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Modular synth vs. general studio interfacing
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion  
Author Modular synth vs. general studio interfacing
Bhola
Hi people !

I've been reading a bit on the forum about people using/not using a mixer, external effects, or even a DAW with their system, but I couldn't figure out if there is a general rule to limitations/risks at interfacing a system with non-modular gear... hmmm..... I heard a while ago that plugging a modular sound source straight to a mixer (to make it work like a VCA for example) could be damaging for the sound module, but never read anything like this here so I was wondering if that's even true ?

I have in my studio a Mackie 16ch desk mixer, patch-bays, some effects pedals, an audio interface, and a few synths & drum machines alongside my system (which is about to become something similar to the Make Noise B&G Shared system - the only planned non-MN module being an Expert Sleeper or Hermod for MIDI interfacing).

So, my first question was about knowing if audio signal from the modular necessarily have to go trough a VCA first and then to a module such as Rosie/CV bus bar or if it would be ok to plug it straight into my mixer/audio interface/effect, but now I realise that I'm really worried about the general interfacing between my system and my studio seriously, i just don't get it Let's say I want to use an effect from my modular with an external synth, would that be ok ?? Or could it be dangerous ?

If i'm trying to summarise all the scenarii I could face, I guess it could give me something like that :

Modular sound source > Mixer
Modular sound source > Audio interface
Modular sound source > Patch Bay
Modular sound source > Effect pedal
Modular sound source > Modular output (obviously ok)

Desk mixer > Modular modulation input or effect
Audio interface > Modular modulation input or effect
Patch-bay > Modular modulation input or effect
Effect pedal > Modular modulation input or effect
Modular output > Modular sound source (obviously ok too hihi )

Thanks a lot for the help ! we're not worthy
BenA718
The only interfacing you need to be concerned with is the fact that eurorack audio levels are very hot and you will need to attenuate them if you are going to plug it directly to an outboard effect. If you are using the aux’s on your desk to route to effects, and plugging your modular into the desk, you can mix all of your stuff that way.

If you’re going straight to an audio interface you will not need to have it set to Instrument level.

Hope this helps!
Bhola
So there is basically no risk of damage for the modular side at any point ?? applause
BenA718
Nope, not from standard audio signal flow at any rate!
Bhola
OMG this is going to change my life !! Thank you so much for the answer ! Mr. Green
cptnal
BenA718 wrote:
The only interfacing you need to be concerned with is the fact that eurorack audio levels are very hot and you will need to attenuate them if you are going to plug it directly to an outboard effect. If you are using the aux’s on your desk to route to effects, and plugging your modular into the desk, you can mix all of your stuff that way.

If you’re going straight to an audio interface you will not need to have it set to Instrument level.

Hope this helps!


The flip side of this is if you're bringing the signal back into the modular you'll probably need to boost it. If we're talking Eurorack the ALM SBG does it for me - attenuates on the way out and boosts on the way back in. w00t
ersatzplanet
Bhola wrote:
So there is basically no risk of damage for the modular side at any point ?? applause


The only risk presented by the mixer is if it has Phantom Power for the inputs. These are typically the Microphone ins so probably would not be involved (the modular signal is WAY too hot for mic inputs). Phantom Power is also typically switchable. If on it puts up to 48V on the mic line to power the microphones.
Pelsea
I have always used passive attenuators on the output of modular synthesizers. The circuit is dead simple, consisting of two resistors:



This can be on a panel (in which case the circles represent jacks), in the patch bay wiring, or in a 1/4" patch cable. This knocks a 20 volt p-p signal (typical of a couple of mixed euro VCOs) down to a bit over 2 volts, which just about any pro or consumer audio input should be able to handle. If the output of the module you connect to this has a 1k resistor in series with the output (most do), the reduction comes out almost exactly 10:1 (20 dB).

To get a standard line signal up to modular levels, you need a preamp with at least 20 dB of gain, 30 dB is better. You often find modules with a couple of preamplifiers and attenuators like the Ladik A-525
Bhola
Pelsea wrote:
I have always used passive attenuators on the output of modular synthesizers. The circuit is dead simple, consisting of two resistors:



This can be on a panel (in which case the circles represent jacks), in the patch bay wiring, or in a 1/4" patch cable. This knocks a 20 volt p-p signal (typical of a couple of mixed euro VCOs) down to a bit over 2 volts, which just about any pro or consumer audio input should be able to handle. If the output of the module you connect to this has a 1k resistor in series with the output (most do), the reduction comes out almost exactly 10:1 (20 dB).

To get a standard line signal up to modular levels, you need a preamp with at least 20 dB of gain, 30 dB is better. You often find modules with a couple of preamplifiers and attenuators like the Ladik A-525


I'm really not into DIY stuffs or even building modules ahah, I tend to keep myself as far as possible from a soldering iron actually ! The risk is quite at the opposite from what I thought in the beginning so it's a good news ! I'll have to be careful not to fry my CR-1604 then I guess Dead Banana

Thanks for the tips everyone !
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