Audio student Joan Torruella Besa tells SAE more about matrix mixer design

30 Sep 2020

SAE London Audio Production student Joan Torruella Besa took some time to tell us all about the matrix mixer he has developed as part of the Programming Environments module. We caught up with him to find out what has been involved in this project, as well as to hear more generally what he’s enjoying about the course. 

What have you been learning as part of the Programming Environments module? 

We’ve learnt how to create all sorts of synthesizers, midi and audio effects and generative electronic music pieces using the graphic programming environment Pure Data. 

How have you found the process of learning programming languages? 

It was quite difficult at first but the more I learned the more engaged I became with programming, so learning it eventually became a bit easier. 

Could you tell us a bit about the matrix mixer that you’ve been working on - for a non audio person, what does this involve? 

It is essentially a device that takes different signals and allows them to control a multitude of parameters, in other words, it lets the user choose which signals control a set of 8 different parameters. The reason why it is called a ‘matrix’ mixer is because its main element is an 8 by 8 fader matrix, essentially a grid of 8 rows with 8 faders each; each fader controls the amount of ‘modulation’ that source has on a specific parameter. For example, if I want a parameter of a synthesiser to go from 0 to 1 in 1 second, I can program a ‘modulation’ source to do that and route it to that parameter using the matrix. If I assigned that parameter to be parameter 1 on the matrix mixer and the modulation source to be source 1, the fader controlling the amount of modulation would be the one on the top left corner, or fader ‘1,1’ (kind of like X and Y coordinates). Apart from that, the user can store the sate of the matrix, recall 16 different saved states, clear or randomize the sate of the matrix and use a sequencer to recall the different states of the matrix. Hopefully that wasn’t too confusing! 

What have been some of the challenges you’ve experienced during the course of this project and how have you overcome them? 

The first problem was to come up with an idea that made sense and that was actually useful and something original. Later on came the technical difficulties that come with making this kind of project, such as making some sacrifices in the design of the mixer in order to make it work properly. 

What are you enjoying about the Audio Production course? 

The studios are amazing and the classes are super practical, which is the way I learn the most. 

How has your work been impacted by Covid-19? 

On the one hand, I’ve had more time than ever, but not being able to see my friends, or even go out as often as before has been a bit stressful. 

At this stage do you have any idea which area of the Audio industry you would like to work in? 

I definitely want to be a DJ and music producer although I really enjoy recording mixing as well as programming, so I’m not entirely sure what direction to take at the moment.