stereo mixer module comparison

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mdoudoroff
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Post by mdoudoroff » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:54 am

Recently added some interesting modules to the comparison, including two that take stereo mixing in a completely different direction:

Takaab Nearness
Worng Sound Stage

These dispense with all the complexity associated with mixing consoles, and instead provide an intuitive way of constructing a stereo field by simply choosing from hard-wired input jacks. These are maybe not the solution for everyone, but they could also be great for stereo submixes.

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Post by windchill » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:40 am

I'm not sure if I want one (though I might at the price) but there's something rather beautiful about the simplicity of that Takaab Nearness.

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Post by mdoudoroff » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:46 am

windchill wrote:I'm not sure if I want one (though I might at the price) but there's something rather beautiful about the simplicity of that Takaab Nearness.
Exactly. And Sound Stage looks like a nice elaboration on that—we’ll see when the demos surface.

Both are far too limited for my large-ish system, but I can see using a module like Nearness to create a stereo submit of a few percussion modules before adding that to my main mix.

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Post by Illwiggle » Sat Nov 17, 2018 3:30 am

Both are very clever designs. Whilst a big part of me longs for something like the Roland 531 so as to consolidate & empower my current mixing setup along more traditional lines, Im finding myself drawn to these more eccentric pieces.....currently eyeing a RxMx....

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Post by beem » Tue Nov 20, 2018 8:22 am

I don't see anything here about cv response - have all/most of these exponential response on volume? I know my Cwejman VCA-4MX (which is mono) has a semi-logarithmic response - which i like.

Do you guys use mixers like these as VCAs for audio too, or like only as a final stage with volume changes in broader strokes?

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Post by mdoudoroff » Tue Nov 20, 2018 8:31 am

beem wrote:I don't see anything here about cv response - have all/most of these exponential response on volume? I know my Cwejman VCA-4MX (which is mono) has a semi-logarithmic response - which i like.
I’d love to include that information, but it’s often not readily available and I don’t have the time to contact each manufacturer. Also note that a large number of these have no VCAs in the first place.
beem wrote:Do you guys use mixers like these as VCAs for audio too, or like only as a final stage with volume changes in broader strokes?
I have only rarely used the VCAs of my PM channels for note on/off duties, if that’s what you’re asking. It does work, but for me they’re really for voltage controlled mixing, which I also admit to not doing all that often.

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Post by beem » Tue Nov 20, 2018 8:58 am

mdoudoroff wrote: I’d love to include that information, but it’s often not readily available and I don’t have the time to contact each manufacturer. Also note that a large number of these have no VCAs in the first place.
Yeah, I found some info in some manuals etc. Some of them have diagrams over the response - and it can vary between aux sends and volume. Pan seems to often be linear, which makes sense.
mdoudoroff wrote: I have only rarely used the VCAs of my PM channels for note on/off duties, if that’s what you’re asking. It does work, but for me they’re really for voltage controlled mixing, which I also admit to not doing all that often.
Exactly. I don't think i'd do so much of that either, which is why it would be nice to let channel volume vcas double as note on/off if needed. Don't know if the response is as quick as in regular vcas - but maybe one should presume it is. Some manufacturers talk about audio rate panning, but not specifically of the volume control.

Gotta narrow it down to a couple and watch some videos or try them out live i guess.

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Post by damase » Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:07 am

Just thinking outloud
But i kinda wish i could have only the 2nd half of the PM
With the direction toward pre-fade recording I find myself leaning the workflow away from all the CV in most cases, and i often bypass the FX send altogether so that i can patch true stereo fx.

Im saying
do away with all the panning and mono channels altogether, maybe do away with vc volume too if the db25 is only prefade anyway
Give a much smaller panel 6-8 good stereo channels, stereo vc aux send, high quality audio path to stereo and db25
let all the voltage control happen upstream.
Thats what i want from a mk2

the mk1 is just so large and underused to me because the design seems in limbo between performance oriented all-in-one vs high quality studio backend.

