Every now and then you run across something that tells you: hey! You’re not alone, there are others who see things as you do!
For years now, I’ve been developing Audio Units, just the audio code. That way they always work and won’t break, and I can focus my attention on the sound. I always figured that someday, if people wanted it, someone (perhaps a DAW manufacturer) would work out how to skin the things for those who like knobs. Didn’t concern me, so I kept on caring only about the sound (and about improving things for my customers, getting them free updates, all kinds of stuff like that).
I was a little concerned about the way that Audio Units only worked in Logic… and Digital Performer… and Ableton Live… and Reaper… well, you get the idea. But there were two glaring omissions, Cubase and everyone’s favorite nemesis Pro Tools. And I am not the guy to make and maintain ports to platforms I can’t afford to develop for and don’t really understand. It’d be a recipe for just struggling and stopping, and that wasn’t okay.
Well, I’ve got a little announcement. It comes in two parts. First…
Let me introduce you to Blue Cat Audio, and their product Patchwork. (click on the banner and you’ll go there, but hear me out first, that’s not the only announcement!)
Blue Cat Audio is a little company in France (where my domain registrar lives!). Some of their website things say ‘they’, but it’s possible they like me are just one devoted audio nerd on a mission, and their audio nerd is Guillaume Jeulin, whom I’ve been speaking with by email. Guillame is a whiz at frameworks, GUIs and coding stuff for DAW platforms. Not only that, there’s an eerie similarity about our missions: I feel a great sense of familiarity when I see the way Blue Cat gives customers free updates and works to support them. I have reason to know this because…
Blue Cat Audio’s PatchWork now supports every single Airwindows plugin ever.
And here’s the thing. Airwindows supplies the audio code. I’ve always coded stuff like modules. Patchwork works like a modular synth! It does routing things the DAW simply can’t do. I can run two parallel reverbs in one plugin with different reverb buffer settings, each with its own tone settings to suit it! And then run other Airwindows modules in series with either, or before the matrix, or after it! All the freebies are available. I’ve always paid a lot of attention to getting the ‘generic’ interface right, with labeled parameters and custom tapers for the sliders: no other DAW or framework has ever supported this as well as Blue Cat PatchWork. This is new, from version 1.6.3 and I was actively involved in helping to get every detail correct. I don’t think anybody else offers such a good host for generic Audio Units. But there’s more…
Patchwork skins the Audio Units. You get the parameters implemented as knobs. Everyone who ever wanted to run Airwindows plugins and couldn’t face a screen without knobs—this is your moment! Not only do you get knobs, well labeled and adjusting with the correct taper, but you also get the ability to pick your own GUI. You can set up exactly the look you want for your virtual recording studio, and then call up any Airwindows plugin and it will look the way YOU want it to, and perform every bit as well as it always did!
This is my dream. I never wanted to tell users what they should be looking at, and never did. Now, you can have it look like anything you like and run anywhere… and the great thing is, if you’re on a normal Audio Unit host and something goes wrong somehow (the DAW updates and everyone has to fix their plugins, for instance) not only do you have Blue Cat fixing the framework that gives you the knobbed GUI interface, but you can just carry on and work anyway, using the Airwindows plugins for the five or ten minutes it takes Guillaume to find and fix the problem and update Patchwork for you for free :)
How pleased am I about all this?
I bought a copy of Patchwork, just to express how pleased I was: and from now on, when an Airwindows plugin comes out, I will test it in Patchwork just to make sure everything is okay. And it’ll be available as a generic Audio Unit, as always… but now, that means I can reach all platforms and offer both high-efficiency slider interface and ANY GUI you can imagine, you need only find a skin for Patchwork that you like and go to town.
Match made in heaven, far as I’m concerned.
I’ve already seen Blue Cat work to fully support all 168 Airwindows plugins across every Mac host Patchwork supports. This is the announcement that it cuts both ways: if you use Patchwork, I will support you as if it was Logic itself, and will be doing testing on current versions of Patchwork going forward, as an official thing.
Long live the indie developer! :)