The Difference Between Insert, Send, and Master Effects

closeup photography of man operating audio mixer

September 17, 2022

In music production, especially during the mixing stage, effects are used either to shape the sound from a technical point of view or an aesthetic point of view. After understanding the three types of audio effects (dynamic based, frequency based, and time based), now we will learn the difference between their three main applications. The three main usages are as follows:

1. Insert Effects. Insertsare effects that are assigned to a single channel or track. Since it is singularly assigned, this effect only effects that single channel, without touching any other channel. This is good when you want to change the timbre of only one sound in the mix, for example putting compression on the bass guitar. To use and effect as an insert in Cubase DAW, select the track concerned and choose an insert from the inspector menu, where a drop down menu wil appear with the list of available effects.

2. Send Effects. Sends are effects that can effect a group of channels or tracks. It is a very versatile method when you want to apply an effect to a group of tracks, for example putting the same reverb on all the vocal parts duringthe chorus part. Rather than inserting a reverb effect into every track, which besides taking a longer time also uses up more CPU power, using a send effect will allow you to set up one reverb and then send all the channels you want that effect. You can also determine the amount of reverb each channel receives by regulating the send level on the DAW mixer. In Cubase, a send effect takes its own channel by right clicking on the track list and selecting Add FX Channel Track.After inserting an effect (in the same way mentioned above), now you can choose send effects from the “Send” menu in the inspector list.

3. Master Effects. Masters are effects that, according to their name, effect everything in the mix.Why would you want to effect everything in the mix? An example of master effects usageis putting a compressor/limited on the master stereo output, which is done very common in mixing to glue all the sounds together. You might also want to put a universal reverb as a master effect, so all the sounds sound like they are in one space. The use of master effects however, rarely go beyond dynamics and frequency processingit is rarely used for effects such as reverb, delays, and other time based ones.

Those three are the difference between each effect. A good mix is a mix that can use effects efficiently, in terms of sound quality and also CPU resource. Hopefully this article can help you create better mixes for your music productions.

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This is a curated article that was originally posted on EzineArticles by Endy Daniyanto. Images used courtesy of Pixabay and Unsplash.

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