Universal Routing Technology 202: Unlocking the Creative Potential of the Aux Track

By Craig Anderton

Here are some representative applications for using Patch Points and Aux Tracks. There are often several ways to accomplish the same functionality, so use whichever is most comfortable. For example, if you already have existing tracks that you want to connect to Patch Points, it’s probably easier to assign their inputs to Patch Points than create new Aux Tracks. However, if you’re setting up a new recording scenario, it will probably be easiest to create an Aux Track as that will create both a track and a Patch Point assignment.

Application #1: Recording the Metronome to a Track

Note: If your project already contains a Metronome bus, skip to step 7.
  1. Choose Insert > Stereo Bus to create a new bus for the audio metronome.
  2. Rename the new bus to Metronome.
  3. Choose Edit > Preferences > Project – Metronome.
  4. Select the Recording check box and clear the Playback check box (you will hear the recorded metronome instead during playback).
  5. Select “Use Audio Metronome.”
  6. Click the Output drop-down menu and select the bus named Metronome, then click OK to close the Preferences dialog box.
  7. Click the Metronome bus’s Output control and select New Aux Track on the pop-up menu.
  8. Arm the Aux Track for recording.
  9. Begin recording.

Application #2: Track/Bus/Send-to-Track Recording with Patch Points

  1. Assign the source track, bus, or send output to a Patch Point.
  2. Assign the destination track input to the same Patch Point.
  3. Record-enable the destination track. Input Echo can be on or off.
  4. Initiate recording.

Application #3: Track/Bus/Send-to-Track Recording with Aux Track

  1. Assign the source track, bus, or send output to an Aux Track.
  2. Record-enable the Aux Track. Input Echo can be on or off.
  3. Initiate recording.

Application #4: Multiple Tracks/Buses/Sends to Single Track Recording

  1. Assign the source track/bus/sends outputs to an Aux Track. You can use any combination of tracks, buses, and sends. Note: You may need to adjust output levels when combining multiple outputs to avoid overloading the Aux Track.
  2. Record-enable the Aux Track. Input Echo can be on or off.
  3. Initiate recording.

Application #5: Multiband Processing

There are many possible applications; here’s a typical use involving multiband distortion.
SONAR Patch Points Multiband Processing

A guitar feeds four tracks, each with a Sonitus:fx Multiband compressor. Each Multiband compressor has a different band soloed to divide the guitar into four frequency bands, with each band distorted via the TH2 amp sim (the reason for distorting each band individually is lower intermodulation distortion and a “cleaner” distortion sound). The outputs then terminate in an Aux Track, which mixes all four tracks without having to set up sends. Furthermore, all the tracks can be processed simultaneously using the Aux Track’s FX Rack, and placed within a Track Folder to tidy up the Track View layout.

Application #6: Bussless Parallel Processing

Parallel processing usually involves either copying a track or using a bus. The Aux Track and Patch Point functionality simplifies this process, and allows inclusion within a Track folder.

The following example shows applying parallel compression to percussion.

SONAR Patch Points Parallel Compression

The main Percussion track output terminates in the Master bus, but it also includes a Send. The send patches to an Aux Track, which includes the parallel processor (Blue Tubes FA770). The Aux Track also terminates in the Master bus, thus providing the parallel path.

Additional Applications

  • You can work exclusively in Track View, and have folders of tracks with their Aux Tracks adjacent to them. This workflow provides an alternative to routing tracks to buses.
  • Treat the Aux Track as a subgroup, and control multiple audio track volumes with one fader.
  • Control surfaces that don’t support buses can instead control Aux Tracks.
  • Record only a track’s effects send to a separate track. For example, you can record a delay effect to a separate track, and shift the timing as desired.
  • Capture real-time performances with guitar effects, including amp sims.
  • Record time-based effects in real time.
  • Record plug-in parameter changes that are not automatable.