Mastermind PBCMastermind PBC/6XMicro Line MixerTech Tips

Part 2: Why You’ll Love the RJM Micro Line Mixer

Part 2: Why You’ll Love the RJM Micro Line Mixer

This is a 2nd part of the transcript. An edited  version (47 minutes) of the YouTube video can be found here or you can watch the entire 1 hour 10 min version here.

The Micro Line Mixer page on the RJM Music website has the Quickstart manual, diagrams and other features, specs and benefits. 

To buy the RJM Music Micro Line Mixer you can go directly to our page.

The Feature that Just Blew Everyone’s Mind!

Mason: Ron, is there anything that you would add or modify about that description in terms of the way that the signal gets to the mixer and the usage of a switcher as a way to mute the inputs only by way of the send, not using the returns?

Ron: I should point out one of the things that makes this actually work is what the Mastermind PBC (Mastermind PBC/6X and Mastermind PBC/10) does in this case. And if you plug into the send jacks of the return and you leave the returns open, nothing connected to them, then effectively the loops become a splitter.

So whatever effects you have in loops one through three, that resultant output then gets fed to send four, send five, send six and the output. in parallel, it kind of becomes a splitter whatever your prior effects. Identical copies of that gets sent to the input of your three wet effects here as well as the main output.

The Mastermind PBC here is splitting the signal, then it’s going in through all the effects, and then the Micro Line Mixer is combining them back down again into one signal to go to your amp or amps that’s one of the key things of how this actually works, and one thing that’s also I should mention that’s nice about this is because you’re not returning the effects back to the switcher, then you get the delay and reverb tail thing where, where when you switch off, say, loop four you’re no longer sending your signal to the delay, but the output of the delay continues to go through the mixer and to your amplifier. you might not be getting any new delay generated. Any prior ones will be allowed to trail off without being cut off abruptly like it would be if you wired it in series.

Grant: I have to admit that I’m a little bit embarrassed here, Ron. I am an RJM evangelist as are the other guys. I had no idea. that the 6x could be a splitter.

I just assumed, which was, you know what they say about assuming, and now I feel like I am a bit of a donkey here because I had no idea that you could actually send 4, 5, 6 and presumably 1,2,3, I’m not sure, but definitely 4,5,6 in parallel along with the output. This is blowing my mind right now, and it opens up so much. The reason I’m embarrassed is that this is a hardware thing and not a recent update. So I was like, oh, you’ve recently updated to allow parallel. It’s not that. This presumably was like this from the beginning. So this is a really good feature. I assume this would be the same on the Meg X as well?

Ron: Yeah. All of our switchers do this. I have a somewhat similar story on that where our original switcher, the RG16, which is a rack-based switcher that we did in 2007. I just designed it and didn’t even think about stuff like that then a customer said, “Hey, I’m using this and I use the sends of these loops and I’m using them to send to different amps.” And it’s like, “You did what?” I had to pull out the schematics and actually look and it’s like, Oh yeah, I guess it does that. I had no idea.

Originally it wasn’t even an intentional thing and it was just an artifact of how the loops were designed that it actually did that. It was much to my surprise, but it’s like, but it’s such an amazingly useful feature that I kept it in and every switcher we’ve ever made does the same exact things.

It’s too useful to not have.

Brian: I was like looking at it, seeing all the sends on the, like you’re sending it to the units, then to the mixer. And I was super confused by it because I was like, wait, is this?

Grant: Did you not know either?

Brian: I didn’t know. Oh, thank God. That makes me feel like less of an idiot.

It’s because like I don’t I don’t get a lot of people asking. I’m looking at a 6x and I’m looking at the Micro Line Mixer and I’m curious because it is like the same thing as if you plug in a pedal, you know a send and return into a pedal but then like you don’t plug the outputs of the pedal like does this how is it not like usually when you don’t plug in the outputs to return back into the unit it mutes it, right? Because you’re not getting signal back to the unit. Is there a setting in the editor that you have to do so it splits it or does it just automatically do it?

Ron: That’s just a mechanical feature of the jacks.

It’s basically a half normaled connection and so it’s always going to do that if you. If you want to implement a mute in one of those jacks – let’s say you want to use a loop as a tuner. You want to connect a tuner, but you want it to mute when you turn on the tuner. You actually have to connect the loop send to the tuner input, but you actually have to make a grounded quarter inch plug.We’re actually just connecting the tip to tip to ground inside the plug and stick that in the return. That will actually break the connection and it won’t actually mute unless you do that. The jacks are actually just do that by default.

