sustaining trends in audio land, 2021 edition

Now, after spending some time on digging a little bit more deeper into the current offerings and market situation in audio production I just wanted to briefly outline some of my personal summaries regarding sustaining trends but maybe outline also some new things I do see on the horizon.

The mobile audio evolution

To me this indeed looks like an ongoing trend for years now which simply does not stop. On the one hand we can see the whole software and especially the App market continuing and increasing in all areas and platforms: notebooks, tablets, smartphones and their respective eco systems accordingly. Where Ableton once started in providing an almost complete mobile music production approach in literally just a bag, Bitwig and others followed and now Apps are everywhere allowing any kind of recording and music or media production on the go. Apples recent move with the M1 SOC (System on Chip) approach fits perfectly into this trend by increasing the mobility even further in terms of power, size and efficiency. Others will follow this path for sure. Also we can see traditional music gear manufacturers going more and more into compact and battery powered solutions as well, such as the Korg Volca series or the Roland boutique thingies, just to name the two.

The retro cult continues

Companies like Behringer will continue to spit out analog HW clones like there is no tomorrow. Whether thats synthesizer reissues or blatant plain copies of vintage mixing outboard or modeled software – you’ll find everything and in almost all shades of quality and price. And I think this is a really good thing to have such a variety to choose from and also this will lead to some serious price drops in the overpriced used gear market in that area.

Modular madness

I don’t think this is part of the overall retro trend but a niche on its very own. In any case the modular synthesis thing is still gaining more and more momentum. There is a sheer amount of hardware options to choose from and meanwhile also quite a lot of audio interfaces and controller solutions are offering not only Midi but also CV support. Even in software land one can put his/her virtual hands on something modular. All in all, this looks and sounds like real fun and a great opportunity to spend a lot of time on (and money).

Look mom no computer

All those neat outboard DAW-less setups shown on YT: Some hardware samplers and grooveboxes here, some fancy retro synths there and fx stomp boxes all over the place. Well, “Look mom no computer” is of course absolutely wrong here because half of that stuff has tiny little digital displays and computers underneath you have to tinker with. Personally, I would prefer some neat “one knob, one job” analog interfaces plus a real full-blown DAW any day. However, definately a sustaining trend and a good thing.

Loudness war, quo vadis?

While it seems that LUFS finally made it and in fact has been successfully settled as a standard in the broadcast domain – in music production in general it has not. Todays audio mastering target levels are still insane and even some “engineers” continue to present converter clipping as the holy loudness grail to their YT followers. That really hurts. At least some of the big streaming sevices restricted target loudness levels to -14 or -16LUFS which gives a little hope.

ITB production finally took over

Now that even the last renowned mixing engineer has finally surrendered to the dark side in the box – at least for the recording and mixing part – the question remains, why this has taken so long. Was it for quality concerns? The time-to-market pressure to finally have total recall in all regards? Simple ignorance or fear? We might not be sure about the final answer but we do know that today almost everybody can run some media production tasks in a decent quality on his very own while having a low entrance barrier. And this is what I really would call the “game changer” of the last decade. Now, your skills are the limit.

Game of DAWs

There is really no trend in particular here other than the fact that we have the very same players on the board since a decade ago. Maybe Bitwig will aim for the crown from Ableton? It’s whole inherent synthesis and modulation integration make this comprehensive sequencer an instrunment on its very own and also it runs natively on Linux. All the other contenders improved step by step here and there but quite comparable. Maybe having build in mixing scenes and more convincing analog style summing is a thing which sticks a little bit out. So, on my own I wasn’t that much impressed about this very last episodes and now I’m looking forward to an upcoming but much more entertaining season, hopefully.

The pandemic impact

As we all know, the Covid impact on everything live performance related was and still is a sheer desaster. How this will evolve in the future is hard to predict but it is clear that there won’t be any back to normal any time soon if ever. That means this area must transform into the digital/virtual domain as well and most of the suppliers in exact this kind of areas are already the winners of the current situation.

Stay healthy!

 

replaced my old Virus kb

My old Virus kb has been retired today and guess whats in place there right in front of my screens …

Access Virus TI2 Polar

BootEQ mkII updates to version 2.1

… and finally adds support for higher samplerates.

BootEQ mkII - analog style equalizer and pre-amp simulator

Release notes:

  • support for higher samplerates
  • faster loading times on systems with large amounts of system fonts
  • VST vendor tag changed to “Variety Of Sound”
  • stability improvements when deleting the plug-in from effect slots
  • stability improvements in cubase hosts
  • VU display issue on mono tracks fixed
  • less CPU consumption if GUI is closed
  • slightly increased 2nd order harmonic in “TUBE ON” mode
  • resetting the DRV knob with <ctrl>+click w/o any audio artifacts now
  • reset position for the left LF frequency knob corrected to 250Hz
  • audio crackles while switching preamp section on/off eliminated
  • improved HF shelving filter with freq dip and asymetric behaviour
  • changed pop-up displays version number now
  • some EQ code optimizations added
  • preset and manual update

Known issues:

  • some display/knob rendering issues mainly in samplitude (compiler bug)

BootEQ mkII is available as freeware for Win32 and VST compatible systems – to download just refer to the download page or just click here instead and please acceppt the end-user license agreement.

Additional links:

NastyVCS – released today

NastyVCS

NastyVCS - Virtual Console Strip

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NastyVCS – I can has color

NastyVCS tubeSimilar to the EQ’s and filters in BootEQ mkII, NastyVCS stays on the musical (and not the surgical) side of the audio source. It is more kind of coloring toolbox (especially in the combination with the PHASE option) rather than allowing to shape audio disfigured beyond recognition. Some classic technical principles have been carefully selected and replicated and the overall combination and attention to detail makes NastyVCS stand out in the crowd of equalizers today. [Read more…]

NastyVCS – I can has dynamics

NastyVCS - compression controlThe upcoming NastyVCS virtual console strip VST plug-in will feature three pristine and complementary tools to shape the audio dynamics. This allows a vast variety of different dynamic treatments and here is a very first and brief overview: [Read more…]

WTF?

I’ve just googled “console strip” and saw my site on No 2! I know, the Blog really gets some serious traffic meanwhile but this one somehow scares me …

NastyVCS – virtual console strip

NastyVCS

virtual console strip

I’m really proud to announce the NastyVCS virtual console strip which finally brings the beloved “nasty” signal coloration series onto the next level.

Build entirely new around an opto-electric style compression unit, NastyVCS offers everything you need to shape your channels dynamics and tone. It offers a dedicated input stage featuring crunchy pre-amp saturation and a brickwall safety limiter  in the output stage while everything is set up to work in zero latency and so to have it available for hassle free tracking and mixing. Two dedicated filters can be used in either the audio path or in the compressors sidechain which can be external as well. [Read more…]

FerricTDS 1.5 – public beta (closed)

The public beta for the upcoming FerricTDS 1.5 has been closed today – thanks for all the contributions! A final version will be released here somewhere in March.

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favourite plug-in chain (currently) …

… simply is:

Sugar Bytes Thesys - step sequenzer

1. Sugar Bytes Thesys - step sequenzer

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