Explaining auxiliary sends, routing, and bus grouping in FL Studio

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This is an intermediate tutorial which will be deeply explaining the use of auxiliary sends, routing, and bus grouping in FL Studio. As a newbie producer, you should be well versed in how to easily make a beat on FL Studio before bothering about this kind of topic. You should also know how to assign tracks to mixer channels and basic mixer management. Using of sends, routing and bus grouping is so advantageous in music production. First; it helps to save your computer some CPU processing stress by using one plugin effect to process many channels. This is a life saver, especially if you use a 500mb RAM Pentium 3 system. I know no one uses that kind of computer anymore, but some of us actually have crappy computers. Secondly; it helps to create a bond or glue among the instruments of a song due to sharing of same effects like compression and EQ . Especially when sharing effects like reverbs and delays, it helps simulate instruments being in the same space. Thirdly; it saves time. Fourthly; routing is useful for parallel processing. Lastly; it gives room for creativity while mixing. So, how do you set these up in FL studio? Very easy, but first you have to know how they work.

Routing

Routing is the inter-connectivity and interactions among mixer tracks. In FL Studio 12, these connections are illustrated with some green wires running from a selected track to whichever other tracks it is routed. By default all mixer tracks are 100 percent routed to the master channel’s output. They are also all routed to the four default send channels, but the send volume knobs are totally turned down to zero. However, every track can be further routed as pleased.

Auxiliary sends

As said earlier, auxiliary sends provide a means to use a single effect on many tracks. It also provides avenue to automate how much of an effect is applied at what particular part of the song. By default, FL studio has four dedicated send channels by the far right end of the mixer with all tracks routed to them. Although all send volumes are totally turned down. To use these default sends, place your desired effect on any of the send tracks. Next, select the track you want routed to the send track and turn up the send volume as desired. You should note that whenever you use effects on sends, the dry/wet knobs or sliders should be turned 100 percent wet. This way, you will not be returning more of the dry audio signal to the master channel’s output because you will be adding in only the effected source sound. Unless doing otherwise gets you your desired sound.

However, there might be some mixing sessions where you will use up all the four send channels and wish there were more. The good thing you should know is that in FL Studio’s mixer, all tracks can be used as sends. Those four default sends were just pre-routed by the good people at Image Line to make life easier for you. Yes, they are caring people. If you ever need more send channels, go ahead and create them by yourself. Simply select any free channel, place your desired effect on it and rename accordingly by pressing F2 on your keyboard. Then select the track to send to it and click the little arrow at the bottom. You can adjust the send volume as desired.

Grouping and bussing

Grouping also known as bussing, is the routing of sounds from various mixer channels to output through a single track to the master channel. This is best done with sound elements with the same sound texture and character. For example we can have groups like; drums, synths, vocals, and melodic instruments like pianos, guitars and synths. To clearly explain the concept of grouping or busing, let us use the master channel as an example. The master channel is also called the master bus because all other channels on the mixer are routed to output through it. They all go through it to the hardware output sources (headphones and speakers). This is why you will have no sound when you mute the master channel. Similarly, sub busses and groups can be made in this same sense. Whereby selected tracks are routed to output through a single track, and from there to the master channel.

How to create group buses in FL studio

To use this method create a drums group for example;

  1. i) Select a free mixer channel and name it “drums”.
  2. ii) Next, go to any channel with drums elements like kick, snare, toms, conga, stick, rims and other percussions.

iii) Select it making sure it is highlighted in green, then go to the little upwards facing white arrow at the bottom of the channel you named drums and right click to select ‘route to this track only. You can neglect the arrow menu and do this manually. What “route to this track only” does is it simply disconnects the channel from the master channel and routes it to the drums channel. To do this manually; select track, click arrow at the bottom of “drums” track to connect it, finally click the arrow at the bottom of master channel to disconnect from there. You should rather stick with the first method because it is faster.

iv) Repeat this step for every channel you want routed to the group. Note however, that you can route multiple items at once. To do this; hold down Ctrl and Shift buttons to select multiple tracks, then route to the “drums” channel only.

That’s it music folks. With routing and grouping the possibilities are limitless.  Complex interlinking and routing are possible. Do not worry if you are not versed in this yet. With more practice time, you will understand it more and do it like a pro.

 

8 Responses

  1. Martins

    July 8, 2018 11:52 am

    Hello admin. Much love for the job you are doing here. Please I’m a newbie in fl12 and desperately need to release my EP. Please can you help me on how to record vocals and apply plugins to my projects on playlist arrangement windows… and I will mix and master myself. Please help.

    Reply
    • Dhandy

      July 8, 2018 2:46 pm

      Good question Martins, I will do a tutorial on how to record audio in FL Studio pretty soon. But for the moment, the best way to record audio in FL Studio is through Edison, so you can finely edit it before putting it on the Playlist. However, if you want to record audio directly into the Playlist, after setting up your mic for recording, just click the record button. There will be a window that pops up asking what and where you want to record. Select ‘record audio into Playlist’. Done.

      As for applying plugin effects on the recorded audio, go to the channel rack’s audio segment and assign the audio to a mixer track. There you can apply effects as you wish. Hope this helps. Update:I made a tutorial on how to apply effects to audio in FL Studio – http://prohomemusic.com/apply-effects-audio-fl-studio-mixer-channel/

      Reply
  2. Martins

    July 9, 2018 4:30 pm

    Many thanks Dhandy, I am more than grateful. Please I need one more thing. I mean I am failing every time I try to separate my instruments on track when adding to playlists. Each pattern I make will always get played and fused together on track 1. I am so frustrated as I have tried the tutorial you made for beat making and arrangement in the playlist,but it’s not working in my DAW. I have tried for almost a week and I can’t get each instrument to be on a separate track in the Playlist. Please help I am dying of frustration,I don’t know what’s forcing all of them together as one Pattern..

    I played only FL keys on just one rack, routed it to a mixer channel, and made a nice pattern on the channel’s piano roll. Next I painted it on the playlist. But when I added a piano to that same channel rack and made patterns on the Playlist even muting the first fl key, behold it was still there and both were merged together under Track 2 in playlist. Please help!

    Reply
    • Dhandy

      July 12, 2018 7:58 pm

      Hello Martins. I think I understand you now. You didn’t follow the tutorial rightly. What you described implies you were playing 2 different instruments on different channel tracks, but still on the same ‘pattern’. Note that ‘patterns’ are what you paint on the Playlist. You can make as much of these patterns as you want.

      After making a tune of your first instrument and placing on the Playlist, you should click f4 right there on the Playlist to create new pattern, rename, and color it if desired. Place the new empty pattern under the first one(if that’s your arrangement). Then go to the channel rack to Insert your new instrument and create a tune along with the first pattern. Hope this helps.

      In case that still doesn’t help, maybe playing things together in the same pattern on the channel rack is your preferred workflow. That is also cool. You can split the pattern later in the playlist. I will make a tutorial in few days to show you how.

      Reply

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