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Should I use Aux Tracks or Master Faders in Pro Tools with Summing Box?

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Q: I’m feeding 16 outputs from my Pro Tools system into a Dangerous Music 2-Bus LT. In some cases, I need to submix tracks in Pro Tools before they got the output. For example, I have a session where there are three mics on the kick drum that are all routed to output one from Pro Tools into the 2-Bus LT.

My question: should I be using an Aux track or a Master Fader track in Pro Tools for submixing those in-the-box tracks?

A: Either one will work fine. There are a few differences, which may or may not be significant to you.

  • The biggest difference is that with an Aux track, the inserts are before the fader, so the fader gives you final output level control. With a Master Fader track, the inserts are after the fader, so final level control would have to come from the last inserted plug-in in the signal path.

  • If you’re building a complex “output mixer,” Master Fader tracks may save you DSP over Aux tracks, but the difference is minimal in most cases.
  • Aux track inserts support hardware inserts.

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