I’m not sure if someone already had this idea, but anyway…

Blue Cat Gain Suite is free sets of gain plugins, sort of Sonalksis FreeG. But it supports MIDI input!!. So here my VCA

Insert Blue Cat Gain VSt in Insert slot 8 (or what ever you need). In the plugin GUI right click and select Instance preset. On the MIDI tab deselect Use Global MIDI and enable Midi In for Gain, choose desired MIDI channel and Controller 7 for volume. ( you can now control different groups on different MIDI channels) Now you can add more GainVSTs and link them ( Groups A,B,C or D)
Add Midi track and select MIDI out to you desired Gain VST insert ( I use the first instance i.e Overheads)
Now all the Gain VST plugs will ride together when you moove your MIDI fader. :slight_smile:
To default GainVST and MIDI fader to 0, or better said to the position where your audio faders have 0 to avoid confusion (unfortunately GainVST always defaults to +0.5 or -0.5 DB, probably due to only 127 MIDI steps) insert MIDI Transformer into Midi Inserts and multiply the Value 2 by 0.650
The resulution of the GainVST fader rely on MIDI steps, so only 1dB changes a possible. I’m still experimenting with MIDI transformer macro to let the GainVST fader work in smaller steps, but for now it works for me :slight_smile:

Hope it makes sense what I wrote.Have fun with VCA in N5.
Maybe we could ask Blue CAT developer to add more groups and make the fader resolution finer.

Best regards

Alternatively, use all EFX in group tracks, and save FX tracks for VCA type use.
IE, take a drumkit.
Audio tracks might be K/S/H/T1/T2/T43/OH-L/OH-R.
Group tracks associated might be KSH/Rest of Kit/Ambient (room mics & overheads etc), a parallel buss (I use the UAD FATSO here) and any EFX (snare plates, room 'verbs etc).
Route the outputs of all Group tracks to a single EFX track and label this “Kit All”.
Moving the EFX fader will now control the whole kit and work like a VCA (sort of, anyway, but the idea is the same)

THats cool!. Tx

But AFAIK, in this case i have to route the drums FX channel to the EFX VCA master?.
Otherwise when changing the ALL level won’t change the send FX level of the tracks. Is it correct?.
Great tip anyway, Neil, thank you!.


Not really - you can still route the drum FX to the drum VCA.
I only use FX channels as Virtual VCA - all actual effects go in standard group tracks for me.

I really want to understand your method Neil and I don’t. I really miss real VCA’s when I do nuendo work. Can you explain what exactly the benefits are when you exchange FX and Group channel functions and how you use this as a VCA? I have a few audio tracks here routed to an FX channel with no insert and I’m trying to understand your method. Why not use a Group channel called Kit All? What is the difference? thanks for your time.

I have a question too Neil:

Unless I read your post incorrectly I’m thinking that the whole drum kit ends up in one channel, a group essentially, and that you control all of the components in that group with one fader, right?

I haven’t really made use of VCA’s much, but I thought the whole point was to be able to change the level of a group (unfortunate nomenclature here) of tracks, such as your drumkit, without changing the level of the summed signal. In other words one fader controls a bunch of other faders. No “direct” control of actual audio.

Seems that with your method all you’re doing is changing the audio level post those individual tracks simply because they’ve been routed through a summing point (aux/group/fx whatever it’s called). So if one wants to control all the track levels going into such a point where one has effects one will need an extra route for audio (unless one uses post-fader inserts)…

I’m I understanding it correctly?..

Let me try & explain it a little better.
I’m not sure if you have a good point or not - I need to think about that carefully - but the way it seems to work for me is this (again using a drumkit for the example):
1 - audio tracks for the individual components.
2 - Group tracks for effects and any summed tracks.
3 - FX track as the “master”.
So I might route Kick in/out and Snare top/bottom to one group, 3 rack toms & a floor tom to another and overheads & ambient mics to a third. Then there will be a parallel compression group (usually a UAD FATSO these days), possibly a snare reverb (fed by the snare top/bottom channels according to taste & flavour) and an overall “drum verb” if needed. The number of groups doesn’t matter.
All groups will be routed to the FX “VCA” channel.
For me, this is very flexible as I can increase or decrease pretty much any component or group of components whilst leaving the “VCA” fader alone, but if I want to turn the entire thing up or down, I can use the “VCA” fader.

