Reply To: FX mix-return vs insert or channel return

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Inserting fx (eg a reverb) on an individual channel will make the reverb part of the individual channel’s sound, and will be eq’d and comp’d along with the rest of the channel. It will be present in the channel’s pre and post sends, so anywhere you route that channel, that reverb will also be appear, as you’ve effectively “built it in” to the channel. It is useful if you want to add to the sound of a single channel/mix.

It might be of limited use with the range of FX built into the Qu, it really depends on your application. On more expensive systems, eg the GLD/ilive, there are more fx to make use of, eg a sub-harmonic synthesizor on a bass guitar, a pitch shifter on an individual vocalist, a multiband compressor on a kick drum, a de-esser on a hissy vocal etc, so using fx as inserts could be more useful there.

Some consoles from other manufacturers allow you to insert software emulations of other hardware (not just fx units,) including specific models of compressors, peqs and geqs, amp modellers etc, if you’re going for a particular sound (and you want that specific sound in all your mixes, not just FOH via returns.) That said, these consoles tend to cost a bit more than the Qu series.

When using analogue consoles, if the console didn’t have a dynamics/eq etc built in, you had to use inserts to get dynamics/eq on a channel.

On the Qu24, using a channel/return to “save a send” isn’t such an issue, because the bus structure is fixed, and the number of dedicated fx engines = the number of dedicated fx sends. On the Qu16 however, you have 4x fx engines but only 2 dedicated fx sends. If you can feed an fx engine using only a single channel, it saves a bus to be used on something that actually does need summing (eg summing your backing vox channels and feeding them to a reverb engine.) On other systems where the bus structure is flexible, it can make sense to use inserts/channel-returns where they suffice and not tie up buses as fx sends, and use the saved buses for extra monitor mixes, matrices for delay fills etc.

When using fx as inserts, you tend to adjust the dry/wet ratio during the sound check, then leave it alone for the most part, because as you pointed out, it’s a lot more cumbersome than working with faders. It really depends on the application. Something like a 2-tap delay you probably want to do as a send-return and control the returns on a fader, mixing them in and out as the song requires, and muting them between songs so the band can talk to the audience (probably the same with reverb.) However, (using the examples from the A&H website) something like the symphonic chorus on a violin is something you’d want to “set and forget:” set it up as an insert, sound check it, adjusting the dry/wet ratio, and then leave it alone.