Mixers, and aux return pathing question

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re-Verse
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Mixers, and aux return pathing question

Post by re-Verse » Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:49 am

I've been building out a rack slowly for about a year, and am quickly realizing that I know a lot less about signal paths than I thought I do.

I've got a system that I pump a lot of voices though - externally I've got a 303/tr909 and sh101 that all get mixed through and external mixer and end up passing though my rack - to get rid of the external mixer I've been thinking about the WMD Performance Mixer as a way to remove the 2 4 channel mixers in my rack now and remove the junky external mixer as well.

One thing i'm super confused about is the aux return. I see that you can mix in effects from another module, and use the mixer to control the level of the effect mixed in. I have no idea how this works. In my mind I imagine you'd need a signal out from the sound source to the mixer, but split with another channel running from the audio source to the effect to the mixer, and then the mixer simply balances between these - that said, from anything I can find on it, this does appear to be how it works.

Is there some kind of easy way to understand how all of this works in the real world? I'm a little bit baffled right now.

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Re: Mixers, and aux return pathing question

Post by kpreid » Fri Oct 11, 2019 11:03 am

re-Verse wrote:One thing i'm super confused about is the aux return. I see that you can mix in effects from another module, and use the mixer to control the level of the effect mixed in. I have no idea how this works. In my mind I imagine you'd need a signal out from the sound source to the mixer, but split with another channel running from the audio source to the effect to the mixer, and then the mixer simply balances between these - that said, from anything I can find on it, this does appear to be how it works.
(EDIT: My terminology was a bit mixed up and unclear. Rewritten.)

Aux return goes with aux sends (knobs labeled "aux" on the WMD mixer), which attenuate the audio before sending it to a secondary mixing bus (or two) in the mixer. You patch the output of this ("aux out" on the WMD mixer) to your effect, and then from your effect to the "aux return" input which is mixed into the main bus output.

Aux send is how you get "a signal out from the sound source to the mixer" as you put it. Note in particular that the mixer doesn't "balance" the signal from the effect with the regular output. Instead, the signal path from the effect to the mixer is fixed, and you control how much sound from each channel goes to the effect.

The WMD mixer also has send/return for effects that apply to the entire mix, not just the aux (no "amount of effect" controls here). Those are in the top right. The aux send/return is in the top left.

(I haven't used the WMD Performance Mixer — this is just general how-mixers-work plus looking at their panel/manual.)
Last edited by kpreid on Fri Oct 11, 2019 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mixers, and aux return pathing question

Post by re-Verse » Fri Oct 11, 2019 11:52 am

kpreid wrote:You patch that output to the effect's input, the effect's output to the aux return, and the mixer mixes aux return into the final output.
That's what I was missing, that makes a lot more sense, thank you.

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Post by Pelsea » Fri Oct 11, 2019 1:10 pm

Aux return is just another input to the mixer. The only thing special about it is it is not connected to the aux sends.
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Post by kpreid » Fri Oct 11, 2019 3:18 pm

I just realized that my previous message was badly written and have edited it to be more correct. The thing I particularly missed in my previous explanation:

The mixer controls don't set how much of the audio from the effect goes into the mix (like a dry-wet control), but instead sets how much of each channel goes to the effect. This is more flexible because you can set per-channel whether the effect is applied and how much, but it's important to keep in mind if you have a level-sensitive effect (distortion and such).

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