I have to admit I do not do it very often, as it’s a pain to set up & is a workaround and not a true VCA fader of course. But with a massively complex drum mic-up (which does seem to happen to me occasionally - recently had a multitrack come in with no less than 18 mics on the drumkit) it can make things easier to control.
Plus of course with this setup, I can hit the EXPAND button on my ID console & get every feeding channel to the right of the “VCA” channel as well…

Not a substitute for a real VCA fader, but a workaround.

Ok, that’s what I thought. That’s not a real workaround then (because it’s not a “substitute” that does the same thing).

As far as I can see the whole point of a VCA fader controlling a VCA group (of faders) is that you get level control over a group of faders without changing their individual relationships. Let’s use background vocals as an example instead:

You have all your individual b-vox tracks.
You assign them all to a VCA group with an associated VCA fader.

You can now control all your b-vox tracks with one fader. You can grab that one fader and ride it like you would any other fader, but it’ll control all your b-vox with their relationships retained. And then if you want to raise the level of one of the harmony vocals then you can simply do so on that track, changing the relationship between the b-vox. No need to “unlink” those faders.

Or think of your drums instead. Suppose you want to lower the input into your parallel compression “group”. You can now just lower the VCA fader and all the individual drum tracks will send less level, yet retain their individual relationships.

Ok, you may intuitively think that you can simply tweak the Fatso plug-in, and that’s true. But then consider your snare reverb: It’s fed by the individual snare tracks you write. So by changing the the VCA you change the send to the verb as well. If you had not sent the output of the snare reverb to your “Drum-Master-Group” and instead had left that verb go straight to the main mix you’d have still heard it when lowering your “Drum-Master-Group”. So this applies in any situation where you have sends on individual tracks and aren’t returning them into a group associated with those sending tracks (all ending up in that “X-Master-Group”). So anyone who works by having say a couple of reverbs that get fed several different sources, perhaps both acoustic guitars and background vocals to one reverb, will have a “problem”.

See the difference?

Nope - I would assign these to a subgroup, not the “VCA” FX track.

I can still do this with my configuration.

My P-Comp group is separate to the drum group, and both these output into the “VCA” track.

I use separate reverbs for vocals/drums/guitars etc. Again, all in subgroups - SnareVerb, KitVerb, RoomVerb etc.
All these are fed from the send of the original track, not a group (sole exception is the P-Comp group, which is fed from the subgroup I want to send to the FATSO (or whatever). All subgroups are output into the “VCA” track.
I still have complete control…

I was giving an example, not saying you did exactly that.

I was talking about the input, not the output.

Exactly my point.

Neils workaround only works when FX return is routed to the same group which feeds VCA. Otherwise changing level of the VCA won’t affect fx send level. Thats why you need separate FX for the instrument groups.
Guys, try the Blue Cat method

  1. You can insert them in slot 8, which is post fader, so they will affect the FX send as well
  2. Since you use MIDI track, you can have a nice Mixer 4 just for the VCA
  3. You can drag&copy them, so only 1 instance has to be configured, the rest will follow.
  4. You can add them AFTER mixer configuration, no need to remember to use FX instead of Groups
  5. You can control up to 4 different VCAs, with only one MIDI fader, just assign different MIDI channel to different groups

I just tried Blob’s method and I am very pleased. I’m even more pleased to see that it also works in trim mode!!!

I’m a fan

It still won’t affect the fx send in his case, since he sent from individual channels to his reverbs. In the case of his parallel compression, ‘yes’, it did adjust “send” level pre-fx.

Thanks for the recommendation. Hope Steiney gets on board with groups and VCAs though…