Prototyping Nearness, a minimal panning mixer module


thanks for the arrows, I apparently have low visual comprehension this morning and somehow thought there was a pot for every jack. I like the idea of using the individual attenuators to affect the mix.

really looking forward to this!


Looks great! and 20 characters :grinning:


I’m Loving It.

As I wrote way back in the innocent days of 2017…

…I’m now wondering whether dual-function pots exist that could function as on-off buttons as well as twisty attenuators? Push to turn on and off, rotate for levels, with a built-in LED? Like this?


It would get rather large at that point. It’s possible sure, but not at 6 or 8hp. with that functionality you’re looking at more like 10-12hp + 2 rows of encoders to keep enough space for the knobs. I haven’t seen something as small as the Song Hui pots with encoder click and LED before…

In keeping with the modular idea, it’d be east to build a module with a set of 7 in/outs with passive switches to accompany nearness to get you the on/off capability.


An idea I had was to have just a single pot that would sweep through all of the gains, in a similar way that the Verbos Harmonic Oscillator width or spectral tilt works. You basically just wiggle the pot til everything sounds good. On nearness, setting the pot at zero would set all gains to zero, the pot at full sets all gains to max. In between, every permutation of gain on the outs is possible.

Just musing. I dont have anywhere near the skills needed to pull it off.

Love my 2 nearness more than anything.


That’s a crazy idea! I imagine it would be like using the Just Friends INTONE control, watching the various LFOs come in and out of phase with each other. But it would basically need 128 discrete knob positions just for all digital ON/OFF combos, ignoring the possibility of nice smoothing.


Yeah, exactly like INTONE. Its funny playing with JF and HO how little determinate control you have, but things always come out just lovely.

Edit: If you dont like the idea of 1 pot, how about 2? Control the gains like an EQ curve with centre and cut/gain. Sorry. I’ll go back to hacking norns.


I’m probably missing something but I thought the LED pot that I referenced in the link above was the same size as the one in your mockup if you leave the knobs off (which I would). If anything the module might get deeper. No matter, just spitballing here.


A couple things about that encoder, it’s 12mm instead of 9mm so it’s a bit bigger it seems, as to account for the additional 2 pins for the LED and button, I assume (the datasheet is terrible). Also encoders spin around infinitely so there’d have to be something to ‘reset’ the volume to zero which would likely include, as you said, making it much deeper (physically, to account for a microcontroller or some other circuitry). Certainly not impossible, but this is already super tight in 6hp and I’m not really interested in re-working @billyhologram’s fantastic circuit too much. Personally, I’d be more interested in making a passive 4-6hp 7 channel on/off switch to accompany it. If I was going to go for something that complex, I’d look to do something like @burn and @desolationjones are talking about, that sounds exciting!


All excellent points, thank you for taking the time to explain all of this. I am eternally envious of electronics makers - do your magic and have fun!


Yeah, the “panning” between a mix of channels ala Just Friends sounds really intriguing. If those 6 encoders were CV inputs instead, that would make it a fun companion to a Just Friends and could effectively produce similar results. JF pairs well with most anything. @bmoren Instead of making it one PCB, perhaps taking a breakout board approach that connects to Nearness could yield some fruitful and creative companions?


Let me get this straight.
So, the idea is to have the mixer as is: 5 inputs, and two outputs, with inputs pan setting corresponding roughly with the jack location. This is what we have.

Adding another column of CV inputs next to each of the jacks of the original design, which control the pan position dynamically? (when unpatched, the pan position defaults to original nearness layout)

THAT sounds interesting to me.

4hp :grin:


There’s clearly a demand for compact weirdo stereo mixers. :blush:


Yeah…I’ll be watching this thread very, very closely. I’d love a dedicated stereo mixer with panning control instead of perpetually using the L/R section of Cold Mac for those duties.


Here I’ve got what this iteration of nearness is going to be. 7 inputs with attenuators, 2 outputs. nothing more :wink:

I’ve also re-laid out the backpack with an eye toward easier soldering. Extra large hand solder pads for the SMD compoents & I’ve replaced all of the 0603 parts with 0805. I’ve also made the jumpers compatible with longer angled headers & added a clear indicator for whats going on on the front and back in case you want the jumpers to be on either side of the board. Finally, I’ve added super clear graphics on how to line up the front and back board (and kept the original idea there too!)

this should be interchangeable with the original 3hp nearness front board as well, but more testing needs to be done on all of this once I get the boards back. Hopefully it all works out! :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


Looks amazing. Got me thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if you could attenuate/control the Nearness channels with teletype over ic2 for panning craziness?


Apologies if someone’s introduced the idea above


Not sure anyone has, but I’d be much quicker to add CV over ic2 if anything (I’m not adding either thing, someone else can have a go at that :slight_smile: ) It would be cool to have some control over position, but imho it be better to have them all relational to one another to keep with the original nearness idea.

I’ll also mention that the attenuators here are not for panning position, they are for input level. Panning position remains fixed. In my opinion this is what makes nearness great and unique, the ability to build a stereo field super quick. I’m just committed to not using a mixer at all so nearness is basically my final mixing stage, so level control is really needed for me in this setup.


I agree re fixed positions in the stereo field and keeping it super simple. I guess I was thinking rather than having pots and the extra hp you could set and manipulate the attenuation with tt creating movement with varying the amplitude of different elements in the stereo field rather than moving elements within it (sorry if that was not clear, I have a tendency to rush things out in between paying attention to family or work…). Although I couldn’t do this, and I imagine it’s not as easy to implement as it is dream up, it seems to be in keeping with the simplicity if the idea and the monome theme. Just a thought


Just ordered prototype boards. If all goes well I’ll have many to share :slight_smile:

I’m traveling for 3 weeks, so when I return this will be the first thing to tackle!
ps. also testing a new board manufacturer so that’s why there’s ENIG, HASL white and black masks