I Built a Very Specific VST3 Plugin and Forgot About It – Now You Can Have It!

A long time ago I ran into a situation in a session at my work where I needed to dial a code on a phone patch, but couldn’t easily enter the code. I was connected to a phone conference via a Telos Zephyr which was all the way on the other side of the studio. I had to communicate what numbers to press and when over a separate phone call to someone in the machine room. Since then we’ve significantly streamlined things and have a million other tools at our disposal, but at the time I took that as an excuse to build a plugin to assist.

Instead of manually pressing buttons, I realized I could just send standard DTMF tones down the line to “dial” whatever I wanted. DTMF (Dual Tone Multi Frequency) tones are simply two specific frequency sine tones playing at the same time. That’s it. I remember finding that out and being amazed how such a simple signal was so vital for human communication. Something built in the 1960’s that still remains unchanged, yet completely relevant and necessary even within today’s modern communication tech.

Anyways, I had a dusty copy of SynthEdit at home that I had tried before but gave up on. I was originally trying to build a convolution reverb with it, but it proved a bit more complicated than I was ready for at the time. I figured if all I had to make it do was play two sine tones at once, maybe this time would be different. And it was! There was a simple tone generator I used to map out the various tones required for each button. Making the UI was actually more complicated than building the backbone. This was the result:

Absolutely STUNNING design and ingenious name, right? 😂 I tested it at work the next day and it worked great! My excitement was short lived however. Soon after I built this, we completely changed the way we handled phone patches and this little tool was no longer necessary. So, I forgot all about it! Tonight, I was organizing my plugins (yeah, I’m pretty cool) and came across it. I loaded it up in my much newer DAW and was happy to see it still worked!

I really don’t have any use for it anymore, but I won’t be deleting it off my system. It’s something I’m proud I was able to learn about and build. So now, I’m offering it out for free to the world. Perhaps this might be helpful to someone in a practical or creative sense. Here you go!

I want to be clear, that while I tried my best, I’m certain I didn’t build this plugin in the most efficient way. I probably violated some VST standards and using it now I notice the buttons can sometimes be a little unresponsive. What can I say… it was my first plugin, and I built it in a night! I can’t make any guarantees to the function or the stability of it for you now or in the future, but I hope it ends up in your DAW where you can use it a couple times and forget about it too. 😉

When Passion Becomes Destructive

Around a month ago I quite literally woke up and realized I wasn’t happy, as cheesy as that sounds.

That was about as hard to type as it was to say out loud to myself or anyone else. I’m sure hitting publish will be tough too.

But this is an audio blog… with ramblings on audio from an audio nerd. Why the hell am I typing this here?

It took a long time for me to begin to realize why I wasn’t happy. There’s a number of things that are a bit too personal for me to post for the world to see, and it’s tough to nail down one source… but one big thing I realized was I was filling holes in my life with audio. More specifically, the sound effects library company I run. I have no way to calculate the countless hours spent recording, editing, mixing, managing the website, creating art, videos, ads… the list goes on and on. Plenty of time to spend masking unrecognized issues.

During the day I work as a sound designer/mixer at a post audio house. At night and on the weekends I’m more often than not working on some aspect of my sound effects libraries. For a long time I was totally happy with this. I was creating libraries with a passion and getting satisfaction from releasing and selling them. Financially, I feel like I was quite successful in doing this. Selling libraries allowed me to buy all the mics and gear I ever wanted and travel all around the country recording crazy sounds.

That all sounds pretty nice when I type it out. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to realize what I was gaining in recording, traveling, and income, I was losing in other aspects of my life… namely social.

I’ve never been a terribly social person. I’ve typically been content having a few people I’m close to and spending more time by myself than with others. Field recording is naturally a fairly solitary activity. I think that’s a big reason why I was able to go all in on my passion for sound effects.

For various reasons, however, I’ve realized I’m no longer content with that. I’ve realized my drive to record has caused me to push away spending time with people. When an opportunity hang out with friends or to an event would come up, I’d think “We’ll I’ve been meaning to record X”, “That one thing on the website needs tweaking”, or “I’ve got to finish this next library!” and inevitably turn it down. Simply put, I prioritized audio over maintaining friendships or developing new ones. I let my passion for sound effects drive me to a state of isolation I could no longer maintain.

Recognizing I was unhappy was an extremely difficult thing to come to grips with. It made me question just about every aspect of my life, trying to figure out causes. The personal causes I alluded to earlier gave me some of the most intense emotions I’ve felt in a very long time. Probably things I could have dealt with along the way had I been more present in my own life rather than dedicating it to audio. Instead, it felt like these immense feelings of confusion, sadness, and fear hit me all at once in the worst way possible.

I’m still dealing with those, but one thing I’ve found comfort in is how much control I have over the cause this post is about: my passion for audio. Working in audio for a living and on the side for a passion is a lot, and I don’t think I realized the toll it could take until recently.

I’ve been burnt out before, but never quite like this. I haven’t touched my side hustle in over a month and it’s never felt like such a relief. The energy I would’ve spent on it has been instead used to find healthy ways to repair the holes in my life. I’ve gone out more, made new connections, experienced new things, and even rediscovered old passions. The funny thing is I’m not making any huge changes, but even the smallest ones have had a huge impact. I still think I’m a natural introvert, I’ve just learned it’s possible to embrace that too much.

I don’t want any of this to be interpreted as me exiting the sound effects library world. I still love recording and plan on creating libraries for the foreseeable future! I just need to realize where it should be on my priority list.

No, my point in posting this was two fold. One: it’s probably good for me to take the time to process this aspect of the issue and put my thoughts into words. Two: I don’t think I’m the only person who’s gone or is going through something similar to this. Maybe you’re dealing with something similar. Maybe this will help. Maybe you’ve lived a comparable work/passion lifestyle but dealt with it in a healthier way. If you’re comfortable sharing your thoughts or experiences feel free to comment or just reach out! (To me or anyone you trust in your life) Talking about this stuff is the best medicine.

Happy designing, everyone! I’ve got a number of projects in the works I’m pumped for, they just might a bit longer before the world can see them 😉

Schoenhut Toy Piano

My grandparents kept just about everything. They kept pictures. They kept trinkets. They kept coffee cups, little figurines, and toys. They kept important things and seemingly meaningless things… They kept memories.

It’s not something I appreciated anytime I went over there in the past. But, for almost the past month I’ve been driving home on the weekends to help my family go through my grandparents house. My grandfather passed away a few weeks ago, leaving the house unoccupied. It’s strange and difficult every time; walking around their house with both of them gone. I do find comfort, however, in discovering the things they kept.

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Flying Solo With Recording Gear – Mistakes and Successes

Pelican full of gear

I’ve been doing a lot of flying lately for a sound effects library I’m working on. It’s been a nice change of pace; Using my library sales to fund these trips, rather than spending it on gear and props. However, as many know, flying can be a pain in the rear–especially in America. Add on to that carrying a bunch of suspicious-to-TSA looking audio gear, and you’ve got a recipe for frustration. Through my various trips, I’ve found some ways to make things less frustrating, and I’d like to share them with you! Continue reading

Learning to Record on Two Wheels

Harley Onboard Recording
AJ can’t ride a bike with sleeves holding him back.

One of the things I’ve had almost no experience in until this year is onboard vehicle recording. To be honest, I probably  subconsciously avoided it for so long because of how difficult/time consuming it can be to get right. There’s a lot of things to factor in: Number of mics, Mic placement, Wind protection, Gear protection, Performances to capture, etc. Continue reading