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Ask Jonah: The Differences Between A Subgroup And A VCA


Ernie Black:
Ask Jonah: The Differences Between A Subgroup And A VCA
The difference between VCAs and subgroups becomes important when we have individual channels routed to different destinations.
By Jonah Altrove • Posted in Reading Room on August 2, 2018

Dear Jonah:

What’s the difference between a subgroup and a VCA? – Anonymous

In a word? Summing. Think about a mixing console for a second – a bunch of inputs enter and get all summed together into a single stereo signal, the level of which can be adjusted with the master fader. A subgroup is the same idea: everything you route to it gets summed together, and the resulting signal can be controlled with the group fader and routed somewhere.

A VCA (voltage controlled amplifier, or its digital incarnation, DCA) also provides level control, but without summing everything together. This is why VCAs are referred to as Control Groups by at least one major console manufacturer. They’re just controlling the signal levels, not summing them or routing them or anything else.

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