Resources for the Recording Musician
March 18, 2008

Track Bounce Output Buss Question

When I am bouncing a track down in order to, for example, free up CPU power, should one turn off the EQ and compression on the stereo output buss so I'm not getting double compression and EQ when I then have the bounced stereo track?

So, for example, I'm bouncing a drum track down to an audio file so I can free up my UA card power. Should I turn off the, for example, Fairlight compressor on the output stereo buss? If I don't, my original drum track will get compressed and it will be compressed again when I reinsert it into the track now in the form of a stereo file.

Hope that makes sense. It seems to me that one would want to turn off the stereo buss effects, but what do I know?

That all depends on what software you are using and how you are doing the bounce.

For example, in Cubase/Nuendo there is a function called "bounce" that works on individual tracks, and is meant for consolidating a complex track with lots of edits and clips into a single audio file.  When you use that function to "bounce", volume and fade automation gets included in the bounce, but plug-ins are NOT processed.  So, that function wouldn't work for what you are trying to do.

The more common function in Cubase/Nuendo to free up plug-in power is to use the "Freeze" function on the tracks you are done with.  The Freeze function will render the track, including all plug-ins, to a new audio file (in the freeze folder) and automatically replace the track with that file, and it will give you the option to unload the plug-ins after the freeze, which will free up the processing power for other tracks.  The good thing about using freeze is that if you later decide you need to make some adjustments to the way you originally processed the track, you can "unfreeze" the track, and it will restore all the plug-ins and settings back to exactly the way it was before your froze the track.  Also, Freeze only renders processing on that individual track... it will NOT include any of the processing on the master stereo output, so you don't have to worry about that.

The last kind of "bounce" you could do would be to actually export an audio mixdown.  This could be useful if you wish to render a submix of a whole bunch of tracks down to a stereo or mono file.  For example, if you recorded a drum kit with many microphones all recorded to individual tracks, and you got a drum mix that you were happy with and wanted to render it all to a stereo track for some reason, you could do that with the Export Audio Mixdown function.  In Cubase/Nuendo, when you do an audio export - mixdown, it will do a complete mix of anything between the left and right locators, using the output that you select in the export audio mixdown dialog box.  So, if you select the stereo master bus as the output source, then, yes, it will also render the effects on the stereo master buss.  If you are going to do it that way, you have to make sure you mute all the other tracks except for the ones you want to "bounce".  A better way would be to have all your drum tracks routed to a group track, and then when you do the "bounce" using the audio export mixdown feature, select that group channel as the output, and then you won't have to worry about what plug-ins are on the stereo buss.

So, hopefully that all makes sense.  Again, it depends on your software and how you want to do it, so check your user manual for more details.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with simply turning off the stereo buss effects while you do your bounce if you want to play it safe and you don't know how your software does the bounces.

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