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M1 Mix - DPW

M1 Mix - DPW

by Ellison Wolf

DPW‘s M1 Mix is a surprisingly deep module that is a DC-coupled four-channel stereo mixer, but can also be an eight-channel mono mixer with crossfading. It has an onboard limiter for some control of the output and adding color to your sound, and is super flexible, sounds excellent, and is incredibly compact at only 9HP.
Sporting four identical stereo channels, each with Volume and Pan and divided into Channels 1 + 2, and 3 + 4, with each set having an “M” switch, which turns both channels (1 and 2, or 3 and 4) from Stereo to Dual Mono. In Dual Mono mode the Volume controls both channels inputs and the Pan acts as a crossfader between the two, so with all four channels in Dual Mono, you get two levels of mixing; one at the channel level on the inputs, and one for each channel. This opens up some creative mixing possibilities for a live performance, like putting a melodic sequence (or bassline, or whatever) through two different sound sources and patching both into a channel in Dual Mono and you can alter the sound of your melody by switching from one to the other or by mixing the two together. And you can switch easily from Dual Mono to Stereo for another viewpoint. Do this with all four channels and you could essentially play this mixer as a four-channel crossfader.
Both L and R of each channel is normalled to each other so if you’re using a channel in stereo, it doesn’t matter which one you patch into. If you only have one signal patched into any given channel, the only difference between Dual Mono and Stereo mode is that in mono your signal is straight up the middle and can’t be panned anywhere. I noticed that if there’s a discrepancy between the incoming signal level for each input into one channel, the loudest signal can really overpower the channel, to where it’s hard to mix between the two, so no matter if you’re in Dual Mono or Stereo mode, you may need to attenuate one signal in order to get the most out of a given channel when two signals are patched in.
At the output stage the soft-knee compressor limits the output to +/-5V, so anything above that will get gently shaped back into the allowed voltage realm, and this can sometimes bring a subtle warmth, and other times a fizzy distortion, so there’s a range of tones that can be had. This is a nice addition, the soft knee shaping just enough to keep the output from being too hot. The threshold is set really low and the compression is active any time the limiter is activated, which can be a little limiting (pun intended) depending on how tweaky you want to get, but I found it to be really useful, even without any control over the parameters of the limiter, and if nothing else it protects your other gear down the line that you might be running your sound into. Overall it did a nice job of melding the overall sound coming out of Mix and giving it a more cohesive output. It’s not going to glue your mix together like running it through a Fairchild 670 or anything like that would, but it helped my sub-mixed drum patches live a little better in the maelstrom of dense patches. For visual indications of levels, there are two LEDS on Mix, two for the output to signify when you are at 5V, and two for the limiter, where their brightness indicates how much compression is happening. This is helpful, though mostly I just used my ears to determine whether or not the sound was what I was looking for.
In Dual Mono mode the pan acts sort of like a volume, though it’s technically a crossfader, as you can combine the two signals into any configuration volume-wise between the two with the Pan knob, and the overall volume of the track output with the Volume knob. It’s a really clever use of space and technique, though it’s good to remember there’s no stereo separation (duh?!) in Dual Mono, so it’s really a mix/combiner in this mode.
One thing I liked using Mix for was as a crossfader to blend two different effects to taste. With a signal multed and patched into both the Meris Mercury 7 and the Echo Fix EF X2 tape delay and in Dual Mono mode I could get the perfect blend of the two using the Pan control, and change it on the fly to “mute” the delay by panning hard towards the Mercury 7 side, and vice versa when I only wanted tape delay and no reverb. You could do the same with distortions, blending to get the perfect distortion sound, or two filters, or a filter and a delay, and on and on. I did the same with two sound sources slightly detuned from each other and mixed and switched between the two. That brought on cool results and by blending the two signals I got a nice subtle phasing effect, though the further apart the tuning the heavier the phasing became. Doing this was also a good way to tune two oscillators by finding a balance between the two via Mix where you could hear both and listen for the beating of frequencies to die down between the two, so there was a perfectly synced fluctuation of waveforms. Using the same two oscillators, but the second one pitched at a desired interval of the first, such as a fifth, brought in a fuller sound, and transitioning between the two was an interesting way to change a bass or melody line, or even just two distinctly different types of noise for background. The same two signals patched into the same channel in Stereo mode brought out one distinct sound, and was less pronounced than in Dual Mono.
Mix is an interesting module. In a smaller case this would be a great end-of-line mixer, taking up little space, but offering up great flexibility and sound; however, in my larger setup I found myself using it for a percussion sub-mixer, combining snare sounds to fatten it up, and like I mentioned, as a performance-type of mixer where I used the first two channels for melody and bass and the other two for pad/drone duties. With the ability to hone in mixes between two signals, mix eight mono signals or four stereo, or just to get some stereo spread with the flick of a switch, DPW‘s M1 Mix delivers the goods.

9 HP +12v 25mA -12v 0mA
Price: $149