A brief 2021 blogging recap and 2022 outlook

Currently on my desk, awaiting further analysis: The Manultec Orca Bay EQ

Rebuilding my studio and restarting blogging activities one year ago was pretty much fun so far. Best hobby ever! To get things started in Jan/Feb this year, I did a short summary about the recent trends in audio and I might revise and update that in January again. Quite some audio gear caught my attention over the year and some found its way into the Blog or even in my humble new studio setup, e.g. the unique SOMA Lyra-8 and the Korg MS-20 remake as well as the Behringer Clone of the ARP 2600.

I also went into more detail on how to get the most out of the SPL Tube Vitalizer or the renaissance of the Baxandall EQs just to name the two topics and also had a more realistic look at the Pultec style equalizer designs which might be something I will continue to dig into a little bit further in 2022. As of lately I’m also intrigued by some analog effect pedal designs out there, namely the Fairfield Circuitry stuff. And as always, I’m highly interested in everything psychoacoustic related.

By end of August I started re-releasing my very own plugins and also did mkII versions for FerricTDS, ThrillseekerXTC and TesslaSE. I will continue that route and on top of my list is to have the whole Thrillseeker plugin series complete and available again. Some are asking me if I will develop brand new audio plugins as well. While I’m doing that already but just for my very own, at this point in time it remains unclear if some of that stuff will ever gonna make it into a public release. But you never know, the TesslaSE remake was also not planned at all.

Something I will continue for sure is that special developer interview series I did over the years. This year I already had the chance to talk to Vladislav Goncharov from Tokyo Dawn Labs and Andreas Eschenwecker from Vertigo Sound which gave some detailed insights about creating analog and digital audio devices, especially dynamic processors. To be published in January, the very next interview has also been done already and this time it will be with this years Technical Grammy Award winner, Daniel Weiss.

I’m looking forward to 2022!

Stay tuned
Herbert

The TesslaSE Remake

There were so many requests to revive the old and rusty TesslaSE which I’ve once moved already into the legacy folder. In this article I’m going to talk a little bit about the history of the plugin and its upcoming remake.

The original TesslaSE audio plugin was one of my first DSP designs aiming at a convincing analog signal path emulation and it was created already 15 years ago! In its release info it stated to “model pleasant sounding ‘electric effects’ coming from transformer coupled tube circuits in a digital controlled fashion” which basically refers to adding harmonic content and some subtle saturation as well as spatial effects to the incoming audio. In contrast to static waveshaping approaches quite common to that time, those effects were already inherently frequency dependent and managed within a mid/side matrix underneath.

(Later on, this approach emerged into a true stateful saturation framework capable of modeling not only memoryless circuits and the TesslaPro version took advantage of audio transient management as well.)

This design was also utilized to supress unwanted aliasing artifacts since flawless oversampling was still computational expensive to that time. And offering zero latency on top, TesslaSE always had a clear focus on being applied over the entire mixing stage, providing all those analog signal path subtleties here and there. All later revisions also sticked to the very same concept.

With the 2021 remake, TesslaSE mkII won’t change that as well but just polishing whats already there. The internal gainstaging has been reworked so that everything appears gain compensated to the outside and is dead-easy to operate within a slick, modernized user interface. Also the transformer/tube cicuit modeling got some updates now to appear more detailed and vibrant, while all non-linear algorithms got oversampled for additional aliasing supression.

On my very own, I really enjoy the elegant sound of the update now!

TesslaSE mkII will be released by end of November for PC/VST under a freeware license.

64bit plugin rollout started, announcing mkII plugin versions

The very first 64bit plugin versions are out now, starting with the plugins from the public beta test earlier this summer: epicVerb, BaxterEQ, preFIX, NastyDLAmkII, NastyVCS and DensityMkIII. All versions have been carefully revised, are backwards compatible and some includes bugfixes and improvements as well. VST3 versions are not (yet) included due to stability issues. For further release notes and downloads please refer to the download page.

The remaining VoS plugins are planned to be (re-) released one-by-one until end of this year. Most likely, they will reappear as mkII versions 🙂 First one will be FerricTDS mkII which is already in the finishing process and to be released early September.

stay tuned!

[CLOSED] VoS plugins 64bit public beta 1

Update 07/16/21: The beta has been closed. Stay tuned for upcoming info and releases. For the time being, the beta package remains available in the download section. Thanks to all here for contributing!!!

Until around mid July you can grab here the VoS plugin 64bit public beta package. Included are epicVerb, BaxterEQ, preFIX, NastyDLAmkII, NastyVCS and DensityMkIII in both 32 and 64 bit, VST 2 and 3 for Windows PC.

Please be careful using them since they are beta. They might crash, generate loud noises and things like that. Also do not use them in real productions since parameters and settings might change until release and break compatibility.

To report issues just create a comment right to this post and please include detailed information about the issue, which plugin is actually affected and in which host and version.

A brief update on the future of VoS plugins

First of all: I hear you!

While receiving so many questions and requests on this topic on all the different channels these days a brief update here seems to be overdue.

Plugin downloads might be online again as soon as I manage to find a decent free cloud space to offer hassle-free downloads without any traffic/bandwidth limits (or advertising). Hints appreciated.

There are no plans to make them payware.

Some of my plugin designs needs to be revised to assure that they will stand the test of time for yet another decade 🙂 and this means also that they are going to support 64bit of course.

With some selected VoS plugins, there will be a 64bit public beta which is planned to be held this July. I hope you’ll gonna join.

The story continues, stay tuned!

