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quinta-feira, 26 de janeiro de 2017

Using the Clavia Nord Modular G2 as a mixer! - Part.1

If you remember, I promised to make quite some posts about the Clavia Nord Modular G2, but so far, it has been a bit absent from this blog...
Today, I want to make a post about using the Clavia Nord Modular G2 as a mixer, since I have used one of the slots available in it several times for this task and it has done really well so far!

Those of you who have used a Clavia Nord Modular G2 have likely noticed it is a quite featured unit when it comes to analog inputs and outputs as you get 4 of each, plus an XLR input for your microphone if you have a keyboard version (but when you use the XLR input you, unfortunately, cannot use input 1 in the back).

While 4 analog inputs might not be that much, it ends up being enough for some situations.
And when it is, the Clavia Nord Modular G2 can be really useful for mixing duties!

First of all, since the architecture is fully modular, you are able to choose how you want to configure the inputs and outputs.
This means you are able to use it as a 4 mono-channel mixer, a 2 stereo-channel mixer or a 2 mono-channel plus 1 stereo-channel mixer.
And when it comes to the outputs, you can choose to output your mix in mono, stereo or even quadrophonic, using any available spare channels for other tasks (for instance to output a different mix or as an effects send).

To make it easy to design a good mixer, Clavia gave us a nice choice of mixing modules available, with 16 different modules belonging to the mixer section, featuring mixers up to 8 channels!

It also features a nice set of processing modules you can use to improve your sound, including Filters, FXs, Delays and Shapers, that you'll always end up adding some of them to your mixer patches.
For instance, you can apply a set of EQs to any of the inputs, mix them up, and also have parallel mixers for effect sends to processors you can build inside your patch (delay lines, filters, etc...).

And to enhance your performances, you even get 8 morph groups per patch, which let you control several parameters at once (with the possibility to define different ranges for each of the parameters during the morph).
This means you get much more than most regular mixers can offer you in terms of control, meaning it can be a fantastic mixer for performance!

Despite the morph groups add a lot when it comes to controlling the mixer in real time, there is a significant drawback if you want to do some stereo processing and control it in real time (this drawback also affects the use of the Clavia Nord Modular G2 as a stereo effect processor).
Most processing modules only feature a single audio input, with few exceptions, like the compressor and reverb modules, which means you'll need to use two modules if you want to do some stereo processing.
The problem with this is that you'll have a parameter for the left channel and a parameter for the right channel, and the only way you can edit both channels at the same time is by using the morph groups, which are limited to only 8 per patch, a clearly insufficient number for most mixing patches you can come up with (for instance, if you use two stereo channels with a 3 band EQ module for each channel, you'll spend those 8 morphing scenes just to control those EQ modules).
Still, this is only a relevant issue if you want to control your stereo processing in realtime and you require the parameters in both channels to be identical.

To demonstrate what you can achieve with the Clavia Nord Modular G2 in terms of mixing patches, I  share some photos of 4 new mixing patches I created these past days, using my Roland TR-909 as the sound source (either using 4 of the individual outputs or the main outputs plus 2 individual outputs).

I start by presenting you the DrumTheMix patch, since it's the most standard patch I made!
DrumTheMix, ready to mix your drums!
As you can see, it features some basic processing for each of the channels - an amplified, a noise gate and a 3 band EQ - as you can find in most mixers (except for the noise gate...).
Then, you have two mixers (mono in and stereo out with pan!), one to mix your dry signal and one to mix the signal you want to send to your effect chain, which is made up by a set of reverb, compressor and noise gate.
In both cases, you have feedback lines to add some extra character to the sound (in the case of the dry mix, you have overdrive modules in your signal chain).

Despite it's a bit of a standard patch, I have to say I really like the way this patch made my Roland TR-909 sound!
If you aren't looking for a really unique sound, but instead a mixer that just sounds good and enhances your sound, it definitely delivers!

If you are looking for something more unique, maybe my Synth-ingMix patch would do it for you!
Synth-ingMix, a nice mixer with a multi-tap delay and a reverb, to give some extra ambiance to your sound!
The first thing you'll probably notice in this patch is that I used the panning module trick I talked about in one of my previous posts -
Despite I used the Clavia Nord Modular G1 for the patch in that post, this trick sounds really good in the Clavia Nord Modular G2 as well, and in this particular case, I felt it really enhanced the sound of my Roland TR-909!

