Thrillseeker XTC – behind the scenes

The basic idea to build a VoS style Enhancer/Exciter was already there way earlier but to that time it simply wasn’t doable until my ‘stateful saturation’ approach emerged. Later on and when I asked “how a modern exciter/enhancer should look like“, several concepts were laid out on the drawing board and I knew that with this exciting (sic!) new approach they all would be accomplishable w/o any compromises. Finally, one of them made it into a prototype which led to ThrillseekerXTC.

Old or modern approach?

So, is the audio Enhancer/Exciter just an ancient relict from the days of dull tape recordings or still a valid concept today? In the digital age, technology and production techniques completely changed and of course the production aesthetics did also. Opposed to the old approaches of audio excitation which mostly were focusing on high frequency loss restoration, the demand shifted towards other tasks as well. Presence and definition in the (upper) mid range is the name of the game and getting the low-end right is the key in a modern production. Instrument separation in a busy mix is a tough challenge, also.

What the heck is Mojo?

In some other cases (mostly digital productions) – definition, presence and transparency is all there but at the cost of a rather thin or sterile sounding production. Even worse, the HF department might be exaggerated too much during the processing chain and taming and sweetening is a challenge then. Some of the artifacts that we’ve found in certain analog devices might add tonal qualities described as thick, fat and round by ‘pleasingly degrading’ a sound source. This is what Mojo is all about. Whether that’s some circuit crosstalk, tape flutter or transformer distortion stuff alike. [Read more…]

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how a modern exciter/enhancer should look like

Well, that’s exactly what I would like to know from you! Is it just an ancient relict from the days of dull tape recordings or still a valid concept? Opposed to the old approaches of audio excitation: What should such a device offer for todays modern audio production? And what would separate it from the common tools like compressors, transient designers and equalizers? Is it needed for any specific production stage? Which one? What exactly needs to be “enhanced”? Does all the different distribution formats and listening environments play a role? Psycho Acoustics? Question upon question ….

ThrillseekerLA – released today

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introducing ThrillseekerLA

ThrillseekerLA – digital stereo leveling amplifier with truly analog qualities.

At a glance

  • Sophisticated and deep gain riding full of musical character and attitude but with virtually no inter-modulation (IM) distortion artifacts
  • Feedback compression design w/o any samplerate based delay in the loop
  • Classic input level driven two knob design with additional manual attack and release time interventions
  • Highly program dependent envelope timing adoption offering attack times ranging from “instantaneously” up to around 100ms and release times from 30ms up to several seconds
  • Mix level switch to adopt the plug-ins internal gain staging to mixing levels at around -18dBFS
  • Custom SC filter option to attenuate the SC bass response while slightly boosting the HF spectrum
  • Additional one pole (6dB per octave) SC low-cut filter adjustable from 20 to 500Hz
  • External sidechain support
  • Switchable Input/GR/Output metering display
  • Variable compression range control from 0 to 100% [Read more…]

announcing the “Thrillseeker” audio plug-in series

I’m bringing sexy back

The brand new and upcoming Variety of Sound Thrillseeker audio plug-ins series is going to be a plug-in collection premiering Stateful Saturation which is a sophisticated DSP core system for musical harmonic distortion generation based on authentic and truly stateful non-linear models.

Stateful Saturation takes advantage of some sought after analog qualities and preserves them accurately during their transfer right into the digital domain:

  • high frequency shimmer and sheen without digital harshness
  • depth and ‘3d’ imaging side effects before distortion itself becomes apparent
  • audio transient dynamics that remains vibrant and alive
  • natural and impressive bass response

Stateful Saturation opens the door for quite a number of amazing applications ranging from smooth harmonic exciters up to convincing amplifier effects and the DSP core can easily be set in context whether it’s a compressor output stage or a preamplifier circuit, just to name the two. [Read more…]

the side effects of intermodulation in audio processors

typical IM distortion in a digital compressor

The general and most obvious effect of intermodulation components in audio signals is distortion of course – hence the concept of “intermodulation distortion” (aka “IM distortion” or simply “IMD”). IM distortion and harmonic distortion are two pairs of shoes and must be defined individually as already shown in the short essay about “myth and facts about aliasing” but more on this later on.

The existence of intermodulation components can affect the performance of an audio production in various ways. In the best case, IMD components are a desired artistic effect e. g. to obtain heavily crushed audio effect signals but in the worst and rather common case, they are one of the contributing factors which deteriorate the overall audio quality and might ruin a production. [Read more…]

towards stateful saturation – very first audio shots

Around a year ago or so I’ve already started to look into a couple of stateful non-linear models which could be more suitable for a musical and convincing digital saturation experience. To make it even more harder, they should avoid the usual drawbacks such as huge latency or insane cpu consumption – if ever possible of course.

Meanwhile, my journey into the non-linear DSP land has made an important stopover with a first prototype implementation for such an approach, yielding a DSP core for musical harmonic distortion generation based on a stateful model. This opens the door for quite a number of interesting applications such as harmonic exciters or devices which needs convincing amp models whether thats a compressor output stage or even part of a guitar amplifier effect. [Read more…]