Herbert

SlickEQ – some more release info

Just a couple of days ago we introduced the upcoming release of SlickEQ and lots of questions raised already. So, here is what Fabien already committed about it in a public forum:

  • Win/Mac, AU/VST2/VST3 (+AAX planned and in process), x32/x64
  • No linux builds planned, sorry.
  • The name is “TDR VOS Slick EQ” and it will be available for free.
  • Release is a matter of days. Maybe a week or two.

As of today I just want to add: With the introduction of TDR VOS SlickEQ, quite a number of amazing and previously unheard DSP algorithms will see the light of day – including (but not limited to) several Stateful Saturation algorithms running within an audio signal path entirely upsampled to a constant high sample rate for maximum precision.

Expect smoothness, best-in-class.

Related links:

processing with High Dynamic Range (3)

This article explores how some different HDR imaging alike techniques can be adopted right into the audio domain.

The early adopters – game developers

In the lately cross-linked article “Finding Your Way With High Dynamic Range Audio In Wwise” some good overview was given on how the HDR concept was already adopted by some game developers over the recent years. Mixing in-game audio has its very own challenge which is about mixing different arbitrary occurring audio events in real-time when the game is actually played. Opposed to that and when we do mix off-line (as in a typical song production) we do have a static output format and don’t have such issues of course.

So it comes as no surprise, that the game developer approach turned out to be a rather automatic/adaptive in-game mixing system which is capable of gating quieter sources depending on the overall volume of the entire audio plus performing some overall compression and limiting. The “off-line mixing audio engineer” can always do better and if a mix is really too difficult, even the arrangement can be fixed by hand during the mixing stage.

There is some further shortcoming and from my point of view that is the too simplistic and reduced translation from “image brightness” into “audio loudness” which might work to some extend but since the audio loudness race has been emerged we already have a clear proof how utterly bad that can sound at the end. At least, there are way more details and effects to be taken into account to perform better concerning dynamic range perception. [Read more…]

processing with High Dynamic Range (2)

This comprehensive and in-depth article about HDR imaging was written by Sven Bontinck, a professional photographer and a hobby-musician.

A matter of perception.

To be able to use HDR in imaging, we must first understand what dynamic range actually means. Sometimes I notice people mistake contrast in pictures with the dynamic range. Those two concepts have some sort of relationship, but are not the same. Let me start by explaining in short how humans receive information with our eyes and ears. This is important because it influences the way we perceive what we see and hear and how we interpret that information.

We all know about the retina in our eyes where we find the light-sensitive sensors, the rods and cones. The cones provide us daytime vision and the perception of colours. The rods allow us to see low-light levels and provide us black-and-white vision. However there is a third kind of photoreceptors, the so-called photosensitive ganglion cells. These cells give our brain information about length-of-day versus length-of-night duration, but also play an important role in the pupillary control. Every sensor need a minimum amount of incitement to be able to react. At the same time all kind of sensors have a maximum amount that they may be exposed to. Above that limit, certain protection mechanisms start interacting to prevent damage occurring to the sensors. [Read more…]

processing with High Dynamic Range (1)

Back in time when I was at university, my very first DSP lectures were actually not about audio but image processing. Due to my interest in photography I followed this amazing and ever evolving domain over time. Later on, High Dynamic Range (HDR) image processing emerged and beside its high impact on digital photography, I immediately started to ask myself how such techniques could be translated into the audio domain. And to be honest, for quite some time I haven’t got a clue.

MM

This image shows a typical problem digital photography still suffers from: The highlights are completely washed out and so the lowlights are turning into black abruptly w/o containing further nuances  – the dynamic range performance is pretty much poor and this is actually not what the human eye would perceive since it features both: a higher dynamic range per se but also a better adoption to different (and maybe difficult) lighting conditions.

On top, we have to expect severe dynamic range limitations in the output entities whether that’s a cheap digital print, a crappy TFT display or the limited JPG file format, just as an example. Analog film and prints does have such problems in principle also but not to that much extend since they typically offer more dynamic resolution and the saturation behavior is rather soft unlike the digital hard clipping. And this is where HDR image processing chimes in.

It typically distinguishes between single- and multi-image processing. Within multi-image processing, a series of Low Dynamic Range (LDR) images are taken in different exposures and combined into one single new image which contains an extended dynamic range (thanks to some clever processing). Afterwards, this version is rendered back into an LDR image by utilizing special  “tone mapping” operators which are performing a sort of dynamic range compression to obtain a better dynamic range impression but now in a LDR file.

Within single-image processing, there must be one single HDR image already available and then just tone mapping is applied. As an example, the picture below takes advantage of single-image processing from a RAW file which typically does have much higher bit-depth (12 or even 14 bit as of todays sensor tech) opposed to JPG (8 bit). As a result a lot of dynamic information can be preserved even if the output file still is just a JPG. As an added sugar, such a processed image also translates way better over a wide variety of different output devices, displays and viewing light conditions.

MM-HDR

announcing the “Slick” audio plug-in series

About history

In recent history, I’ve constantly extended and improved my Stateful Saturation approach and within ThrillseekerVBL I’ve managed to introduce authentic analog style sounding distortion right into VST land, which is what I’ve always had in my mind and dreamed of. And there’s so much and overwhelming feedback on that – thank you sooo much!

Best of both worlds

Since quite a while, I’ve dreamed about a brand new series of plug-ins which will combine the strength of both worlds: analog modeling on the one side but pure digital techniques on the other – incorporating techniques such as look-ahead, FIR filtering or even stuff that comes from the digital image processing domain, such as HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing.

First encounter: SlickHDR

High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing is something pretty much new in the audio domain. While there are lots of theories and implementations available about HDR imaging, this is quite new and sparingly adopted in the audio domain. SlickHDR is going to be a very first approach in applying high dynamic range processing to audio within a VST compatible plug-in.