I am trying to set up my first Eurorack performance case and I am struggling with thinking about doing a final output mixer. I have been reading the Patch & Tweak [1] book and was surprised to see references to using external analog console/performance mixers. In the section on recording (p. 85) the authors use the Soundcraft Signature 12 MTK as an example and also make reference to the profile on Hataken and his use of the Roland MX-1 (p. 108-110).

The surprise is due to the fact that I have heard multiple mentions in the Why We Bleep [2] podcast that people using console mixers want to replace that functionality with something in the case. Additionally, even Hataken mentions that he would prefer to have a Eurorack mixer to take the place of the MX-1.

I am already aware that the audio signal levels are way hotter voltage-wise coming from Eurorack. However, my first set of questions are:

  • Can you still plug directly from the last output in a Eurorack audio signal chain into an external analog mixer?
  • Is it just a matter of making sure the mixer has analog gain level that can be turned way down or are people still using come kind of Eurorack module to convert the audio signal to line level before sending it to the external analog mixer?
  • If this works, is it as simple as using a cable with 3.5mm on one end and 1/4" on the other?

My second question is just the more general one: does anyone see mixing outside a Eurorack case as more than just a total nuisance? The reason an analog mixer is so attractive is because mixing is A) super important, and B) something that seems hard to justify rack space to when I am working on my first case. For the former point, it would be nice to have some mix capabilities beyond just volume and panning. EQ and sidechaining, for example. On the latter point (B), consider that some of the performance mixers that get a lot of praise are things like the Befaco Hexmix with its Hexpander or the WMD Performance Mixer. But those would take up 40 HP (WMD) to 56 HP (Befaco). In addition to off-loading the rack space, those other mixers would be cheaper, too, which is a big consideration.

Finally, I'll also mention that I have been reading other comments here on MG in response to other first-timers [3] that when getting started it is unwise to ditch one's current gear [4]. I have a couple of Volcas and an old GM Yamaha keyboard that I'd like to integrate alongside the Eurorack. It seems this would be another area where the external mixer might shine.

Anyway, I'm just trying to take advantage of this great community and here from everyone's experience about the things you can't possibly know without experience. Thanks in advance.

Here's the references for any other new folks like me:

[1] https://www.pushturnmove.com/products/patch-tweak-exploring-modular-synthesis
[2] https://www.whywebleep.com/whywebleep/
[3] https://www.modulargrid.net/e/forum/posts/index/2913
[4] https://www.modulargrid.net/e/forum/posts/index/3022


Much of the problem has to do with the maximum headroom allowable on small mixers. Some of them are capable of being attenuated down to a level where they can handle typical audio levels coming off of a synthesizer. I've done this a few times with my Mackie 1202...but we're talking about a 25-year old original 1202, which was a bit of a different beast than the present-day Mackies. I've read some accounts of how the Allen & Heath ZED series is also capable of dealing with the high incoming levels, also.

Another alternative to an in-cab performance mixer that would allow you to route directly to an outboard mixer would be any of the various output modules. Since these are designed to step down the levels to line-level, a bank of several of these would also make for a cost-effective and space-saving option. Ladik has several options here that are worth examining, such as their P-530 dual output module which offers attentuation plus 1/4" outs that should interface easily with any outboard mixer you can think of. In 16 hp, you could have trimmable eight line outs for only $160. Frankly, that seems like the best option, leaving you free to use whichever mixer suits your performing needs.


I use a mackie 1202VLZ4. Straight from my modular to the channel inputs using a 3.5mm to 1/4" hosa cable. works perfectly, and I have never had any issues with levels.


I’m between worlds. I love my Mackie for general studio context but I really want to be able to take a balanced 1/4” stereo output straight into some other system and show up armed with only an Intellijel performance case...

The issue, as I see it, is upstream. Eurorack went from 1) being an implied monosynth to 2) being an awkward groovebox with clunky, expensive panning/mixing/sequencing/FX and some units like Clouds which are fully stereo, to 3) being an implied multi-voice studio-in-a-box but still struggling with the basics for a variety of reasons (some of them market-driven and not easily solvable).

