Pro Tools features

Allow Master Faders to be pre or post insert

With master faders currently being pre-insert, it is impossible to do rides, gain changes or fade outs on the master fader without affecting the levels being sent through plugins inserted on the master bus, which alters the sound of the mix, particularly when using compressors or limiters on the bus. Please offer the option to set master faders to post-insert, so that any volume changes to the bus do not affect the processing inserted on that fader.


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Similar Ideas [ 4 ]


  1. The Idea titled Pre/Post Switching for Inserts was merged with this Idea



  1. Comment
    ( Pinned Moderator )

    Edited to include pre/post switch for all track types

  2. Comment
    Matt Connolly

    I disagree. Aux has post fade inserts. Master has prefader inserts. You have a choice.

    Plus, one fundamental function of the master fader is to control the greater dynamic range (48 bit in TDM) of the mixing bus back into 24 bit for an insert. Making the inserts pre fader means losing this headroom on the mix bus.

  3. Comment
    zboy2854 ( Idea Submitter )

    I don't see why having the option is a bad thing. Plus, every analog console in the world puts their master fader post insert. The whole idea of not being able to do a fade out on the master fader without completely ruining the balance and bus compression action is simply ridiculous. At least having the option to set the master to pre or post means everybody wins.

  4. Comment
    Matt Connolly

    So how then do you utilise the 48-bit head room on the mix bus by connecting it directly to a 24-bit insert?

    You already have everything you need:

    Audio 1: output Bus 1-2


    Audio n: output Bus 1-2

    Master 1: output Bus 1-2 controls headroom has post fader inserts

    Aux 1: input Bus 1-2, output A1-2 has pre fader inserts

    Your signal goes through two faders with pre and post fader inserts.

    And, by the way, not all analog consoles have pre fader inserts on masters.

  5. Comment
    zboy2854 ( Idea Submitter )

    I think you need to read Digidesign's white paper on the mix bus. The dithering stage to 24 bits can just as easily be done after the inserts and any gain changes to the master fader as it can before them. Let's also not forget that many plugins operate as double precision 48 bit plugins, meaning that many times in a session signals will be going back and forth between 24 bit and 48 bit, so the idea of the master fader inserts somehow "getting in the way" of the 48 bit mixer holds no water, as you could just as easily have a double precision plugin on a master fader insert, therefore you have the mix bus going from 24 bit back to 48 bit, then to 24 bit again.

    While it's true I could set up a session as you described, bussing everything to an Aux bus, what then is the purpose of having a master fader at all? And wouldn't it make more sense to simply offer the option of both pre and post for master faders?

    And most world class consoles I've worked on had their master fader either post insert, or offered the option of pre or post at the engineer's discretion.

  6. Comment
    Matt Connolly

    I have read that paper, but maybe you can explain to me how a 48 bit mix bus with more headroom can go through a 24 bit insert and then be dithered to 24 bit afterwards without clipping?

    If plugins had 48 bit I/O they'd use twice as many TDM slots - this would be a fair call on a master output, but not everywhere. And, I doubt that a 48-bit plugin has the same dynamic range configuration (headroom) as the 48-bit mix bus.

    I accept your point about pro consoles having pre/post insert switch on masters. But I think there's more important things for Digi to fix/add.

  7. Comment
    zboy2854 ( Idea Submitter )

    Your statement is that the inserts must be after the master fader volume because of it being dithered from 48 bit to 24 bit once it hits the inserts, and that the reverse cannot be true. However, a double precision plugin inserted on one of the master fader inserts already will take a signal which may have already been dithered to 24 bit and process it as 48 bit, before dithering back to 24. Therefore, it's already possible and happens in real world practice, and therefore is entirely possible to put the master fader volume after the plugins as easily as before them.

  8. Comment
    Matt Connolly

    Check out page 4 of that document:

    What you want is to take the "middle 24 bits" straight to an insert before the fader. Any signal that reaches into "overflow" will CLIP. The mixer has HEADROOM, the master fader is what lets you attenuate the mix bus back to the same 0dBFs ceiling that the rest of the system has - including, inputs outputs and inserts, both as TDM busses and as physical I/O.

    Even if there were 48 bit inserts, you would still need a fader to utilise the HEADROOM of the mixer, since it actually does its summing at 56 bits - 8 bits of headroom ABOVE 0dBFs.

  9. Comment
    zboy2854 ( Idea Submitter )

    You're making this more complicated than it has to be. It's a "pay now or pay later" situation, regardless of whether you go down to 24 bit hitting the inserts before the master fader or after.

    Let's consider your "solution", namely to send the entire mix through a stereo bus to an Aux track and place plugs on those inserts, then go to the master fader. You contend that this somehow keeps the "mix bus" at 48 bit without exception, but this is not true.

    If we assume for a moment that all plugins inserted on the aux take the signal of the mix down to 24 bit (even though as already mentioned, this isn't necessarily the case when using double precision plugins), that means the entire mix signal is already going down to 24 bit when it hits those aux inserts, then BACK to 48 bit to hit the master fader, then once again down to 24 (or 16) bit at the final output.

