They’re the modules we only start to take seriously once it’s too late: by the time you have enough separate outputs in your system to warrant one, you need no telling how valuable mixers are to your modular workflow — be it in the studio or performing live.
Mixers are in many ways the nerve centre of a system; while often they (rightly) constitute the last link of the chain before signals flow beyond the bounds of our rack, they can also be invaluable within a patch. Developers are playing with mixer formats and functions now more than ever, and there’s a staggering range out there to choose from. Larger mixers will likely constitute the pricier end of your module collection, but there are also a host of more compact and wallet‑friendly options out there. Here is a round‑up of some of the best mixers on offer right now:
1010’s latest promises big things for those looking for a powerful mixer that considerably stretches the bounds of what a Eurorack mixer can be. With 12 inputs, four outputs and six assignable CV inputs, the touchscreen module boasts a raft of premium functions: MIDI over USB or TRS, onboard effects, four‑band EQ and bus compression‑ it even supports two‑channel audio over USB to render it a functional audio interface. No computer? No problem: the Bluebox can internally record audio as 48kHz/24‑bit WAVs and also play back and record simultaneously if desired. Impressive.
Hot off the assembly line, Noise Engineering’s new large‑format mixer promises big things for even the heftiest of systems. With a whopping 10 stereo‑paired inputs (including two aux ins) and three stereo output busses, the Xer Mixa utilises a fully analogue signal path with pristine sound quality and ultra‑high headroom. It’s smart, too: digital control allows for state save and recall, pre or post send settings, multi‑channel editing, MIDI I/O settings and even per‑channel pan law adjustment. The Xer Mixa also supports an expansion module, the brilliantly named Expando Expandi — up to two, in fact — allowing additional CV control over channel levels, pan, aux sends and more.
A gorgeous middleweight mixer, the Cosmix Pro from Dutch designer Matthijs Munnik’s company Cosmotronic crams a huge amount into a relatively modest 22HP. Four mono channels and two stereo channels make a total of eight possible inputs, and it offers two post‑fader aux sends — one mono and one stereo. CV inputs for the two stereo pairs make for some creative imaging potential, but particularly handy is a set of switches at the bottom of the panel; these engage a low‑cut below 80Hz for the four mono channels, and an 18dB gain boost on the two stereo channels for getting signals up to modular level.
Xaoc have eschewed the traditional mixer layout in favour of what you might deem more Eurorack‑friendly; opting to have its level controls at the top of the panel and its inputs and outputs at the bottom. Four channels of quality op‑amp‑driven stereo goodness are on offer, alongside a stereo aux send, which is switchable between pre and post VCA. There’s also an expander available, named Bohumin, which adds a second stereo aux send with CV control, among other features. On top of this, Xaoc have also made the Ostrawa chainable, either with more of the same or with Xaoc’s ‘sister’ mixer module, the Praga, so your I/O can expand with your system.
Aussie developers WORNG Electronics’ original Soundstage went down so well on this side of the globe that the UK’s ALM/Busy Circuits later sought out designer Morgan McWaters to collaborate on the more compact Jumble Henge, which I reviewed favourably back in 2021. More recently WORNG’s Soundstage II has arrived; all of the above are stereo ‘spectral’ mixers, whose designs revolve around a simple grid of inputs. Lateral positioning of a signal corresponds to its placement across the stereo image, while vertical positioning corresponds to its placement up and down the frequency spectrum, thanks to each input row having its own tuned filter. The Soundstage II builds on the fundamentals of its predecessor with an updated Depth control circuit, an effect send and return, an improved low‑end response and more.
Predictably pretty, the Càrn from Glaswegian company Instruō is an incredibly compact four‑channel mixer offering a raft of useful features in just 8HP. The company, I should say, actually refer to the Càrn as “a four channel signal processing utility,” which is respectable since it can do a whole lot beyond summing several signals to stereo. Individual outputs for each channel are on offer, as is CV‑controlled amplification and panning. There’s also a supremely useful soft‑clipping limiter, whose switch is accessible on the back of the module.
Bastl’s take on the compact mixer format throws some excellent functions onto the table. It can be happily used as a quad DC‑coupled VCA as well as a summing mixer thanks to its per‑channel attenuverters, but it also boasts some very interesting routing options: there’s not only a side‑chain input and envelope follower, there’s also a spectral follower which can be switched to focus on high, mid, or low frequencies.
Good news for Spanish readers: January 15th saw Bristol modular mainstays Elevator Sound — the folks behind the most excellent Machina Bristronica show — open the doors of a brand new branch in Barcelona.
Speaking of shows, the excellent Synth East is just around the corner, taking place on the 23rd‑25th February 2024 at the Norwich Arts Centre and featuring the likes of Blancmange, Ultramarine and the UK premiere of a new film about the great Morton Subotnick.
SynthFest UK 2024 has been announced and will take place at The Octagon, Sheffield on Saturday 5th October 2024. Advance tickets will be on sale in the spring. Keep an eye on the website and signup for the email notifications.
We last checked in with Moritz Klein and Erica Synths’ mki x es.EDU DIY range last year, and they’ve not been complacent since. Following the release of a kick drum module over the summer, the latest addition to the line is an analogue TR‑808‑inspired hi‑hat.
We’ve also been keeping a keen eye on Schlappi Engineering since catching wind of their fearsome Three Body oscillator; latest from the developer is The Nibbler, a 4‑bit digital accumulator outputting wildly syncopated gates and stepped voltages.
Happy Nerding, meanwhile, have adapted their popular 4HP FX Aid multi‑effects module into a 24HP 1U version, offering the same 32 algorithm slots and a bank of over 100 to draw from.