How does a matrix mixer work?

ah, this might be obvious, but how does one use a matrix mixer exactly? and are there different approaches? slightly confused on what the point is. any suggestions greatly appreciated!

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It lets you send any input to any combination of outputs. I use a kind of matrix mixer to route audio to different speakers for multichannel performances but many people use them to create feedback loops. It is a pretty open ended tool.


yeah, similar here, i have a 4ms VCA matrix and use it to send audio through different effects, and sometimes use an input or two to mult the effects output for feedback loops. this can be great fun when used with several delays as you can get some really interesting delay patterns easily this way, and it’s easy to fine tune them.

i’ve been meaning to post about the VCA matrix - re-reading the manual recently i found this:

CV Expansion
This header allows for connection to an external device that sends CV information to control the 16 VCAs. The VCA Matrix has a factory-installed ribbon cable connected to the header. Keep the ribbon cable in place unless you are following instructions from an external device designed to control the VCA Matrix.

The switch pin on each Control jack is connected to a pin on this header. The ribbon cable normalizes the control jacks to 4.5V. Replacing this constant 4.5V with a variable CV generated by an external module is the basis of remote-controlled patch storage and recall. External control can always be overridden by patching something into the Control jack, or by muting the channel. The external CV can also be attenuated with the Level pot. So even if there is an external brain module controlling the VCA Matrix, you still have full control.

imagine if there was a module similar to one of the trilogy modules but specifically made to support the VCA matrix CV expansion. i don’t know much about the hardware side, so i guess it would get pretty expensive as you’d need 16 DACs, but think of the possibilities - you could have grid controlling the matrix directly. one idea i have is a simple firmware where touching anywhere on the grid creates a ‘swarm’ that slowly fades out as it spreads outward, so then by touching the grid you create these injections of sound that slowly fade away.

can obviously just use patch cables but you’d still need something that has 16 CV outputs and supports grids, so either a teletype with 3 telex outputs, or nw2s::b (i should try it with the latter sometime).


I tend to use matrix mixers for producing complex CV variations, usually involving feedback loops of differing complexity.

As mentioned they’re good fun for classic David Tudor style feedback patches. I found this which talks a bit about some of the feedback systems he utilised:
An audio example:

This, by Jurgen Michaelis, is an interesting discussion of neural synthesis. Again, a matrix mixer would be useful!

Matrix mixers can be fun for audio too. You can use them for FM patches with 3 or 4 cross modulating oscillators at play. Sometimes I’ll add CV into one (or more) channels of such an audio patch to combine both the timbral and pitch elements into one big feedback loop. Some ancillary modules, VCAs etc, can be useful for this to keep the gain under control.