Most efficient way to A/B two mix ideas in one .cpr?


For example: I might have an audio track routed to a bunch of groups with effects inserted on them (compression, parallel or otherwise; verb; de-esser, etc.), the last of which might be routed to my 2 buss.

I want to make changes in the signal processing - maybe add a group channel with a different effect, or see what things sound like without one of the existing effects, etc., and then A/B the ideas.

Right now I’m doing what I imagine is not the most efficient way to compare two ideas in one project - I render the first routing/processing to a stereo file … then make changes to all the groups I want to and then render that whole thing to another stereo file, then compare the two stereo files as the project plays. (And hope in the end if I like the first comparison I get the channel configurations back to how I had them to start with).

Thinking about this on vacation, I’m wondering if I can use the Control Room features to do this more efficiently. I’d set up Groups with all the inserts I’m interested in using in both of the comparisons. What I mean here is that if I want to hear Compressor ABC in Comparison A, but in Comparison B I want to hear Compressor XYZ, I would have each compressor inserted in its own group. Then (maybe, I think??) … if I want to hear how things sound using Compressor ABC (Comparison A), for the group that has Compressor ABC inserted I would have the Studio Sends set to 0.0, and the “regular” sends set to taste, with the last Group routed to Stereo Out 1,2 … but if I want to hear how things sound using Comp XYZ (Comparison B), I would use the studio send exclusively, and have the “regular” channel send set to zero.

Then to compare, I just toggle between the two stereo bus output pairs from within the Control Room.

I’ll have to wait till I get home to see if this works (if it does, I guess I could even do A/B/C comparisons, since I have an interface with 3 stereo outputs) … but in the meantime, do you experienced and pro guys have other suggestions for efficient A/B comparisons?


Interested to see how you get on with this.

I looked again at the fantastic CR tutorial to see if Studio Sends were a valid solution to setting up A/B referencing… turned out to be a bit convoluted for my brain. I’m sure it could work out, but not something I fancy repeating as standard workflow.

How about direct routing? Using the dropdown to redirect the entire path to another FX path (choose between inputA and inputB). So the original audio channel is blank. It has 2-3 options of output busses to toggle between. Output busses having their own FX paths.

I did a bit of this last night, using the CR, and it worked fine using a Studio send, with its inserts. I actually did it for overdubs*, rather than as an A/B, but I think it’s the same concept. Really not too mind boggling (by definition, if I am able to do it). Your suggestion sounds like it would work too.

I’d love to hear how the professional/high-volume guys do this though ( hint/hint :slight_smile: ).

*Overdubs using Studio Sends (using old vocal as a guide vocal, and existing piano track to sing to):
– “Old vocal” to Studio 1, panned hard left. Volume way down.
– “Old piano” to Studio 2, panned center.
– “New vocal” to Studio 3, panned center/right. A little bit of comfort reverb as an insert there, and a compressor for a little gain only. I can probably get rid of this by turning the other two tracks down and the headphone output up, but, hey, it’s a work in progress.
– “No output” in the “real mixer” (F3) for any of the above tracks.
– Cans for tracking.

Then I record the “New vocal”, which I hear loud and clear off center to the right a bit … using the “old vocal”, panned hard left and turned way down, as a guide vocal; and the piano track center and turned down as well.

So far so good.

Ah. Your goal may be a bit different than mine.

I’m thinking in terms of elegant one click solution to compare my tracks various crest factor to that of mastered tracks… but more than just one reference, and to quickly listen to different sections and compare.

Like this

Nice looking software!

I guess if it weren’t available, routing the track or project to a group, and then A/B’ng that group with the commercial track would work OK for the bare bones aspect of the whole thing (using the “Select both, Mute one/Solo the other, then toggle with the ‘M’ key” technique). But the other bells and whistles would be missing of course.

Now that I’m more comfortable using the control room the way I described, I do think when I get to mixing next I’ll try and see how the same technique works for quick A/B of different mixes (or A/B/C/D/E, since there are four Studio Sends … maybe?!).

Yes, its the streamlining that is so important to me because when A/Bing I do not want anything in the way of critical comparisons. Any extra click or scroll to find a section throws me off.

This little plugin seems handle a premastering a/b/c/d workflow pretty seamlessly.

Since I just started to transition from 6 to 7, I will be taking another look at studio sends as well, as I can see the CR itself has changed a bit, perhaps with the new mixer the studio sends can seem more like a part of the project and not another series of mixer channels somewhere… I think that was maybe distracting for me. I just need to wrap my head around it tighter.

You can definitely use the Studio Sends as alternate mix busses.

Here’s what I used to do:

I have a MIX group that gets everything, and it sends (pre-fader, 0 dB) to alternate MIX groups (MIX1, MIX2, etc.). Those outputs are set to “No Bus” and they each send to to their own Studio Send (MIX1 to S1, etc.). Then in the CR mixer you can switch your monitor source between MIX and S1-4 to flip instantly. And you can set up a key command for Switch: Source Select.

That’s fine if you don’t use the Studio Sends for monitoring during tracking. Since I do, I now use the External Ins in the CR mixer. Same setup with MIX1, etc. above, but instead of sending to Studio Sends and routing to “No Bus”, I route to hardware output, an RME MADI card. The RME let’s me loop back hardware outputs to inputs, so I have MIX1 going out ch 49-50, looping back and appearing on inputs 49-50. And so forth for MIX2. Then in the CR mixer, I set CR Source to EXT and switch between external inputs.

If your I/O hardware won’t loop back internally, you can always patch outputs to inputs.

As always, your mileage may vary! By the way, this is all easier in Nuendo using Direct Routing.