I have Cubase Elements 10 and I know that Direct Routing is not a feature of this version. However, I’m not sure I understand what it is. I tried to recreate Direct Routing by creating a group track which I called ‘Parallel Drums’. Then I used a Send slot to send the drums to the Parallel Drums channel. I used heavy compression on the Parallel Drums channel. Now I have two drums channels, one which is a compressed version of the original.
Is this different to Direct Routing? If so, what is the difference?
This is a tricky area and we really shouldn’t gloss over it - Direct Routing is not the same thing as Direct Monitoring. These are two different concepts. SENDS are a third.
Each audio channel has eight sends slots, each of which can be assigned to a bus, or in Cubase terminology, a group channel. Sends can be configured as pre or post fader, and have their own “send” volume as well. Sends are common in HW consoles, but they aren’t quite as necessary in DAWS as it’s quite common to use multiple instances of VST plug-ins on individual tracks. Sends are commonly used for group FX channels, and are more efficient than multiple instances of VST plugin-ins, but the choice is yours.
DIRECT ROUTING allows you to assign multiple output destinations to an audio channel. With “Direct Routing Summing Mode :Off” only one of those outputs can be active at any time. If “Direct Routing Summing Mode: ON” all or some of those outputs can be active. HW consoles have traditionally had fixed outputs.
DIRECT MONITORING is a capability provided by some ASIO audio interfaces to allow the engineer to monitor an input channel directly from the audio interface without passing through the DAW first. This eliminates some issues with monitoring latency. It’s only an issue in real-time cases. For tracking, a better bet is to get an interface with built-in effects - you can use them as real-time cue effects for performer comfort, and you may record them or the dry signal depending on your interface’s FX setup.
With Direct Monitoring activated, Direct Routing cannot be used for routing destinations 2-8. Only the first bus can be used for Direct Monitoring.
Thank you Super G for that explanation. I guess my sound engineering understanding is too basic to grasp the concept fully. But what would be the benefit of Direct Routing instead of using a Send? What types of things could you do with Direct Routing that you could not do with using a Send? What I mean is, where would you want to direct route a channel to and for what function? Could a Send not perform the same function?
The thing to note with parallel compression using VST’s is this - if your compressor has a inline “mix” knob - you do the parallel right there on the track or bus the VST is on - no need to use it as a group effect. Most compressors these days (but not all) have a “mix” knob.
For most of us: multiple direct routing destinations are more than we need. This capability only really comes into play if you need to output post fader to multiple devices outside of the normal control room set up. A professional studio might have that need. Think of it as a patch panel - you can patch the output to eight destinations, with the ability to send to them simultaneously if needed.
Sends are just an anachronistic way of getting a signal (pre-or-post fader) from a channel in the sense that HW consoles have always had them, and many are familiar with the concept. The difference is the HW consoles had fixed send buses called AUX buses, where as a DAW lets you send to any group channel. You could use those auxes as stage monitor feeds if they had separate outputs, or you could use them as an effects channel summed into the main mix bus - we can’t afford to have an HW effects unit on every channel…
HW consoles channels generally had a single fixed post fader output to the main mix bus - you couldn’t change it as it was hardwired.
Newer digital console are more like DAWS and some might allow custom routing and/or multiple destinations.
Direct routing is not as flexible as a send, as you can’t control or automate the level.
But it’s is great for making alternate mixes in parallell (no vocals/singback/instrumental/no strings etc.)
I also use direct routing for all sidechaining. Makes it easier to discern what is fx sends and what is sidechain sends.
Leaves more room for more sends to effects. (8sends+8 direct routing)
Also great for sidechaining your bus compressor(s) when making stems so the sum of your stems IS (exact same) as the mix,
(Use the direct routing to mute/unmute your tracks but they still trigger the stereobus compressor.)
I’ll try my best: When you have a compressor/limiter on your stereobus, they react to the whole mix of course.
If you then make an alternate mix, say one without vocals (instrumental) these compressors/limiter on your stereo/masterbus
will not react the same, as the vocals no longer triggers the compressor/limiter. This means that if you make separate stems, say drums+basses+synth+vocals, the sum of them will not sound exactly like the whole mix.
This is because the compressor and limiter react to a different and weaker signal for each stem.
But if you instead trigger the compressor via a sidechain input, they will still react to the whole mix if you send the whole mix via direct routing to these sidechain inputs. So if you make an acapella (vocals only), the compressor and limiter on your stereobus still reacts to everything in the mix (drums/basses/synths/guitars etc AND the vocal too) even if all thats mixed down is only the vocals.
If you then sum/mix the parts together again, it will be exactly like your original mix.
Don’t know if this made it any clearer - I struggle with these sidechain routings myself…