VCA conundrum

I’m mixing a drumkit. Each kitpiece is routed to a separate channel on the mixer. I’m sending the snare to a general reverb (ie, not an inserted reverb).

If I send all channels to a Group, I can process the entire kit with inserted eq or compression.

But if I lower the fader volume, of course the kit gets quieter but the snare reverb remains.

If instead I link all channels to a VCA, when I lower the fader, both the kit and the snare reverb get quieter, which is what I want.

But what I can’t do is process the kit with insert eq or compression.

Is it possible to have the best of both worlds? Ie, VCA-type control, with the ability to process that signal?

Well you can use both a VCA & a Group at the same time. Use the VCA & not the Group fader to adjust the volume but use the Inserts on the Group to process the full kit.

Unfortunately that has the same result- if you lower the VCA fader (which controls the Group volume), that is the same as simply lowering the Group volume. The snare reverb still remains.

No…you need to set VCA on the individual channels…it’s not the same.

Ah- ok! Do you mean like this? As you can see, I’ve simplified it down to 2 channels of audio. But it works!
VCA Pic1.jpg

I have no idea what I’m looking at there…All you need a single VCA and a group :confused:

Take your 5 (or however many) drum channels and assign a single VCA to them. Use this VCA to set the overall volume of the drum kit. Use the Faders on each drum channel to set the relative levels between kit pieces. Assign the Destinations for your 5 drum channels to a single Group channel. Use this Group channel to apply EQ, compression, etc. Don’t use the Group’s Fader to adjust any levels.

That’s fantastic- thankyou very much for clarifying that.

I suppose the only downside is that adjusting the VCA level affects the signal going into the (eg) compressor on the group channel.

However- and please correct me if I’m wrong- that’s as it should be.

You could route the drum reverb through the group, then you can use the group fader. But it would have to be a dedicated drum or snare reverb.


If you’re going to have to export the track to stems at some point it’s worthwhile routing the fx reverb through the group anyway.

If you have 5 stems:


Each stem with their own dedicated send FX routed through their own dedicated stem buss/group - it gets over that problem and you can also batch export the stems.

Yes, setting compression often involves going back & forth adjusting and readjusting levels going into and out of the compressor.

Lots of times it’s useful to use multiple compressors at different points in the signal flow. For example you might put a compressor on each drum kit channel all with very light compression to even them out (or perhaps more on the kick to give it some extra punch). Then put another compressor on the group channel and use it to “glue” the different drums together.