My desire to create plugins started a long time ago, around the time
when we had just left the old millennium behind and ushered in the
Back then, DirectX plugins were still a thing (and maybe they still are but nobody's paying attention), and I remember visiting a small software shop, in Vienna where I lived at the time, in order to purchase one legal copy of Visual Studio 6.0 (not entirely sure about the exact version, but it can't be far off).
Well, that never got off the ground.
I was working as a Delphi 7.0 developer, and that meant being spoilt rotten by its goodness and luxury, so getting used to C++ simply wasn't going to happen.
(I did try to use Delphi to create VST2 plugins; however, I never found the available Delphi VST SDK to be stable enough for serious development.)
Not long after that, I discovered SynthEdit, and I did manage to create
a VST plugin with it, a guitar amplifier simulator, which included a
speaker cabinet simulator section.
It wasn't very good, and I am not going to divulge what it is.
You can still find it online, and maybe you have used it.
Maybe you even like it.
But if you ever ask me whether a particular plugin is that old crusty plugin, I will neither be able to confirm nor deny it.
Then life happened, and I largely abandoned my attempts at creating plugins.
Fast-forward to 2020, and the world found itself in a pandemic.
Life largely stopped happening, and most people, including me, were stuck at home for the most part.
That's when I started reviving my old desire to create audio plugins.
I looked into various frameworks, to see what would be most suitable.
I also looked into languages other than C++, but unfortunately C++ is still the dominant language.
Of course I checked out Juce, and I can tell it's big, and I'm sure it's sophisticated, and I guess it's the rockstar of the plugin framework world, but I didn't like the licence, and I didn't like the fact that it would cost money that I didn't really have for me to get rid of a very unprofessional looking nag screen.
Then I tried
as well as its core
on its own, and I have to say, these are in and of itself excellent
possibilities, and I did achieve quite good results, and fairly quickly.
However, because the sole maintainer, the brilliant Will Pirkle, is a very busy lecturer and author in all things DSP, updates are few and far between, and there isn't any real community surrounding it that I would need if I ever got stuck.
And this is all rather unfortunate, because Will Pirkle's software is brilliant.
I call on all experienced C++ developers to contact Will and offer to help maintain and expand the RackAFX and ASPiK projects, because they deserve better.
For one excellent example of successful development using RackAFX, check out Exe Consulting's guitar and bass amplifier simulator plugins, as well as some other projects.
And then there was
iPlug2 is light, and easy to use.
It has a community that is much more active than the almost nonexistent RackAFX / ASPiK community, although much smaller than the Juce community.
In fact it is so small that if you ask a question on e.g. Discord, it will very probably be iPlug2's lead developer Oli Larkin who answers the question (or doesn't answer it, if he deems the question to be not relevant enough to iPlug2).
Would I recommend iPlug2 to anyone, programming beginner or veteran, who wants to get started with plugin development, or who already makes plugins in some other way but wants to switch?
My first plugin using iPlug2 was going to be DirtyQ, a simple EQ, with
added saturation (in fact, the first iterations were made using
It's not quite there yet, but it does incorporate some interesting technology I developed that serves to make the saturation sound more gentle and smooth: a tilt EQ section.
I'm sure DirtyQ will be released some day, but at some point for some
reason I decided to use that technology to create a more basic plugin,
and release that first instead: TildeQ.
TildeQ has only the tilt, and the low and high cut from DirtyQ.
Next came The Dom, a signature plugin for
Dom Mcsweeney (see the Acknowledgments), who had at
that point become a tireless beta tester and sounding board.
The Dom, again, uses the tilt technology, but internally only, where it is used to shape the sound both before and after the saturation circuit.
A number of future plugins are planned; stay tuned, bookmark this page, subscribe to Shameless Plugs' YouTube channel, and join Shameless Plugs' group on Facebook, The Shameless Plugs Victims Support Group.
It is my intention to release a free version as well as a paid version
of each plugin.
The free versions (will) offer basic, yet useful functionality, whereas the paid versions will offer a more luxurious feature set.
I would like to thank, in no particular order (please refresh this page a few times to see how seriously I take that), the following amazing people, without whom any of this would've been entirely impossible:
Dominic Mcsweeney, who tirelessly helps
battle-test the plugins, demos them on video, offers suggestions for
improvements, finds new ways to use them, promotes them to fellow
musicians as well as on social media, etc, etc.
Furthermore, he has been the most patient listener whenever things weren't going the way I wanted them to.
His help has been and continues to be absolutely invaluable.
Dom is a gifted guitarist who has a YouTube channel that's well worth checking out, here.
Last but not least, Dom is an honest journalist who reviews amplifier simulator and other guitar-related plugins, free from corporate influence and interference, over at Guitar & Bass Plugins.
Make sure to buy Dom a coffee if you can.
Peter Edsbäcker, who has been
invaluable in making me understand the obscurities of C++.
Or at least, the obscurities that I needed to understand in order to progress to the point where I am now.
It is not a secret that I am not a fan of the programming language called C++, and that is putting it mildly.
One fine day, when I once more expressed my sheer frustration with the C++ programming language on social media, Peter very kindly and selflessly offered to help, and I took him up on his offer.
As it turned out, Peter is a veteran with about three decades worth of professional programming experience, and any and all problems I had were very quickly resolved.
Peter is a musician in his own right, so please follow Peter's Cult of Nihoteph on SoundCloud, where I especially love his epic The Fourth Cultist (Cthulhu mon amour).
Lee Yi-Jhe selflessly offered to test my
plugins inside the Steinberg DAWs Cubase and Nuendo.
These DAWs initially refused to load my plugins, even though the Steinberg Validator indicated that they were fully VST3 compliant.
Yi-Jhe offered invaluable help in finally pinpointing the actual issue, and after that, it was smooth sailing.
The screenshots he sent me of my plugins, successfully loaded in both Cubase and Nuendo, were a sight for sore eyes.
Yi-Jhe is a musician, so please follow him on SoundCloud.
Yi-Jhe also develops plugins, under the company name Master Tones, using a highly specialist technology called Ariosa.
Follow Master Tones on social media: here, here, and here.