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Just how many mixers/vcas/lpgs/mults do i really need?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Eurorack Modules  
Author Just how many mixers/vcas/lpgs/mults do i really need?
Agawell
super long post - TL/DR at end

in another thread the op asked - how many mixers do they really need???

this got me thinking if a rule of thumb for cables exists - the ideal minimum number of cables is half the number of sockets (cables = sockets/2) then there should be some similar rules for mixer channels, vcas/lpgs and multiples

so here goes:

i'm lumping vcas and lpgs together here - there are a lot of overlaps in functionality and a lot of modules double up

mixers and vca/lpg i've counted by input channels

multiples i've only looked at the outputs

multiples, for example, tend to be roughly in the range of 1 input for every 2-5 outputs (not counting normalization)

this is really aimed at reaching the point of not having to go: I need another xyz of these simple, basic utilities a significant amount of the time

and because you can calculate how new modules will fit in, so you should never have to go... should've got an extra mult when I bought that new module

so let's say:

mixer channels >= a * audio_outs + b * cv_outs
lpg/vca >= c * outs
splitters/mults outs >= d * inputs
buffered mult outs >= voices/1Voct sequencer channels if < 2 then 0

i suspect the values are something like:

a = 1
b = 1/2
c = 1/3
d = 1/2

as always the answer is MORE!!!!

for me: an almost full mantis, a mini-brute, a drm1mk2, a moog cp251, a bsp and various fx pedals (not really counting those though or a 10 channel mixer)

I have in the rack (counted after guessing the above numbers)

33 mixer channels
11 lpg/vcas
48 multiple outputs (10 mults + 30 splitter outs (ninja stars!!!) and 8 stackcables)
3 buffered mult outs (might actually be 5 = should rtfm for links)
28 audio_outputs
46 cv_outputs
65 total_outs (ok so this doesn't include gates or triggers or mults and some of the cv and audio overlap)
88 total_inputs (again doesn't really include gate/trigger/mult inputs)

so for mixer channels:
33 mixer_channels = a * 28 audio_outs + b * 46 cv_outs

BUT with my guesstimates from above a =1 and b = 1/2
minimum mixer channels = 1 * 28 + 1/2 * 46 = 51

when i add in the cp251 and a 10 channel mixer i end up with 47 which is close

for vcas/lpgs:
11 lpg/vca >= c * 65 outs
BUT c = 1/3
minimum lpg/vca >= 1/3 * 65 outs = 22 - ouch way off

for mults:
48 mults_outs >= d * 88 inputs
BUT d = 1/2
minimum mults_outs >= 1/2 * 88 inputs = 44 - ok!!

for buffered mults:
3 mult outs >= (1v/ocvtave) voices/sequencer channels (if < 2 then 0)
BUT
minimum mult_outs >= 3/6 = 1/2 - yeah too many buffered mults

conclusion:
i have just enough mixer channels in the rack for now and probably a couple more modules, but not something for reference GET MORE mixers

vca/lpgs - you can never have too many and quite frankly it look's like I don't - unless of course d is too high, which it may be - i kind of went into this knowing i needed/wanted more of these

mults - ninja stars add so much, but cost so little!!!

buffered mult - I'm sorted for now

overall it told me what i thought it would - I'm kind of ok for mixing and multing (until more modules arrive, inevitably), but could do with more vcas/lpgs - or does it? maybe it just shows me that my guesstimates for the mixing and mutling were better than for vcas, or that i've deliberately overlooked vcas and lpgs to some extent (because of the voice modules i have, i hadn't really gelled with them until recently) or that i now want more of these than i actually have...

what go yous think???


TLD/DR
some maths for calculating ideal mixer/mult/vca ratios in racks:

mixer channels >= a * audio_outs + b * cv_outs
lpg/vca >= c * outs
splitters/mults outs >= d * inputs
buffered mult outs >= voices/1Voct sequencer channels if < 2 then 0

I guessed:
a = 1
b = 1/2
c = 1/3
d = 1/2

conclusion: need more vcas /lpgs (maybe, i think d should probably be lower though maybe 1/3 or 1/4)
subdo
So here's a different way of thinking about it. When your system reaches a certain size (which will be different for everyone) you may no longer need or want to use every module in your rack in a singe patch. So to me the question becomes, how many voices do I actually use in my music? Maybe you are writing modular symphonies and you're recreating Mahler’s 8th so 120. For me it tops off around four - bass, pad/chord, melody, counter melody. Often it's two or three. I'm not a great composer. But I like a lot of drum voices and I like effects.

So the question becomes - what do I need for each voice?

