frequencies) and also makes a more natural reverb by cutting some highs as well.
And you can cut high frequencys and low frequencys after the reverb wich is a common thing.
You can also move pan the reverb off the middle to avoid masking over the vocal.

I don't normally want to EQ the original voice that much but the reverb input and/or tail I do.
In a scenario like this one, I would keep the send and aux volume to default, put the reverb at 100% WET and use the EQ volume to gage how much I want to attack the reverb. Very nice trick I picked up from a studio pro...

Just an exemple of why I wouldn't put the reverb on the track but rather on a bus.


Aux tracks gives you infinite possibilities...
Most of reverbs have eq in them, like aether, so why you put eq before reverb? I'm curious

Sent from my Desire HD
Old 17th September 2012 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macavity224 ➑️
...one of the main questions I've had ever since I started messing with auxiliary channels is why use one for an effect and affect the wet/dry signal with the send when you can just change the wet/dry signal in the settings for the specific effect anyway.
If you use an aux send you have:

- separate control (eq, compression, whatever) of the dry original sound and the wet effect version

- you can send several sounds to the same effect, which creates glue and is part of classic engineering, as on a mixing desk with hardware this was the only way mostly

- you can send effect returns to each other, as to glue the back of the mix and have them all play into each other a bit. Something not enough people do these days

There would be more, just the first three off the top of my head......
Old 17th September 2012 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by alge ➑️
Most of reverbs have eq in them, like aether, so why you put eq before reverb? I'm curious

Sent from my Desire HD
I prefer to use my favorite EQ. All the bands I want, transparency (or not!), spectrum meter, workflow,...

I really like Aether I think its a really good sounding reverb but I use it for early reflections mostly.
It's easier for me with Logic's convolution reverb going through a bunch of presets. I don't master the art of reverb shaping yet but Aether would be my first choice !
Old 17th September 2012
  #14
Gear Head
 
alge's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Soundsgoodtome ➑️
I prefer to use my favorite EQ. All the bands I want, transparency (or not!), spectrum meter, workflow,...

I really like Aether I think its a really good sounding reverb but I use it for early reflections mostly.
It's easier for me with Logic's convolution reverb going through a bunch of presets. I don't master the art of reverb shaping yet but Aether would be my first choice !
I need to try that I always add eq in the end of chain and the chain is: compressor, distortion(saturation) and then eq

Sent from my Desire HD
Old 17th September 2012
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
A lot of people will only put an EQ at the end of the reverb only. What I've learned from that guy is that EQ before going in is like listening to the source being a couple feets away from you, it loses a bit of high end because of the few feets it had to travel to come to you. Its to place something in an space from a certain listening position.
Old 17th September 2012
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
i find if you dont eq on your reverb or pan it aswell as the source your gunna have problems with space in the mix
Old 18th September 2012
  #17
Gear Head
 
alge's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Soundsgoodtome ➑️
A lot of people will only put an EQ at the end of the reverb only. What I've learned from that guy is that EQ before going in is like listening to the source being a couple feets away from you, it loses a bit of high end because of the few feets it had to travel to come to you. Its to place something in an space from a certain listening position.
Nice, thanks



Sent from my Desire HD
Old 19th September 2012
  #18
Gear Head
 
Macavity224's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Alright, this is all starting to make sense, although I did have one more question...hows does panning on an aux channel work? I'm guessing it has something to do with the difference between pre/post-pan sends, another concept I never really got (I understand post-fader sends and what they're used for though, so that's a start).

If I pan a bus with a reverb on it hard right, for example, will I only hear the wet signal on the right side and the dry signal on the center (or hard left, or whatever else I decide to do)? And again, how does the pre/post-fader send option relate to all this?

Thanks guys. So far you've been a massive help in helping me understand this!
Old 19th September 2012
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
The signal you send from one track to another (aux) will not be affected by pan or volume when you send it if it's pre-fader. When it's post, if you change the volume of the track it will change the volume of the aux.

Also in Reaper, you have pre-fx send...the sound you send is not affected by the plugins inserted on the track.

Panning the aux with reverb on will have no effect on the send unless you send that aux track to another track or aux...
Old 19th September 2012 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macavity224 ➑️
Alright, this is all starting to make sense, although I did have one more question...hows does panning on an aux channel work? I'm guessing it has something to do with the difference between pre/post-pan sends, another concept I never really got (I understand post-fader sends and what they're used for though, so that's a start).

If I pan a bus with a reverb on it hard right, for example, will I only hear the wet signal on the right side and the dry signal on the center (or hard left, or whatever else I decide to do)? And again, how does the pre/post-fader send option relate to all this?

Thanks guys. So far you've been a massive help in helping me understand this!
your correct on the panning side of things. thats why if you have a guitar part with reverb you wanna make sure that you pann the effect in the same way unless you want to do a van halen which is guitar in the left or right and reverb of the guitar in the other ear to make it sound like its stereo. as for the pre fader post fader im not to sure on this myself. im still learning too . my guess would be that pre fader means direct signal before mixing and post fader means after the signal has been recorded or translated to your recording device. thats the logic im using.
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