Dante:  You're familiar with Scope since the Creamware days.  Were there any particular factors which sparked back your enthusiasm last year and getting that 'Scope' vibe back ?

Ray:  First of all the platform sounds good, really good.  I have used it all along (since software version 1.32).  Secondly the flexibility is unequaled but for a lot of people too complex.  It was way ahead compared with the competition, maybe it was too early for this technology although the Scope community was a great help back then.  Thirdly as soon as Creamware released their SDK I was into it and wanted it.  And after a while I finally got it.  So I learnt.  Which took a long while  because of a couple of bugs and elemental documentation.  I created my ideas into plug-ins and wanted to put them out.  Back then I had already made some very nice mid/side stuff but it was around that time the Brainworx came out.  That was somehow of a bummer, but competition is good as it made me want to raise the bar a bit.  I could hardly get into contact with Creamware.  I tried for half a year getting somewhere with the plug-ins and ideas but then Creamware ceased to exist.  That was a mental blow, putting in all this effort and time possibly for nothing beyond my own use.  I tried to make contact but could not get anywhere so I just left it.  Anyway back to last year I thought that I found it a waste of time if I didnít do anything with it so I just contacted Sonic Core.  Holger responded enthusiastically.  Initially our agendas were a bit out of sync but eventually our communications became clearer.  Holger asked me if I would like to come to Siegburg to talk about the plug-ins, future developments and my thoughts and ideas so I did.  It was a warm welcome and we talked a lot about several issues and most importantly the future.  Then NAMM came by and he asked me if I could update the GUI of any plug-ins, making it more modern and give it some eye-candy.  I did that and the inspiration came back.  I worked for a long time on the GUI parts, enhancing the circuits and making a wider and more intuitive catalogue plug-in wise.

Dante:  Sounds like you'll get support not just for the current plug-ins but any future ones as well. 

Ray:  Yes, more to come, not only processors but also handy tools which I lacked in the bundles and because DSP power was always sparse.  DSP efficient stuff.    Holger from Sonic Core gave me all the support he could manage and made the release possible.  A big thanks to Sonic Core and Holger for that.  The short version of this story is this: I found it a pity the plug-ins were laying around only for my own use, and since Holger reacted so enthusiastically I made an effort.  Itís not for the money, itís for the love of technology, music, the platform (passion for these things) and Sonic Core.  So from this enthusiasm the dNa plug-ins are where they are now.

Dante:  Awesome.  That's one thing about the Scope community at large, never short of enthusiasm for the platform.  How did you get into DSP development?

Ray:  The opportunity came by when Creamware created the SDK4 (which I still use to create my ideas with).  For me itís just like that old jeans that when you put it on it just fits.

Dante:  Like me, you like valves. I have for example, some valve gear by RODE, Digitech, Mesa Boogie and Behringer.  Do you have any favorite valve gear / brands that you like to use ?

Ray:  Ah yes.  A lot. 

  • The TLA classic stuff I like (I have an older equalizer which just sound heavenly for recording - yes I record with equalizer).  It's not a top preamp but a color-box and great on guitars. 

  • Of course I like Manley, although not all Manley stuff.  There is a compressor which is just not suited for all purposes, but the massive passive equalizer is good.

  • There is one preamp which I just find THE BOMB but they donít make them anymore.  Its called the ViPRE (from Groove Tubes if I remember correctly).  Still looking for those. 

  • I thought only Tube Stuff could give you a buzz, until API came into my life. I like everything from API.  Neve is also okay, but API gives me more oomph! I just like that.  For me personally, gear should do something with the sound. 

  • Neumann mikes, Gefell mikes, the older AC701 tube is UNEQUALED for microphones.  And the newer Neumann's are NOTHING compared to the older ones.  Still German quality, but they lack personality. 

  • Other mikes that I like are Schoeps, Beyer, Shure, Sennheiser, Royer.  You see, not cheap gear, but itís better to save you money for fewer but really good purchases, than get crappy quality stuff.  Maybe itís in the margins but the total is the sum of the individuals. 

  • For effects I like Lexicon. The 480 reverb still is the standard.

