Interview – Cableguys
Known for their creative and innovative plugins, sensitive to user feedback, Cableguys have made quite an impact. No wonder weâ€™re happy the founders Jakob Rang and Steffen Rose took their time to give us an interview. Enjoy!
Q: Jakob and Steffen, itâ€™s great to see you. Please tell us as an introduction how things started with Cableguys.
We met in Berlin while both studying, and teamed up for an early version of our synthesizer Curve. At the time we were simply curious about drawing waveforms and using them as an oscillator. We quickly found ourselves developing a good sense for how a certain waveform sounds, and had loads of fun in the process while gradually creating Curve. The shareware version spread fast and received overwhelmingly positive comments, which encouraged us to go on.
While keeping our â€śrealâ€ť jobs, we continued development on Curve and released VolumeShaper in 2007, followed by FilterShaper. It was in 2010 when we had the idea of creating a preset browser allowing users to share and rate their own presets with others. Jakob liked the idea so much that he quit his job at a great Berlin music software company to develop Curve full-time. Curve 1.0 was released in December 2010.
Q: At 4 years age, Cableguys is a quite young company, albeit quite well-known. Any reason for that?
Well, our portfolio already consists of quite some products, and besides, weâ€™re providing useful updates on a regular basis. Most importantly, however, we think that we offer some unique, creative products with a great usability and an excellent sound. Our latest product MidiShaper got us quite some attention, for example. Probably another reason is that we literally invite users over to test our latest ideas, thereby staying well connected with the people weâ€™re actually working for. .
Q: Letâ€™s focus on your latest plugins. Which one do you like most?
VolumeShaper is a really useful piece of software for your studio. International producers like Tobias LĂĽtzenkirchen keep telling us theyâ€™re using this plugin in almost every single production. It gives the ultimate control over a soundâ€™s volume â€“ including all effects you can create with it: ducking, trancegate and extra creative rhythm.
Itâ€™s also probably not surprising that our first ‘baby’ and flagship Curve is our true favorite. It creates surprisingly diverse sounds. Curve 2, on which we are working at the moment, will bring some interesting innovations. At the same time, MidiShaper, as a by-product, is getting increased attention. We believe that it is unrivaled in its field.
Q: Your plugins are using a simple and clear GUI. Why didnâ€™t you jump on the fancy 3D-designed plugins-train?
To be honest, weâ€™ve always been into simple, easy-to-use Ableton live-like interfaces. Itâ€™s about what the software can do and how fast it can do it. Before the release of Curve 1, we invited some people who had never before seen the product before, to test it, and they became very familiar with it in a few minutes.
Q: Curve modules, especially the waveform area, are used more or less by all your other plugins. Can you think of anything else this particular concept and technology could be applied to?
Well, probably everything which can be modulated by an LFO. MidiShaper allows even now to send MIDI data through drawn LFOs, so that any plugins can be modulated by it. As the saying goes, the sky is the limit. As a matter of fact, we are working on a really cool tool right now. Hopefully itâ€™s gonna be ready around summer 2012.
Q: Coming back to Curve, how did users react to the online preset library feature?
During the first weeks, more than 1000 presets were uploaded to the online library, and as we speak new great sounds are being added. There is always a hype when we organize a contest. E.g. once we offered a full Curve license to the contestant who created the best kick drum preset. Though that was not Curve’s main function, it turned out to be an exciting experiment with fun results. Now there are over 50 kick drum presets in the database. What makes it particularly interesting is that the sounds, as they are being added, become instantly available to all other users. One can compare shared user ratings and see how well their preset is doing. This area will expand with Curve 2, thus encouraging the creation of an interactive community. (Further info on Curve 2 – www.cableguys.de/curve-2)
Q: Working closely with your users, how much are their suggestions influencing your future products and updates?
Simply put: a lot â€“ Curve is a comunity-driven synthesizer. Weâ€™re even having an public â€świshlistâ€ť (cableguys.uservoice.com). Even our known bugs are found in there. Thus far, all Curve updates are based on user wishes. We see our role in shaping a consistent product and we try hard to incorporate every suggestion that makes any good sense to us. And if not, we would have to explain it very well.
Q: So, tell us what you need to invest in creating a plugin like Curve. Is it always the same workflow leading from an idea to the final product?
Itâ€™s certainly been some 1000 hours in case of Curve 1. The other products share a lot of Curveâ€™s technology and took less time. MidiShaper was coded within 2 weeks for example. At the moment, customer support is a real time-eating monster.
Ideas for new products are coming up while making music or simply talking to users. MidiShaper wouldnâ€™t have been developed without users insistently asking for it â€“ maybe thatâ€™s the reason for its great success. As soon as we create a prototype we put it out there for users to test it. Then comes the main work, fine-tuning (value ranges, sampling frequencies, host-compatibility, parameter-automation, as well as the coordination of external co-workers for editing graphics and text). In the end all plugins going to the beta-testers.
Q: A new standard called AAX is supported by the first audio plugin companies. What do you think about it?
Small companies like us have to sacrifice a large part of our time to support the various interfaces, faulty hosts and operating system versions. We will first wait for as long as ProTools supports RTAS, but then probably will come AAX support. .
Q: Finally, please leave us with a sneak peak of future products?
We are currently working intensively on Curve 2, which we want to get through an extensive beta phase in Q1/2012. Meanwhile new features will be added. We want to involve the community ever more actively. We are also working on VolumeShaper 3, which is scheduled for February 2012. And then during the summer will come an exciting creative tool.
Thank you for your time and detailed answers, we look forward to your upcoming products.
For more info visit – www.cableguys.de
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