Dante: If I recall correctly around the time your son was born you were thinking of creating a multi-effect device. Was it that that eventually became the dNa-EffectRack ?

 

Ray: Well it was a transition period for me. I played with some ideas but it all had to crystallize. After creating the MultiCOMP I still felt like I had to make some outboard style gear. The Stereo equaliser and several compressors had been received very well by the community. Now how would I be able to add something new to the palette.  That is when it struck me.  I am a huge fan of API, Neve and all these great hardware developers that make really wonderful EuroRack stuff. I had played a lot with that stuff in the analog world so would I be able to make something like that in digital but with 1 difference. Since it is digital you can do tricks you cannot do in the analog domain such as swapping the order of the modules 'on-the-fly'. So I took an API lunchbox as an example and fitted that with my own vision and modules.  That is what eventually became the ChannelRack, which was the first rack I developed. The Rack was a real challenge especially the switching of the order of the modules.  It took me weeks to perfect that. Once I got that right I thought out what to fill it with and how to shape the modules. It took a long time all in all to fine tune. I tried to make each and every module something special. The 4 band equaliser is something of which I am also very proud since it gives passive type shelving filters. Those sound really smooth to my ears. All the rest of course is all dNa signature on the quality perspective.

 
     

Try to aim for the best you can make of it and loose the rest.  And then it struck me again! In the analog domain we have all this great equalisers, pre-amps and dynamics processors so why not make the rack filled with effect modules. I got really excited with that idea!  I donít keep up with all that is released, but I thought this could add something really new to the platform. So that is how the EffectRack was born; I now had a vision on how to create a true multi-effect device, something I wanted to do for quite some time. 

But that again was a whole other challenge. What to fill it with? What would be useful, what would I want it to do, so I started investigating that. I love effects, but it had to be something special. The Songbird Tri Chorus(!), TC electronics 1210 chorus/flanger, delays with unusual filters, modulated filters, wild modulations with fast switching presets and a nice intuitive reverb with lots of possibilities and tricks built-in. And of course the possibility to incorporate other effects through the INSERT SLOT MODULE. Really nice collection with some classics in there if you ask me! But some things didnít fit the GUIÖIím talking about a reverb! That just has too much parameters to fit, so I added a remote for that. The reverb remote inspired by the Lexicon LARC (since a LARC is just so intuitive) was really fun but exhausting in trying to make the display work like it does. You cannot imagine how much work those things cost in SDK. If you use it you don't see how much work is done to get it like it is.  That is why the prices were higher on those devices. They are special and they have a very reasonable price for the amount of work I put in there especially if you take in account what they will deliver!  Both turned out very well and I am immensely proud of them. I gave it all I had; these are my digital babies! I had never before dared to envision something that flexible and intuitive. Something that can easily be understood and overviewed! Sales wise it was a bit of a bummer. I haven't sold as much as I thought it would. Not so much financially, but if you put your heart and soul in such a device you want it to be used and appreciated for what it is! I won't give those away for free, but users have to try those, if you want something special to add to your arsenal in my opinion. Also along with the features which I added after the initial release; The AMC and the state manager. Users should really demo them.

Dante:  Obviously the devices are worth the price, but it is tough in a saturated market and especially the Scope one which is not as widely known as it could be. Fitting six effect devices into that rack space meant that each effect ensured that GUI elements were kept to the most essential. First impressions show that compactness and workflow may have been foremost design goals. Was this the case ?

Ray: Well, it goes hand in hand with functionality. I just make decisions on that. I have a vision and am not afraid to drop features. I don't think you need thousands of options. You want a fast working intuitive device. It took a lot of pixels to get it all feeling right. It's like a puzzle...for me it only seems to fit 1 way, to make it feel ok. But i thought of that of all my plug-ins, and over time I still change things but it makes things better. The Classic processors of dNa and the Optimus Prime were also recently overhauled. Not BIG changes, but it keeps getting better (colored faders with Optimus, font change, shifting this and that). If you put earlier releases next to the recent ones I think the older ones look cheapish. A font change and a little 3d effect in the title or the 3d effect of the whole plug-in really adds to the experience onscreen.

Dante: I also like the 3D style Rack. What inspired this ?

Ray: Actually the handle on the left of the racks wasn't recognizable as a handle (it does absolutely nothing, it just looks like the real world thing) so I gave it some perspective, but then the top of the rack also needed some kind of perspective. It turned out that it took the dNa plug-ins to another level GUI wise (at least that is how I see it).

Dante: Me too.  So what is the internal AMC/State-manager (v2.0) ?

Ray: In short: the AMC is the Advanced Midi Controller feature. You can assign essential pots and faders of the EffectRack's modules (plus some of the rack itself) and control them from the AMC, and control them ALL with just 1 controller (in a very flexible, customizable way!). So essentially control 6 CC's with just 1 master CC! And trigger it also to auto rotate thus morphing your effects. On top of that you can save your setting in the preset file of the Rack. So when you recall, you get what you saved including the midi CC assignments. This technique of Midi CC assignments I have also incorporated in the latest updates of previous plug-ins.

The state manager is a way to make 6 'states' with the modules. Like: State 1 is only the Chorus, State 2 is delay and reverb, State 3 is insert etc. This makes use of the bypasses of the modules, and you can 'save' the assigned AMC rotaries in the state. The modulation has 2 presets internally which you can set and save with the states, so that adds to the palette. Much faster than recalling presets. All in 1 device. One has to try the feature to really understand what it can do. Therefore DEMO the unit please! Info on these features can also be found in the manual which can be downloaded at the dNa site.

Dante and Ray January 2018