These days there’s a whole lot of musicians using what years ago may have been unkindly called ‘lo-fi’ synths. The raging popularity of the Korg Volca range of (mostly) analogue synths has created a very specific problem for users who want to perform live.
The same problem also affects musicians who use synths like the Bastl Kastl, or any one of the huge range of tiny noise toys that can be found on Ebay and Esty.
The problem is combining signals so a single output can be fed into an audio recorder, headphones, PA etc etc. Sure you could buy a small mixer but this solution is overkill for anyone who wants to keep their rig small. Bearing in mind that (apart from Volcas) most small synths are no bigger than a guitar FX pedals. Adding a full mixer into the setup just takes up too much space. A traditional mixer also offers functionality that many bleep bandits simply don’t want or need.
Signals from multiple sources can be combined using a star type headphone sharing device, but there’s no way to control line levels using anything other than the output volume of the devices you are playing with. In a performance environment this can be lethal – one accidental mis-turn of an output signal can cause the sort of signal skyrockets that give sound engineers night terrors.
Another option is to use a small line mixer, which is like a headphone mixer in reverse. Sort of. But these devices often require an external power source. This is inconvenient when a lot of other devices run off batteries. This type of signal combiner also tends to have 6.5mm (1/4 inch) inputs and outputs. Almost all tiny noise machines and grove boxes use 3.5mm outputs. This means we have to use a handful of adapters to make connections, and nobody likes to use adapters. However, one advantage of using a line mixer is the ability to mute channels by quickly spinning individual line volume knobs to zero.
The Bastl DUDE – the answer!
Bastl have developed a five channel mixer called DUDE that is fitted with five 3.mm inputs, and dual mono outputs. Lovely. What’s more this teeny tiny mixer has the ability to run on AA batteries. Nice. If batteries aren’t your bag then you can power the DUDE externally. Great,
Each channel has a +20db boost, a boost strong enough that with some clever patching this mixer can actually act as a tone generator. This may seem odd, but Bastl appear to pride themselves in doing things a little differently. Devices like the Bastl Kastle are designed with built in wrongness. The Kastle will do exactly what it is intended to, but if you patch it up incorrectly you won’t break it, you’ll just get new noise. We love that. But anyway, back to the DUDE.
The Bastl DUDE has a mute button for each channel. This is incredibly useful for live performance. This ability to mute or activate individual channels allows the operator to drop individual instruments in, or out of a mix. Great for drops. By giving us push buttons (instead of the knobs seen on line mixers) we can drop multiple sound sources in or out at will. Ya can’t do that so easily by turning knobs.
The Bastl DUDE ships in June 2017, but you can place your order on the Noise Kitchen website right now…
Bastl DUDE specifications:
- 5 channel monophonic mixer
- Up to +20dB (10x) gain knob for each channel
- Each channel has dedicated mute button switch (not click less)
- Dual mono output for driving headphones
- Powered by 4x AA battery or external adaptor 9-12VDC