Why 8 buses?

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alex matson
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Why 8 buses?

Post by alex matson » Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:20 pm

I'm showing my ignorance here!
I have cast about for the short answer to this question, including looking through the 'best of tapeop' thread (in the archives for you other newcomers).

Soon I'll have a 16 track reel to reel, and umpteen tracks available on the computer.
Back in the day when I had a 1/4" 8 track and a mackie 1604, there were enough channels for tracking and playback without worrying about what a bus was. Back then it seemed like I just had a right and left master fader. And the idea was that two of the buses were for the speakers and the other two were supposed to go to the mixdown deck.
I'm currently considering a 24 channel mixer with the ability to track or monitor as needed. What I think I know about a bus is that it's a subgroup, like you could route all the drum tracks to one or two buses and adjust the overall level while keeping the balance. OK...so is that it? 8 different submixes?
I know this is probably complicated. Perhaps someone can suggest a primer for me to get.

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Post by Rodgre » Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:31 pm

You pretty much hit the nail on the head. A mixer's subgroups/busses are there just to give you another flexible way to route things. You may never use them, or you may use them all the time. Subgroups/busses are useful for submixing several channels to one fader (or two for stereo) for either tracking (ten drum mics submixed to a stereo mix) or for mixing (run all 12 of your backup vocals two one master bus fader so you can control their balance with one finger instead of 12). Subgroups can route signals to your recorder, be used to submix channels to the L+R bus, be used as extra FX or monitor sends.

Anything you can make use of them for.... that's what they're used for.

With an 8-track recording setup, you might have the 8 subs normalled to the 8 inputs on the recorder. I have our mixer's subgroups going to a patchbay so I can route them to any inputs on the recorder that I want, but typically go straight from the preamp to tape, so I don't use subs very often in that situation anymore.

I often send certain drum channels to a stereo subgroup as well as the L+R bus and insert a compressor on the subgroup and blend that in underneath the uncompressed drums.

For live mixing, often you will assign all your drums to a bus, your guitars to a bus, vocals to a bus and fx to a bus so you can adjust the balance without changing the individual channels.

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Post by JGriffin » Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:36 pm

I also remember a mixer I used that had 3 outputs for each bus, so that bus 1-8 would be routed to tape tracks 1-8, 9-16, and 17-24, so you could pretty much route whatever you wanted to any track with minimal repatching.

In any event, even if you don't have multiple outputs the idea is the same: you bring up a mic on channel 1, and then select which bus it gets sent to, from there to the tape machine (the mnemonic was "you take the bus to the track"). If it's going to track 1, use bus 1. Et cetera.
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Post by littlepokey » Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:00 pm

You can also use it to split a signal.

Send the direct guitar to the converter or tape via the direct out on the channel, while sending it to 2 different busses, one for the clean chorus, one for the reamp to the over driven amp a la Frank Zappa. Record all three and mix to taste.

Or take the stereo drum buss and send to 4 different compressors simultaneously in a shootout.

Or take a vocal track and print one dry, one through a comp, and one through a delay that feeds a reverb unit.

Or, etc....
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Post by JGriffin » Tue Sep 11, 2007 11:07 pm

Geez, I wish I had a multiple-buss console for this theatre show...
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Why only 8 busses

Post by Punkity » Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:16 pm

Sometimes I wish I had at least 12. I almost never have static mixes (at least the volume of the elements change throughout the mix). I use a desk without automation, so I use busses like crazy.

The biggest use for me is to send, for example, the rhythm guitar part (main part, doubled part, extra stabs, room mics, what have you) to its own buss pair (or single, or triple, etc), and route those busses to the main buss. When I need to raise that part, all I need to do is raise those two faders and not a whole bunch of different faders that are usually set to different levels to begin with.

Another big use for me is to send a bunch of channels (usually a drum sub-mix, sometimes with the bass guitar, sometimes just the close mics, etc) to a pair of busses routed to a compressor. I can return the compressed signal to be mixed with the uncompressed signals in a parallel compression scheme, or send it alone to the mix buss. Often in a mix I will raise the level of that group to the parallel compressor if the drums (or whatever) need more ompf but don't need louder peak levels for any particular parts.

If what I recorded was a live permormance, I will use the busses to crossfade between different songs. I will split the signals from the recorder and send them to different inputs on the board (the one set of splits is sent to the left half of the board, the other to the right), and send each half of the board to their own buss pair, and from there to the main mix. This way I can have a different mix for each song if it needs to be like that. I'll set up the mix for the first song through the left half of the mixer, and let that roll through busses 1 & 2. As that rolls, I will set up the mix for the next song on the right half of the mixer going to busses 3 & 4. When the first song is finished I'll bring down busses 1 & 2 while I raise 3 & 4 in advance of the next song. While the new song is playing I'll reset the mix on the left half of the board. Etc.

There are ton's of other uses for busses, just like there are tons of different uses for aux sends, tape returns, channel inserts, and everything else. Nothing is written in stone.
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Post by ??????? » Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:20 pm

less common, BUT:

I knew a guy who was a composer working in intermedia, and he had written some tape pieces for 8-channel audio. In the theater he set up 8 speakers surrounding the audience, and stuff would swirl around the audience in octa-phonic sound.

