More saturation: VariSaturator – An interview with Voxengo


There’s never too much saturation available, isn’t it?
We were glad some time ago to find a new tool for such tasks, from Voxengo, called VariSaturator. The name is well thought, and tells us what to expect. From the user guide: “VariSaturator features two saturation modules which are applied in sequence, in twoband mode each. The valve saturation module applies asymmetric valve processing that closely resembles sound of valve amplifier cascade, and being a digital emulation, it applies its best sonic features without side artifacts like noise, strong phase shift and high frequency roll-off. Another saturation module VariSaturator features is a digital “waveshaping” saturator with feedback topology. This module applies smooth two-band saturation which can amplify signal level and apply desirable harmonic coloration.”

The plug-in can be is actually useful on individual tracks as well as on groups. Then, if you are really a distorsion freak you could use it on the full mix; but unless you’re Reznor, please think carefully (a little bit is just enough) before doing that!
VariSaturator is also able to work in multi-channel mode, and this will make more than a few people happier!
The visual interface Voxengo adopted for its new plugs is one of the best you could find on the market. Clear, readable, usable and with some nice bonuses: you can change the skin colours (we like it green/yellow, it makes us think of Brazil!), an undo/redo button (with a log that keeps track of last 32 changes you have made!), an optional Hint Line (useful for those who do not like to read the manual).

The price is $69.95 and we think it’s fair (note to Voxengo’s webmaster: please show the price on each product’s page, at the moment you need to add to the cart or go to the purchase page to see the prices). Then, if you really need another saturation tool it’s up to you and to your mixing needs. As usual, try the demo first. The plug-in is available for Mac and Windows users, as AU and VST.

We asked some questions to the man behind Voxengo, Aleksey Vaneev….

How did your career as developer start?

It started in 2002 when I tried coding some free VST plug-ins. Then I became fully involved in commercial plug-in development.

Is Voxengo still a one-man business, or do you have co-workers?

I’m working with a co-worker for the past couple of years – Vladimir Stolypko who does all user interface programming. I’m also working with various part-time co-workers from time to time. It’s basically not a one-man business anymore.

Which is the most diffucult challenge in your activity? Hackers, bugs, the crazy/fast OS/hosts development?

The most difficult thing is understanding the OS environment and its design guidelines. This is a complex thing because OS usually forces one to use particular development approach (e.g. the most simple way to code for Mac OS X is to use XCode). We are trying to minimize this dependence by creating our own development tools and programming abstraction layers so that our creativity is not limited in any way. Bugs are also making life harder, but they are usually resolved after all.

Which is the product or the idea you’ve developed you’re more proud of, and why? And which are the competitors’ products you really would like to have created?

I basically like all plug-ins I produced some of them are more complex than others, but I rate them all high. I can’t tell which competitors’ products I would like to have created, I covered most plug-in development “topics” already myself.

When you start developing a new product, how do you deal with the “let’s emulate this or that vintage model vs. let’s create something new” dilemma?

I usually do not strive to create a digital replica of some classic device. New product design is usually driven by a desire to produce a product that excels existent competitor products in at least some aspect.

If UAD, Waves, Urs and a few others are usually considered to be in the “high-end league”, where’s Voxengo now?

If we are talking about audio processing quality, we are in that “high end league” as well. However, due to business model’s needs, the price range is set to low-mid. On the other hand, while “owning” threshold is pretty low for Voxengo plug-ins (prices start at $39.95 at the moment), owning all Voxengo plug-ins requires some more serious investment.

I swear I won’t tell anybody… What’s going on in your secret labs?

There is no mystery about it. We are working on Mac OS X versions of existing plug-ins while at the same time improving their look and functionality. Brand new plug-ins are to be expected in a more distant future only.