the twisted world of guitar pedals III

According to urban legends, the Inuit have more than a dozen words for one and the same thing: snow. But forget that, it’s nothing, really. The ambitious modern guitarist is guaranteed to know a multiple of different words for one and the very same phenomenon: distortion. Seriously, guys, who comes up with terms like “clean distortion” or “transparent overdrive”? The other day, I was searching the online store of my trusted dealer for distortion pedals and got 632 hits.

Anyway, somewhere in the sheer mass of pedals and terminology, the really interesting concepts and devices are lurking. And from my humble explorations in the twisted world of guitar pedals, I mostly found them in the realm of boutique manufacturers. Small companies that have often gained a large following among guitarists and are looking for new approaches and distinctive sounds that cannot be found in the mass-produced products of the big manufacturers.

They not only experiment with new ideas and designs that larger companies may overlook, but also take the risk of being successful with niche products. They skillfully combine analog and digital technology to reinterpret classic effects or bring entirely new concepts to the table. You can literally tell that many of these companies are run by musicians who know the needs and wishes of guitarists or just are willing to work closely with customers to develop very individual or extraordinary pedals.

For me personally, some of these boutique devices and manufacturers are a true source of inspiration, whether as a musician or plugin designer. And I can only hope that they continue on their chosen path, survive difficult economic times, and above all, don’t get swallowed up by the big boys.

 

the twisted world of guitar pedals I

the twisted world of guitar pedals II

What will be the next plugin release from “Variety Of Sound”?

I just asked this to ChatGPT and here is the answer:

As an AI language model, I don’t have access to real-time information about upcoming releases from specific companies or developers. However, it’s worth noting that “Variety Of Sound” is a well-known developer of high-quality audio plugins, with a particular focus on analog-style signal processing.

In the past, “Variety Of Sound” has released a range of plugins, including EQs, compressors, tape saturation emulators, and more. These plugins are known for their attention to detail, their intuitive interfaces, and their ability to add warmth and character to digital audio signals.

While I don’t have information about any specific upcoming releases from “Variety Of Sound”, it’s possible that they may continue to expand their range of analog-style plugins, or explore new areas of audio processing. As with any developer, it’s likely that they will release new products based on their own interests and expertise, as well as feedback and requests from their user base.

So, what about “feedback and requests” from your side?

inspiration for the next UI?

sustaining trends in audio land, 2023 edition

So, the year 2023 is slowly getting underway – time to take another look at the sustaining trends in audio land. Two of the 2022 themes have already been further confirmed and manifested – so let’s take a quick look. A third topic, however, has developed at an incredible speed and in an unbelievable way, to the surprise of all of us. But one thing at a time.

The (over-) saturated audio plugin market

A continuing trend towards market consolidation was to be expected as a result of a constantly oversaturated market, and indeed last year saw a whole series of merger and acquisition activities as well as new alliances. Involved in such activities were brands such as Slate Digital, Sonnox, Focusrite, Brainworx, Plugin Alliance, NI, iZotope and many more.

This is something quite normal in saturated markets and not a bad thing per se, but we might worry about a lack of innovation and diversity as a result. Alongside this, we will continue to see many companies late to the party offering “me too” products and retro brands gilding their HW brands with yesterday’s SW technology. The smarter companies will continue their efforts to successfully establish leading business platforms.

The future of HW DSP as a plugin platform

Since the HW DSP market has not succeeded in creating such a competitive (plug-in) business platform, we are currently witnessing the decline of this domain and in the long run everything will be offered natively. Last year, we’ve seen some late movers also starting such transformations, e.g. UA.

The emergence of AI in audio production

Of course, this was not only predictable but also announced, but no one had ever expected the extent and speed of its emergence over the past year. This applies first and foremost to its appearance in general, but also its impact to the whole music domain in particular. This impact will be immense and dramatic, affecting not only tools and work processes, but also music culture and its economy. The effects will be very, very profound, similar to the way the internet entered all areas of our lives.

The current trend of emulating effect devices with deep learning seems less exciting in this context, as it is just yet another form of effect sampling where we might see little innovation. Much more exciting will be the impact on areas such as composition, mixing and mastering, but also music distribution and value creation in general. But that will be the subject of another detailed article in this Blog.

We live in exciting times.
Stay tuned!


sustaining trends in audio land, 2022 edition

sustaining trends in audio land, 2021 edition

 

 

If a tree falls in the forest and no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?

