What is Audio Routing & How to route audio in DAW?

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In this article, I’ll go over the most common scenarios in which you’ll need to route audio. I’ll also go through the simplest ways to achieve it in the digital realm.

What is Audio Routing?

The term “audio routing” refers to the process of moving a signal from one location to another. AudioRouting is a control and notification interface for routing in AudioTrack and AudioRecord objects. When using audio cables, inputs, or sends and returns in a DAW, you’ll come across audio routing. Another word for the flow of routed audio that you may be familiar with is a signal chain. To know more about DAWs, you can check our guide to choosing a DAW.

The signal flow of a guitar rig is one of the most well-known instances of audio routing. You’re passing the guitar’s audio feed through sound-affecting effects pedals. The signal then makes its way to the amplifier, which enhances the music.

What is soft audio routing?

The “soft route” method of routing is an older method that fails more frequently. It’s still listed under soft routing since, unlike the new routing, it won’t cut out the currently playing audio streams.

More sophisticated routing is required to perform more with software. For example, To compress the microphone input, you might feed the microphone audio into a DAW (digital audio workstation) that acts as a compressor, then feed the DAW into Jamulus. You might want to record the performance by sending the Jamulus output to your headphones and recording software. It necessitates a method of audio routing between programmes.

Digital Audio Routing:

If you start a DAW and add tracks to a session it will be routed to your master bus automatically. By default, the master bus is routed to your sound card. Changing the channel’s destination is the equivalent of physically unplugging and replugging them in the real world.

When you decide to undertake bus processing, for example, this is a common cause.

You may wish to send specific songs to an audio bus before hitting the master bus, depending on your various circumstances.

When using audio cables, inputs, or sends and returns in a DAW, you’ll understand audio routing in DAW. Working with analogue gear would necessitate using a patch bay and passing the signal through audio wires. Fortunately, with today’s technology, it is easy to do so in a DAW.

How to route audio in your DAW:

Regardless of which DAW you use, routing audio in your DAW will be the same. However, the method of doing so may change slightly. I’ll do my best to cover all of the phrases used in the most popular DAW applications.

  • Inserts

The plugins you set on each channel are known as inserts. The audio enters the channel and is routed to the plugins on the insert channels which are arranged in order or one after the other.

As a result, the order in which the inserts are placed dictates how the sound is processed. If you put a delay before a compressor, for example, the delayed signal will be compressed. The compressed signal will be influenced by the delay if this is not done.

By default, the sound will be routed to the master bus after it has been processed. If you use buses or sends and returns, this will not be the case.

  • Subgroups

When you are routing numerous audio channels into one audio channel, you’re creating a subgroup (also known as a group bus) (commonly called a bus). You’ll want the same type of processing on multiple tracks as it is a good option.

For example, If you want to EQ guitar tracks, you would then send them to a bus and use an EQ plugin. You can then use the EQ to separate all five guitars, and the signal will be transmitted to the master bus.

  • Auxiliary channels

Auxiliary channels (sometimes known as “aux channels”) are similar to group buses in which they can accept input from many sources. Group buses are Aux channels that generally output to the master bus. Their route, on the other hand, is where they diverge. Aux channels, unlike group buses, deliver a copy of the signal rather than the original signal. Sending a duplicate allows you to keep the original one untouched while processing the recording, giving you complete control over both.

If you wanted to add reverb to seven vocal tracks, you’d send them to an auxiliary track and use a reverb plugin. The channel would then be blended in with the other mix, leaving the original vocal files alone.

  • External routing

Depending on your situation, routing audio from your PC to outboard gear might be pretty complicated. The most typical method is to create a bus that is routed to specific audio interface outputs. The outboard gear processes everything you send to that bus, which you then route back into specified inputs on your audio interface.

Start Audio Routing!

Mix buses can be a great time saving and ease your job, whether you only want to organise your songs in sub-groups or set up sophisticated effects audio flows using auxiliary buses for audio routing in music production. 

Now that you know how to route audio from any channel to any location in your studio try out different methods to determine which ones work best for you. If done correctly, audio routing can save a lot of time and processing power.  You can learn more about audio routing and many more technical skills with music production and sound engineering courses at School of Bollywood Music. To know more, check out our course curriculums.

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