Routing Effects Returns to Their Own Mix Channel

Posted Dec. 7, 2015, 12:40 p.m.

I touched on this before in my earlier article about creating a Shimmer reverb, but I want to talk about it more now - routing an effects return to its own mix channel.

Normally when adding a send effect to the Reason rack, you'd route the signal from the FX send at the back of the Master Section to the input of the effects unit, and then from the output of the effects unit to the FX return at the back of the Master Section, as shown below.

Instead, let's route the output of the send effect to its own mixer channel - like this:

Why would we do this? By routing the return from the effects device to its own channel, we're effectively isolating it, and now we can do all sorts of creative stuff with it. Here's a snippet of a hang drum with a touch of chorus, delay, & reverb.

Now I've routed the same piece through a long reverb, the outputs of which are routed to their own mixer channel. This mixer track is panned 100% to the right. This gives the reverb an interesting character of its own, but also makes the pre-effect signal stand out against the background.

Here's the same thing again, but now I've added an Audiomatic Retro Transformer as an insert effect on the mixer channel and some automation, panning the mixer channel slowly from right to left and back again.

Having the effect return on its own channel in the mixer also enables setting up a feedback loop, whereby the output of the effects unit is returned to the input to be processed again. You can achieve this by activating the send that's routed to the effect that's feeding the mixer channel. Be careful with this option, and be ready with the fader if you try it, because things can get out of control very quickly!

Isolating the effect return on its own track will also enable you to use the channel strip's EQ and dynamics processing on the effect return, and you can view the return in the spectrum analyser.

Using the various bounce options availble for mixer channels, you can even render the effect return without the original signal. Here I've added some sequenced gating and filters as further insert effects and then renderned just the effect return channel in the mixer by itself, and then added a beat.

I've used a reverb in this article, mostly because it's an effect with a long tail that makes demonstration easy - but any effect is fair game. Give it a try!

- craig