You may remember a while back Sknote ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund AAX DSP development of their plug-in range. Unfortunately they were not successful but undeterred they have gone ahead and released Disto v2 as their first plug-in to support the AAX 64 bit format for Pro Tools.
What Is Disto?
Disto is an emulation of two different devices in one. It is designed by merging their features to get a single processing system. It was designed taking inspiration from their rack of devices in their studio: one pair of Distressors and one stereo FATSO Jr. by Empirical Labs. It is not endorsed by Imperial Labs.
A Mid/Side encoding/decoding matrix is added to the rack, which, thanks to independent controls, gives full access to Mid and Side processing. The character of the rack is widely expanded, by offering a “Standard/Out of Order” selection. Standard mode has the character and headroom of the original modelled devices. Out of Order mode has a lot stronger effects for stronger processing.
Sknote Disto Main Feature Summary
- Several compression modes.
- Knee compression.
- Several saturation modes.
- Warmth control. A special dynamic filter attenuates brightness for a “tape” style warming effect.
- Hottitude control. Set headroom and saturation independently from dynamic control.
- Output transformer option. A special saturation on low frequency range.
- Mid/Side matrix, with independent controls for Mid and Side.
- Original/Out of Order modes.
- New v.2 available now!
- Sample aligned Dry-Mix control.
- New “Clean!” mode. A whole new model for faithful compression, from light to squashed.
- New Gain Reduction meters mapping. Zooming into first 10 dB.
- New Auto-Gain option! Engage it to make output gain controls match the original audio level.
- Price $39.99
Didn't Sknote Try A Kickstarter To Develop AAX DSP Plug-ins?
Yes they did and so we asked Quinto to bring us up to date with recent developments. Over to you Quinto....
So we are in the ProTools world, finally. It wasn't a short story. I planned to include formats for Pro Tools a few years ago. However porting existing products to a new format isn't one of those creative activities. It requires studying the new system, finding all the cues you are used to while developing and all those boring things so important for the final product, like code signing, interfaces and details.
It is all about the market and your users, because some of our users have started using Pro Tools after buying our plug-ins and want to be able to use the tools they are used to in their new system. Nothing new or fancy, just compatibility. But once you are there you have access to the great Avid world of professional gear. When we signed up with Avid as 3rd party developers it was still an RTAS world as AAX had only just been announced.
AAX is quite a different story from RTAS/TDM. Looking at the bigger picture and thinking about possibly extending the porting to TDM and hardware acceleration, there was a serious distance between the DAW and the optional hardware, mainly because of the fixed point structure of the Motorola chips.
AAX looked like a huge step forward, setting the system free from old limits, getting floating point on hardware, with the net result of letting the developer think the code just one time, albeit, not compiling exactly the same one for both native and DSP (which actually never happens). Also, it looks to me how the new birth led to a clean and extremely well documented system. Starting with AAX, thinking DSP from the start, was a pleasure.
So why did I need years to finally release the first product for ProTools? It was all about SKnote becoming a company. When we started looking at RTAS there were just two of us, with me developing software. During the last few years we set a hardware product range, added some more serious software products, built our studio, new offices, new organisation, started showing gear at exhibitions, meeting people, a lot of new things. And time passed quickly.
In 2016 we decided to consolidate things. New formats, better assistance, etc. So I put serious efforts into AAX to get it done, putting new products behind it in the pipeline. Now that the first product is out the other ones are coming out very fast.
A few months ago, while I was working on AAX, I was contacted by a few users/friends asking for our products as AAX-DSP. I knew the theory behind it because of the docs for AAX and my long experience with Texas Instruments DSP and tools. I tried to imagine the potential market for us and thought how investing some serious money (for systems) and efforts (for development) on AAX-DSP, before even having ProTools users know our products, was not the safest thing to do. I got the idea to use a Kickstarter project as a poll. Is there already a potential user base interested in our tools? Let's see. As I imagined, it was too early. Some answers we got were like "I never used your products", "if any, I want the DSP for products I'm used to" and so on. But this was not a final test for us to decide.
Recently I started working with the recent Venue systems by Avid. They can use the AAX-DSP products. This opens a whole new world and market to developers: live events. So we decided to go for it and start developing AAX-DSP. Already a good start as we built our framework for AAX without any dependency from third parties libraries for shortcuts, the code is already thought for DSP.
The live world adds a lot in terms of potential market to HDX "studio" users, making our investment less dangerous for us. Also, a new class of effects specifically for live use can be designed, making it also fun, which is good when your job often consists in thinking of something new.
Its still too early to comment about how simple going to DSP is for a developer, but we plan to announce the first product by next September, when we'll have fun at AES Exhibition in Los Angeles. We'll see, I'm already working on it.
So there we go, far from being disheartened by the failure to get funded, they have re-evaluated found an additional market and started with their first AAX Native plug-in. Quinto, we wish you well.