by Claudio

Feb 01, 2017

This week’s injection from your doctor is about BUS ROUTING – one of the most important factors in a professional mix architecture


Bus routing means having different buses (also known as AUX channels or groups) for different sections of the mix. The drums for example are often comprised of numerous different channels. Routing all of them into a single stereo bus helps to control the Drums as one fader.


Bus routing can (and should) be applied to each group of instruments: Drums, Guitars, Keyboards, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals etc. In fact you can even nest bus channels into one another. For example, you have 2 different kick drum channels (direct and parallel compression) then you can group them into a single Kick Bus and then route the Kick Bus into the Drum Bus. The more you use buses the better you can control the final sound.


As a general rule it’s best to layer different compressors where each is compressing very little as opposed to using just one to compress a lot. Using buses provides one more stage for layered compression. For example, if you recorded a Bass both as direct and through the cabinet you’ll have two channels which you can compress individually, then you might have a parallel compression channel too. Grouping all 3 of them into a bus means that you can give that bus an extra dose of compression.. or even limiting! This will make your bass sound more solid and powerful, and help compact the different channels together. Just remember not to overload the bus. If done correctly bus compression can help you achieve the loudness that you are looking for.


Instead of using 10 fingers to automate the individual drums, you can have just one fader to control the overall level of the drums. This makes automation a lot simpler as when you have each group of instruments as one fader then you can “ride” the whole mix in a much more effective way.


This kind of mix architecture is ultimately designed to achieve a better and more controlled sound on the master bus. Each bus you’ve prepared will be summed into the final master bus, and having divided (and compressed!) each section individually will make your master bus behave in a more controlled way. The master bus is where your final piece of music comes out of, and working with well structured mix will help your master bus and plugins perform better.

Related Articles:
How To Make My Mix Sound Professional: 10 Golden Rules

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