The 4x4 Matrix Mixer - FX Junkies, you need to see this!

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Flux Jetson, Jun 8, 2013.

  1. During my reseach of things to use with my X-Rig, as well as my total love of modular synths, I have discovered a gadget known as the Matrix Mixer.

    In short, imagine a 4 channel mixer that has 4 FX busses. That pretty much sums up a 4x4 Matrix Mixer. Some people call them Matrix Mixers, others prefer Mixer Matrix. I suppose either phrase gets the point across.

    The one that will most likely appeal to more bass players is the 4in x 4out unit made by Repeater Electronics. The "Model 1" (shown below) is currently priced at $149. Other models have different jacks, such as banana jacks, 3.5mm, as well as various combinations. The guy at Repeater Electronics can build you whatever it is you need. Even other channel configurations (2x4, 4x5, and so on). I suppose whatever can be wedged into that enclosure he uses is pretty much fair game. Contact him, his website (linked here) has his contact information.

    NOTE: I am not connected in any way, either professionally or personally, with Repeater Electronics or it's owner(s) or employee(s). I'm just reporting what I have discovered out there in Webzville.


    This page is also helpful ...

    Ok, there are two basic types:

    1.) Passive: These have no buffers or amplifiiers in their circuitry, and require no input power (no battery or wall wart). This type is sufficient for most bass players/guitar players. The thing you need to know about the passive units is that they can reduce signal levels to a certain degree depending on how you elect to use it. Of course this can be offset by using various booster pedals or preamps that offer signal boosting. Basically anything that makes your bass louder will work as a signal booster. The other thing to note is that you may need to hit some sort of buffer with your passive bass guitar first (just a good tuner will work well for this, any pedal that has a high input impedance will do the trick. The inputs on these passive mixer matrix units usually have pretty low input impedances, which may load down and dull the sound of your pickups. The good thing about passive matrix mixers is that they are usually about HALF the price of an active one, and they also require no DC power (further reducing their total cost).

    2.) Active: These have the ability to act as signal boosters ... actually several signal boosters. Most of them have a booster amp on each output! So if it is a 4x4 Matrix it has FOUR boosters, one on each output. The active ones also normally have input buffers which helps keep everything happy when it comes to signal loading. However, the active ones that I have seen are all synth modules, which means they'll need dedicated power supplies AND some method of mounting them (small cab of some sort, or a rack mounting adaptor, and so on). Active matrices (that is plural for "matrix" .... "matrices" .. it is usually pronounced "may-trih-seez" but may be pronounced "may-trih-sez") are usually about 2x the initial cost of a passive unit. Plus you must add the cost of a power supply and a mounting system if the unit is a synth module. I am unaware of any stompbox-type active matrix mixers.

    The neat thing about any of these matrix mixers is that you can create some INSANE feedback loops. You have four inpputs. Each input has four separate outputs that you may adjust the levels of. So you can connect (let's say) a delay to output #1. Connect you bass to input #1. Now, run the delay's output into input #2, but then route input-2's output back into the delay's input by turning up the knob that controls the level coming out of output #1. So how you can make signals go into circles? And you still have a way out of the circle by simply routing that signal out of an available output by turning up it's knob. I know this is about as clear as mud, but I'm in the process of drawing up a diagram of how a matrix mixer is wired up. That will make everything MUCH clearer.

    You have the ability to put 4 different FX, one on each output channel, then run your bass into one input channel and "mix" how much of your bass is sent to each output ... just like a bus on a mixing board. If you have FX with more than one output channel you can send each channel to a separate input on the matrix, and then route those to any of four outputs.

    Or ..... or ... or .... :bassist:

    If you're into ambient music you can create infinite loops of sound by rerouting outputs back into inputs with a matrix mixer. The possibilities are NUTS.

    They may also be used as simple 4-way splitters, or simple 4ch mixers. They are wonderful tools. People into synths, especially modular synths, the mixer matrix is about as necessary as a basic Low Pass Filter ("LPF") in any modular synth rig as they may be used with audio signals, CV signals, or even GATE signals. They are CRAZY-useful in modular rigs.

    Myself I use the Doepfer A138M ($199 at several importers). It is an active unit, with a few other features as well .....


    If that type of synth module format interests you there are a number of ways to adopt that type of gear into a pedalboard these days. Companies like Pittsburgh Modular and Doepfer make small "mini cabs" that provide DC power for the modules and a small footprint to adopt just a few modules into any given system. Roughly small cabs about 7 inches wide to units about 16 inches wide, depending on which company you select and which model you choose.

    So anyhow, I just thought I'd introduce the FX junkies among the membership here to the wonder that is the Mixer Matrix (or Matrix Mixer ... pick yer flavor). I'm sure some of you are already aware of them, but I thought I'd post it anyhow for the benefit of those who are not aware of them. Once you get your head wrapped around the possibilities suddenly a billion ideas begin to develop. I gotta wonder what could be done with one of these in combination with phrase loopers and delays.

    Ok, let me draw up that diagram and get it posted.....
    Andy V., Bob_Ross and triviani like this.
  2. Huh ... ok ... so alrighty then ... it turns out I had already created a tech folder on my computer with a boatload of information regarding Matrix Mixers. So, I've been spared having to draw up any diagrams, these are much better than anything I can do anyhow (so YOU'VE been spared looking at my silly Flintstone scribblings as well!)