    Now, how is that ANY different from the entire mix signal hitting the master fader inserts at 24 bit, going back to 48 bit to the fader, then 24 (or 16) at the final output? In other words, whether you create an aux and bus your entire mix through those inserts, or you bus your entire mix through the inserts on the master fader, you are going back and forth between 24 and 48 bit, it cannot be avoided in either case. Therefore it makes just as much sense to allow the option of allowing a post insert master as it does doing the whole mix through an aux bus, because you will encounter the same issues in both cases.

  10. Comment
    zboy2854 ( Idea Submitter )

    BTW, it should be pointed out that other high quality DAWs such as Nuendo already have no problem with this, and allow you to choose inserts on a master fader that are either pre-fader or post-fader. So any arguments regarding the viability of this implementation are moot.

  11. Comment
    Matt Connolly

    I'm not making it more complicated than it needs to be. I'm telling you how it currently works. Maybe you need to go and read the 48-bit mixer paper again.

    I totally concede that it's a longer workflow to run through and Aux and a Master. But by doing so you already have pre and post fader inserts and a mix bus with HEADROOM.

    That's why I think that this is less important than many other new features and bug fixes that actually allow me to do things that I currently can't do.

  12. Comment
    zboy2854 ( Idea Submitter )

    Again, your so-called solution does NOT retain the HEADROOM you claim it does, because it involves sending the entire mix bus signal through an aux and inserts which bring the signal down to 24 bit then back to 48 bit, so right there the headroom you are touting is no different than what would happen if the signal was sent to the master fader inserts before the master fader gain.

    And again, please explain why other high quality DAWs such as Nuendo are capable of having pre fader inserts on the master output which doesn't compromise the quality or sound of the mix bus, but somehow you want me to believe Pro Tools cannot similarly do so without compromising the mix bus?

    As to what features are important, you're entitled to your opinions and I'm entitled to mine. And that's the whole point of this site, is it not?

  13. Comment

    Digital Performer has long had the ability to allow pre AND post fader inserts for EVERY channel. They do this by drawing a line that the user can move around, plugins above the line are PRE and those below are POST.

    That being said, I've always appreciated that master faders are post. It just doesn't make sense to ride signals coming out of a limiter...

  14. Comment

    Not sure if this is a viable solution, but I simply add a 'Trim' plugin to the last insert in my Master bus. Do all my rides, and fades on that. The benefit is twofold. Not only does my mix compressor input not get attenuated based on fader level, but at any point, if i so desire to attenuate that level, I don't need to adjust the automation on the Trim plug. I dunno, it really works well for me.

  15. Comment

    This is unnecessary. Just set the output of all your tracks or stems to a stereo aux (call it ALL) and set the output of ALL to A1-2. Then you can put pre-fader inserts on ALL and post-fader inserts on the master strip (for A1-2). Do the rides that you want to be pre-fader on the aux fader. I set up every session this way.

  16. Comment
    zboy2854 ( Idea Submitter )

    That is one workaround, yes. But as far as I'm concerned it's absolutely ridiculous that almost every world class console has at least the option of inserting pre or post master fader, as well as most other DAWs, yet PT does not offer that option.

    I'd prefer to at least be given the option to not have to create such a workaround as described. It may not be the end of the world, but it would quite easy for Digi to implement and offer the same flexibility that just about every other console and DAW already does...

  17. Comment
    Matt Connolly

    Zboy, still haven't read the docs and attachments to understand headroom have you?

  18. Comment
    zboy2854 ( Idea Submitter )

    What are you babbling about? This has nothing to do with headroom. Please explain why a DAW such as Nuendo is perfectly capable of having both pre and post master fader inserts, yet you wish to cling to the notion that somehow Pro Tools is inherently incapable of doing the same thing.


  19. Comment
    zboy2854 ( Idea Submitter )

    And again, since you seem to have forgotten this rebuttal of your claim where I already debunked the whole "headroom" issue, here it is again:

    "...your so-called solution does NOT retain the HEADROOM you claim it does, because it involves sending the entire mix bus signal through an aux and inserts which bring the signal down to 24 bit then back to 48 bit, so right there the headroom you are touting is no different than what would happen if the signal was sent to the master fader inserts before the master fader gain."

    Again, Cubase has pre and post master fader inserts. Digital Performer has pre and post master fader inserts. Yet you want us to believe Pro Tools is incapable of doing the same?


  20. Comment

    PRE/POST Switching on the MASTER FADER for plug in Inserts, just like on a good mixing desk.

    It is counterintuitive, and rarely preferable, for inserts on the master fader to be post.

    THis is the common place to put a master stereo compressor, for one thing, and having the signal fade OUT of compression makes this unworkable.

    The NEED to always set up a pre Master Aux (sort of a master before the master) is a needless extra step.