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Post by mdoudoroff » Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:20 am

damase, I think there’s no question that the PM is first and foremost performance-oriented. I don’t think the PM is in limbo, but that we are. :spin:

I suppose the “next level” would be some sort of mixer that can simultaneously send separate pre-fader channels along with fader/vca and pan modulation (CC) tracks so that a DAW would receive the complete “performance” in a non-destructive form. In other words, just mix everything in the DAW in the first place? Workflow workflow workflow :bang:

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Post by Tumulishroomaroom » Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:29 am

damase wrote: With the direction toward pre-fade recording I find myself leaning the workflow away from all the CV in most cases, and i often bypass the FX send altogether so that i can patch true stereo fx.
The PM is definitely performance based, and incredible at that task; but it's true that a good chunk of it is rendered useless when you want to record with the db25 since everything enter the computer pre fader/pre fx send (? not sure about this one?) so that you have to recreate the whole performance into your DAW of choice. That's why I ended up not going for the DB25 for now. But I still don't have a good solution to multitrack. It's possible to have a great sounding stereo mix, but you won't be able to do much processing on this afterwards.
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Post by mdoudoroff » Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:43 am

Tumulishroomaroom wrote:true that a good chunk of it is rendered useless when you want to record with the db25 since everything enter the computer pre fader/pre fx send (? not sure about this one?) so that you have to recreate the whole performance into your DAW of choice
You shouldn’t have to recreate the whole performance. But you do still have to mix it. I think the argument some make for post-fader multitrack recording is nonsense: you’re just entangling things that will tie your hands later, subverting the whole point of multitrack recording in the first place.

I would think if you were doing studio-style multitrack recording from the PM, you would probably avoid the effects sends. If your goal is to capture a voice that incorporates modular effects, you just patch it directly in the first place. If you want to incorporate some modular effects in the mix, you round-trip it during the mixing stage.

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Post by damase » Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:48 am

mdoudoroff
Youre probably right, but they did provide the db25 which is a studio feature typically, which seems to be a reason a lot of people buy it. Its gotten many comments that post-fade recording would generate a lot more sales.

I agree with your next level mixer want list there, and i would be very interested if a mixer capable of it. Considering everything i desire in an all-in-one solution(the wmd pm is great but not perfect by any means) ... the rack space would be extreme for the dream euro mixer, and the cost.

Designers seem to keep making compromises because of these factors, i just want the comprimise to be made where it makes sense. Let the panning and volume control happen in submixes, let the high quality audio routing happen in the mixer. Then you have at least an end-game solution and you can module out how you do your submixes over time. Stereo auxillaries is really the big kicker too that seems to be difficult to design

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Post by damase » Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:51 am

Tumulishroomaroom wrote:
damase wrote: With the direction toward pre-fade recording I find myself leaning the workflow away from all the CV in most cases, and i often bypass the FX send altogether so that i can patch true stereo fx.
The PM is definitely performance based, and incredible at that task; but it's true that a good chunk of it is rendered useless when you want to record with the db25 since everything enter the computer pre fader/pre fx send (? not sure about this one?) so that you have to recreate the whole performance into your DAW of choice. That's why I ended up not going for the DB25 for now. But I still don't have a good solution to multitrack. It's possible to have a great sounding stereo mix, but you won't be able to do much processing on this afterwards.
This is my point exactly. Im in basically the same situation, i havent taken the dive for the db25 yet for the same conundrum. Its a big dedication of workflow and seems that the certain limitations brought from the PM being more performance oriented will ultimately be too limiting for the multitracking that i desire

