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Meet Nightlife – After Later Audio’s New Mixer Ecosystem

If you were lucky enough to attend Knobcon last year, 2023 was clearly the “Year of the Mixer.”

Larger offerings from Noise Engineering, 1010 Music, and Boredbrain get significant coverage but there’s one company who seems to have snuck under the radar: After Later Audio and the modular Nightlife Mixer Series.

Now they’re available for purchase, we can dive in with extra details and videos on this collaboration between ALA and Robots Are Red.

Feel free to check out SynthDad’s excellent overview video above or keep scrolling for more info about each module.

Nightlife Mixer Series

All images courtesy After Later Audio

The Nightlife mixer series consists of six total modules:

  • Bartender: 24HP four-channel centerpiece of ALA’s mixing system ($360)
  • Barback: 10HP two-channel stereo expander ($160)
  • Send VCA: 2HP CV control over send bus ($30)
  • Mingles: 12HP 3-mono in, 2-channel panning mixer, also works standalone ($170)
  • Cast Iron: 4HP simple VC panner with level control, also works standalone ($75)
  • USB-2CH: 4HP USB audio send/receive interface, also works standalone ($90)

Not only is this a great blend of size and functionality, but having 3 of the 6 modules be able to operate independently of ALA’s mixing ecosystem is genius.

The Nightlife series has been tested up to a maximum of 16-channels, when cascading expanders, and is using a somewhat different approach to behind-the-panel connections.

Dupont Cables

Without getting our hands on each circuit board, it looks like ALA has decided to use Dupont cables and 3-pin audio in/out connectors as the connection standard between smaller expander modules.

This gives surprising flexibility when deciding on signal flow, allowing for a more standard arrangement of modules or getting creative with how audio in/out is mapped. You could connect two Mingles, send Mingles straight to USB-2CH, connect USB-2CH to Cast Iron or Barback, etc.

Bartender

Bartender is the 24HP foundational piece of After Later Audio’s mixing ecosystem and costs $360.

It features four stereo (or mono) channels with the following functions:

  • Gain control (+5dB)
  • Mutes with both momentary & latching behavior
  • CV over level & pan
  • 2x send buses with pre- & post-fader/pan settings
  • Cue bus

The summing control are features:

  • 2x stereo sends
  • 2x stereo returns
  • Main stereo mix out
  • Main mono mix out
  • Master level slider w/ stereo VU meter
  • 1/4″ TRS headphone jack w/ volume control
  • Monitor control (main, cue, or adjustable mix of both)

That’s a great baseline of functionality for $360.

For comparison, NANO Modules Performance Mixer retails for $650, almost 2x the price of ALA’s mixer.

This isn’t a perfect 1:1 feature comparison (e.g., no knob automation recording for ALA), but its close enough to get a feel for the overall pricing value in this new mixing ecosystem.

That extra $290 could theoretically be invested back into ALA’s Nightlife ecosystem, netting a Barback, Send VCA, and USB-2CH.

Barback

Barback is ALA’s 10HP take on the stereo channel expander and costs $160.

You get the exact same feature set as the four stereo channels on Bartender:

  • Gain control (+5dB)
  • Mutes with both momentary & latching behavior
  • CV over level & pan
  • 2x send buses with pre- & post-fader/pan settings
  • Cue bus

ALA tested up to 16-channels max so far (as mentioned earlier), but whoever wants to push that limit let us know how it goes!

Send VCA

Send VCA enables CV control over up to 8-channels of the send bus in 2HP and costs just $30.

Fitting CV over everything onto a front panel can end up in cramped UX and overly expensive modules. ALA took the ‘cheap and non-fussy’ expander approach when deciding to split off volume control over sends into this little 2HP unit.

Mingles

Mingles is a 12HP standalone mixing / panning module with a built-in LFO and costs $170.

This one takes a second to wrap your head around:

  • Two channels of 3-channel mixing
  • Level control of all 6 mono inputs
  • Pan and VCA control of CH1 & Ch2
  • Built-in LFO normaled to CH1 & inverse-normaled to CH2
  • LFO out
  • Separate CH1 & CH2 stereo outs
  • Stereo mix out
  • Operates standalone or can be chained into the Nightlife ecosystem

This makes a stereo channel expander look basic and is a surprisingly creative addition to the Nightlife mixer series.

With nice visual feedback and a reasonable price point, it won’t be surprising to see Mingles standing alone (but not in the corner, nobody puts Mingles in a corner).

Cast Iron

Cast Iron is a 4HP simple VCA / panner with CV control and costs $75.

Not too much to cover here, a simple module that can either work as a nice standalone stereo VCA or a dedicated stereo channel (with much less CV control than Bartender/Barback channels) in the Nightlife ecosystem.

You get knob control over pan, slider control over level, CV over both, mono or stereo in, and stereo out.

USB-2CH

USB-2CH is a 4HP stereo USB send/receive interface with 16-bit @ 48Khz audio and costs $90.

This module might single-handedly drive up the sales of Apple’s lightning-to-USB adapter. Just check out SynthDad’s video to see how easily you can incorporate iPads and iOS music apps into your signal flow!

USB-2CH operates in one of two ways:

  • Standard Mode: send and receive 2-channels of audio over USB
  • Insert Mode: send 2-channels of audio over USB & get a copy of that audio at the ouputs

Integrating a class-compliant USB interface for less than $100? Now who says Eurorack is expensive?

Ok, it’s still expensive.

Year Of The Mixer

As we mentioned, 2023 (and bleeding into 2024) has been the ‘Year of the Mixer’ so here’s a quick list of major releases from the past ~12 months:

We’re excited for this new generation of mixers, offering more signal flow and I/O capability than ever.

Check out specifics and manuals at the After Later Audio site. Happy patching!

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