Spaceship Delay presentation and KVR DC 16

Today, I’m going to present you the new freeware audio plug-in that I have released for the KVR Developer Challenge 2016. It is called Spaceship Delay, and you can grab it here.

Spaceship Delay Screenshot

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.

Dynacord Echocord Super 76

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.

Final words

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 !

Written on December 4, 2016