Connor Reviere, Gebre Waddell, and Patrick Moss are Soundways. Their recent plug-ins, the Core Production Bundle, are a new way to help engineers listen, as well as hear details, in recordings and mixes. I met up with them in their hometown of Memphis to learn more about their products and their future.
When did Soundways start?
Gebre Waddell: May of 2016. I’ve been a mastering engineer for years, so I hear the problems that people have throughout the process. A lot of these can’t be addressed in mastering. There’s nothing you can do about it, at that point. The way people are dealing with mix translation now is a guessing game.
Like a mix that’s out of balance with too much low-end?
GW: Absolutely. Especially with bass frequencies. You can adjust the bass levels easily in a clean way, but if the upper bass of something is not present – if you’ve got a bass guitar, or bass drum, that doesn’t translate and the upper bass part of it really isn’t there – there’s no way to bring that out in mastering without bringing up other elements of the mix that don’t need to be accented.
Other sounds that fall in the same range, right?
GW: Absolutely. So that was one of the problems we noticed. I did the plug-in, Refinement [Tape Op #102], that I licensed to Brainworx [as bx_refinement] that we then together licensed to Universal Audio [for UAD-2]. It was the best-selling dedicated mastering plug-in on their platform for the past couple of years.
How did you go about doing that? Do you write code?
GW: That’s right. When I was in high school and college I wasn’t the best in math. Six or seven years ago I never would have imagined doing this, or even that I’d be able to do this. It’s a passion-driven thing. I got into coding purely because I wanted those tools to exist.
You were able to build your plug-in, Refinement, on your own and then license it out?
GW: That’s right. Coded right here in Memphis. Then Connor and I have been working together on the Soundways plug-ins. He codes as well. We’re some of the only plug-in coding game in this entire region. We see that as a calling, and as a responsibility to our area and our region. Memphis has this extreme legacy in music, and we have to find ways to keep this in the present and in the future. There are a lot of musical efforts going on here that we love and embrace, but the technical end is part of the reality of today’s world in audio.
Having licensed the Refinement plug-in, did you want to proceed instead with your own company?
GW: Absolutely. Licensing something to Brainworx and Universal Audio doesn’t make a symbol in Memphis of what we want this to be. We started Soundways because we wanted that symbol in our town.
What was the impetus, as far as the “listening software” orientation of the Soundways brand?
GW: I’ve been a mastering engineer all these years. When we started this process, we went through the accelerator program here in this building to learn how to do all the business reporting processes, as well as how to start a corporation. One of the things we did first was to interview 100 sound engineers and ask them what were their three most painful issues. Over 85 percent of them told us that mix translation was essential. Songs sound one way in the studio, but we take it out to the car and listen on another device; all the sounds are so different. They’re trying to bridge that gap, but it takes a lot of time. It makes them second-guess their work all the time. We created the Core Production Bundle around that in order to solve a problem that we know, with certainty, is experienced out there. That’s the way we want to continue about business. We’re always going to be finding problems, and making sure that our solutions fit together.
Between the three of you, how does the work divvy up?
Connor Reviere: I’m primarily a software developer. I’ve been a musician my whole life. I went to school for music, but this is two passions of mine colliding here. I’m doing customer support and tech support. Most of the emails come through Patrick. He handles most of the customer outreach and marketing.
Patrick Moss: Yeah, I’m the marketing manager. I’ll design ads,...