The makers of the larger “performance mixer” modules have taken a slightly self-defeating approach: there is almost nothing “modular” about these units, and they make all sorts of assumptions about what users want to actually do. Even the makers of smaller “stereo mixers” such as Erica Synths—who I love I should say—have made some really curious assumptions about stereo placement. Why should only one channel be pannable and why only via CV?

To give you an example, my system is three voices. I don’t need four or even six channels, but I desperately want free panning and multiple stereo FX returns. I have no need for CV control over anything, and I prefer to mute CV rather than audio for cleanliness.

I prefer small modular solutions which are chainable or interact in some way to create the right solution for me. Intellijel’s Mixup was an excellent purchase for me because it gives me two mono channels and two stereo channels. I can rig up a dry mono voice (bass/kick), wet mono voice, dry stereo voice, and wet stereo voice in 6hp.

I really liked the look of Knob Farm’s Hyrlo and Ferry modules but was unable to purchase before they sold out. FX send in 6hp sounds right.

I would prefer to support small MODULAR solutions and create workarounds to the rest (ask me about my FX send woes some day lol) using attenuators, VCAs, mixers, and switches which are all stock eurorack components and always able to be repurposed, rather than invest in a massive thing that won’t always suit me. That was why I got into this.

Good luck and have fun!


You need both for different purposes. I have a bunch of different mixers/VCAs for both cv and audio in my modular, and I have a Tascam Model 24 on the way that will allow me to fine tune final outs, and record many different outs into an SD card all on their own track to then put into Logic later. People who think you can just plug modular stuff straight into an audio interface without any drawbacks are smoking something; even audio out interfaces within eurorack can be quite different--my Vermona TAI-4 has transformers for both in and out that make a sort of pleasing saturation that make the exact same sound source sound better when I output it compared to more generic output modules (or none at all).


Pardon my ignorance, but how does the output of a modular setup differ from the output of a normal hardware monosynth? People have been plugging those straight into audio interfaces in home studios for as long as digital conversion has been with us, and you just watch your levels since its obviously much hotter than other sources (like a dynamic microphone or a bass guitar).
Some electronic artists even run their synths thru outboard preamps just for punch / warmth / grit in the studio, even though amplification is not needed and that could probably compound the problem of a really hot signal.



Not to pick a fight but this reads like the Frap CGM doesn't exist... It is the archetypal modular mixer and top quality, too!

[...]

The makers of the larger “performance mixer” modules have taken a slightly self-defeating approach: there is almost nothing “modular” about these units, and they make all sorts of assumptions about what users want to actually do. Even the makers of smaller “stereo mixers” such as Erica Synths—who I love I should say—have made some really curious assumptions about stereo placement. Why should only one channel be pannable and why only via CV?

To give you an example, my system is three voices. I don’t need four or even six channels, but I desperately want free panning and multiple stereo FX returns. I have no need for CV control over anything, and I prefer to mute CV rather than audio for cleanliness.

I prefer small modular solutions which are chainable or interact in some way to create the right solution for me. Intellijel’s Mixup was an excellent purchase for me because it gives me two mono channels and two stereo channels. I can rig up a dry mono voice (bass/kick), wet mono voice, dry stereo voice, and wet stereo voice in 6hp.

I really liked the look of Knob Farm’s Hyrlo and Ferry modules but was unable to purchase before they sold out. FX send in 6hp sounds right.

I would prefer to support small MODULAR solutions and create workarounds to the rest (ask me about my FX send woes some day lol) using attenuators, VCAs, mixers, and switches which are all stock eurorack components and always able to be repurposed, rather than invest in a massive thing that won’t always suit me. That was why I got into this.

Good luck and have fun!
-- nutritionalzero


Thanks, everyone for all the links, module examples and for sharing your experiences. That MW forum thread especially is an excellent dive into the technical bits.