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Old 02-18-2009, 04:34 AM
mtung mtung is offline
Join Date: Dec 1969
Location: Oslo, Norway
Posts: 475
Default What's on your VCAs?

I haven't been using the VCAs at all in my mixing routines, BUT have been trying to think of ways to incorporate them.

I would love some tips on good use for them. I mix mostly rock and pop stuff. Any tips are welcome.


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Old 02-18-2009, 11:07 AM
Chris Lambrechts's Avatar
Chris Lambrechts Chris Lambrechts is offline
Join Date: Apr 1998
Location: Belgium
Posts: 2,025
Default Re: What's on your VCAs?

Hi Mike,

Quite a bit you can do with VCA's and it is definitely a feature that is worth some time exploring the possibilities.

A few that come to mind :

- when setting up the group to assign to the VCA, I like to create / differentiate MIX groups. (not edit / both groups). Within these mix groups I will more often then not check 'follow globals' and then uncheck everything in the globals tab'

Why create a mix group if you're going to unlink everything then huh ? Well for the purpose of assigning the members to a VCA master, nothing more, nothing less. It allows for absolute flexibility of all member tracks on their own. And if I do link something it will be things like 'automation mode' for example.

- I basically will assign EVERYTHING in the session to a VCA. Typical example for a music session could be this :

Drums & Bass VCA : with all the drum tracks and bass track(s) assigned as members
E Guitar VCA : all the electrical guitars
A Guitar VCA : all the acoustic .....
Lead Vocal : all the lead vocal tracks
Backing Vocal : all the BV .....
FX returns : all the FX auxiliaries ....

Now ... except for doing the obvious, which is to trim / control the overall level of the members like you would with a group master, the VCA allows for one absolutely fantastic feature ... especially is BIG sessions with a lot of tracks. SPILL the members and FOLD them back up.

Try to create a couple of VCA masters and assign some members to it to see what I mean. Then call those VCA's up in your custom faders / masters.
Now ... hit the Bypass / Spill button on one of those VCA masters.
The members of the VCA will 'spill' out onto the faders. You can set a preference that will set your focus channel automatically to the VCA master. If you hit the Byp/ Spill switch again you FOLD the tracks back up and return to your VCA master view.

There is NOTHING that is faster get get this fast access to any of your tracks in your session. Play around with it ... you'll see what I mean and I'm sure that will be the starting point of plenty of ideas of your own to use them.

One additional tip : even tough I personally don't this very often, you can nestle multiple VCA's with members into another VCA ...

Hope this helps,

Chris Lambrechts
Applications Specialist- Live Sound
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Old 02-18-2009, 12:35 PM
Stig Eliassen's Avatar
Stig Eliassen Stig Eliassen is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Norway @ Studio Varmt & Trangt
Posts: 7,455
Default Re: What's on your VCAs?

Yeah, what Chris said makes a lot of sense, as usual. I use VCA's the way he does pretty much. I also make a group with all the sub-masters so that I can have all those auxes side by side. It's awesome.

Let's say I have "Gtr 1" - "Gtr 2" - "Gtr 3" - "Gtr 4" - and sub-master "sGtr".

The same structure applies for every instrument group where I keep each sub-master directly after the audio tracks routed to it, and with many tracks and groups in the session, the sub-masters will be spread all over. That's when it's handy to make a group containing all of them, and hook them up to a VCA so that you can spill them out next to each other. This makes mix balancing a breeze.
Studio rig - Pro Tools|HDX 2018.7 | Logic Pro X.4.2 | Avid HD I/O (8x8x8) | 6-core 3.33 Westmere w/24GB RAM | OS 10.12.3 | D-Command ES | Eleven Rack | Vienna Ensemble Pro 5
Mobile rig - Macbook Pro i7 w/16GB RAM | UA Apollo 8p | Pro Tools|HD 2018.3 | Logic Pro X.4.2 | OS 10.12.6
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Old 02-18-2009, 02:57 PM
macaholic macaholic is offline
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: atlanta, ga
Posts: 260
Default Re: What's on your VCAs?


You are a machine!!!

In your post you said "You can set a preference that will set your focus channel automatically to the VCA master"

I cannot for the life of me find what page that is on, and that would REALLY speed up ones workflow.

I am on a D-Command if that makes any difference.


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Old 02-18-2009, 03:45 PM
Chris Lambrechts's Avatar
Chris Lambrechts Chris Lambrechts is offline
Join Date: Apr 1998
Location: Belgium
Posts: 2,025
Unhappy Re: What's on your VCAs?

Can't find it in the D Command manual.
On D control it is on Page 5 of the operation prefs. SplFcs ON / OFF.

Set to on the VCA master will focus in the focus channel strip.

Another cool thing on D Control is the fact that you have left and right custom fader banks. And in particular for setups where you have 32 faders on one side you can set things up so you have both the L and R CF sections assigned one side of the main unit. One CF section has the VCA masters in it and you spill them out in the other CF section, adjacent to the VCA masters. pretty cool trick That Gil Gowing came up with (He obviously has way too much time on his hands if he has the time to figure stuff like that out but that aside ... )

As a workaround on D command : once a VCA group is spilled, You're in groups CF mode right ? If you then press the 'tracks' (masters) switch ... does that bring you back to the VCA masters page ? I would think so if that's the last page you were in.

24 channel D Commands can do stuff like set up the groups CF to be center left justified / 16 faders and use the first 8 faders on their unit to 'position' the VCA masters.

Chris Lambrechts
Applications Specialist- Live Sound
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Old 02-19-2009, 01:31 AM
mtung mtung is offline
Join Date: Dec 1969
Location: Oslo, Norway
Posts: 475
Default Re: What's on your VCAs?

Hi Guys, thanks for all the tips. I'll be checking them out as soon as I get a little "mike" time.


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Old 03-17-2009, 09:02 AM
Mikeyjc98 Mikeyjc98 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Ohio
Posts: 1
Default Re: What's on your VCAs?


Thanks for the info in post #5. Someone here at the studio changed that setting while our main engineer was off the other day and we couldn't figure out where to change it back. We like to keep the focus channel strip on one thing while we spill the VCA's next to it and we couldn't figure out why the spill button was focusing the VCA masters. Frustrating to say the least... Anyway, thanks again!
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Old 05-22-2009, 10:29 AM
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creativecontrol creativecontrol is offline
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 841
Default Re: What's on your VCAs?

Here's a few things I like:

CUE Masters VCA:
Group that contains Master Faders which control interface output paths used for CUE'S to my HEAR box.

Subs VCA:
Drums, Bass, Vox, etc. All subgroup aux's grouped and accessible from a single fader.

Chris mentioned this one which is great. All FX returns including verbs, delays, harmonize, etc.

I personally use this as a "junk drawer" for stuff I want to find quick including click track, cal track (pink or tone for calibration), print (dub) track, etc.

Jeff Komar
Applications Specialist, Pro Audio
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Old 08-17-2009, 01:52 AM
midnightsun midnightsun is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 231
Default fine tuning automation

I have been recently using the VCA capabilities of PT/D Command and am finding many simple applications that are really cool. As Chris pointed out above one can do the obvious, trimming / control of members of a group.

A really cool application for fine tuning automation of a group is to set the automation of the individual tracks that are members of the group so that they are balanced with respect to each other. The the VCA can be automated to set the over all balance of the group with respect to the entire mix. The the VCA gets coalesced and then the VCA fader goes to unity. I find that this is simpler that doing a group trim but accomplishes the same thing. This sounds more complicated than it is.
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