  • Transient Designers are also very nice.  They did a heck of a job with that stuff, very useful for sloppy drummers.  But now I like more of the unprocessed (it still is heavily processed, tape and vintage gear just does that: distortion) real sound like the old days, no quantizing, get the vibe of the band. 

There is probably a lot of gear I forgot, this is what I worked with and liked, there is a ton of gear I tested and didnít like.

Dante:  Do you think there's still room for such classic gear in the digital, disposable music economy?

Ray:  Well, the recording business is a somewhat dying art.  It still is an art but budgets are very tight to non-existent and good gear and a good room just cost a lot of money.  Younger musicians are more eager to say 'can you fix that and that' but in the tape days youíd get the question from the producer/technician 'Are you sure you can play it better, because if we record over this one itís gone'.  Musicians played like it was the last time they could play it, they had more fun, the vibe was good.  Older records sound better not sound-wise, they grab you because there is this extra layer called 'vibe' or 'enthusiasm'.  

Dante:  What modifications do you make to tube amps ?

Ray:  Caps, tubes, power supplies. Rebuilding is not an option, might as well build a new one then, but tubes and caps can do a lot.  With older gear capacitors tend to dry out, so big win there.  Coupling capacitors can improve the frequency response, bigger power supplies means more stability, better imaging and better lows and highs.

Dante:  There has been some interest and debate in the use of feedback in Scope.  As a DSP developer, would you literally 'feed back' the output of an algorithm back into itself, or would it be more a case of just implementing the 'effect' of feedback with some mathematical formula?

Ray:  I cannot give any explanation on my circuits at the moment.  And I think it depends on what you trying to achieve.  DSP developers should use their brains, creativity and ears to come up with solutions for the problems they run into.  And a lot of testing, reading, studying.  For example the issue with the delay (or possible delay)  between a bypassed plug-in and a working plug-in cost me three weeks and over a hundred test versions (of just one plug-in) to get it right, since it should be absolutely CONSISTENT!!!   It should load correctly every time and also on the older chips. This was an absolute necessity 1) for the blend function of the MasterCOMP, and 2) I realized that with a lot of set-ups in digital it cannot be that there is delay of samples (so itís small) if you bypass the plug-in.  For example the XTC mode in Scope.  There should be one delay, and one delay only: that of the plug-in itself.  Since the platform can place load dynamically over the DSP chips it was a challenge getting that right.

Dante:  An easy explanation of the difference between feedback and feedforward would be interesting.

Ray:  It can be explained rather easily. Feedforward compression acts on the uncompressed signal (so very useful for short peaks and high ratios), feedback compression acts on the already compressed signal so useful for gluing but no high ratios.  It's a more musical compression.  They both have pros and cons.  There is a good explanation on GearSlutz.

Dante:  I enjoyed some of the tracks on 'Genesis V' and 'Trinity of Souls'. Do you have any other musical releases or plan any for the future ?

Ray:  Could be. Me and my musical companion have some tracks for the follow-up of Genesis-V. That is a sort of story in audio, of two 'special-agents' getting called to headquarter and getting sucked up into a wormhole/vortex.  But we both have other priorities at the moment (got to live and make money).  They are free to share and for people to enjoy what is there.  Thanks for the compliment.  We enjoy that you enjoy the tracks.

Dante:  The drums on 'Trinity of Souls' - did you record the samples from a live kit?

Ray:  Nope, if I remember correctly it was a plug-in drum machine with this long 'loop' rhythm and we created all kinds of different tracks around that to see how far we could get.  We just got creative.  We both play drums, especially my music-mate as he is a real drummer.  And we both like recording and tuning drums, so we know how drums should sound.  You can get good basic sound from a lot of sources, or record you own, but as always be stubborn and use what you like.  And use good reverbs then compress that (instead of first compress, then reverb on total) as this can do a lot   Also if you have some of the newer plug-ins, which can feed overheads out separately, process them in a different way than the rest.  This is one way you can make it more live sounding.  Oh yeah - you can also try layering drums for better results.   There's always more than one way to Rome you know.

Dante:  Exactly, the reason I asked is that they had a more lively sound than the normal trance-box beats I hear on electro genres (including my own tracks).  I must try your trick of reverb first then compressing.  Also processing overheads separately - I do this with ToonTracks - great trick.  Anyway thanks for your time and informative comments.




Dante August 2013