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Post by Roboburger » Thu Sep 13, 2007 2:22 pm

even though I have infinity tracks on the 'puter, I still use subgroups to combine two mics onto one track. sometimes a little bottom mic helps a snare track, and having the bottom on an extra track just isn't necessary. Sometimes I do kick with 90% one mic and 10% the other. easy-peasy with subgroups.
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Post by solo-bration » Mon Sep 17, 2007 3:26 am

in live sound, busses can be your best friend. when working with limited amount of compressors or fx, you can send a couple guitars to one buss and comp them together. often i'll buss the kick & snare together and slap a comp on the buss insert - sometimes do the same with a guitar/bass submix. I run sound in a smaller venue with 4 measily compressors (behingers!). I definitely like to use them for vocals first, so sometimes you have to get creative with your routing.

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Post by dokushoka » Mon Sep 17, 2007 5:39 am

In addition to all the great posts so far, on larger consoles the busses are typically more fully featured and can be used for a few more things.

In many instances, while tracking, they are used to feed the multi track as a console can easily have 24 - 48 busses. This makes routing really fast while you're tracking as you can use the same channel for overdubs and just keep bussing over to a different track on the 2".

More useful, still, is during mixing. On the modern consoles, like an SSL for instance, you can route a monitor fader to a buss while mixing. So, for example, your lead vocal (in mix mode) is on channel 1 at the large fader. You can pick it up with the monitor (small fader) fader on channel 1, as well. The channel 1 monitor fader can then be routed to any buss you like. That buss can then be patched into, say, a vocal reverb. You then return the reverb outputs to a pair of faders somewhere else on the console. In this way, the busses on an inline console, in conjunction with the monitor faders, can be used a discrete sends (like aux sends). This is a really powerful way to work if you have lots of outboard or if you make lots of mults or sub groups!
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Post by solo-bration » Mon Sep 17, 2007 5:45 am

dokushoka,
Your post just made me wish Protools had monitor faders in their virtual channel strips (mix window) like the more expensive consoles do... rather than having to click open the 'sends' pop-up windows on each channel. I'd like that better. Maybe that'll come along in v.10

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Post by dokushoka » Mon Sep 17, 2007 5:52 am

solo-bration wrote:dokushoka,
Your post just made me wish Protools had monitor faders in their virtual channel strips (mix window) like the more expensive consoles do... rather than having to click open the 'sends' pop-up windows on each channel. I'd like that better. Maybe that'll come along in v.10
I always thought it was weird how DAWs do the dual mode faders (like how in protools the fader turns red for tracking).

I have a template for when I mix in protools (which is right now while we search out a new location to build out) where I have all my outboard gear on auxes with the sends set up on every channel already. This is actually a pretty nice way to work, and I have to say that Digi gets props on their sends over any other DAW. You can easily do a pre/post send switch on the fly. You can pan the send (which logic 7 lacks, and I believe 8 has the same problem). You can solo AND mute the send AT the send. And in the newest version you can set up the send to follow the channel's pan position. I haven't seen any other DAW do this sort of thing and that alone is reason for me to mix in PT since I have a lot of stereo outboard gear.

Its still not as good as working on my console since even with the ADC there are some phase issues (ADC isn't sample perfect when using outboard gear) so when I make drum mults and stuff I will sometimes have to do some work arounds. This is very frustrating as I basically mult just about everything and I don't understand how ITB guys are mixing with this problem!
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Post by musicjunky » Mon Sep 17, 2007 9:52 am

dokushoka wrote:
solo-bration wrote: You can easily do a pre/post send switch on the fly.
I've been wanting to be able to do this for a while!! How do you do it, I've searched a lot about it and found nothing...

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Post by dokushoka » Mon Sep 17, 2007 11:32 am

musicjunky wrote:
dokushoka wrote:
solo-bration wrote: You can easily do a pre/post send switch on the fly.
I've been wanting to be able to do this for a while!! How do you do it, I've searched a lot about it and found nothing...[/quote

Just click the send you want, and in the floating window that opens there is a "pre" button that you can click that will switch it. To do the "on the fly" switching you have to have version 7.3. It was a new feature. In 7.3 you can also add a track or send without having to hit stop!
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Post by musicjunky » Mon Sep 17, 2007 1:04 pm

dokushoka wrote:
musicjunky wrote:
dokushoka wrote:
solo-bration wrote: You can easily do a pre/post send switch on the fly.
I've been wanting to be able to do this for a while!! How do you do it, I've searched a lot about it and found nothing...[/quote

Just click the send you want, and in the floating window that opens there is a "pre" button that you can click that will switch it. To do the "on the fly" switching you have to have version 7.3. It was a new feature. In 7.3 you can also add a track or send without having to hit stop!
[homer speak] DOH!!!!!!! [/homer speak]

I never even look at that. wow, i feel stupid. and 7.3 is definitely on my list of things to get...

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