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Post by mdoudoroff » Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:05 am

damase wrote: Youre probably right, but they did provide the db25 which is a studio feature typically, which seems to be a reason a lot of people buy it. Its gotten many comments that post-fade recording would generate a lot more sales.
I have my doubts that some of these commenters know what they’re talking about.
damase wrote:I agree with your next level mixer want list there, and i would be very interested if a mixer capable of it. Considering everything i desire in an all-in-one solution(the wmd pm is great but not perfect by any means) ... the rack space would be extreme for the dream euro mixer, and the cost.
It truly makes little sense at all to me (cost/size/complexity). The all-in-one solution today is the DAW, or maybe one of those fancy digital recording consoles.
damase wrote:Let the panning and volume control happen in submixes, let the high quality audio routing happen in the mixer. Then you have at least an end-game solution and you can module out how you do your submixes over time.
This makes sense to me, although a submix would really only correspond to a single channel, so it’s more of a composite voice than a submix (in mixing parlance), right? I wouldn’t submix two discreet voices and then record them to a single channel, because they’re now inseparable unless I waste tons of time using remixing hackery in the DAW to re-isolate them. I’d hate myself later.
damase wrote:Stereo auxillaries is really the big kicker too that seems to be difficult to design
There are at most a handful of stereo modules that do anything even remotely discreet with their left and right inputs—nearly all just sum the inputs for processing and then mix the original pair back in with dry/wet—so I don’t see what the big deal is about stereo sends. To hell with the sends. It’s a modular synthesizer: just patch it. The stereo return path is a non-issue: use a stereo mixer channel or two panned mono channels.

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Post by mdoudoroff » Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:19 am

damase wrote:This is my point exactly. Im in basically the same situation, i havent taken the dive for the db25 yet for the same conundrum. Its a big dedication of workflow and seems that the certain limitations brought from the PM being more performance oriented will ultimately be too limiting for the multitracking that i desire
Hmm. I clearly don’t understand what you desire, and I don’t mean to shut you down by being so strident (above). What am I missing?

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Post by damase » Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:39 am

Yes youre right in the ‘composite voices’ clarification as what i meant

Sometimes i want to record a couple of sounds ‘submixed’ because they are patched together in such a way that its blurred the lines of them being 2 separate voices and i want to capture that interaction so i just consider that a submix. I usually have panning incorporated in there somehow and record it in stereo. And yes currently i use the DAW and my audio interface to do this type of routing, but there is always latency which really adds up for fx.

To me, in modular, applying the typical studio mindset of what a ‘submix’ is or why you ‘must’ pre-fade record is all out the window. Its the future, and you have a million ways that people patch things up and use voltage control throughout your own process. Post Fade recording should be embraced as a tool rather than shunned as a bad studio practice.

I think theres plenty of reasons to want a stereo send though, fx like morphagene, rainmaker, any true stereo verb (zdsp?)... theres a big difference of patching stereo or aux sending mono
mdoudoroff wrote:
damase wrote:This is my point exactly. Im in basically the same situation, i havent taken the dive for the db25 yet for the same conundrum. Its a big dedication of workflow and seems that the certain limitations brought from the PM being more performance oriented will ultimately be too limiting for the multitracking that i desire
Hmm. I clearly don’t understand what you desire, and I don’t mean to shut you down by being so strident (above). What am I missing?
Well, you can just clearly see the disconnect that several of us are missing as a worthwhile multitracking mixer centerpiece. We have the PM and like it for many reasons but its still a bit lackluster when you get to the point of deciding to spending thousands on upgrading audio interface, db25 and rack space to make the studio come together. its like the PM wants you to depend on it for everything it offers but then you cant enjoy the best of it and end up parting out submixes anyway

Which is why for me, if im going to use it basically as a db25 audio router anyway i wouldnt even want the mono channels, panning, or VC of volume. It just clutters the design and makes it larger than necessary.

So, what i desire doesnt actually exist, which is why my first post was “just thinking outloud” :)
Last edited by damase on Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by mdoudoroff » Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:45 am

Ok, what about just ditching the PM and using an nw2s and a fistful of simpler modules such as a Mixup, and some that offer panning (voltage controlled or not)? You could then patch whatever submixes you want or go straight to the DB25, depending on the aim? What element of the PM is irreplaceable in the studio situation?

