This is some preliminary information about the D3MIX module as developed in dialogue between Pedro Eustache and me. He just hashtagged this as part of his setup for Synthplex 2022. Nice! So great to have met this synth-enthusiast, who has found a sonic language for himself that is unique and so deeply appreciated by so many.
Now, what’s a D3MIX?
The D3MIX is a passive module, suitable for handheld or Eurorack versions, and is as simple as radical in its approach. At its core, there are three interrelated attenuators that can drain CV and audio signals and/or forward them to another output/a common mixer node. What’s unique here in contrast to conventional attenuators is that by the simple flick of a switch you can toggle between pre-set proportions and relations of signals…
The what now….? In basic terms, you can set this module up for utility tasks such as multing, attenuation, a/b switching and serving as a passive 3-1 mixer/distributor. Since the D3MIX does not differentiate between a signal input and output, it also offers some wonderfully weird signal feng shui that allows for asymmetrical modulation and controlling audio level plus FX send at the same time with one single knob. If you connect channels, you can up that game considerably and have a 1-9 distributor with different levels per 3 outs, a 3 preset modulation matrix, and even more.
Before explaining more, let’s start with some easy demos with the D3MIX used as a signal router. In the first clip you hear an LFO modulating two different VCOs via the D3MIX – note how VCO1 starts modulating earlier and faster and then VCO2 modulation enters the game:
In the second demo, you hear my Acidlab bassline going through the D3MIX with splits the signal and sends one channel to a dry mixer channel and a second channel through reverb. The further left my knob, the dryer and silent the signal. Turning up, first increases dry level, then adds reverb.
More demos soon! Alternatively, wait until the next Mandalorian season is out as Pedro used this module, amongst many other wonderful synth stuff, in his recordings with Ludwig Göransson for this series.
Now, let’s have a closer look at the different ways in which one single D3MIX channel works. Each of the three individual channel modes is set by the little switch on the right hand side.
Switch in the middle: the “least exciting” channel mode is A is hardwired to A. Lame in itself, this setting is crucial as a bypass mode when using B and the de-mix knob in other settings.
Switch up: A is connected to A and both are fed to the knob wiper. Turn the knob left for draining the signal to ground. Turn it to the right for forwarding signal A/A to B. Having two hardwired As is crucial here – think of this: feed an LFO signal to the upper A and forward that LFO signal to filter cutoff modulation from the lower A. By turning the knob left, you drain the modulation intensity of that LFO to your filter cutoff. Now, plug your B to the pitch input of a VCO simultaneously and turn the de-mix knob slowly from hard left to hard right. First your cutoff will vibrate, then your pitch too. That’s the asymmetrical modulation thing I mentioned earlier. There’s a lot room for exploration by using the switch for bypass action or sending your modulator into B and feed your modulation targets from both As. or flick the switch down and…
Switch down: Both As and B form a hardwired multiple. Using the switch, a first cool trick here is that you can set up per knob three different modulation amount relations between As and B: off/as-set-per-knob/full. Think precisely dialled in intervals between two VCOs and such stuff. There’s more, however – turning the knob to the left now does not drain your signal but mixes it into the single socket called node. When you set up all three D3MIX channels with the switches down, this gives you a 3-1 mixer. Or, if you send your source signal INTO the node, a 1-3 (or 1-9) distributor that allows you to switch in and out individual strands.
Quick badly drawn illustration of the principles behind the D3MIX
When I modded his 2600, Pedro and I got talking about attenuation principles and how some synthesisers start behaving in a (good) funny way when you start feeding them odd proportions of signals (by splitting the signal and using it as a sound source and modulator at the same time, for instance, or splitting and starving signals and such things). That’s the core of the D3MIX, really, an easy mechanism of setting different signal proportions and relations at the same time.
Trying to demonstrate this by a halfway decent visual metaphor – think of a single of D3MIX channel as two water bowls. Your incoming signal is water running from a pipe into the first bowl.
Your pipe A is hardwired to another pipe ( also called A). More water from pipes =, more water in the bowl. More water in the bowl, the pressure in your pipes rises…
In De-mix mode (selectable per switch), turning the knob of your channel to the left will open a drain in your water basin of signals… Send some modulator to pipe A and connect the second A pipe to your modulation destination. Draining the signal now works like attenuation and that’s great for dialling in just that little right amount of signal needed. Switch the drain in and out, and you have a modulation intensity preset!
Now, let’s make this interesting! Turning the knob to the right, closes the drain and turns your whole bowl to the side, so that your yummy signal soup in your first bowl stars spilling into a second bowl. Magically your first bowl stays full, however. This is how we can do the asymmetrical stuff demoed above.
In a further mode (switch down), you replace the plug of your first bowl with a different pipe, connecting all channels of the module to a common mixing node. Since all connections in the D3MIX are bidirectional, imagine the wonderful fun to be had. Send some signal into the node and switch it to various directions in different intensities. Or stay chill and use the module as three x3 multiples.
Thanks for your interest.