Inserts are prefader, so you'd probably see them high up on your patch bay should you ever see one.
You don't control wet/dry with inserts on the board, so that tells you that you'd probably want to keep inserts for dynamic processing. Not a rule, but kind of a no brainer.
Sends are almost like an output, but not quite. Think of it "Sending" the signal somewhere else.
On a patchbay, assuming it's wired up correctly, you'd start all the way from your mic panel to your aux FX. So if you're just running signal straight from your mic panel to your multitrack, then I think we can agree there's nothing in the middle of that signal flow.
Now, during the mixing process, you're going to want to reroute that signal flow to make use of outboard gear. That's where inserts, sends, returns come into play.
So you could do something like: Snare track on channel 4
Patch from your channel 4 sends into your outboard compressor, and then from the compressor out back into your channel returns.
So all you ever did was reroute the signal, but not break it.
Input from Orlando
Tracking and Mixing
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