VCAs x subgroup busses

hey fellow ardour users,
a simple question: in your everyday workflow, are there any real-life advantages of VCAs over subgroup busses?

i mean, VCAs are doing what are they meant for (controlling several track’s volume with one fader) just fine, (and i like them, they’re so geeky and meta and recursive and cool!) but when it comes to real mixing, i can’t think of a sane scenario where VCAs would do a substantially better job.

on the other hand, subgroup busses can do basically all that VCAs can (ie. controlling several tracks while maintaining their relative volumes), with the bonus you don’t mess up the gain structure of individual tracks, and of course you can do all the stuff busses are made for (subgroup DSP, routing etc.)

i can imagine VCAs can be much cheaper (CPU-vise), but this is probably a non-issue with modern machines if you don’t do something crazy like hundreds of independent groups…

as often, i must be missing something - that’s why i’m asking. how do you people see this from the perspective of your experience?

thanks,
t.

Canonical case: you want to do heirarchical grouping.

e.g.:

Kick,Snare,Hi-Hat -> VCA “Drums”
VCA Drums + Cowbell + shakers -> VCA “Perc”
VCA Perc + bass -> VCA “Rhythm”
VCA Rhythm + guitar + keys -> VCA “Instruments”
Backing Vocal 1 + Backing Vocal 2 -> VCA “Backing Vocals”
VCA Backing Vocals + Lead Vocals -> VCA Vocals

Now you can bring different parts of the mix in/out very nicely. Can’t do this with subgroups really.

1 Like

on the other hand, subgroup busses can do basically all that VCAs can (ie. controlling several tracks while maintaining their relative volumes), with the bonus you don’t mess up the gain structure of individual tracks, and of course you can do all the stuff busses are made for (subgroup DSP, routing etc.)

You have vocals going to subgroups with a postfade send to individual reverb busses. Bring down the vocals via subgroups, the reverb stands out now as it doesn’t actually go down. Bring down a VCA with those channels assigned however and the send to the reverb will also go down.

Generally use VCAs for mixing, and subgroups for processing is a general rule of thumb. If you have multiple channels to be processed similarly (Say background vox might have similar HP and LP filters) put the audio through the subgroup, process the subgroup, and use the VCA to mix it.

  Seablade

paul, seablade, thanks for your reactions. makes sense. it just looks like i’ll have to buy a wider monitor since quite often i’d be supposed to use both busses and VCAs to do it “correctly” - way too many faders!

Often times once I get the busses set up, I can hide them and don’t need to see them as much personally.

  Seablade