Can Someone explain VCA faders to me please?

I’ve seen these on the wish list for Cubase for some time now, so I thought I’d try to learn about them …

I’ve looked things up and everything, including an old SOS article about PT incorporating it. Usually I can plow through things and understand, but in this case, I can’t see what VCA faders bring to a DAW that we don’t have with group busses.

One of the articles said something about group busses not being adequate because of ??something to do with pre- vs. post-fader??, but don’t we have enough options in that regard to get things done?

Anyway, I think this is one of those situations where I’m not getting the really obvious main point, so if anyone can enlighten, I’d be grateful!

Thanks -

Aloha a,

I think I found the article about which you were talking,

and while I do understand what is being said, I which they had pointed us
to some audio clips where we could hear some specific differences.


Yes, thanks, Curteye, that’s the one! Did you understand there/can you explain how the VCA brings things to the table that our group bussing doesn’t? I know it’s in there, but I just couldn’t get my head around it …


This video explains what VCA Faders do in ProTools.

Once you see it, you will understand the difference between a Group-Fader, and a VCA-Fader.

Very useful to get this in Cubase Pro 8 !

Looking forward to Upgrade to Cubase Pro 8. or is it Cubase 8 Pro :slight_smile: ?


Thank you, Muziksculp for that!

AAiii, I think I must be going madly stupid or something, because I can’t see where the VCA advantage over groups, as described in that video is any different than what I do currently. As I understand it, he is saying the advantage of the VCA group over a regular group is that only in the VCA group can the individual faders be adjusted. But I can do that in my current set up as well (obviously, no VCA faders).

Can you take a look at what I do please, briefly described below, and tell me where a VCA fader would be better?

  1. All my vocals go to a group called “Vocals”, then that goes to a group called “Final Volume” which goes to the master.
  2. All my drums go to a group called “Drums” , then that goes to a group called “Final Volume” which goes to the master.
  3. All my keys go to a group called “Keys”, then that goes to a group called “Final Volume” which goes to the master.

The video says that the advantage of the VCA fader over a PT group is that the individual faders within the VCA group can be individually adjusted, not just the whole group.

But in my set up, if I want to fade up Vocal 1 (of 3), I can do that just like they did in their vid, similarly if I wanted to fade down the Kick drum, or Key 1 (of 3) … :-/

And of course, if I want all the Drums to be turned down, I just turn down the volume of the group called “Drums”. Sure, when I do that, I don’t see the individual faders move like they do when the PT VCA group fader is adjusted, but isn’t the end effect the same (if not, I can’t figure out why it wouldn’t be?)?

What am I missing? :frowning:

Thanks :slight_smile: -

I don’t get it either.

From the video it seems like I could do that with a group buss channel, ie. I want more or less of the tracks in that group I raise or lower the group fader accordingly. If one track needs to be louder under that group I just adjust it within the group.

The only difference I can see that might make a difference is that all the tracks in VCA don’t go thru a group buss and instead the output each channel is raised or lowered when sent to the mix buss rather than having group buss to mix buss. Maybe that’s a big deal but honestly I havent had an issue going thru the group.

We must be missing something because people definitely seem to think its a big deal although I have no idea why.

Watching the vid that Muziksculp posted I think I got it.

When you use a group there is always some ‘summing’ going on which
for good or bad will affect the sound.

Using the VCA fader it is like using 10 fingers (one on each fader) and then changing things.
No summing going on.

Is that It?

Ahh, I see what you are saying, curteye.

But in the VCA instance, isn’t the summing just occurring farther down the routing pathway, i.e., in the 2-bus perhaps … maybe not in the “Group” as we know it in Cubase, but definitely some summing occurring somewhere else instead?

Yes but in my example (which may be wrong) the summing happen only once
at the main buss.

I dunno.

Kids these days…

No, VCAs are not about summing and summing engines.

VCAs are about control.
Film orchestra example:

Orchestra recording, when mixing I want to be able to set all the tracks individually, but at the same time balance 1st violins, 2nd violins, violas, cellos, contrabass and decca tree. And I may also need to control the 1st, 2nd and violas as a unit, and cellos and contras as another, and ALSO. Control the level of the recorded contra basses together with the overdubbed synth bass, but I obviously want to keep the actual sounds separate as they go to different stems but the control needs to be related.
Mixing it down to many groups is unecessary and limiting. I may need one strings stem and one synth stem so I don’t want them mixed. But I DO need the control.

Pop example:
Bgvox, I want to be able to control the BGvox on one fader, but the processing may be widely different, and I do not want to limit myself artistically by mixing them down using a group. I may also want to control the level of the BGvox together with the synth vocoder so the balance stays the same, but I do not want to mix them.

I may want to control the level of all thrums, acoustic and electronic at the same time, but without mixing them.

And no, links and groups does not do the same thing. You may think it does, but it does not.

Maybe it’s only old farts like me that have used real large scale hardware consoles that all had VCAs that fully appreciate the functionality, and if it is true that it is coming in the next gen release, I will be very happy.

I promise that when you truly understand VCAs, you do not want to mix without them (although you can, I have made it without them for a long time, but have missed them all the time).
VCAs is one of the few things I envy the implementation of in PT.

VCA helps when post fader sends are part of the game.

They allow you too keep the relative levels intact - group channels totally and painfully fail here, epically, which is the reason why they are a pain in the *** when it comes to creative drum processing.

(This is something I’m really looking forward to…)

That did it! Thanks so much. I never thought of manipulating levels as a group but having each of them being part of a different stem, buss or processing.

The video previously linked fails at explaining VCAs as anything other than a group but you covered the reasons not being explained, thanks.

Yeah The Nav,

This was the first thing they occurred to me about VCA. I’ll be able to say, have BG Vox to a group, but, say one of them had a send to an FX. Now, I can change levels of all BG Vox to Group, yet keep relative sends from the original Channel.


Yeah, ErikG’s explanation is the only one that offered any real benefit that I can see. I get the post fader Send bit too, but that seems like less of a problem for me the way I use Cubase.

I think the opinions separate the composers from those who are used to the control of traditional desks. If you haven’t had to use it it is hard to get the difference between it and plain grouping at first sight.
Great explanation by EricG.
I think the benefits will be seen and enjoyed and I think some underlying functions will be improved as well.

Thanks for the wonderful explanation!

As the final bit, can you please explain the above comparison between groups, links, and VCAs a bit more?

Thanks :slight_smile:

I watched the first video where the presenter speaks about VCA and I don’t really understand how or why a VCA offers any more or better control than a level fader on a group.

The presenter spoke about relative levels, and it seems to me that riding a group bus fader will keep levels relative just like a VCA will.

How is it really different?

Thank you.

I’ve never understood it either, it made sense in the old analogue consul days where it saved complex physical routing options and increased physical signal paths but in a DAW?

Just to old to get the point I guess


Read this:


Thanks jose7822

After reading all that ill just limp along without using VCA in a DAW