An Interview with Ridvan from Analog Obsession – Audio Plugin Development and the Meaning of Life 1

What does this new plugin company Analog Obsession do?

Recently Analog Obsession burst into the highly competitive audio plugin market. They specialise in modelling analog hardware effects into virtual emulations, much like Acustica Audio, Slate Digital, and many others.

FILTEQ GUI Artwork by Andrew Morgan (other GUI artwork is by Ridvan)At this point they have nine different equalizers and three different compressors for sale. Prices range from the free FILTEQ based on the German 70’s Filtek MK3 to the $99 BRITISH COUPLE collection of two vintage Neve emulations. Most of the plugins are around $50, so they are much less expensive than the majority of the competition.

Another selling point is the total lack of copy protection, which is fantastic. I won’t go into a rant on this, but personally I would not buy any software with any more protection that a serial number these days.

I got in contact with the guy who runs the entire company, and also does the coding and graphics. A man of many talents, Ridvan Kucuk. So, yet another plugin company, what makes this one different? Lets find out!

What does Ridvan have to say about himself and his new company?

David LDA – Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. First could you tell us a little about yourself and what made you want to start a company making audio plugins?

Ridvan AO – I’m hardware and plugin developer from Turkey. I started with building custom studio equipment for studios, AO started plugin development instead of hardware after 4 years. My purpose is implementing analog studio hardware into the digital world. Electronic knowledge is the most important thing to do that, and AO is developing plugins with that knowledge now. AO knows what musicians and engineers need, then focuses mostly un-built plugins of hardware.

David LDA – What do you think of the other big players in the market and the atmosphere in general? My opinion is that the whole scene is drowning in hype, hyperbole and cynical viral marketing.

Ridvan AO – Market is really big. There are really great companies. I have a studio and I’m using 3rd party plugins too. I really like Acustica Audio plugins. Also I worked as a 3rd party developer for them for 5 years. Then I gave up, cause it was too complicated for me. Then I started to walk on my way. I like some Waves plugins too, but small companies are my favourites, like Sknote, Black Rooster Audio Sonimus…The most important things are references and exciting marketing in plugin world. I can’t deal with big brothers, but I’m trying to do my best…

David LDA – How many Gearslutz threads can we read where every new product is a ‘game changer’, it soon becomes laughable to anyone but the most die hard fanbois and those suffering mental disorders. It’s refreshing to see your company has a no bullshit attitude and a fair price. You mentioned online that you build hardware for studios, and that you then model each component to create your plugins. Can you elaborate on this process and how you use it to create accurate emulations?

Ridvan AO – In the digital world we have magic and it’s called “SPICE”. We can simulate hardware in digital domain. I was using LTSPICE to design my hardware, and then I found the way of implementing spice models and code into plugins. It’s my way to build plugins, but before coding you have to know electronics, lots of laws about electronics and info about basic electronics…I studied electric at high school, and biomedical at university. So I collected lots of info and knowledge about electric/electronic. I have to say that I have solid knowledge about electric/electronic. No, I’m not narcissist! LOL

David LDA – One thing that caught my attention, and drove to to try your free EQ, was that people online were comparing it to Nebula and saying that it felt more alive than other plugins. This ‘alive’ quality was something I became rather obsessed by, and it drove me to create my course Nebula Explained (LOL, now I am a cynical marketer).

I do think your free FILTEQ, which I am assuming is the same technology as your paid offerings, has the same alive quality as Nebula. It does not sound like Nebula, but it has the main positive quality of not sounding like a sheet of plastic over the sound. This is exciting stuff.

I am assuming that this alive quality is somehow created in your circuit modelling software. In Nebula the sampled impulse is taken at many volume settings and ‘cross faded’ at the program rate to match the volume envelope of the input signal. This is one reason it takes so many resources.

FILTEQ is tiny and does not use that much CPU. I am assuming you are modelling something in a dynamic manner to get the ‘alive’ sound, could you please explain your magic powers? How do you get an alive sound when so many other plugins sound dead?

