June 25, 2017

Evolution of a Produkt...

by Chris Randall
 

In early 2008, I got it in my head that Audio Damage needed a multi-band distortion. Like most Audio Damage products, this one came about because of a personal need. I like the general idea of multi-band distortion, but at the time, there was only really one available, Ohmicide. To be clear, Ohmicide is a very good product, one that has stood the test of time. The problem was that it had a very distinctive sound; I could pick it out of a mix from a mile away. And this distinctive sound wasn't really conducive to what I was trying to accomplish at the time.

So after begging and pleading, and much rending of garments, I somehow talked Adam in to making such a product for AD. We decided on a very simple topology, with a multi-selector for each band's algorithm, a simple resonant lowpass filter, and our normal compressor code (as heard in Rough Rider), configured for a one-knob "moar" kind of situation. And Kombinat was born.



This was the first UI we did where there were procedural knobs; this is very much a hybrid UI, where I'm using a fake screen element to display the flat stuff. But you can definitely see how my mind was working at the time.

Anyhow, it did fine, in line with our other products that aren't Eos, Discord, or Dubstation. We weren't going to finally buy that volcano lair or anything, but it sold pretty consistently. Like Ohmicide, it has an unique character that is easy to pick out if you know what you're listening for, but being far less popular than Ohmicide, there wasn't as much of a danger of having That Sound. It worked for what I needed, so I was happy.

Fast forward to 2011. In the intervening three years, screen resolutions had been creeping up, and Kombinat, with its hard-coded selector image maps, was getting difficult to read. I also wanted to experiment with a truly flat user interface, something that, aside from Live, was not common in music software. I'm sure there were other reasons as well for revving Kombinat to a version two, but they aren't coming readily to mind. But the upshot is we decided to rev it, and this is the first UI I did totally flat. It is still image maps, but instead of filmstrips of 3D Studio Max knobs, we're drawing most of the elements procedurally. We named it Kombinat Dva, because "Kombinat" is Russian for "Combination," and "Dva" is Russian for "two."



Kombinat Dva added six more algorithms (including my favorite thing we've ever made, "Nerd Rage"), a second filter topology, and a feedback loop. Since the nature of feeding back on a ridiculous conglomeration of distortion algorithms and resonant filters would result in some fairly hairy tones, I came up with the (I thought) clever idea of giving the feedback loop an envelope, triggered off the input. Which is why it has attack and release controls. Adam was fairly puzzled by this, but he built it, and it works great. The feedback control makes the entire thing fairly unstable, and I'd frequently get customers writing asking could I please make the noise stop and why did I hate them and other such ponderings. I inexplicably decided it needed seventy presets, as well, which is about sixty five more presets than anyone ever uses. Go, me.

Anyhow, Kombinat Dva did significantly better than the first one, but still lived somewhere in the middle of the field as far as our product line goes. Six years on, and Kombinat is now the ripe old age of nine. Time for Kombinat Tri.



Tri is, of course, Russian for "three." So it makes sense and is clever on enough levels that I can feel good about myself. Which is all I really ask at the end of the day.

Anyhow, this version of Kombinat gets the JUCE-ified look that all the current line are getting. Since I did the new Dubstation 2 UI in plain black-and-white (just to see if I could, really), I went the other way with Kombinat Tri and made it very colorful. We also added what I call "the filter package," which is a conglomeration of all our current filters that I like for musical applications. The destruction algorithms are unchanged, but we went through and fixed a couple little things that were resulting in DC offsets that made some people unhappy. And finally, we added a mix control, something that is of incredible usefulness in a multi-band distortion, come to find out.

The UI, like all of the new ones, is resolution-ecumenical. In addition, like all of our current re-rolls, it picks up VST3 and AAX support. It will also get a standalone and AUv3 version for iOS in the near future.

For people that know what a useful tool the Kombinat series is, they'll be very happy with this update, which extends its usefulness while keeping the core Kombinat "sound" totally intact. For people new to the Kombinat style, well, they'll be equal parts frightened and surprised, as has been the case for nine years now. In the Audio Damage store now.
 
 
 

8 comments:

 
 

 
Jun.26.2017 @ 1:17 PM
bassling
It's great to read your reflection on how a product develops, particularly as you identify different features that have enriched it.

FWIW I like the sound of Kombinat Dva waaay more than Ohmicide, which always seems to harsh. (Further FWIW, the distortion I use the most -- even now that I've a bunch of those luscious UAD ones -- is Predatohm.)

There are clearly challenges in trying to replicate hardware distortion. Why is that?
 
 

 
Jun.27.2017 @ 6:57 PM
DBM
I actually like the coloring of the " leak " better , but either way excited to see the filters added .
 
 

 
Jun.28.2017 @ 3:15 AM
raoul duke
That new UI is a thing of beauty.

The colour coordination of the controls reminds me of Buchla design.

The design approach you have taken with Kombinat would work very well for a new AD synth (Basic2?).
 
 

 
Jun.28.2017 @ 10:15 PM
boobs
ditto on the new UI.. it's really great. nice preset choice as well.
 
 

 
Jul.03.2017 @ 2:55 PM
j0hnny
Love using this as limiter and compressor with the distortion algos off. Turning the filter on but leaving it open is a fun colouring tool too.

Getting a phasing effect when turning the mix control. Is that supposed to happen?
 
 

 
Jul.07.2017 @ 10:18 AM
soren
Yes, liking the new UI very much. Makes sense to have the respective controls right below the frequency bands.

Just bought it so Tri didn't make the new album, but the v2 versions of Rough Rider, Eos and Dub Station all did. As did Ricochet, ADverb and some of the modulators:

link [youtu.be]
 
 

 
Jul.18.2017 @ 3:13 PM
DBM
Btw , iOS version .
 
 

 
Jul.18.2017 @ 3:13 PM
DBM
I meant ? Not . .
 
 

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