Brian: In the diagram, you turning on loops four, five, and six, sounds like a Star Wars movie.

But loops four, five, and six, like sending those signals to those loops, loops one, two, and three won’t go out, those loops they’ll just go out through, the master output, I’m assuming?  Looking at the diagram it’s something new, something that I haven’t known has always been there. I’m like, you know

Grant: like kid in a candy store.

Brian: Yeah. I’m kind of geeking out by now. Oh my gosh, now I want to go and try this. But yeah, essentially, so like loops one, two, and three, we’ll just still go out the master output. I’m assuming, right?

Ron: Yeah, yeah, if there’s nothing in the return jack, then the, the, the following loop just gets whatever signal is coming from before it.

So, so yeah, and that example. the resultant signal of whatever you got turned on from loops one through three, that’s all going to work as expected and then that end result is going to end up going out, send four, send five, send six and the output and well, the sends only if the, those loops are turned on, it’s basically becomes a switchable splitter, I guess, and yeah, it’s that, and that’s kind of what makes the whole thing just work.

Kill Dry versus 100% Wet

Grant: I want to get back to my question /comments on the difference between kill dry versus a hundred percent wet. Ron, please correct me on any point of this, if it’s not quite correct here, but I think there is a big difference here and a distinction that needs to be made because a lot of people will say, Oh, I’ll just turn up the mix a hundred percent and all the dry disappears.

Let’s say on like a Boss DD7, this is a perfect example. Kill dry is not available on a Boss DD7 as far as a global menu change. So when we’re talking about routing a rig with, let’s say the PBC/6X, like we’ve just been mentioning. If we’re using a normal splitter this would work on a PBC/6X, just a normal buffered splitter and then you turn the DD7 off because it doesn’t have kill dry. Now you’re just going to pass dry signal through the DD7 as you normally would. Whereas on, let’s say a Strymon Timeline. You set it to kill dry, which is a 100% wet and then you turn the Timeline off. It mutes that signal and so that in my mind is the really big distinction.

There’s other things like you turn the mix down on a Timeline and kill dry, and it brings the whole delay level down with it all the way to off. So are there any other things that we need to talk about with the difference between kill dry versus 100% wet when you’re in a parallel rig or did I butcher the explanation?

Anything you’d adjust there or inform people about?

Ron: It seems like different manufacturers implement it differently. I definitely run into the thing that you mentioned about Strymon pedals. The mix knob becomes effectively just a wet level should control or just affect overall level control. then it’ll depend on whether the pedal is buffered bypass or true bypass. And so, and I don’t think there’s any particular standard from a manufacturer to manufacturer on how that’s going to be implemented, I can’t recall any examples off the top of my head, but there probably are pedals that are just completely – there is no difference between 100% wet and kill dry and it just behaves the same way.

But generally speaking, when it’s kill dry. It’s truly just eliminating the dry signal altogether through the entire pedal. And so whether, setting it 100% percent wet achieves the same result is going to depend on how the pedal was built.

Mason: I have a question Ron, which selfishly pertains to a rig that I’m building right now and I’m building a pedal board that is inspired in the Nashville standards and I am using one of the Nashville standards, which is the old Line6 M9 And I find myself in need of a mixer, and I found that on the M9, it doesn’t have any sort of analog drive thru whatsoever.

And I know that some purport that this is not an issue. I find that it’s generally not if you’re running the thing just strictly in stereo and in all serial effects. But when you start to run it in a wet-dry-wet context and you have a reference now of the actual dry signal that’s split separately from it, that latency without a mixer is very noticeable because of the non-analog dry signal path.

And if you have a specific diagram here, which I think perfectly fits my needs and it is in fact how I’m planning to implement the Micro Line Mixer, which is a little bit different than a standard wet-dry-wet application, kind of like we talked about before. Whereas you can see on this diagram, where you have all your dry effects and overdrives in essence coming into the dry input on the mixer, which is in the bottom right, and then you’re taking the buffered output and you’re creating, I believe in this case, a splitter cable.

Is that right, Ron?

Ron: if you’re, skilled enough to make a three-way splitter cable, you can do that, or there are splitter boxes and all that. But whatever it takes to create a passive split, like one in and three out.

Mason: Yeah, this buffered output has a low enough output impedance where it’s going to be able to drive that, that splitter cable without any issue.