For a full featured subtractive voice it would be 2 VCOs, 2 EGs, 2 VCAs, 1 VCF, 1 LFO. So what do I need to connect those? I need a buffered mult to send the v/o to the two VCOs and VCF (if i want key tracking on my VCF). I need a CV mixer to mix the LFO, v/o, EG before sending to my filter. I need another mixer to mix the outputs of the 2 VCOs. However I'm using a Manhattan audio SVVCF which conveniently includes a CV and audio mixer so scratch all that. I also like a logic module around for the VCA inputs so I can do things like ducking, vibrato with AND logic.

For a west coast type voice it's very similar but change out the filter for a waveshaper/folder. Mine (ultrafold) does not have attenuation on the CV inputs so I need about two channels there or just use Maths for my EGs which has them built in. I might use an LPG rather than a standard VCA which doesn't change much in terms of required utilites.

Drum voices for me tend to be much simpler and some have a built in volume control so I just need a mixer channel per voice. It might not even need to have a volume control.

Effects tend to vary widely in what kind of utilities they need but most are stereo so at the very least some way to mix stereo outputs and sum them to a stereo mix bus. Some may require clock utilities (clocked delay) some require lots of modulation (clouds) and some may just be set and forget (reverb).

So my TLDR is:

Think about what you're trying to accomplish not how many holes are in your rack. Look at the modules you're using and make sure you're taking advantage of all the built in features. Utilities are the glue that holds patches together but you don't need to over do it. For example if you're not using every VCO in your rack on every patch you don't need to figure out how to mix them all together.
cptnal
Forgive me, but are your calculations based on using everything at once? hmmm.....

Strikes me there's a lot of wiggle room too (har! see what I did there?) in that some folks prefer some of their mixing to happen outside the rack, including myself with my trusty Mackie, which is almost a part of the rack with all its routing potential.

All that's not intended to dis your work. It's an interesting question and a worthy exercise. thumbs up

Edit: My TL;DR - You know you haven't enough mixers when you reach for one and the ones you have are all full.
starthief


In general, I'm not really on board with trying to come up with a universal estimate for how many (insert thingy here) somebody needs.

(On the other hand: it's easy to underestimate those when you're new. On the other, other hand: hopefully with some experience, it should be obvious when you find yourself unable to patch something because you don't have enough mixers, VCAs, etc.)

People patch things very differently, and different module combinations have different support needs.

There are many different uses for mixers, and reasons to have different types of mixers rather than considering a total number of channels.

VCAs and especially LPGs have different audio characters and you may want more than "enough" to increase sonic flexibility.

I don't use buffered mults (I don't get much pitch drop from multing any of my pitch CV sources, except the Microbrute pitch out which I barely use). I use Stackables for my multing needs, and a modified Bastl passive mult as a breakout for my audio interface.
TemplarK
How many do you need = How many you use.
pugix
I discover what I need empirically. When I'm working on a patch, I might discover I don't have enough VCAs, attenuators, or mixers. Since there are many different kinds of these, I ask myself what kind I would need and how many. It's due to the way I work, which is to build complex control structures with small modules, especially LFOs, sample & holds, VCAs. I use a lot of dual/quad modules and duplicates of single modules, so that I can multiply similar structures.

I don't use multiples for the simple reason that I typically will have a dozen or more separate multiple connections. I have to rely on stack cables.

An example of running out would be when I need more external attenuators for those CV input that don't have them on the module. You might want to take into account the number of those in your system. I just added a Stages, which has six non-attenuated CV inputs. I stuck a 2hp Trim next to it. That might be enough. I'll have to find out.
Shledge
My rule of thumb is that at least 4-6 VCAs per 6hp. A few for audio, a few for CV. I generally like them to amplify above unity, especially for either compensating for voltage loss (if using pitch CV), or to make more quiet modules louder. Veils is brilliant for this as it not only gives roughly 2x amplification on linear, it also gives +20db boost when in exponential - perfect for boosting line signals.

Outside that, there isn't really any way to make a universal guide outside "you can't have too many VCAs". It really depends on people's needs.
Tonefloat01
Dang... I only have 8 VCA’s... help
Joe.
One for each Filter (volume control)

One for each oscillator/voice (for modulation index or modulating modulation)

One for each effect (effect send control)

A couple for the CV toolbox (modulating global modulation, making an AND gate, making a crossfader etc etc).






,
Agawell
hihi
yeah well to some extent i was thinking from the point of view of the op of the referenced thread where more often than not you are using most if not all of the rack in a patch

and i admit it is very simplistic, but that's the idea:
the dumb answer at the top which may work for most people searching for how many vcas do i really need - followed by the brilliant replies - the real answer is as many as you need, but if you have to ask the question...
cptnal
TemplarK wrote:
How many do you need = How many you use.


Correction: How many do you need = How many you use + 1
pieter
Shledge wrote:
My rule of thumb is that at least 4-6 VCAs per 6hp.


Hmm... typo?

