What does it take to start your own Plugin Company?
So you just turned 31, you have an impressive track record in pro audio education, you have been mentored by one of the best mastering engineers on the planet, have worked at one of the most impressive recording studios in the world …and then you just decide to start your own plugin company.
Today we are interviewing our very own Director of Education, Robin Reumers.
Aside from running the Music Production and Sound Engineering programme at Abbey Road Institute (ARI) Amsterdam and being active as a mixing engineer, he co-started his own plugin company, Leapwing Audio.
So how and why do you start your own plugin company, what challenges do you face when building your own plugins and what is the vision for the future? Read the interview below and find out!
Starting your own plugin company
You started a bit over 2 years ago with Leapwing. How has it been so far?
Honestly, incredible! We are receiving extremely good reviews and lots of people love our plugins, which makes me really proud. A lot of major engineers and studios around the globe are using our plugins and every consecutive quarter we have been selling more and more plugins, which is fantastic to see.
With everything I have done in life so far, I always strived to be the best I can possibly be. And the same is true with Leapwing, we do not try to compete on being the cheapest but on giving the best quality.
One thing I have learned in this process – and I believe it is like this for everything in life and business – it always takes longer than expected, at least when you are unwilling to release something sub-par. I believe that when you keep moving forward, listen to people and keep wanting to improve, good things happen eventually.
Awesome. But why did you decide to start a plugin company?
I grew up loving everything that has something to do with music, education and technology. That is my core triangle and everything I do revolves around that. I studied computer science when I was very young and as a user, I have been using multiple plugins and hardware units for over 10 years now. I have been involved in software development for many years, and one thing that really started bothering me is that the majority of plugin creators focused on emulating hardware. Now that CPU power has become so powerful, you can do much more than simply emulating pieces of analog gear. I mean, with digital, the possibilities are literally endless.
But I did not want to start this project all by myself and decided to gather talented people around me who also believed in this vision. So we co-founded the company in January of 2016, together with R&D engineer Jeroen Dreessen and ARI-teacher & producer Emiliano Caballero.
“I grew up loving everything that has something to do with music, education and technology. That is my core triangle and everything I do revolves around that.”
So you guys currently released 2 plugins. Can you tell us more about them?
Sure! DynOne is our parallel multi-band compressor. It has some really cool features such as variable RMS/Peak compression, 2 attack and 2 release values per band, but most importantly, the filters have been designed to be as transparent as we could design them. For over a year, we worked on getting the filters to sound great while still being manageable by today’s CPU power.
Our second plugin is CenterOne, which is an LCR extractor/manipulator. Most of us have been stuck in the past using simple MS matrix to treat mid and side (for stereo recording) material separately. But the result has almost never been transparent. So we wanted to have a plugin that can do this in the traditional LCR way, where C is your phantom. Now you can treat each of these signals individually.
Both of our plugins have been designed to be ergonomic and really easy to use. So the interface is quite minimalistic. The simple idea behind it is that you should be able to get a great sound out of it within the first 10 seconds of using it.
Pretty impressive. But when designing your own plugins, what are some of the difficulties you run into?
I would say three things. One of the most difficult things, especially when you start off small, is to test the compatibility on all different platforms. As of now, we try supporting 14 DAW’s on 9 different OS systems. That is 126 different combinations, excluding different hardware and audio drivers. You can imagine that this takes up a lot of the development time.
A second obstacle is authentication. Are you going to implement iLok or any other hardware licenser or develop your own? Each of these steps takes a considerable amount of time and testing.
And the last is how to deal with your growth and expansion. As you grow, you need to implement more support systems, like CRM, ticketing systems and talk to different distributors. Following up on all this takes a lot of time, besides the actual coding of the plugins.
Are there any future projects you are working on?
Our top priority is improving our 2 main products. We are working on some really exciting new features and optimizations that we will be launching soon!
But besides that, we are also working on some very cool R&D projects that could eventually turn into new products. The thing is, we will never launch a product without fully believing in it. So we might spend time on 20 different R&D projects that could only turn into one single product.
One area of interest is definitely machine learning, we see its huge potential in many different areas. Getting it to work is not the issue here. But having it be useful, as in creating a meaningful tool out of it, that is the tough part.
We will keep innovating and see where it takes us, always with one goal in mind: to help people making better-sounding music!
Thank you for sharing your insights with us Robin! We look forward to seeing all your ideas come into practice and making the world a better sounding place.
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Related: Read our blog post about the SSL – E AND G SERIES EQ