Ron: Exactly, that’s, one of the reasons we go through the buffer first is just so that it can handle the split. Yeah, and so, and so you’ve got it split in my case, I don’t even really need to do that for the, the M9 because I’m just going to take the buffer out.

It’s going to go into the input of the M9 and then I have the stereo outs of the M9 feeding One of the mixer inputs doesn’t matter which one and then I’m able to reincorporate my dry signal so that I can get rid of that non-analog dry through, the, the DSP bypass that’s on it.

I can restore my original analog dry signal that’s coming into it. And this way, if I do split it, and I do have the option to do that on my rig where I can run it wet-dry-wet, or I can run it all in series in front of two stereo amps, I don’t have any consequence of doing that. Now, in the case of this particular effect, I don’t know that they actually go 100% wet. I was experimenting with it a bit and trying to see the best way to do it. Since it is always on in some capacity, I seem to be able to get away with not having the effects 100% wet because I don’t believe all of them do or even are capable of going 100% wet on that particular device.

Implementing with M9 (Latency)

Do you have any recommendations based on how I might implement this with my M9 that might optimize it further than what I’ve already explained?

Ron: If you can’t go 100% wet, you are going to run into some limitations on that. And there’s, there’s one thing that should be mentioned when you’re talking about any kind of parallel setup with digital effects and that is digital effects have latency. The signal comes in the input and a couple of milliseconds later, it comes out the output. Even if it’s a digital dry signal, even the dry signal comes out, a little bit later.

In many cases, that just doesn’t matter at all, and it’s all fine. But if you start doing stuff like this, where you’re splitting the analog signal and then kind of going around the pedal in setting up parallel, like we’ve been talking about here and then and then mixing it back in with the output of the M9 what you have is a dry signal and then a dry signal that’s coming in a few milliseconds later then the other dry signal and what does that do? That’s a flanger so you can actually get a little bit of, of flanging out of it for free.

Grant: To clarify free flange.

Ron: Now if you’re doing time-based effects like, like delay, reverb or chorus, it doesn’t matter because you’re delaying it even more. If you’re, doing a 400 millisecond delay, it doesn’t matter whether it’s like 400 milliseconds or 402 coming outta there. And so that’s fine. I think it might’ve even been with the M9 itself, but definitely in early days. I found this out the hard way certain effects where you were non time-based things like the, overdrive emulations or things like that.

I’m like, why am I getting this – this kind of weird daisy flangering thing? That’s why – it’s just that, you kind of have two slightly out of whack signals being mixed together. I can’t say that I have optimization chips, but that’s definitely a thing that you’ll likely run into unless you generally keep to the time-based effects. It’s unfortunately something that’s not avoidable in something that doesn’t have, a true kill dry or a 100% wet capability.

Mason: If you have something like an Eventide H9, which doesn’t have any analog dry, but does have the option for a kill dry, that’s fine in that you’re replacing the dry signal with the analog dry that’s feeding the input of the mixer, whereas on the M9, there isn’t an option for a kill dry. And so you’re sort of duplicating two dry signals, one that is slightly latent from the original analog dry signal that’s on the input of the mixer.

Ron: Yeah, having no dry signal coming through the pedal will make the pedal, far more usable than, than something where you can’t avoid that. Now, that said, there still can be problems, and it’s going to vary from pedal to pedal on this.

And it’s definitely going to vary based on the effect that you’re using. It could be, things like, distortion algorithms, compressor algorithms, things that, don’t intentionally introduce any additional delay. You can still run into that but it depends on, on how much latency there is and, what the effect is.

There isn’t one answer for that, but I guess it’s something that people should keep in mind if you’re trying to run it in parallel. Not everything is going to work now, unless the safe zone is, things like delay and reverb because you’re intentionally delaying the signal.

Grant: I don’t know if you guys would agree or not, but I think from my tests as well, if you’re going to run anything in parallel, the biggest return on investment is delay and reverb. That’s where you’re going to notice the biggest difference as far as clarity in your signal, transient notes, all that, the textures and everything coming through as soon as you run delay and reverb in parallel you get a very quick return on what it feels like to run effects in parallel and then you can add in chorus or pitch or whatever else you might want to add in. But those are the ones that I’ve found make the biggest difference if you want to get the feel for that kind of rig.

To buy the RJM Music Micro Line Mixer you can go directly to our page.

Continued : PART 3