Return Track Tips & Tricks

Sending Drums to Return Tracks

Ableton’s Drum Rack instrument has its own integrated send/return section, which allows you to add return effects to individual drum samples. You don’t, however, necessarily need to add the effects plugin to the rack; instead, you can use the send/return section to route individual drums to the master return channels. Let’s look at a situation in which this is useful.

Return Channels Here, we’re sending the piano channel to a nice long hall reverb on return channel A. We want to send the snare to the same reverb, but if we just turn up the “Send A” knob on the drum channel, all the drums, including the kick, will get set through the effect. We could always just duplicate the reverb and add it to the snare inside the Drum Rack, but then we’re using double the processing power. Here’s a much more elegant way to route the snare to the reverb channel:
Open the Drum Rack and click the “I-O,” “S,” and “R” buttons in the corner of the rack. This opens up the Drum Rack’s send/return section. Right-click the panel that says “Drop Audio Effects Here” and select “Create Return Chain.” You’ll now have an empty return chain inside the Drum Rack. Select “A – Reverb” (or whatever return channel you’re using) from the “Audio To” menu. This routes the audio from the Drum Rack’s return chain straight to the master return channel. Turn up the “Send-a” control in the “Snare” column; the snare channel is now being sent right to the reverb.

Return Channels

Sending Returns to Returns (Returnception)

Return Channels

Return Channels Right now, the picked guitar is just going into the echo return channel. Let’s send that echoed audio into the reverb. Right-click the “A” knob in the echo channel’s “Sends” section and select “Enable Send.”

Return Channels The audio from the guitar channel is now going to the echo channel, from which it runs straight into the reverb channel. If you only want to hear the reverberated sound, set the echo channel’s “Audio To” menu to “Sends Only.” This tells Ableton that you don’t want to hear the echoed sound until after it’s passed through the reverb channel.