Inside Brainworx and Plugin Alliance with Dirk Ulrich

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Dirk Ulrich in his studio DH: During this time I had already started a little semi-professional studio where I recorded my own stuff and local bands. Besides studying, I also started working in a professional music store here in Leverkusen, which had all the German professional bands come in and also touring bands. I am a guitar player and met a lot of interesting people.
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Dirk Ulrich in his studio DH: During this time I had already started a little semi-professional studio where I recorded my own stuff and local bands. Besides studying, I also started working in a professional music store here in Leverkusen, which had all the German professional bands come in and also touring bands. I am a guitar player and met a lot of interesting people.

When that store moved to a big, old bunker, the owner offered to let me put my studio into that building and run a music school in there. Dirk performing live circa So I decided to go all-in with rock and roll and I started producing more professional bands at that time. And ever since then I was producing music for a living. I produced everything from local radio commercials to the music that the local [Bayer Leverkusen] soccer team plays when the team goes into the stadium, and also a lot of bands.

I produced with James LaBrie from Dream Theater, Hardcore Legends Pro Pain, and even some famous classical tenors over the years, including a few releases that entered the charts. I was always into rock and roll and metal and punk rock, all the stuff with distorted guitars and real drums.

That was my business mostly. I was mastering some of my music at Studio in Cologne, a big studio, and they had a custom built MS matrix mastering desk and I was really blown away by what they could do with MS. So I wanted to build an EQ that had this matrix inside and a friend of mine who runs a repair and technical store told me he could build one for me.

Working in the old studio in Leverkusen We actually built two prototypes that are working—they sit in my studio here. They were pretty famous in Germany and they promoted me on their website and some print ads. It would have no GUI or anything. It just had peak bands and shelving bands and I could sum signals and also inverse signals so I could make a little MS matrix inside.

It was very cool to be able to create my own mastering EQ. And when my friend saw what I did he thought it was really amazing and that we should cooperate on it to turn it into a commercial plug-in. I would have to design a real GUI for this, so a 3-D rendering expert helped me turn this into a real plug-in. He wanted Ed Gray [in Developer Relations] to see this, who came by and said that if Mark says this should be out as a TDM plug in, then he wanted to sign Brainworx up as a developer right away.

It was very exciting because now I was sitting next to George Massenburg and all the guys from Waves and I felt totally lost in there because I was not really in the plug-in business yet. And this was really what started our business. I then found some real programmers in Germany and also worked together with Softube on the TDM port of our native plug-in which we had developed by then. We got some nice royalties from Avid—it gave us our first six-digit check, which I then used to hire a very talented programmer.

This was really the start of a software business for Brainworx. But it was never the pure intention, there was no business master plan in the background. It was voted plug-in of the decade by Future Music a few years ago, for example. What a great story. Your story is quite an endorsement for going to trade shows and networking. So take us into the next phase of your development—how did you grow the business into what it is today?

And the people at Avid freaked out of course and loved it—they loved the interaction that the plug-in had with their hardware controller. So the Brainworx brand started to take off and that was maybe the end of phase one.

That was very important second phase for us, because when we then went to more trade shows together with the SPL team we started getting attention from many other hardware companies as well.

These plug-ins were initially sold on different websites, their main web sites. This was what led to the idea of combining all of these products on one website and with one unified activation and trial scheme and web store, which was the birth of the Plugin Alliance. Dirk engaging in another of his passions DH: Tell me about the authorization scheme—why did you choose this approach and how does it work? We feel that the best copy protection is offering a smooth authorization process and high value products.

In other words, make your products easier to buy than they are to steal. So we started Plugin Alliance, and it was a big success. When we started we had less than 10, individual user accounts and within one year I think we had 40, user accounts. We combined all our products, and everybody was able to demo them without a dongle at that time, which was a big deal, and people could combine plugins from various partners, create their own bundles etc.

While we developed our own authorization system, which includes security protections, our emphasis has always been, and always will be, on customer experience. We want the process of authorizing demos and purchases to be as easy as possible for users and this balance has served us well as we now have over , user accounts. This activation scheme seems especially well-suited for live sound engineers out in the field. From day one we let people activate up to three machines with our licenses and not just one.

And one of them could also be not just a computer but actually any regular USB thumb drive. You can even leave the plug-in files on that machine. Tim checking out an Engl amp DH: What we really liked was that Avid took the time and did one-on-one developer meetings to tell us about AAX in the first place. I mean some other companies, from California even, have the tendency to just send out newsletters to everybody and then you find out as a developer that stuff has changed when you get the first support ticket.

So what Avid did was very cool. What we also liked about it was that we saw potential to dramatically simplify our framework because the AAX stuff is not fixed point anymore. We thought that it would be possible for us to combine all of our code base basically into one system, so that all of our AAX native DSP plug-ins, and even our UAD plug-ins, could live in the same code base now.

That was a lot of work for us, I think it took us more than a year actually to do this because we had a pretty big number of titles at that time already, but that was all time well spent. Basically we see Brainworx plug-ins as hardware that we wish existed—you can even see this from the GUI design. When we first talked about this, we obviously looked at our catalog which is now more than 60 plug-ins and realized that we had a lot of plug-ins in our portfolio that were from partner companies like SPL or elysia and Maag who actually designed their hardware with a focus on live sound.

And the De-Esser , which works basically automatically. We decided that when we released the first few plug-ins for the live bundle, we would pick the ones that made the most sense. We thought some cool distortion plug-ins that add vibe to a live show.

Tell me a little a bit more about MS [Mid-Side]. How do your MS plug-ins relate to engineers not using this particular micing technique? First of all, as you said it started basically with people setting up microphones in a way that would record a very mono compatible setup, but which gives you a really nice stereo result.

What we did with the EQ is basically reverse this idea and take an existing stereo signal like a mix in a mastering situation, but also maybe stereo overheads or a piano that has been miced or acoustic guitars, a choir, whatever it is, and then applied these techniques to the signal.

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SPL Transient Designer by Plugin Alliance is a Virtual Effect Audio Plugin. an Audio Units Plugin, a VST 3 Plugin, an RTAS Plugin and an AAX Plugin. . developers said to the programmers: “you have cracked the Analog. Team V.R | 30 January | MB included: Brainworx – bx_ EQ v Plugin Alliance AAX Bundle FSA-V.R screenshot .. plugs (I don’t know) or you’re on cracked PT and didn’t follow the instructions. A) PA-Layer is adopted to the plugins developed by Plugin Alliance Q) Why AAX got cracked and appeared beside the VST version? Is AAX.

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