Modular mixer/output modules?

Been searching and reading through the forums quiet a bit, but couldn’t really find all that much about this topic, so thought I’d start a new one.

It seems like mixers aren’t being used all that often in modular setups. I was wondering why that is?
Do people feel it’s not really necessary because you can just “end” your patch with a VCA?
Or are the majority of people simply using “outboard” mixers?

I’m asking this because I’d like the option to use the modular as a full stand-alone instrument using headphones (or plug it into my desktop setup using stereo 1/4") and was wondering why so few others seemed to have mixers/output modules in their modular setup. I expected it to be necessary for headphone/line out.

Additionally, the ability to CV control panning and effects send seems pretty tempting to me, which is something that an external mixer will probably not be able to do.
Does anyone have any experience with doing these kinds of things? If so, how are you liking it so far?

I’d been outing all my voices to my computer and mixing things in the box. But I just purchased a used set of Doepfer cv mixer modules so that I can cv control panning, have a send channel, as well as a set of envelope followers. Can’t imagine I won’t like doing things that way. And the price was right

i have two mixer (uno 2x6 and a 4 channel with pan) and need one more

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Everyone needs some sort of mixer. There are a lot of ways to handle this in modular land…

You can distribute mixing through the case using lots of small mixers or summing VCAs.

You can have mixer modules, and there are a lot of them. They have various functionality and prices. In my experience the good ones are very epensive.

You can use standard audio mixers, like Mackie or Soundcraft. They work great, are relatively cheap, and offer lots of options. There are also modern takes on this like the K-Mix.

I use a Mackie 1642 and sometimes a Mackie 1202 depending on the size that I need. I used to have a eurorack format mixer, but the cost was crazy for the number of channels compared to the Mackie, and I didn’t need the cv control.

But everyone needs to mix something, you won’t fund a setup without some sort of mixer.

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Something like a Quad VCA by Intellijel (or MI Veils, ALM Tangle Quartet, etc) can serve as mixer and 4 VCAs, and then if you decide to move mixing out of the rack, you still have the VCAs which you’ll probably want anyway.

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Used to use veils and a pittsburgh outs, now go direct to mackie 1402, no issues apart from another bulky box. A friend of mine loves his Zoom tac-8 for this too actually. Convertible in the box / out of the box mixing

I have a Bastl Ciao module as my 7U’s main output. It has 2 stereo input channels (each with its own volume knob), a 1/4" stereo output (left and right jacks), a headphone output and another 1/8" stereo out that can be configured to either listen to one of the inputs without it going into the main mix or as another main output (I often use it to record on a small Zoom H1). It’s small, flexible and really useful to use the modular as a full system.

The Makenoise Rosie is a bit similar but I preferred the features of the Ciao.

I also have other mixers in the system (and plan on getting more, actually).

A final output module is very useful if you want to use the modular standalone (just headphones, for example), but it’s less relevant if your modular is intended to stay in the same place next to a mixer, for example. You might still need something to bring the levels down to line level depending on the headroom in your mixer (Ladik has some inexpensive passive modules that just do that in a small amount of HP).

I really like having CV control over panning, which I was doing with Cold Mac for a while, but it made me feel like I was wasting its potential, so I got a Verbos Scan & Pan, and that’s become my output module. It’s a bit idiosyncratic, but I like having the pan control and a stereo output, which goes into a Kmix, and then I have an H9 as a send from the Kmix, mostly for reverb.

I am planning to get a k-mix as soon as I have the funds, that seems to be the perfect combo of all the things I need (just need to figure out a couple of things). This way I’d keep everything connected there, can use it standalone and do multi-track recording when I need it.
Intenally of course I have at least 4 mixers (or things that do mixing in some way like Blinds and the Colour Palette). I recently rediscovered Frames to animate more complex drones.

My bandmate had one, but it was totally useless since the pan would move with the level. Does yours also have that problem?

