VCA vs Mixer vs Output

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tomorrowstops
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VCA vs Mixer vs Output

Post by tomorrowstops » Sat May 23, 2020 5:22 am

Are there modules that combine all of these functions? I've been reading a lot of VCA threads and every now and then someone mentions x module could be used as final output. But I don't think I've come across that spelled out in manufacturer specs - yet.

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Kattefjaes
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Re: VCA vs Mixer vs Output

Post by Kattefjaes » Sat May 23, 2020 5:32 am

Some multi-VCAs cascade as a mixer- for example Veils. You can use the knobs to control the mixing and dial the levels down too as needed.

That said, sometimes it's easier just to use a small external mixer- a lot of them can cope with raw Euro levels without distorting, if you just turn the channel gain down- at which point, some 3.5mm to 1/4 inch cables will do the job.

(I'm a sucker for output modules, as I love being able to carry a small case and headphones to a comfy corner and relax. Befaco out v3 is nice.)
Last edited by Kattefjaes on Sat May 23, 2020 5:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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sir stony
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Re: VCA vs Mixer vs Output

Post by sir stony » Sat May 23, 2020 5:39 am

What makes most sense as the last module is a very individual question. How many signals do you generate in your modular at the same time? Do you need them mixed down, or do you record and/or mix them externally? Can the device you go into handle the signal level, or will it clip? In a performance task, do you need voltage control over the output levels, or will you for example use a digital mixerdesk with its own automation? Do you need a headphone output in your rack, for stand alone use, or for prefade listening? Again, a valid outboard mixer can manage the latter, too.
Check all those criteria and then go looking.
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mosorensen
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Re: VCA vs Mixer vs Output

Post by mosorensen » Sat May 23, 2020 5:48 am

Happy Nerding’s PanMix does all three things.

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metamorphmuses
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Re: VCA vs Mixer vs Output

Post by metamorphmuses » Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:58 pm

I did a search on ModularGrid of Function = VCA, Secondary Function = mixer and Search = headphone

"Headphone" because I always want headphone outs as well as stereo outputs on my external output module.

It looks like the ADDAC802 Quintet and Xaoc Devices Praga+Hrad modules may be great choices, as well as the Happy Nerding PanMix mentioned above.

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hirnlego
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Re: VCA vs Mixer vs Output

Post by hirnlego » Wed Jun 03, 2020 1:53 am

metamorphmuses wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:58 pm
I did a search on ModularGrid of Function = VCA, Secondary Function = mixer and Search = headphone

"Headphone" because I always want headphone outs as well as stereo outputs on my external output module.

It looks like the ADDAC802 Quintet and Xaoc Devices Praga+Hrad modules may be great choices, as well as the Happy Nerding PanMix mentioned above.
I second the ADDAC... I don't have it but it's in my radar as final mixer/vca for my 7u. The solo feature could be even used as sort of send (and there's an external in for return). Also, the final mix has another vca.
In my chain its outputs would go to a Nearness for spatial positioning and then to a Befaco STMIX with the other stereo modules, then to an 1u headphones out.

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Re: VCA vs Mixer vs Output

Post by starthief » Wed Jun 03, 2020 8:03 am

I would caution against thinking of VCAs as regularly being the last module in the chain.

That overlooks other patch configurations: putting a filter or a wavefolder after the VCA, pinging filters, doing Karplus-Strong, using delay or reverb, etc. Not to mention using VCAs for CV etc.

VCAs with mix capability can be handy but I wouldn't rely on them as my only mixers.

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hirnlego
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Re: VCA vs Mixer vs Output

Post by hirnlego » Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:45 am

starthief wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 8:03 am
I would caution against thinking of VCAs as regularly being the last module in the chain.

That overlooks other patch configurations: putting a filter or a wavefolder after the VCA, pinging filters, doing Karplus-Strong, using delay or reverb, etc. Not to mention using VCAs for CV etc.

VCAs with mix capability can be handy but I wouldn't rely on them as my only mixers.
Agreed, and of course we should have dedicated VCAs in the rack, but I think in the context of final mixing VCAs are quite useful instead of other kind of final mixers. Not a lot of mixers have CV control on the level and oftentimes they are too opinionated for my taste...

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Re: VCA vs Mixer vs Output

Post by Elahrairah » Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:53 am

I got the MakeNoise Rosie very early, before doing much proper research. The 1/4" line level stereo out is convenient, but the inputs are mono, so you have to use the FX send-return to make that happen. The headphone out is not exactly the line out, as it's intended for cueing up the next musical section. So it doesn't exactly serve my workflow, but it's not going anywhere as it definitely is good enough.
I just like to have the two-channel mix input with crossfader and a final level control that is always in the same place, whereas my VCAs are spread around and serve varied purposes, a dedicated output is mentally cleaner. Rosie is not a VCA, just manual level control. Then I use an outboard mixer to level set the monitors / headphones / recording wherever they need to be; that's set-and-forget and not part of my performance.

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Re: VCA vs Mixer vs Output

Post by apcuddling » Wed Jun 03, 2020 11:33 am

starthief wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 8:03 am
I would caution against thinking of VCAs as regularly being the last module in the chain.

That overlooks other patch configurations: putting a filter or a wavefolder after the VCA, pinging filters, doing Karplus-Strong, using delay or reverb, etc. Not to mention using VCAs for CV etc.

VCAs with mix capability can be handy but I wouldn't rely on them as my only mixers.
Well said. I feel like multi channel VCAs are largely overlooked as being excellent tools for CV and event control. I often use a dual VCA to switch between two sequences going to the same oscillator.

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Re: VCA vs Mixer vs Output

Post by JoshMH » Wed Jun 03, 2020 12:29 pm

A potential benefit of a dedicated output module that you won't find on standard VCAs or mixers is having balanced instead of unbalanced outputs. If you are running long cables to an audio interface or monitors, balanced outputs will help reduce noise. If your cables are short, the difference is more negligible.

Outboard mixers are pretty cheap -- I use an old Mackie 1202VLZ that I got on Reverb for $100 -- and they typically offer much more flexibility (sends/returns, more inputs/outputs, etc.) than a simple VCA or mixer module which is better suited for intra-patch plumbing. In my experience, I haven't had any issues with clipping with the input gains turned down, and since the mixer is right next to the modular, the cables are short so the noise is negligible. According to the user manual (https://www.rentex.com/wp-content/uploa ... -Sheet.pdf) that mixer can accept input levels up to +22 dBu, which is over 27.5 Vpp -- greater than the maximum output from a modular. I take outputs directly from wherever they are in my system (filter, VCA, directly from a VCO, whatever you want) and send them directly into the mixer and haven't had any problems. The input impedance on the line inputs is "greater than 10 kohms" according to the manual, which meets the rule of thumb of being at least 10x larger than the output impedance of whatever you are sending into the mixer (nominally, 1 kohm or less for modules).

A dedicated "final output" module is only necessary if you want the additional features it provides, like balanced outputs, a dedicated output level knob, 1/8" to 1/4" jack conversion, etc. You can use any module as a "final output" if you send it into the right input -- which most cheap outboard mixers or audio interfaces provide -- and you almost never have to worry about damage or noise.

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Tun
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Re: VCA vs Mixer vs Output

Post by Tun » Thu Jun 04, 2020 8:43 am

6 voice system here with multiple FX routing options. Intellijel Quad VCA. 2 Joranalogue Mix 3 and Joranalogue balanced outputs. The Joranalogue mixers can be cascaded and have CV control over levels of 3 of the 4 inputs. Good quality and not expensive. Highly recommended.

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