Unleash the Power of Your Modular System with Bastl Instruments Aikido: A Performative Quad VCA Mixer with Submix Routing and Envelope Followers

The Bastl Instruments Aikido is a modular quad VCA mixer with submix routing and two styles of integrated envelope followers, making it an ideal tool for both central mixing and utility in a modular system. It features clickless mute switches, level faders, and dedicated attenuverters on each channel for easy and immediate performability.

One of the standout features of the Aikido is its envelope followers, which allow for signals to interact and mix in new ways. Its DC-coupled VCAs can be used for flexible modulation routing, while the module offers flexible spectral compression and has multiple cascading mixers.

The Aikido also offers sidechain compression and expansion, thanks to its clever normalization that allows for ready-to-go sidechain routing experimentation. The module is equipped with a side chain envelope follower input that is normalized to Channel A, but can be overridden by plugging in any external signal. Its output is normalized to the CV paths, so users can start compressing instantly. With the help of the attenuverters, users can compress or expand other signals by patching a kick drum to Channel A. The switch allows users to select the envelope follower response time.

The Spectral Follower, on the other hand, listens to the Channel D output and can be set to focus on treble, mid, or bass frequencies. By patching the Spectral Follower anywhere, users can make a spectral compression and experiment with new and creative sounds.

In terms of connectivity, the Aikido offers four VCA channels, each with an input and output (DC-coupled) as well as a CV input with attenuverter, level fader with 6dB boost, and clickless mute with light indication. The main mix output is accompanied by individual VCA outputs with patch-programmable cascading mix routing. Backside jumpers allow users to select whether direct VCA outputs are pre/post mute, cascaded mixing input and output (joins 2 Aikidos to 8 channel mixer), and main mix input and output (for chaining the normalized MIX outputs), chainable with Buddy.

Overall, the Bastl Instrument Aikido is a powerful and flexible quad VCA mixer that offers a wide range of routing possibilities, making it an essential tool for any modular setup. Its envelope followers allow for new and creative soundscapes, while its DC-coupled VCAs offer flexible modulation routing. The module's sidechain and spectral compression capabilities also make it an ideal tool for musicians and producers looking to experiment with new sounds and workflows.

Example Usage

If you're new to modular synthesizers and want to start experimenting with mixing and routing, Bastl Instruments Aikido is an excellent quad VCA mixer with submix routing capabilities. With its clickless mute switches, level faders, and attenuverters, it's easy to use and provides immediate performability. Additionally, Aikido features two styles of integrated envelope followers: the side chain envelope follower, which allows you to compress or expand other signals by patching in an external signal or using the input from channel A; and the spectral follower, which lets you create spectral compression by focusing on low, mid, or high frequencies. You can even daisy chain multiple Aikido units to create larger cascading mixers. Experimenting with Aikido will help you unleash the power of your modular system.

An intermediate-level usage example for Bastl Instruments Aikido in a modular system would be to use the quad VCA mixer and its submix routing to create complex and dynamic rhythms by sending different elements of a drum pattern to separate channels and manipulating their levels and envelope followers. For instance, patching a kick drum to Channel A and a snare to Channel B, then using the attenuverters to expand the kick and compress the snare, can create a pulsating and organic groove. Adding a hi-hat to Channel C and using the spectral follower to focus on high frequencies can give it a shimmering effect that complements the other elements. By adjusting the response time and frequency focus of the envelope followers, as well as the mix and cascading outputs, you can further shape the sound and create variations. With several Aikido units daisy chained, you can expand the mixer to accommodate more sources and possibilities.

Further Thoughts

If you're looking to create complex envelopes and experiment with signal routing in your modular system, Bastl Instruments Aikido is the perfect tool for you. Its Side Chain and Spectral Follower inputs allow you to add compression and spectral effects to your mix with incredible precision. For instance, you can patch in a kick drum to Channel A, use the attenuverters to expand some channels and compress others, and select the response curve with the switch on the Side Chain Envelope Follower. By using Aikido to manipulate and mix signals, your modular system can become a versatile arena where even small signals can win the battle. With Aikido, you can add another dimension of creativity and experimentation to your setup, and unleash the full potential of your modular system.