Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.
May 8, 2017
by Chris Randall
Now that the hardware side of the business is chugging along, we've turned our attention back to plugins. After some soul-searching and rending of garments, it became obvious that some serious re-building was in our future to make sure our rather extensive product line stays pertinent and healthy as we start knocking on the door of our 3rd decade in business.
First one on the block was (depending on how you count) either our second- or third-most popular plugin, Eos. We're rebuilding everything in JUCE, so that we can offer and support all the formats from a single codebase that is well-supported and gives us a lot of different options. So these ports aren't really ports as such, but complete ground-up rebuilds. In the case of Eos, the biggest problem was the user interface. It still held up okay on normal-res screens, but on Hi_Res and Retina, it looked cheap and awful. Also, a continuing point of contention with me has been the lack of a common platform-agnostic preset mechanism.
Early last year, we released FuzzPlus3, which was built with JUCE and made with a completely procedural user interface. (That is to say that the UI is all code, no images at all.) It also had an XML-based preset mechanism that Randy from Madrona and Sean from ValhallaDSP came up with. Several tens of thousands of downloads later, nobody seemed to have any problem with either the OpenGL interface or the preset mechanism, so I figured they were safe to roll in to a paid product.
With all that in mind, I set to it. I decided on a darker look for Eos 2, and instead of a static background, I used a GLSL shader to give me a little animated blob that responded to knobbing, which I thought was a clever trick. We also bared some previously hidden controls (high and low crossover points, which are the corner frequencies for the high and low multipliers) and added a fourth algorithm, Plate 3, which is a derivation of Plate 2 with a somewhat different rendering loop that results in a less dense tail with a wider stereo image.
All in all the port only took about 5 days, and then we spent a week with the testers tracking down all the silly bits. The testers were surprised to hear from me, not having got a new AD plug for some time now. But they were all still game, and now Eos 2 is available for purchase in the Audio Damage store and at Splice. The full version is $59.00, and the upgrade from v1.x is the difference between the two, $10.00.
This version is built with the absolute latest JUCE 5, the current VST3 SDK, and current Xcode and Visual Studio, against the current APIs from both Apple and Windows. So it should be solid for a good long while. Aside from the usual 32/64 VST and AudioUnits, a side effect of using JUCE is that we pick up the VST3 version for free. So that's included, and will be included in all our upcoming rebuilds. This version also removes the anti-denormal math, which caused a very small amount of noise to be added to the signal path. We figure not many people are using a Pentium 4 for music any more, and the ones that are probably can't run a bleeding-edge OpenGL-based plugin anyhow, so that's that.
We haven't decided what we're going to do next; I'm about 70% finished with Basic 2, which is a polyphonic version with much more extensive modulation. We've also got a couple new plugs we've been cooking up, and would like to port some of the advances we've made on the hardware side of things back in to plugin land.
April 9, 2017
by Chris Randall
Hectic April continues. The Audio Damage event this week at Perfect Circuit was outstanding. Huge turnout, and Baseck did a crazy excellent set. Much love all around, and thanks to everyone that came out and put up with my stream-of-consciousness presentation style. (Roughly akin to standing there and going "BLEARRRGHGGHGGHHH!!!!" for 30 minutes. Good times. Good times.)
Next on the agenda: the very first box of Eos modules will be arriving here tomorrow; I'll have time to test them and turn them around. They're all going to Control in NYC, so until l get back from Europe, that'll be the only place on the planet you can buy them. I'm going to get the product page up today, with specs and at least one overview video.
I buried the lede in that last paragraph. "...get back from Europe." Superbooth is right around the corner, y'all! The marquee event of the Eurorack World is April 20-22 at Fex in Berlin, and AD (in the form of me) will be in attendance, showing off Ensō and Eos, and all our other products. I'm very excited for this; it is, by far, my favorite event of the ones we do yearly, and I'm really looking forward to it. Instead of flying direct to Berlin, I'm going to Prague (much cheaper) and renting a car to drive to Berlin. I'll only be in Prague a couple days, but if any AI readers live there and want to grab a beer and whatever it is that Czechs eat, I'm totally down.
So, tl;dr: LA was fun. The Czech Republic and Germany will be fun. First Eos will be out the door Tuesday. Crazy times!
March 31, 2017
by Chris Randall
That right there is a mockup of our new baby, Ensō, which is an audio buffer module in 22hp, with 50 seconds of stereo 48/24 audio memory, and various ways for looping/triggering/etc that buffer. We're done with the hardware design, and are working on the software now.
You can come see it (and the new Eos module) in person if you're in the LA area. I will be doing an Audio Damage clinic/Q&A at Perfect Circuit in Burbank this Wednesday, April 5th, at 7PM. Facebook event page with all the deets is here. Derrick Baseck will be doing a performance, and I'm given to understand there will be pizza and beer, two of the three major food groups. We will be giving away a couple modules, and buttons and stickers and the other usual shit, and I may extemporaneously perform for 15 minutes myself.
In other news, the first articles for the hardware version of Eos will be on the way to me today. So just a beta-testing round and then that will be shipping. Figure two weeks to stores at this point.
And finally, we will be attending Superbooth in Berlin again this year. I'm flying in to Prague on April 15, and then driving up to Berlin a couple days later. If you are in town and want to hook up, get at me in the usual methods.
March 5, 2017
by Chris Randall
While Adam and I were waiting for the Lyft to take us to Holocene to start setting up Sync02 yesterday, I was taking a quick scroll through Facebook, and it threw up one of those "memories" things from the same day in 2016, which happened to be the day I arrived in San Francisco for Sync01. It was a nice juxtaposition, considering that my initial idea for a gathering of all our friends in this business to show off the gear and music we make in a comfortable and casual environment has effectively doubled in size in the space of a year.
While it may seem like I put all this together from a casual observation point, the simple fact of the matter is that I just come up with a context, and everyone else in the Eurorack Family commits their efforts and resources to making it a success. By the time the thing is running, I'm just a bemused observer.
In any event, the people at Holocene were understanding and helpful, Jason at Control Voltage did all the hard work, and all our amazing family of manufacturers and musicians pulled out the stops to make a great event. I'm so glad to be a part of this crew of amazingly talented people.
A special thank-you to T2, Rodent, Bana Haffar, and Derrick Baseck for putting on a fucking amazing after-event performance. That shit was epic, no joke.
February 9, 2017
by Chris Randall
Sync02 is the second in what is apparently going to be a yearly 1st-Saturday-Of-March affair. Last year's event went off well enough that we decided to do it again, despite the torential rain. As you may remember if you attended, Sync01 took place at JWZ's excellent CodeWord venue in San Francisco. Saturday, March 4th at Holocene. It is over twice as big as last year's, so we got a partner. Audio Damage is doing it in partnership with Control Voltage. The manufacturers that will be exhibiting include:
Industrial Music Electronics
S1 Synth Library
Roger Linn Design
Control Voltage will have a pop-up store at the venue, so warm up your debit card. The exhibition runs from 10:30A to 4:30P, and then we close the venue for a bit to remove the tables, and reopen at 5:30P for the show. The performers include:
The exhibition is free to attend, and all-ages. The performance is 21+ and $10. So, if you're in Portland, and you don't come to this, well... I am given to understand that Modular On The Spot will be doing a separate event the night before. The Facebook event page is here. Please hit the little button to let us know you're coming. That number is helpful.
It may be a little early to bring this up, but I'm also open to ideas for where Sync03 should be. It takes a while to put these together, so the city needs to have a good confluence of both manufacturers and customers. My initial first choice for Sync03 was Washington, DC, but I'm also open to European cities, or something I haven't thought of.