Shledge
pieter wrote:
Shledge wrote:
My rule of thumb is that at least 4-6 VCAs per 6hp.


Hmm... typo?



Sorry, 6U!
pieter
Is that 6U 84hp?
Shledge
I'd reckon up to 104hp.

Generally find that works best - I have about 3 cases, with 6 VCAs each in both 6U cases, and 10 in my 9U. I could count more than that if I use modules that have built in VCAs, eg. modules like Warps, Ripples etc.
pieter
I have about 12 VCAs in 12U 104hp. I have four voices, and most of the time I'm not running out of VCAs. However, I do need more envelope generators, so I may also need more VCAs in the future.
Drakhe
There really is no system or rule. It simply depends of what or how you're patching. Maybe you'll be happy patching for months on end, maybe even thingking "this mixer or that vca get's never used" and then, after 7 months of patching happiness, you start a new patch and ... run out of VCA's or mixer's half way through the patch ..
MarcelP
Only thing I run out of is time (now I have the patch lead to jack socket ratio sorted).
coolshirtdotjpg
Just a thought, with so many modules that offer built in VCAs, I find that I need far fewer in my system than others have suggested (or this forum's general obsession with them would imply). I think part of it is that I have a lot of dedicated modules that do the things people use VCAs for (such as a dedicated ring-mod, filter/wavefolder volume control, etc.) if more of my modules didn't offer wet/dry control and things like that, I'd have a lot more. I have a 36U system (although less HP, since my cases are around 90 HP average) and I really only have Linux and coldmac as dedicated VCAs. But then you could the VCA in my Serge Wave Multipliers, the one in my Verbos A&T, the internal VCA in Braids, the ring mod mode on my disting, my transformer-based ring-mod, my sequential switch matrix for routing, my Artificial Neural Net for logic, etc. it makes a bit more sense. It is also pretty uncommon for me to use my entire rack at once, as I have built each as dedicated synths for specific purposes.
starthief
coolshirtdotjpg wrote:
Just a thought, with so many modules that offer built in VCAs, I find that I need far fewer in my system than others have suggested (or this forum's general obsession with them would imply).


That's valid.

In 460 HP, I've only got 4 dedicated VCAs. But also 4 dedicated LPGs, two passive floating LPGs, and VCAs and LPGs built into so many things where I would use them. (For instance: Crossfold, Mini Slew, Field Kit FX's 4-input VCA mixer; Double Helix's LPG). Plaits and Rings and Manis all manage their own levels. Double Helix and Hertz Donut have modulation VCAs.

I run out of audio interface inputs before I run out of VCAs; I've got another dual VCA I'm putting aside because I just don't need it.

And I've got plans for Planar 2 (which has two VCAs) and Maze (while its 16 internal VCAs are not directly controllable in the traditional sense, still has some of that going on).
coolshirtdotjpg
starthief wrote:
coolshirtdotjpg wrote:
Just a thought, with so many modules that offer built in VCAs, I find that I need far fewer in my system than others have suggested (or this forum's general obsession with them would imply).


That's valid.

In 460 HP, I've only got 4 dedicated VCAs. But also 4 dedicated LPGs, two passive floating LPGs, and VCAs and LPGs built into so many things where I would use them. (For instance: Crossfold, Mini Slew, Field Kit FX's 4-input VCA mixer; Double Helix's LPG). Plaits and Rings and Manis all manage their own levels. Double Helix and Hertz Donut have modulation VCAs.

I run out of audio interface inputs before I run out of VCAs; I've got another dual VCA I'm putting aside because I just don't need it.

And I've got plans for Planar 2 (which has two VCAs) and Maze (while its 16 internal VCAs are not directly controllable in the traditional sense, still has some of that going on).


Sounds like you and I are on the same page. I have 8 outputs now: RIP, Please Exist, and Isolator.

On an unrelated note I've been working on a modular that's a matrix mixer with state recall, similar to the maze, but uses a more hands on interface like the VCA matrix. The intention was to have something like 4x frames in a small package. Anyway, once that happens I think I'll be set for VCAs for a while. Guinness ftw!
dooj88
fuck it, go naked dude... no vcas.

chysn
I understand the desire to quantify things. But it seems like you're just feeling around for the coefficients without justifying them, which sort of the throws the methodology into question. Feeling around for ratios is what the rest of us pretty much do anyway. We learn it through patching, and there's no need to count everything up.
captjrab
The answer will come by getting busy making music. Music will tell you. Music knows.
Illwiggle
Yup, with all this modular planning/fantasizing/calculating business its waaaaaay to easy to get ahead of oneself. Ive made the same mistake, thinking Id be using all audio sources at once for my grand orchestral masterpiece!

However, upon practical implementation of said musics, reality painted a different picture. You wont reall know what you need until the rubber meets the road.

Get busy wigglin
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