NastyVCS – behind the scenes

NastyVCS tube Planning

When preparing the final bits of an upcoming plug-in release, other research and prototyping typically has already been done for other potentially upcoming projects. This usually is the time when the decision is made about the next project and the new plug-in gets outlined and planned in detail. In this case it was around 9 month ago in August 2009 when FerricTDS (our entry for the KVR DC ’09) finally went into the late beta testing stage. Since quite some time I had in my mind to improve the “Nasty” plug-in series package but to that time it had become finally clear that the next step would be to put it into one single and consistent “console strip” style plug-in.

Design and Development

What makes a good console strip? As always, there is no ultimate answer to this question since taste is a highly subjective matter but for my very own, a focused concept and highest audio quality always delights me. Therefore, rather than throwing all the previous “nasty” ingredients together I’ve simply choosen what attracted me the most out of that existing plug-in series and what potentially could made it into a straight and sound concept. It was also clear that there would have to be a way cool new mixing compressor to be included. While some console/channel strip concepts are dedicated to specific tasks such as vocal treatments, NastyVCS focuses on a well-defined set of musical tools for tone and dynamic shaping purposes and they are complementing each other very well. So in the end, some features like Gate or De-esser functionality did not made it into the final design.

When all this was lashed, a very first prototype was assembled plus a very first usage concept. Patrick chimed in then to pick up the rather ugly scribbles and to turn them into nothing less than a real beauty (as always). Fortunately, he typically does not do this overnight and so I had enough time to set up a small beta team and to finish the compressor DSP. All in all this took until December 2009.

Quality Management

While originally planned as a year-end release it finally took some additional four month and this was basically caused by all the attention to detail which had to be spent during those beta cycles. But also we had some rather late feature extensions: The timing options for the compressor were added (and tweaked for another two month) and we decided to add the phase control on top of that. So Patrick had to go back to the drawing board as well and altogether with the beta crew we painstakingly fixed some rather weird  host crashes, all the sample rate issues and gory details like parameter naming and sorting. Almost being there, a critical compiler bug caused some more delay where we had to wait on a manufacturer fix. I’ve used that time to complete all the CPU optimizations and some further Assembler tweaks which resulted in a really low CPU profile for the whole plug-in at the end.

Release and Support

Although there was also offered a rapidshare mirror this time, the dropbox traffic limit got busted right after 10 hours or so. I do think that we need a better solution for this for future releases:-/ The attention and traffic over the very first weekend kicked the epicVerb release from the throne and all in all NastyVCS had a really, really great coverage all over the net.

Soon after a release typically some new bugs are showing up and the VCS release did not made an exception. Two reported major issues are already confirmed (redraw issues mostly related to Samplitude and the stepping during Filter and EQ adjustments in some hosts) plus some minor stuff. Most of the rather rarely reported issues could not be confirmed until now. Maybe there will be an update just before this summers holiday season but there is no real schedule yet.

An interesting discussion about proper gain-staging in plug-ins and hosts had emerged in the net over some time and some waves now hit the VCS release as well. I’m currently starting some discussions on that topic to get a broader understanding about all the matters but until this gets more evolved it remains behind the curtain.

Comments

  1. Nice inside info Bootsie!
    Regarding initial server overload, I’d suggest to use torrent system. I think many of your plugins users will happily support you and help to reduce your server load for a critical period immediately after release.

  2. Thanks for the info!

    Great plug, i am fond of the CPU optimization even if it took some extra time, really worth it!

    Keep on the good job!

  3. Thanks for sharing info on your workflow and creative process, it was really interesting. I really admire how much effort and attention to detail you put in your work even if you then like a true philanthropist releases it for free.

  4. Please, check plugin compatibility with Adobe Audition 3. For me, the plugin starts the processing but never completes…😦

    Thanks!

