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Mono/Stereo Files & Insert vs. Aux Effects
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July 25, 2014
9:24 pm
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W Pirkle
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January 28, 2017
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Hi All

I have had a few questions regarding the FX routing and meters when using various files. The key to this topic lies in the lower right of RackAFX where you see the input/output meters and the FX routing as well as knowing what kind of file you have loaded. RackAFX is set up to let you test your plug-in in a variety of different ways that correspond to the way you would use them in a session in various DAWs. There are two modes that you select with the buttons, Insert and Aux FX.

INSERT: Uses your Plug-In as an inline insert effect. The audio is processed inline through the effect and written directly to the output buffer. The Input Level control pre-scales the input before driving your plug-in from -96dB (off) to +12dB to let you tweak the input prior to application to your algorithm. The Output Level control scales the value after leaving your plug-in but before heading off to the sound adapter. It allows you to add gain or attenuation to the output level.

AUX FX: Uses your plug-in as an Aux Effect. Typically, you set up an Aux Return or bring the FX back into an input in your DAW/board, and use that return to scale the output of your plug-in and mix it back in with the dry signal. Typically reverbs are applied this way where the reverb is set to 100% wet and the engineer uses the Aux return (channel) control to mix the signal back in. When you choose this mode, the Input Level slider is now the "Send" control and the Output Level slider is the "Return" control. When the Output Level slider all the way off, you get 100% dry signal. As you increase this Return Level you will hear more of your effected signal mixed back in with the dry signal. This is why these Level Control are named Input/Send and Output/Return -- they do double duty depending on the mode of operation.

Mono vs Stereo Files:
If you load and play a mono file, you will see both L and R input and output meters moving. This is because a mono file will ultimately transmit the identical information on the L and R channels on the computer output (I have not seen any mono-output sound devices in many years, though they might be out there). So, the meters are just mirroring each other and are identical. A stereo file simply plays in stereo with different material on the L and R channels. To date, only one person has ever requested more than 2-channel operation (a grad student who was thinking about doing a thesis involving surround sound).

Channel Routing:
The Channel Routing buttons choose how you deal with the input and outputs. Here is how that works:

Mode: INSERT
2->2: 2-channel audio in, 2-channel audio out. If you accidentally have a mono file loaded, RackAFX copies the single input channel to both L and R; the output is always 2-channel.

1->1: mono-in, mono-out. If you accidentally have a stereo file loaded, RackAFX will convert it to mono by mixing the two channels at a 50/50 ratio. The output is always mono.

1->2: mono-in, stereo out. Still an insert effect, this takes a mono input, processes through your plug-in, and produces a stereo output. Several reverb algorithms work this way. If you accidentally have a stereo file loaded, RackAFX will convert it to mono by mixing the two channels at a 50/50 ratio. The output is always 2-channel.

Mode: AUX FX
2->2: 2-channel audio in, 2-channel audio out. If you accidentally have a mono file loaded, RackAFX copies the single input channel to both L and R; the output is always 2-channel. The output is mixed with the dry signal via the Output Level (Return) control.

1->1: mono-in, mono-out. If you accidentally have a stereo file loaded, RackAFX will convert it to mono by mixing the two channels at a 50/50 ratio. The output is always mono. The output is mixed with the dry signal via the Output Level (Return) control.

1->2: mono-in, stereo out. This is the traditional way to use an AUX effect send/return with a mono input and stereo output. If you accidentally have a stereo file loaded, RackAFX will convert it to mono by mixing the two channels at a 50/50 ratio. The output is always 2-channel. The output is mixed with the dry signal via the Output Level (Return) control.

Let me know if you have any other questions on the modes of operation in RackAFX.

All the best,

Will

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