Spaceship Delay presentation and KVR DC 16
Past KVR Developer Challenges
I’d like to recall what the KVR Developer Challenge is. It’s a contest for audio developers, where they have 2-3 months to develop something audio related of course (most of the time a plug-in, but also standalone applications, or sound librairies). Then, when the development period is ended, a voting period of 3-4 weeks start. All of the KVR audio website members, which is a very big audio/music forum, are invited to vote for their 5 preferred creations, and give them a rank. Then, at the end of the voting period, all the votes are counted, the ranks of all the contributions are established, and the creators can win a few things depending on the results.
I did that contest two times already. In 2012, I released Inspiration, my take on the concept of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies ported into a standalone application and inspired by some of my lectures from that time. Then, in 2014, I released Guitar Gadgets, a VST/AU plug-in that time, which was a compilation of “fake analog pedals”, a way to present a few audio effects algorithms put together in the same plug-in, and which could be very interesting for guitarists. My ranks at these times were 19th and 6th, which is honorable. I got also very nice reviews from a few places, such as a full page on Computer Music UK, and I learnt a lot of things in the process, both about coding/DSP and marketing. So, without thinking about it twice, I decided to do something again this year !
The concept of Spaceship Delay
In fact, I came up with the idea of Spaceship Delay a long time ago already, I just decided to give it a go for the KVR DC 16 when I saw that KVR organized again a contest this year. The thing is I have all the Korg Monotron little synths at home, and even if I don’t use that much, I love the idea behind, and more specifically I love this one :
So I was thinking : what if you could use it as an effect ? And what about designing a convenient plug-in to do so ? A few hours later, I was coding a simple Korg MS-20 filter simulation, and I put it into a delay line. And it sounded already really amazing ! Then, 3-4 weeks ago, I started coding a plug-in using that simulation as a basis, and the all the important things that we would want in a good delay plug-in. I had also the chance to rent another amazing device, called the Dynacord Echocord Super 76, which is a tape delay machine with a spring reverb, more focused than a Roland Space Echo, but which sounds really good too. Now I don’t have it anymore, but I have studied it for a few weeks, and I had captured some impulse responses from it. So, I decided also to include a simulation of that spring reverb thanks to convolution also, and I am very happy with the results. And I gave a go to the modeling of a synthesizer Twin-T filter you might know as well.
Then, I did some digging about all the things that people like in delay plug-ins, and about the associated technology. I worked on a prototype which allows me to use different kinds of delay lines, using various strategies for fractional delay (linear+cubic interpolation, artefact-free implementations of time-varying allpass IIR filters), and delay changes (with or without pitch changes). I tried to put various audio effects in the delay line path, and kept only what sounded the best. I added also extra filters on post processing and a phaser, and the attack mode I loved from the Guitar Gadgets delay. I also saw that video which made me want add a freeze button and increase a little the maximum delay value.
I had also a very good idea for the user interface, which is why I called my plug-in “Spaceship Delay”, but… unfortunately I underestimated a lot the amount of time necessary to make it a reality, so with a lot of frustration, I had to keep using the prototype user interface for the KVR DC 16 plug-in itself as well. However, I plan to update the UI when the contest is done ! And I got that idea of putting a manual / tutorial embedded in a plug-in for a long time, from the moment I saw that feature in Ableton Live. I was thinking about putting it in Guitar Gadgets 2 years ago but I didn’t have enough time. For the KVR DC 16, I did succeed, and I’m happy with the result there too. Designing something like that for my recent JUCE Summit / ADC talks might have helped too.
So, here we are again ! I’m very happy to do that contest again and I hope I will “perform” better than last times but still, I know I will learn a lot of things again ! And I’m already happy with the first reviews I got. I’m also very happy to see Mr. Wavesfactory doing something for the KVR DC 16, since I have been giving him JUCE/DSP lessons over the past months, and he did the Snare Buzz plug-in all alone. I did use his toy and the Siren from Noise Machines to do a little audio demo for my entry yesterday.
I hope you’ll enjoy Spaceship Delay, and if you are a KVR forum member, don’t hesitate to vote for me if you like the plug-in !