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Sort of, but I mostly set the levels outside (ie, from Mangrove or another VCA) and then I can get the pan position to where I want it regardless of the level. Takes a bit of figuring out, but I don’t mind it.

yeah, though from a module that costs what it costs, I’d expect it to work as expected…
though it seems that this can be fixed swapping some resistors. Not sure how something like this can get through quality assurance, but at least it does not seem to be a non-solvable issue. Should have done some research for my bandmate at the time, would have spared him some frustration, but he then moved on to a Dopefer mixer and is happy with that, so I guess it’s good anyway.

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Oh and since you have a k-mix @edbkt and use it with the modular: how well does the internal routing work and how easy is it to configure that on the fly (on the hardware)?
So far it seems that the AUX sends are kind of oriented towards stereo operation, which is great (I do miss having stereo auxes on my current mixer), but can they also be used as mono AUX busses if needed?

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Because I’m using it at home more often than not, I’ve mostly used the editor, but as far as I can tell, basically everything is configurable from the front panel. The other day I wanted to switch a couple of channels to a stereo pair and it ended up being super easy from the front panel. I’ve only used the AUX busses as stereo, but I’m pretty certain they’d be able to be switched to mono. Overall, I’ve found it perfect for my needs with modular. It’s great.

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thanks a lot! Yeah I’ve heard only good stuff about it! I do have a Qunexus and it’s not really my thing, and was a bit scared of the touch stuff, but it seems to be ok not to have an actual knob on it, and the benefits from using this type of interface are totally convincing to me! So yeah, I guess that is going to be my next investment.

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Thanks everyone for the very useful information. Sounds like the conclusion is you’ll always need some way to attenuate the outgoing signal, some people use external mixers for this, others use a module at the “end” of their modular.
Also many people seem to use mixers in other places in their modular to manipulate signals. That would be totally new to me, so I guess I’ll have to experiment with it once I get something useful going :slight_smile:

Since I’d like to play the modular with just headphones I think I’ll go with a small mixer and output module inside my modular at the end of the chain.
Whilst the CV panning and effects send are things that seem very interesting to me I think there will already be enough stuff to learn/get to grips with, so I’ll postpone that till a later point.
My idea for the “end”/output part of my modular would be:

2hp 4 channel mixer -> pico DSP -> pico OUT

That way I have the attenuation if/when I need it, can add some effects at the end of the chain (or should that be before the mixer?) and can plugin my headphone or output to my line inputs when I want to without is costing me too much HP.
Does that make sense? Or are those crazy choices?

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Looks like you are trying to save space, if that’s the case, I would drop the picoOUT and just plug headphones into the picoDSP. If that’s the ‘end’ of your modular anyway.

That could be really bad advice, but I do it all the time. :thinking:

Yeah, I’m trying to stay within a single 104hp row for starters and would ideally like to spend not too much space on these necessary but not really interesting modules.

This is one of the things I’d like to know as well: how “bad” is doing something like this?
Can it break stuff? Or is the sound quality significantly worse vs a headphone out (assuming it has a decent amp)?

No idea about sound quality or anything, but always find it handy (especially with headphones) to have an easy to grab volume control for when things get a bit toooo loud - sometimes unexpectedly! Only really needed when you’re going straight to headphones or monitors rather than into a mixer or something I guess.

I wouldn’t recommend plugging headphones in a modular level output without some sort of attenuation. Be careful with your ears.

You’d lose all the stereo from the PicoDSP too.

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Yes care would definitely have to be taken – my thinking was that using the 2hp mix would be the attenuation, the DSP has a wet/dry amount so that would be alright, and getting stereo out from the DSP to headphones would be a mono l/r to stereo headphone adapter. Wouldn’t that work just fine?

I remember getting intellijel in/out module, that I never use anymore (also for space reasons).
Not pushing one way or the other though! I’ve also always been curious if there was anything technically wrong with doing that.