Another significant difference is that this mixer features two effect lines rather than one, despite only in the final mixer you'll find a feedback line.
Also, one of those effect lines is really simple, just a reverb module with no feedback line, but the other effect line is a nice 8-tap delay with feedback, and you can control how much feedback you have from each of the taps and how much each of the taps will sound in your final mix!
With these two effect lines you can really add a nice ambience to your sound, which can work pretty good with drums as well!

And if you are searching for some extra character to your mix, this mixer can deliver that as well, with the feedback line present in the MixOut module, that feature two digitizer modules!

If that isn't enough, maybe my third patch, called DiginastMix, will do it for you!

DiginastMixer, with a nice effect line with wave wrappers for some digital nastiness ;)
This is considerably different from the previous patches, as inputs 1 and 2 are treated as a stereo pair, and it features minimal processing of the different input channels.
While it still has the amplifier, noise gate and the panning modules in the mono channels (again with modulation), the EQs are not there anymore to help you shaping your sound a bit further.

As some kind of compensation, it has 2 effect lines and each of the 3 sub-mixers (MixDry, MixSend1 and MixSend2) feature a feedback line!

In the first effect line you find a simple reverb effect that has a feedback line in which the reverb signal is processed by a pitch-shifter (and since you have one per channel, you can use different shifts for the different channels!).

The second effect line, is a more complex effect line that lets you achieve a more unique sound, full of digital crunchiness!
The secret here is the use of the wave wrapper module together with the feedback line that ends up totally transforming your sound!
It's a bit hard to describe exactly what happens with words, but I can tell you that I really liked the results I got with my Roland TR-909, as it really transformed the sound in a very interesting way.

But if you are not interested in radically changing your sound, you are probably better off with any of the other mixer patches I presented before.

To depart from those more tradicional designs, with some processing of the inputs and parallel effect lines, I present you Quadro, a quadrophonic mixer patch with several delays used to add some spatialization to the mix!

Quadro, a quadrophonic mixer with several delays to give some spatialization!

And if 25ms of delay are not enough for you, you can change the maximum delay time to 100ms in all modules, as fortunately there is enough memory available for that!

Unfortunately, I am not able to give this patch a proper test, as I don't have 4 speakers available...
But from the test I did using my headphones,  I can tell you that the delay structure presented above really seemed to add some nice character to the overall sound, so I'm really looking forward to try this patch properly!

Despite this is the last patch I present in this post, I could go on and on presenting you many more different mixers, with different input configurations, different processing for the inputs and different effect chains, cause you can really do a lot with this amazing machine!

The biggest limitation you have is really the available processing power and memory this machine offers you.

In my Clavia Nord Modular G2X (featuring the DSP expansion as a standard), all of those mixers I showed you make use of over 90% of the available processing power (the Quadro patch actually goes all the way up to 99.9%, which is why I actually used a Peak EQ per channel rather than a 2 Band EQ or a 3 Band EQ).

Memory is also a big concern if you want to use delays, pitch-shifters and reverbs (probably more effects that I am forgetting right now...), despite only in the Synth-ingMix patch you are close to run out of memory (it makes use of 99% of the memory available while in the other patches the memory usage never goes over 60%).
In the Quadro patch, I mentioned that you are able to change the maximum delay time to 100ms in all delays, but if you want to go to the next range (up to 500ms), you'd run out of memory way before you changed the range in all those delays...

When you take into account that the Clavia Nord Modular G2 is a machine from 2004, it is understandable that memory is a bit limited, but I find that to be a real shame as it would be amazing to create a mixer with a built-in looper with long looping times in the Clavia Nord Modular G2!
Unfortunately the memory available doesn't really allow for that...

So, why is there a Part.1 in the title of this post?

Because there is a feature of the Clavia Nord Modular G2 that I have neglected telling you so far and this feature is a complete game changer!

As you'll see in Part.2, you can actually make the Clavia Nord Modular G2 a much more versatile mixer!
That is, if you enjoy the sound of Clavia's own synths!

If you do, be sure to follow my blog for the Part.2 of this post, as I'll also post my final remarks on how the Clavia Nord Modular G2 works as a mixer there!

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