This article will guide you through the steps required to configure both your DAW and Console software to send audio from your DAW to Virtual Channels in Console. One common use for this configuration would be to setup a discrete low-latency headphone mix with UAD processing - audio can be sent from the DAW into Virtual Channels in Console where UAD plug-ins can be applied, and from there the signal can be sent to a Cue send or output along with the live input channels to create a custom headphone mix.
Another use for this configuration would be to play a virtual instrument in real-time through UAD plug-ins while maintaining low latency. Using UAD plug-ins directly on the virtual instrument track in the DAW will cause latency that the DAW cannot compensate for in real-time, however routing the virtual instrument track to a Virtual Channel in Console will allow you to apply UAD plug-ins in Console instead which will not incur any noticeable latency.
Note that routing DAW tracks to Virtual Channels in Console does not circumvent any latency caused by the DAW's buffer or delay compensation. For the lowest possible latency when using this method, consider the following:
- Disable any plug-ins in the DAW session that cause latency (including any UAD plug-ins). If one track in the DAW session has a latency-causing plug-in inserted, the DAW will delay the output of all other tracks in the session to match the latency of that track (including the track being sent to the Virtual Channels) in order to keep everything in time. Routing DAW tracks to Virtual Channels in Console does not bypass any latency caused by the DAW's delay compensation.
- Use a lower buffer size when possible (mainly applies to playing virtual instruments in real-time). When playing a virtual instrument in real-time, the DAW's buffer size determines the delay between when you press a key on your MIDI controller and when the virtual instrument actually receives that MIDI note (which causes an audible delay). Routing DAW tracks to Virtual Channels in Console does not bypass the DAW's buffer, so the buffer size must be lowered to reduce this latency.
Although the details may vary slightly depending on the DAW you use, the overall setup to send audio from the DAW to Virtual Channels is similar across the board. For this article, we will be using Pro Tools for our main example. If needed, please refer to your DAW's manual for specific instructions on routing audio within your DAW.
Main Example - Pro Tools
For a brief video walkthrough of the Pro Tools setup, see the video at the bottom of this article. To get the setup started, select each track that you want to send to Virtual Channels in the Mixer view of your DAW and create a new Send from each track. In some DAWs, this will automatically create an associated Aux Return track, while in others you will need to manually create the Aux Return to be fed from those sends.
Assigning the Send to a pair of Virtual Channels in Pro Tools
After creating the Send, you will also need to increase the value on the send fader or dial for each track in order to feed some signal to the Virtual Channels. For creating a discrete headphone mix, you will set your mix levels by adjusting the Send level for each track. Please note that you will want to set the Send to "Pre Fader" so you can adjust the Send levels independently from the main levels for each DAW track.
Setting the Send to Pre-Fader in Pro Tools
Now that you've setup a Send from your DAW to feed Virtual Channels 1/2 in Console, open Console and you should see signal on the VIRTUAL 1/2 channel meters when playing back from the DAW. Stereo link Virtual Channels 1 & 2 by clicking on the name at the bottom of either Virtual Channel and clicking "Link". UAD plug-ins can now be added to the inserts on the Virtual Channels, and the Virtual Channels can be routed to a Cue send or output via the Sends panel. In the example below, we're using an Apollo Twin and routing the VIRTUAL 1/2 channel to the Line 3/4 outputs - the VIRTUAL 1/2 channel is muted so that the signal will only be heard via the Line 3/4 outputs and not via the Monitor L/R outputs (which are being fed by the DAW's master bus). Live inputs can also be added to this mix by routing them to the Line 3/4 outputs via the Sends panel on each corresponding input channel in Console.
Adjusting the Send value for VIRTUAL 1/2
See the videos below for examples of using this method to setup headphone mixes in Pro Tools and Logic.
Pro Tools Setup Video
Logic Pro X Setup Video