    This is a 3x3 passive matrix mixer that uses bypass/engage toggles on each leg.


    And another one, no switches, just a simple passive 3x3 matrix mixer ......


    Here's a passive 5x5, very well done I'd have to say ....


    Here's a gut shot of the same one. As you can clearly see these passive matrix mixers are very simple devices, there's just a lot of repetition, kinda like working on a Hammond organ .... much of the same thing done over and over and over .....


    Here is a very well done active 5x5 unit made to fit into a modular synth system. Gotta love how well it came out.


    And the gut shot of the same one. Notice the opamps and the complex weaving web of routing traces on the PCB.


    And lastly an very nicely made passive 4x4 unit .....


    If you're one of those people that has a greater understanding of matrix routing and modulations, you may find this video very interesting .....

    So I am hoping these schematics and descriptions have helped to provide you with a basic understanding of how powerful and useful a matrix mixer can be. It takes a little bit of thinking it through to really wrap your head around what can be done with one of these gadgets.

    Not everyone will find something of this nature useful or valuable in their setup, but for those of you who will I hope you've enjoyed this installment of "HEY LOOK WHAT I DUG UP!" by yours truly.

    Transmission from synchronus high orbit above the southwestern desert of the USA completed, this is Flux of Earth signing off.

    That is all.

  3. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Nice. Certainly would've been useful with the MoogerFoogers I just got rid of. Recently simplified my synth set up, and although a 4x4 could've opened up some sonic doors with the Foogers, I have no regrets.
    Thanks for sharing. Something to keep in mind for future projects.
  4. Thanks. I just try to share the little gems I find during my efforts to build my own setup. The APHEX Xciter, the Alesis DEQ830 programmable eight channel 31 band EQ, the Rane PE-17 parametric EQ, the Boss LS-2 line switcher, and these matrix mixers. So far that's what has really stood out and caught my attention.

    I'll continue to post these little discoveries each time I run across one that seems as though it would serve other bass players. These lesser-known things that get little or no exposure will normally be the subjects.

    Best wishes.

    El Fluxo de Mundo.
  5. tabache


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hi, I need a matrix mixer for my guitar pedals, but I'm afraid that if is it passive I could lose too much signal.
    So I was searching an active matrix mixer (4x4 or 3x3) not for modular system. So like the first image of the first post, but active.
    Do you know if any exists?
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2016
  6. heavyfunkmachin


    Jan 21, 2005
    Just found out about this!

    I'm in crazy need of one... :hyper:
  7. ndutyme


    Dec 10, 2012
    I am look for somewhat of an oddball item. Thought I’d throw it up here in hopes that someone might know of a similar device.

    I am looking to build a device that is like a 4 input 1/4 " TS DI box,
    with XLR mic level & 1/4 " TS THRU output for each of the 4 inputs.
    Then also I'd like a pan and an aux send knob on each input to a
    stereo master bus. The master out I also want to have an XLR mic level
    & 1/4 " TS output for each Left & Right signal. If the master bus also
    had a stereo headphone amp as well, with it's own 1/4 " TRS out and
    volume knob, that would be icing on the cake, but maybe over the top.

    So, it's feature list would be something like:
    4 Channels
    Inputs (per channel) - One 1/4 " TS
    Outputs (per channel) - One 1/4 " TS pass through, One mic level XLR
    Ground lift per each channel (maybe that applies to both the XLR
    and TS)
    Phase inversion per each channel (for the XLR & TS)
    Aux with pan - 1 per channel that feeds stereo bus
    Stereo bus outputs
    Main Left Output - One 1/4 " TS, one Mic level XLR
    Main Right Output - One 1/4 " TS, one Mic level XLR
    Headphone amp out with volume - 1 1/4 " TRS

    It would be similar to this dbx DI4 box
    but each of the 4 DI outs would have a 1/4 " TS through out, and the
    stereo out would have both a DI XLR and a 1/4 " TS line out each, for
    Left & Right (instead of the RCA connectors).

    It would be nice if it was this size or smaller...
    New AVLifesavers Stereo XLR Combiner/Splitter - Gearslutz
    ... but I know I'm asking for alot in one box.

    I'm not as concerned about the layout of inputs, outputs or knobs, as
    long as it all functions and fits into a box that I can add to my

    If it helps for understanding, I have included a flow diagram of my
    pedalboard and where this box would fit in it (see attached). In the
    diagram it's called "DI Mixer".
  8. cosmicevan

    cosmicevan ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Supporting Member

    Whoa, this mixer looks AMAZING!!!! Is he still making them? I know this is an old post. I got a 4 x 4 from Pladask Elektrisk that I adore. I'd love one that is maybe like 8 x 8
  9. arakiri


    Feb 10, 2019
    would someone know if this would work for makin a clean blend? w dirt pedals
  10. cosmicevan

    cosmicevan ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Supporting Member

    If you run dirt in one channel and clean in another and mix em, you should be there.
    arakiri likes this.
  11. arakiri


    Feb 10, 2019
    cool! is just i was seein schematics for blend pedals and this looks so much simpler
  12. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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