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 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.
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;
- i) Select a free mixer channel and name it “drums”.
- 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.