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Post by damase » Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:50 am

mdoudoroff wrote:Ok, what about just ditching the PM and using an nw2s and a fistful of simpler modules such as a Mixup, and some that offer panning (voltage controlled or not)? You could then patch whatever submixes you want or go straight to the DB25, depending on the aim? What element of the PM is irreplaceable in the studio situation?
Stereo vc aux sends would be irreplacable. Other than that, youre describing exactly my thought process :) i do desire to keep a coherent interface that a single mixer offers, especially that it can still be used as merely a stereo mixer also. But yea im considering options like what you said... its a lot to think about though because id like ultimately to find an end game solution

Edit: Just wanted to add that the PM is basically what im after so ill still likely stick with it and get the db25 rather than parting out the solutions just yet. Despite a couple shortcomings its still maybe the best option at the moment. And you cant take for granted the quality. I just think an alternate version in the future could be a bit more focused.

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Post by mdoudoroff » Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:28 am

damase wrote:Stereo vc aux sends would be irreplaceable. Other than that, youre describing exactly my thought process
… would be irreplaceable if the PM had stereo vc aux sends in the first place!

But isn’t a stereo VC aux send just a pair of basic VCAs?

What are those aux buses buying you that is special from a multitrack recording workflow perspective?

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Post by damase » Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:52 am

mdoudoroff wrote:
damase wrote:Stereo vc aux sends would be irreplaceable. Other than that, youre describing exactly my thought process
… would be irreplaceable if the PM had stereo vc aux sends in the first place!

But isn’t a stereo VC aux send just a pair of basic VCAs?

What are those aux buses buying you that is special from a multitrack recording workflow perspective?

My hypothetical mk2 pm WOULD have them though hah.

Its true, with prefade its merely a convenience. But the power that convenience provides over the amount of redundant patching it would take to accomplish it otherwise is by far worth it. And its just such a common workflow/patching practice that it serves a place for someone to make it happen.

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Post by mdoudoroff » Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:01 pm

damase wrote:Its true, with prefade its merely a convenience. But the power that convenience provides over the amount of redundant patching it would take to accomplish it otherwise is by far worth it.
This is maybe what I need you to explain to me: what is the convenience/power of which you speak?

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Post by damase » Tue Nov 20, 2018 12:14 pm

mdoudoroff wrote:
damase wrote:Its true, with prefade its merely a convenience. But the power that convenience provides over the amount of redundant patching it would take to accomplish it otherwise is by far worth it.
This is maybe what I need you to explain to me: what is the convenience/power of which you speak?
The entire mixing desire comes down to workflow optimization whether for performance mixing or for studio routing. I think having the ability to quickly route all your channels(submixes, voices ect,) to several outputs at once opens up your mixing possibilities. I mean are you honestly going to purchase external 2 vcas per channel with auxillary mixers to handle this type of send, then manually adjust every time you make a panning field change? I know im not. But if you have several true stereo fx at once... even at its most simple form if you have a few drum sounds panned in the stereo field the reverbs will all come from the proper place in the mix while still recording your drum sounds separetly for further mixing

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Post by mdoudoroff » Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:52 am

Added the new modular Tesseract Tex Mix, which ought to make some DIYers happy.

http://doudoroff.com/mixers/

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Post by bc3 » Sun Jan 20, 2019 9:53 am

mdoudoroff wrote:Added the new modular Tesseract Tex Mix, which ought to make some DIYers happy.

http://doudoroff.com/mixers/
but always the unanswered question with these mixer designs... does it bleed?

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Post by mdoudoroff » Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:13 am

bc3 wrote: but always the unanswered question with these mixer designs... does it bleed?
To-date, no designer has elected to send me a sample to test (not that I particularly want that job) so I am the last to know.

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