How to Use Reverb Send & Return for Effect Loops

Written by robert ceville
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How to Use Reverb Send & Return for Effect Loops
Adding reverb to your send and return channels can increase the overall size of your mix for your listener. (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Add reverb to your mixer's send and return channels to create an effect loop that can be applied independently to each track in varying amounts. Send and return channels are included on most professional mixers and in digital recording studio software. These channels allow you to share a single instance of a reverb effect unit or program among all tracks included in your audio project. You can set up reverb on your send and return channels in less than five minutes.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Reverb effect unit
  • 2 1/4-inch instrument cables
  • Mixing board
  • Reverb VST plug-in
  • Digital recording software

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  1. 1

    Add a reverb effect unit to your hardware mixing console's "Return" channel. Plug one end of a 1/4-inch instrument cable into the "FX Send Output" jack on your mixing console and the other end into the reverb effect unit's "Input" jack. Plug one end of another 1/4-inch instrument cable into the "FX Return Input" jack on the mixing console, and the other end into the reverb effect processor's "Output" jack. Alternatively, add an instance of a reverb plug-in to your digital recording software's "Return" channel instead.

  2. 2

    Turn the "Send" knob to its highest setting on each of the mixer channels you want to send to the reverb effect loop. This sends maximum signal from both the mixing console or digital recording software's individual tracks to the grouped reverb effect on the "Return" channel.

  3. 3

    Set the reverb effect unit or VST plug-in's "Input Level" to the point where its clip indicator light blinks upon sending your instrument's most intense signal. Turn the "Send" level down on each channel to reduce the number of clip indicator blinks if your equipment has one, or to the level that sounds the best without distortion.

  4. 4

    Turn the "Return" level knob down halfway, and then reduce the reverb effect unit's or VST plugin's "Output" level to the same level it was without the effect being applied. Use the level output meters on the mixer, or the digital recording software mixer screen section, as a guide for how high or low the "Output" level should be set to match the non-affected levels.

Tips and warnings

  • Increase the "Return" level knob's setting to compensate for reverb effect units and VST plug-ins with weak wet signal output.

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