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Old 2011-11-21, 13:31
riverofbass riverofbass is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 13
Group busses (or VCA faders)

They're the one thing missing from the SSL mixer. Groups are one of the most important mixing tools there is.

For those who don't know - busses are the "collectors" of mixers. Think about it like this: if channels run down the mixer, busses run across it. There's one stereo bus, that goes to the master fader, and there's the eight auxiliary buses, that go to the auxiliary send effects then back to the master bus.

The thing is, there's another kind of bus - a group bus. At the moment, after the fader the signal *always* goes to the stereo bus. But with groups, you can send it to one of eight other buses. It's basically like having another eight master buses.

Why would you want that? A few reasons. First of all, dealing with a bunch of faders as a logical group. Say you've got multi tracked drums. If you want to solo them, you have to click the solo button on each. If they were grouped, you'd only have to solo the group bus. Maybe you want to turn them down a bit, or automate the level. You'd have to tediously adjust each fader, or draw in a curve for each automation track - maybe stuffing up the balance you carefully created. But you can be reckless with the group bus fader; you're not screwing up any balance.

The other reason is applying insert effects. If you want to affect the whole group, there's literally no other way to do this. You can, at the moment, simulate group buses by using an auxiliary bus, turning the fader down to zero and setting the sends to be prefader. But then you have to use those tiny knobs instead of the big fader for level adjustment, and you're using up a precious auxiliary bus.

Pro Tools HD does something even better, though perhaps too complex for Reason - VCA faders. VCA stands for Voltage Controlled Amplifier, and they work like a more flexible group bus, in that one track can belong to multiple VCA groups.

Say you've got a mix with five tracks, and tracks A B & C belong to VCA group X, and tracks C D & E belong to VCA group Y. If you turn X up 6dB and turn Y down 6dB, then A & B go up 6dB, D & E go down 6dB and C stays the same.

If you mute X, AB&C are muted - not just the group bus, but the mute lights for those tracks come on. That means that, yes, you can unmute one or two of them while keeping the rest of the group muted. While X is muted you could solo Y, and CD&E would be soloed - but C is soloed *and* muted.

In terms of building a mix I can't think of anything more important. Grouping is one of the main reasons I still have to keep firing up Pro Tools.

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