    Comments on this comment

    1. Comment

      Sounds different! Better? worst? just try... :)

      Comments on this comment

      1. Comment

        Have a look at Harrison's Mixbus app, which implements exactly this functionality. It provides a set of insert slots below the fader in the graphic interface, and these are post fader. An alternative might be 2 switches, so that the two insert slot blocks 1-5 and 6-10 can be switched pre or post fader. Actually we could get away with just block 6-10 having the switch. So you can have 10 pre fade insert slots, or 5 pre and 5 post.

        All insert slots are currently pre-fade. If we need something post-fade we have to route the channel out to an aux channel and put the fx in an insert slot on that aux channel. It works, but takes up screen real estate as you are now using two channel strips.

      2. Comment

        i'm right there with you mr. meier. def would save time and energy to be able to have the track volume/ automation toggle between pre/post the inserted plugins.

      3. Comment
        Aaron Meier

        This would also help out when using volume automation on a track that has a compressor it stands, to have the compressor affect the track post-automation, you have to route the track out to an aux and insert the compressor there, which is a waste of time and just one more fader to manage in the mix.

    2. Comment

      Why to compress or limiting a signal before attenuation set by faders? Sometime we need post fader plugins.

      Comments on this comment

      1. Comment

        Just use an Aux track.

        The plugins on master faders are post fade.

      2. Comment

        yes, I know. But this require busses and complicate the mixer.

      3. Comment

        Using an Aux track also makes soloing a nuisance. I'd like the option of post-fader plugs.

      4. Comment

        Yes, yes. Please. I´ve been on about this for a couple of years. Would be very helpful if could be done.

      5. Comment

        Just like on a good console, have a pre/post button for the inserts, or even on each insert.

  21. Comment

    The master fader is where the dither goes. You fade dither, man, you got no dither. We already have everything we need to have pre- and post-fader fx on the mix bus.

  22. Comment
    zboy2854 ( Idea Submitter )

    :sigh: I thought this was already gone over and put to bed here. Explain to me then why other full featured DAWs such as Cubase, Nuendo and DP allow the choice of pre or post fader inserts? Now explain to me why it cannot be done in PT?

    And what if you don't need dither? What if you're keeping your mix at 24 bit?

    Yes, as has already been established, it is possible to create a "workaround" for pre or post fader inserts for the entire mix. My point is that it would be nice to have the exact same option that almost every pro level mixing console and full featured DAW already has, without having to do a bunch of extra work with buses and auxes.

    But hey, if you guys are happy with a DAW that doesn't even offer the same features other major DAWs or mixing consoles do, simply because you can piece together a "workaround", by my guest. Me, I'd rather have the option, thank you very much.

  23. Comment

    I don't know why the others offer it. Their mixers are designed with a different philosophy. Post-fader inserts on a Master fader in Pro Tools is a non-sequitur. What a PT Master fader is, by definition, practically precludes the possibility of post-fader inserts. IOW, it would have to be made into a different kind of fader. And then it wouldn't be what PT calls a Master fader. It would be an Aux. And we already have an Aux. So. It's done.

  24. Comment
    zboy2854 ( Idea Submitter )

    No. It's not done. It's just a second rate workaround, which is what I do in fact have to do these days, and which requires extra unnecessary routing and busing. The reason why every other world class console and DAW has this feature is a very good one--namely ease of workflow, not to mention the fact that you don't want to be doing master fader fade outs with compression AFTER it, since it completely changes the compression character of the whole mix during the fade.

    It's the same reason I used it back in the day when I worked on large format analog consoles, we always inserted our outboard gear on the mix bus pre-fader.

    Again, this is a feature that is included in other major DAWs, so please don't tell me it cannot be implemented in Pro Tools, unless of course you wish to submit that Pro Tools' signal flow capability is somehow inferior to that of Nuendo or Digital Performer.

  25. Comment

    Always thought it'd be nice if Master Faders were calibrated and metered in bits... Show a bitmap of what is going in, and allowing you to select a 24-bit "window" to pass through...

  26. Comment
    Community Member

    I'm from the old days - Tridents, Neves, SSLs in particular, and I've just upgraded to PT11HD, and am Flabberghasted to find that I can't get a pre-fade insert on the master fader! That was one of the best things about the old SSLs - the master bus compressor bringing the whole mix together (pre-fade), and keeping it that way whilst the master fade was made, either manually or by the auto-fade utility. It was like you could do a degree of mastering compression on the mix, and were free to treat the fade however you wanted. Being unable to do this in such an otherwise competent iteration of Pro Tools is a staggering oversight, a vast creative compromise... I want to rant on and on about it, but I'm frankly speechless! Makes me want to go back to an SSL right now... ...unless anyone knows better - can it be done without setting up a bird's nest of routing and without compromising off-line bouncing?

  27. Comment
    Kevin D-B

    The idea title needs to be changed to reflect wider scope of this request. The merged idea title "Pre/Post Switching for Inserts" is MUCH more representative of what is actually been requested.

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