How To Setup Audio Effects

Send and returns are additive functions of mixing sound and setting up effect units can be confusing. However, after reviewing this article you to can master the advances of adding sweet effects to your entire church sound.

Using audio sends and returns, on a soundboard, is very helpful in adding features such as; compression, reverb, delay, gates and many other effects. There are various ways of connecting each send and return to your soundboard and knowing the right way to do so, on your mixer, is important to the quality of your church’s audio and the worship experience.

How To Setup Effects Through Sends

One of the easiest ways of hooking up channel effects is through the use of auxiliaries. Here you can decide how much of that single instrument or vocal will be sent to the effect unit. In church worship, the most common effects used are typically reverb and delay units. Some higher end soundboards have actual send and return knobs on each of the channels. If this is the case, then set up is just a matter of plugging in the effect units in the plugs provided on the board. However, most churches use auxiliaries to send the signal to the effect units. It is usually preferred to use the bottom, last auxiliaries and keep the top few aux’s open for monitor channels. Now by using the auxiliary’s master output, you can ‘send’ those channel signals through to the input of the effect unit, most likely by using a quarter inch cable (patch cable). This is the ‘send’ portion of the process. Now that you have your send worked out, you can now work on returning that effected signal back to the soundboard so it can be mixed.

How To Setup The Return

Sending returns back to the board is relatively easy. Now, by using the output on the effect unit, plug (using a quarter inch patch cord) the ‘return’ signal into a desired, unused channel. A common preference in returning signals to the soundboard is to put it on the far right hand side of the mixer. Now that the return is being returned to a channel, you can bring up the channel gain and level to a desired spot. As well, the freedom to equalize that effect is now available. Make sure that you don’t loop your auxiliary. For example, if your are using your 4th auxiliary for a reverb unit, make sure that when you plug your auxiliary into your board as a mixer that you turn auxiliary 4 down all the way. If not you will be looping your effects; creating a horrible sound that is no longer an effect.


Setting up effect units for church sound, will not only improve the praise experience, but will also provide the sound engineers, a higher understanding of sound in general. Make sure when hooking up your effects that you check to see if the chain is complete. That the wanted instrument signals are being sent to the effect unit (using auxiliaries) and that the effect unit is returning a signal to another, empty channel on the soundboard. With those steps in mind, mastering the send and return process will only be a mater of time!

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