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Digital Performer: Using VCAs

MOTU Digital Performer Tips & Technques By Mike Levine
Published April 2021

Screen 1: The VCA Track and Group command lets you create a VCA, and assign tracks to it, in one go.Screen 1: The VCA Track and Group command lets you create a VCA, and assign tracks to it, in one go.

Take control of your mixes with VCAs.

If you haven’t started using VCA tracks in DP, you’re missing out on a powerful way to control the volume, muting, soloing, record enabling, and input monitoring for multiple tracks at a time.

For those not familiar, VCA stands for Voltage Controlled Amplifier. It’s a technology found in some large‑format analogue consoles, where control voltages are used to change multiple faders simultaneously without altering their relative balance. DP’s VCA tracks offer a digital emulation of that technology.

Getting Started

In DP, VCAs control Track Groups. If you already have an existing Track Group of any type (Edit, Mix, Edit & Mix, Custom) that you want to control, go to Project/Add Track/VCA Track. You’ll then see a VCA track appear on the right‑hand side of the mixer.

When it’s unassigned, a VCA track has only a volume fader and buttons for Solo, Mute, Rec and Input. When you assign it to a group (by pulling down its Output menu and selecting a group name), automation controls appear on the channel as well. The group’s designation in the Track Groups window then changes to Custom. It still has its original attributes, but now it’s also a VCA Group.

DP provides a shortcut if you want to set up both a VCA track and the group it will control. First, select the tracks you want in the Group from the Sequence window or Track Editor, then go to Project/Add Track/VCA Track and Group (see Screen 1, above). That creates not only a Track Group from your selection, but also a VCA track that’s pre‑assigned to control it.


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Published April 2021

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