This post focuses on how to group tracks to save CPU or DSP processing.
When I first started mixing using a computer, I would throw up inserts on everything. Everything was processed independently. As you might imagine, my mixes were insanely CPU intensive and hard to manage. Soon I realized that many of the tracks were being processed in exactly the same way and that I didn’t need to have separate DSP processes on each track.
The solution? Groups (or auxes in Pro Tools land)!
It’s a pretty simple idea: you’ve got six vocal tracks to EQ and you would like them all EQ’d the same way so just send them all to a group and insert a stereo EQ on the batch of ’em. You save four DSP instances (six mono to one stereo). You can do the same thing with compressors, but you have to keep in mind that the more things you send to compressors, the more the whole batch will be compressed. And, the loudest of the bunch will be compressed the most (meaning that volume balance between the bunch is important to achieving consistant results).
One other benefit of this method is that all the tracks being sent to these processors will be subtly blended and ‘glued’ to each other, particularly with compression, as their transients and harmonics are adjusted in tandem.
For some of you this seems terribly obvious, but for many it isn’t intuitive. So save your CPU, lower your latency, and spend less on computers!