The question of whether a tree falling in the forest makes a sound if no one is there to hear it is a classic philosophical conundrum. It raises the question of whether sound exists independently of our perception of it.

One view is that sound is a physical phenomenon that requires the vibration of particles in a medium (such as air or water) to transmit sound waves. According to this view, if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one or nothing there to detect the sound waves, the tree would indeed make a sound, but there would be no one or nothing there to hear it.

On the other hand, some philosophers argue that sound is a purely subjective experience that requires the presence of a conscious observer. According to this view, if there is no one or thing present to perceive the sound waves, then there can be no sound.

Ultimately, of course, the answer to this question depends on how you define ‘sound’ and whether you see it as a purely subjective or objective phenomenon, but as music makers we are well advised to understand ‘sound’ on all levels and in all its facets.

what is a “box tone”?

“Box tone” is a term that is often used to describe the characteristic sound of a particular piece of audio equipment, particularly when it comes to classic analog effects devices such as equalizers and compressors.

The box tone of an effect is often described as the unique timbre or tonal coloration that the device imparts on the audio signal as it passes through it. This can be due to a variety of factors, including the type and quality of the components used in the device, the design of the circuitry, and the way the device processes the signal.

Some audio engineers and producers may seek out specific box tones for their recordings and mixes, as they can add character and depth to the sound. Others may prefer a more neutral or transparent sound, in which case they may choose equipment that has a more subtle or less noticeable box tone.

It’s important to note that the term “box tone” is often used informally and can be somewhat subjective, as different people may have different opinions on what constitutes a distinctive or desirable box tone.

the beauty of opto-electrical compression – volume 2

When I was looking for a sophisticated stereo compressor for the outboard studio rack a year ago, I was surprised to see how many of the more interesting models now use opto-electric compression technology. Whether transparent or coloring, tube or solid-state amplifiers, transformer or transformerless, even two-channel layouts in mid/side encoding: far advanced compared to all the classic mono replicas.

Optical compressors are usually characterized by their distinct program-dependent compression behavior, mainly based on a physical memory effect in the detector itself. Other subtle nuances are found across the frequency spectrum that affect timing and curve characteristics, creating a complexity that cannot be reduced to simple two-stage controlled release curves, and which is the beauty of opto-electrical compression in its entirety.

Significant audio signal colorations, however, are shaped not by the gain reduction circuitry but by the make-up gain amplifier, whether it is tube or solid-state. Here, the audio transformer also plays an important role in polishing the transients and creating a cohesive sound.

ThrillseekerLA was designed from the beginning in 2012 as a modern stereo compressor with exciting sound coloring possibilities. It is a compressor with authentic opto-electric control behavior in feed-forward circuit topology.

The upcoming mkII update is a technical redesign dedicated solely to improving the sound. It delivers a unique box tone with thrilling bass and elegant top end void of any harshness in the mids. The compression not only glues everything together effortlessly, but also enhances the stereo image by adding depth and dimension.

The release is scheduled for mid-December.

now that we’ve reinvented 8-bit audio – what’s next?

Gone are the days when choosing the right noise shaping for dithering was a headache and we were still dreaming of Hires Audio as the glorious upcoming consumer format. In the end, it was more important to us to make everything brutally loud. As if it could otherwise be overheard in all the streaming mush: Radio and advertising have led the way, after all, and in the realm of asocial media, the cry for attention is naturally even louder. A pleasant sound, transient-rich and detailed? Forget it! The pitiful remainder of dynamics could now be packaged in 8-bit, lossless. That’s how it looks. The other day I saw a report about audiophiles who still and tirelessly spare neither expense nor effort to optimize the sound at home down to the smallest detail, which seemed unintentionally comical in this context. But it seems just as anachronistic today to spend such an immense technical effort for an inferior production performance. How can this be justified? Surely any stock EQ, a decent multiband compressor and limiter should suffice. In the attached video, the evolution of EDM is outlined in fast forward from the 80s to 2020. Regardless of the qualities of the codecs, this shows very impressively the decline in technical production quality over the years and the side effects of the increase in loudness. Now that we have successfully ruined audio quality, the question remains: What’s next?

the history of Cubase

When Cubase 3.0 came out in 1996 and introduced VST for the first time with all its new and fascinating possibilities, that was the point where I decided to get more involved in music production and set up a small (home) recording studio. VST was the basis for all this and how I imagined a modern (computer based) studio production. What a revolution that was. Watching this video today brings up a lot of nostalgic feelings …

dream studio