Ridvan AO – As I said if want “alive” sounding emulations, first of all we need to know electronics. That’s the most importing thing. I’m not doing something special, just converting spice to C++ language to build my plugins. To do that firstly I have to create accurate models for each component. If all of them are fine, completed thing will be fine too. For example, all hardware has a different fingerprint. Even if they are the same brand/model. Everything is non-linear in the analog world, so I had to emulate that. But this is not that easy. I’m trying to do my best about that. Actually i don’t want to explain too much. TOP SECRET! LOL

David LDA – I would like to talk about oversampling and sound quality. I have found it can really mess up the sound. People on forums calling for oversampling often don’t know what they are talking about. It can be done really well, but usually I want the option to turn it off. Sometimes it sounds much better, and sometimes much worse. What is your take on this?

Ridvan AO – Oversampling is placebo. That’s all. Nothing more.

David LDA – It kind of annoys me to see plugins only use a small amount of CPU to cater to cheapskates who won’t update their computers for 10 years. Of course a low CPU option is essential for realtime use, but better is a HQ switch that enables much more detailed circuit models to the limit of a modern computer. I have not heard what a compressor could sound like using 100% of an i7, and I don’t know why this has not been done.

I saw an interview with Urs Heckmann recently and he said that we needed more CPU than is currently available for a 100% emulation for his synths. What do you think? We have offline rendering in 2017, why not? I would not mind waiting 10 minutes to render the sound of a compressor costing thousands of dollars. I think it would go against the marketing narrative of some companies who are pretending we have a 100% emulation today using 5% of a Core 2 Duo processor LOL

Ridvan AO – Spice software is working really fast now. And computers computing really really fast now. That’s normal to me. Realtime usage is the most important thing for users. My first plugin was really heavy on CPU, but I optimized my codes and made it light on CPU. It’s about coding. For example if you are modelling biquad filters, you can improve that to get fast process. My FILTEQ eq working really fast and accurate. So it’s light on CPU. I optimized all codes included parameters. I have to say that, GUI is more important instead of processors. GUI is using more CPU sometimes. You have to optimize that too.

David LDA – The last real innovation in EQ I saw was the amazing automatic volume matching in TDR’s SlickEQ. You can make EQ changes and it matches the volume on the fly. Have you tried it? I think it’s incredible, would be great if you could add something like that.

Ridvan AO – TDR is great company. I’m using SlickEQ sometimes but I never use the auto-gain function. It’s useless to me in digital world. OK! It’s easy to levelling overall sound but we have lots of option to levelling. That doesn’t make plugin good or bad.

David LDA – Now I have you cornered inside my website article, I can cheekily ask you my own feature requests 🙂 I understand that your are quite new to the game and are updating and expanding quickly. Will you be adding an output volume control to your free FILTEQ in the near future? This omission is just killing me! I saw online you said you would add it to other products, I hope it comes to FILTEQ asap.

Ridvan AO – I’m working on FILTEQ mastering version with dual mono and M/S function. It will have output control. I’m lazy about adding new features. I’m thinking of adding output to FILTEQ but i’m not sure. LOL

David LDA – I don’t know if you aware, but Reaper is almost ready on Linux, and U-he have Linux versions of their plugins right now. Will you be providing Linux builds of your plugins? I hope so!

Ridvan AO – Linux is different world. I have no idea about it and I’ve never used it. I don’t think that I will release for Linux.

David LDA – What are your plans for the future, and is there any particular product that you are working on that you are extra excited about?

Ridvan AO – Now working on some legendary gear. I will release two tube optical compressors. Modern and vintage. Also I’m working on solid state compressor, 4000 E channel strip and vintage tube program eq. This summer will be really hot!

David LDA – Thanks! All the very best with your new business. I will give you the last word. I have probably gone overboard with my opinions in this interview, so please feel free to tell my readers anything you like about anything!

Ridvan AO – OK! I will talk off topic. Talking for everyone…

Be a good person! Forget about everything instead of nature, people and animals. Forget your ego and your earthly goals. Always think optimistic. If you be good person, you will reach your goals one way or another. Live for people, nature and animals, not only yourself.

Peace at home, peace in the world.

(Mustafa Kemal ATATÜRK)


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One thought on “An Interview with Ridvan from Analog Obsession – Audio Plugin Development and the Meaning of Life

  • Andrew

    One slight correction – Ridvan didn’t do the graphics for the version of FiltEQ shown – I did. (he did the original UI design) He’s decided not to employ the services of a professional artist for his future plugins though, preferring to do them himself – all of his plugins barring FiltEQ feature his UI designs.