Show 198 – Interview with Sean Costello ValhallaDSP and more!

This week we attempted to stream video of our podcast live but it was a complete disaster because of extreme latency. The show must go on! we continued as we always do through Skype. Joining us this week is Sean Costello from ValhallaDSP. He tells us all about his new reverb ValhallaVintageVerb and the madness that goes into making a reverb plugin.

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16 thoughts on “Show 198 – Interview with Sean Costello ValhallaDSP and more!

  1. Great show with Sean! The live show was amusing, I recently had an autographed framed Portishead album fall of my studio wall and break. Not much room for artwork with all of the acoustic treatment on the walls but the blank spot on the wall is staring me in the face begging for attention. So I will humbly ask now for my Diploma.

    Cause nobody loves me
    It’s true
    Not like you do.

  2. The Valhalla DPS has been one of my most used tools since i learned about it.(Through HRS of course). Thanks to you for making me aware, and thanks to Sean for his amazing work. Keep it up!

    I watched online, and i almost laughed myself to death. A videofail of great caliber, but extremely funny. Good one guys!..

    I have listened to every single show, actually i’m on my second time around now.
    Dip dip diploma! (said in a very enthusiastic tone)

    This is my first comment though, and don’t worry there will be more. So i have some things to adress.

    Ryan, a mix autopsy from you is probably the most exciting thing i can think of(yea that’s sad, i know). The minimalist approach is just how i work, and i would love to see how you get around.

    Jon, awesome beard man!
    Have you ever heard of the Softtube plugins? I worship them and i would not be able to mix the way i am without them. Pultec style eq & the trident a-range plugins are so great. Cool spring verb too.
    Do yourself a favor and check them out if you haven’t.



  3. Great show again, Sean’s personality was a great fit with you guys. It came up in the comments section that Jon likes to mix into compression. I have heard a lot about this approach but never tried it because I’m not sure how you set up the compressor before you know what the end mix will sound like. How do you decide what settings to use on a compressor when you intend to mix through it?

  4. Great show as always. Long time listener…..Thanks for what you do! I just made my first round of purchases from Amazon through your web link. I hope you get a good chuck of that change.

    I am a high school music teacher and this semester I am offering a class on recording technique, song writing and basic music theory in hopes of giving the next generation of music makers a jump start that I am sure we all wish we could have gotten in high school. One of the assignments for the class will be to listen to your podcast (and yes there will be a test on the material). Maybe the students will earn a HRS diploma (by the way I am not eligible as I just finished the last of the back episodes).

    I wonder if the HRS faithful listeners would tell me what are the “golden rules” of music writing and recording, they wish they would have learned in high school. Hopefully by the end of the semester I can share some of the student work with everyone.

    Keep the information coming……its alway helpful (but please can we put to rest riding anything but the faders……)

  5. That should have said
    I am NOW eligible for the diploma as I just finished the back episodes. Please send it my way so i can frame it and hang it in the office so when the kids question my knowledge I can prove that I have graduated!

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  7. GSAA,

    I really enjoyed the gedankenexperiment as proposed by Sean in regards to the revisionist aesthetic of reverb and sound processing in general. Its fun to contemplate what will have or could have had a driving influence on recorded music. The sociology of music is not something ive never really thought about before so it tickled my nerd bone.

    Do you guys have any clue what programming platform Sean uses to create his plugins?

    Its time to (…………………………(insert latency joke here)………………………) ride the chicken

    • I use the Juce framework for my plugin GUI and cross platform code:

      My audio code is in C++, with some of the heavier computations handled by my own “vector library” which calls SSE assembly language, as well as Altivec for PowerPC code. The SSE and Altivec is handled on the OSX side by the Apple Accelerate Library.

      I do my initial development in Xcode 3.2.5 on a MBP running OS 10.6. My initial testing is in Live and Logic, and I move over to Cubase, Pro Tools and Reaper when the plugin is getting closer to a finalized state. After that, I port over to Windows, running Visual Studio 2010 in Windows 7.

      I probably answered this question via email with a smaller latency time than what I ran into on the live video webcast. That was a fucking disaster. And do you know what was really cool? Within a few minutes of the video webcast being mercy killed, I was on Skype with Jon and Ryan, where they kept on going with the show.

      To me, this is what being an audio professional is all about. Things WILL fall apart, and you WILL fuck up. The key to being a professional is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep on going. I was really impressed with Jon and Ryan in that moment. Plus, pubic hair jokes!

  8. GSAA.

    Reverb. Is it the first non-stock plugin a n00b should buy? I mean, I can’t really hear a “bad” EQ, or a “bad” compressor… but I think I can hear a bad reverb (a.k.a. whatever comes with Reaper). So just to make sure: how do *you* detect a bad reverb? What makes you cringe? What are you listening for?

  9. Before I forget: next time you can get Sean on, could you make a segment on how reverb is calculated? Nothing too complex, just the basic ideas. Thanks πŸ™‚

    • How to calculate a reverb:

      – Take a bunch of delay lines (a “delay line” is a buffer of memory, where the input is written into the buffer, and read out at some later point).
      – Set the delay lines to different lengths.
      – Read the outputs from the delay lines.
      – Filter the outputs with high and lowpass filters.
      – Mix the outputs together.
      – Send the output mix back into the inputs.

      This is a huge simplification. Setting the delay lengths is difficult. Figuring out how things are sent in and out of the delays is the fun part – you can have the delays lined up in series, or in parallel, or in series/parallel combos. But this is the basic idea.

      In general, the feedback gain of the delays is used to determine the length of the reverb decay. The total length of the delay lines is controlled by the “size” parameter.

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