January 23, 2007


by Chris Randall

Urs Heckman (U-He) just released a public beta of the 2.0 remake of his original flagship product, More Feedback Machine. I haven't played with it yet, as I'm swamped right now. However, if UI quality is indicative of sound quality, this is the best delay ever. I'm a huge fan of Urs' UI work (far beyond my design skills) and this one is certainly up to his normal standards. Free to try the beta out, $79.00 to pre-order the real deal.



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Jan.23.2007 @ 6:06 PM
Adam Schabtach
Pricing software is a strange and mysterious challenge.

If you price stuff too high, nobody will buy it, obviously. On the other hand, it's possible to price stuff too low, too. Some people will assume that something with a low price is somehow inferior to something similar with a high price, and they won't buy the low-priced thing. I personally think that's why our RTAS offerings did so poorly: ProTools users are used to paying more for plug-ins than we ask, so our stuff wasn't perceived as having value. I have no evidence for that, of course, but I do know that when I worked for a different company selling a low-priced package of plug-ins, people would ask me point-blank "is it any good?" when I told them the price. (I did argue within the company that we underpriced that product, and they doubled its price not long after I left the company. Go figure.)

Pricing is also very subjective in the sense that different people have different budgets. A $49 pitch-shifter/delay plug-in may seem expensive to someone who just barely scraped together the money for his/her first computer DAW and is using the "LE" version of a sequencer that came bundled with their entry-level audio interface. On the other hand, it's an absolute steal to someone who's running a professional studio and is looking for a more efficient-to-use replacement for their aging Harmonizer.

We price our stuff the way we do on the hope that they'll be affordable to most prospective customers, and hence people will buy them from us rather than using pirated copies. We assume that there will be lots of piracy because we've been involved in this business long enough to know that software piracy is a given. We didn't choose to set our prices high in an attempt to compensate for that assumption. Instead we set our prices with a different assumption: we assume that if we offer good products at good prices, then good people will pay for them. In other words, we set our prices with the assumption that there are enough honest people left in the world to support a small, honest business, rather than with the assumption that there are so few honest people left that we have to set our prices in a dishonest manner (i.e. using inflated prices to theoretically compensate for a theoretical loss of income to piracy--a loss which in practicality can never be measured).

So far it seems to be working. On the other hand we still get bombarded with requests for lower prices in various forms: bundles, group buys, sponsorships, endorsements, etc. We also get people asking us to phone them to help them use pirated copies of our products. It's human nature, I suppose: some segment of the population will always try to get what they perceive to be a better deal. So it goes. We can't please all of the people all of the time.

Urs does nice work, and personally I think his prices are not out of line. The Hartmann Neuron plug-id does seem overpriced to me, particularly considering that much of the R&D for it must have already been done for the keyboard that came before it.



Jan.23.2007 @ 8:10 PM
Imo the innovation of the Neuron synth was packing its technology into something that's playable as an instrument. Similar results can be had elsewhere (at higher quality often imo) but using csound or the various semi-modular mangling tools around that can do stft and such isn't going to give u the same realtime sci fi frontend for the experience. The keyboard itself runs Linux I believe, so it's no surprise the plugin eventually came out. It's a shame that the Neuron's high road pricing didn't work out very well, even with the fun looking dongle.

If you're after plugins you might consider checking out some of White Noise Audio's tools. Dopplemangler and the additive won't give the same results of the Neuron but I think the sound quality is quite usable.

I'm willing to give mfm a shot if my dinky laptop will handle it. I like sitting around the house goofing off in Bidule.


Jan.24.2007 @ 10:08 PM

i think you guys really have something good going, i wish you the best.

your excellent replicant plug made its way into a remix for millimetrik i have just done, it saved me hours in subtle programming on the hihat part! ;-)

how about the king of all bitcrushers as a next plugin?


Jan.24.2007 @ 10:44 PM
Chris Randall
Our next product will not have any bitcrushing, at least at this juncture. It is still in the design phase, and there's always the temptation to add a bitcrushing feature (something I like to talk Adam in to putting in to roughly half of our products.)

That said, I agree with the previous poster that pricing plugins high to combat piracy losses is a straw man argument, and in actual fact, pricing a plug out of the range of reasonable people virtually ensures that product will be heavily pirated.

I think that Urs' products are, like our Ronin plug, essentially catch-all plugs. They can do a lot of different things, and are priced accordingly. A lot of work goes in to them, and Urs is a one-man company, so it makes perfect sense to me. In fact, I think he might under-price his stuff a little bit. Audio Damage runs on a different model, so there's no real way to compare our prices to his. Most of our products (with the exception of Ronin, of course) are single-purpose things that _can_ do multiple tasks, like Discord being a fairly capable stereo delay, but are really actually good at one or two things.



Jan.25.2007 @ 2:45 AM
Bidule's deconcrisseur is already such a great bitcrusher that I don't really feel teh need for another one.
The plug that I've been obsessingover lately is logic's sculpture. I haven't really gotten any great sounds out of it yet, but I'm pretty sure they're there if Ican just figure out how to program it better.

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