  5. I will try to make a contribution

    1) EQ section: that the bell not deform on nyquist freq

    2) EQ section: more analog like phase like this: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/ETi8ngEBKTdHtKcoUwumBGMuzTcf1ec-KrZwDBg-ySg?feat=embedwebsite (actualy is like: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/P0qHrjuGAywngscgt8Oin2MuzTcf1ec-KrZwDBg-ySg?feat=embedwebsite

    3) Saturation section: add even harmonics.

    The channel strip is exelent, if you include 1) and 2), this will be the best. I know this is asking too much, anyway I am very very grateful.

  6. Nice, Bootsie!
    Love to read this kind of behind the scenes stuff.
    You can bet it makes me value even more yours and Patrick’s work.Congrats.

  7. Bootsie, first of all, thanks for your hard work: your generosity rocks.

    Hope my opinions could help you to improve NastyVCS:

    EQ SECTION:

    1) In a real “analog” eq saturation depends both on the livel of the input signal and on the amount of BOOST applied with the eq on a certain frequency…

    In fact a simple “op-amp based” analog eq consists of several op-amp connected togheter, so saturation can occur in one,more or none of these op-amps…

    if the input signal level gets “hot” it will saturate the first op-amp, the input op-amp, and saturation will occur(or in other words if the output of this op-amp reaches values close to the power supply limits saturation will occur..)…

    now from this point , if you boost a certain frequency and the signal contains that frequency, the signal itself gets even more “hot” and it will saturate the next op-amps, increasing THD %…

    so if you BOOST you’ll obtain MORE THD but the peculiarity is that, on the other hand, if the first op-amp is saturated from an hot signal CUT one or more frequency after this stage can not reduce the previously introduced THD!

    In other words saturation occurs pre-eq (like in your BootEQMKII) and post-eq (like in your eq NastyCS).

    So in BootEQMKII we can equalize a saturated signal, in Nasty CS we can saturate an equalized signal but in none of the two we have the two “effects” at the same time.

    With the signal flow design used in Nasty VCS, saturation occurs only regarding the input signal level, like in BootMKII, so is someway a “static” saturation, in the sense that it doesn’t react to our eq settings…

    i discuss this argument in the last part f this post at kvr forum:

    http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=4105686#4105686

    2)Please increase the hi-shelf max boost!! 8 dB only? please make it at least 12dB, like Nasty CS!😀

    PHASE SECTION:

    1)Looking at the phase graph with VstPluginAnalyzer (unwrapped measurement method)seems that the 90/180 switch of the phase section on Nasty VCS switch indeed between 180° (enabled) and 360° (not enabled)….

    2)On the phase argument, i think that, instead of the “inv” button, could be extremely useful a ‘Phase Center’ switch, a switch that allows you to select between the low frequency content “manipulation” and the high frequency content “manipulation” (that is the only phase manipulation that actually VCS does)…

    COMPRESSOR SECTION:

    1)Honestly, Nasty VCS opto compressor reacts in manner only vaguely similar to that of an optical comp…from my experience transients never get “killed” with an opto comp,even with fast attacks….it’s a fairly good comp but the typicals programlevel-dependant-release,
    programlevel-dependant-attack ,
    frequency-dependant-ratio behaviours of a real opto-compressor are not there yet…from what i hear comparing VCS opto comp to my hardware opto-comp or comparing it to IKmultimedia opto-comp,seems that actually the “range” of automatic-adjustement you allowed are too small, in the sense that the release the user chooses changes really really a little, regardless to the “audio-material” that passes through the compressor…in real opto comp, even with long release setted by the user, after a really short transient, for example a snare, an opto comp recover really really quickly, in other words it automatically auto-adjust to abtain a very short release in that situation…hope you can understand my poor english, i’m italian!😀

    …I wrote all this with the only hope to be helpful😀

    Thanks really a lot for your generosity!😀

  8. Really dig this plugin. It would be even cooler with an A/B feature though!

  9. This is beyond amazing. Can’t thank you enough for creating these gems. Once again, Amazing!

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