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How to Mix Songs Faster Using Aux (Return) Tracks - Tips for All DAWs

July 4, 2020
by
Charles Hoffman
Learn what an aux (return) track does and how to mix songs faster using aux tracks (tips for all DAWs). Use 4 go-to aux track templates to simplify the process of mixing.
A mixing console icon on a mint green background.

Auxiliary tracks, or aux tracks, simplify the process of mixing. Let’s say you want to apply reverb to all the tracks in your session. Instead of placing a reverb on each track, you can use an aux track containing one reverb to apply the effect to multiple tracks in your session. This drastically speeds up your workflow, and it also reduces the load on your computer’s CPU.

Each DAW requires you to set up aux tracks in a slightly different way, but you can use the tips and tricks I’m about to show you regardless of the DAW you’re using.

In this tutorial, I’ll be using Ableton to demonstrate what’s possible using aux tracks. Ableton refers to its aux tracks as return tracks, but they’re the same thing as aux tracks in every other DAW.

Using tons of different reverbs within a song can create a really confusing listening experience. If it sounds like your vocals are in a gymnasium, your guitar is in a closet, and your drums are in a chamber, listeners will feel as though these track elements are dissociated from one another. In some cases, this might be the effect you’re looking for, but often times it’s not.

Watch the video above to learn how to set up return tracks in Ableton to speed up your workflow, discover my 4 go-to return track processing chains, and save return tracks as part of your default Ableton template.