Plug-ins. We love the fact that they show up on our desktop in droves now, but remember they all had to get created, designed, and tested before release. While many have no hardware-related background, some are based on actual pieces of gear that have been in the “field” for decades now. But how do you go about creating software from a classic piece of equipment that engineers, mixers, and producers are used to hearing? To get some answers, we hit Jason Beck, CEO at Eventide, with five big ones.
Eventide has been around since the early 1970s, making studio hardware. What models have currently been ported over to software?
Jason Beck: We have ported many of our vintage analog effects processors, including the Omnipressor, Instant Phaser, and Instant Flanger. The H910 and H949 Harmonizers, as well as some algorithms from the H3000 Harmonizer have also been ported. Finally, we have created some plug-ins based on algorithms from our current flagship processor, the H8000.
But we approach this by carefully studying the characteristics of the original units and re-creating them in the software. In the case of algorithms ported from our current generation of Harmonizers, the focus is mostly on creating the user interface, since porting the algorithms over to a plug-in is straightforward. For our plug-ins that model the older analog processors, the opposite is true. In those cases, the user interface is straightforward because it resembles the front panels of the original processors. Modeling the sound of those older analog processors within the digital domain of a plug-in is certainly challenging.
Is there a golden unit of each hardware type that gets modeled?
JB: Yes, actual hardware units were used to study and model the characteristics of each of the analog hardware products that we have ported to software. For plug-ins based on our more recent digital DSP based products, we simply ported the existing software to the plug-in format.
How do you transfer presets from hardware to software?
JB: In our older analog effects processors, the concept of a “preset” did not exist. For these products, we relied upon our years of user feedback and artist relationships to create presets that reflected the most common or well-known settings for each of our boxes. In the case of our more recent processors, the original hardware supported presets, so we were able to recreate those easily in the software versions.
What platforms does your software work with?
JB: We currently support Pro Tools TDM systems.
Do you make the software units more flexible than the hardware?
JB: Yes, when it makes sense to do so. For example, our H3000 Factory plug-in is much more powerful and flexible than the original H3000 algorithms it models, while still fully supporting all of the original features of those algorithms.
The biggest difficulty though, is preserving the character of an analog processor when translating it to the digital domain. Some aspects of analog designs do not translate easily to the realm of digital signal processing, which makes it difficult to make the plug-in sound and feel like the original hardware.