Interview with Artemiy Pavlov of Sinevibes

Published on May 7th, 2015

Today we are excited to publish our very first article that will be part of a series of interviews with people who make software that is used by music makers around the world. In these interviews we will be asking questions from both small and big players in the music software industry.

We'll try to give you a sense of who are the people behind the software, how did they get started, how they work and what is coming in the future. Without further ado, let's get to the first interview with Artemiy Pavlov of Sinevibes!

Artemiy
Artemiy Pavlov

Tell us a bit about yourself - who are you and where do you come from?
I come from a family of an electronics engineer and a school math teacher, both of which were also musicians - so this blend of science and art is the atmosphere I was raised in, and it makes the direction I went seem pretty natural. Having had access to various European and Japanese audio and music gear in my early years, I have also developed a sense for good design.

When and how did you first get interested in programming?
This happened when I was around 20, it came to me when I was fiddling with graphic design on my computer and I wanted to make stuff that’s dynamic, interactive. When I learned the basics of a few languages, I then realized that I can go much further and build complete software products.

What else have you programmed?
I did a lot of web programming over the past decade (including the whole Sinevibes website, of course) as well as system programming for embedded UNIX systems and electromagnetism modelling for my post-graduate research long ago.

How did you end up creating music software?
It came from realizing that I want to build something better or different from what I had with other manufacturers’ software, something that would fit my particular needs or desires.

"...But again, once I’ve mastered so many products made by others, my imagination started to go further and I realized doing sounds forever would be a dead end."

What tools and programming languages do you use to create your software?
It’s Apple's Xcode of course, our interfaces are done in Objective-C and it’s C/C++ on the DSP side.

What is Sinevibes? How has it evolved over the years?
Sinevibes first started as a soundware brand, as I did a lot of custom sounds for various hardware and software instruments. But again, once I’ve mastered so many products made by others, my imagination started to go further and I realized doing sounds forever would be a dead end. After the first few plugin products, it set off pretty quickly and just a couple years later Sinevibes was switched to focus completely on software.

Why do you only write Mac software? Have you considered other platforms?
There is a lot of reasons we only code for Apple devices. One of them is that when we code natively, we can take advantages of all the unique features that OS X and iOS offer and not use a common denominator of what all platforms can do. For example we have really lively animations in our interfaces - yet they respond way faster than most other plugins on the market, even on very old Macs. We also have no problem switching to new architectures - we were among the very first to fully support 64 bit plugins on OS X.

What plans do you have for the future?
As usual we develop more DSP algorithms and try to come up with products that are more advanced on the inside but still remain very simple to operate and of course look great.

Fraction & Drift plugins
Sinevibes plugins. Fraction on left, Drift on right

You sell your plugins mainly through your own site - what are your thoughts on selling directly vs. selling through App Store?
Having a direct connection to the user means a lot, we like it. But Apple’s software stores also do a lot of work for you, like handling downloads and updates on multiple devices. Sadly you can’t sell plugins on the Mac App Store... but our iPad software did very well, we’re happy with it.

What plugins, other than your own, do you like to use?
We are big fans of stuff made by Native Instruments, Future Audio Workshop, Valhalla DSP, AudioRealism. That’s the products that are used on daily basis here.

What is your DAW of choice?
It’s definitely Logic Pro, although I use Ableton Live a lot too. I love Logic’s speed and simplicity, as well as its support for trackpad gestures and various other native OS X goodies. Live’s big thing is great native effects and synths, neatly integrated into its interface.

Where do you get your plugin ideas?
Just like every human being gets their ideas - my brain synthesizes them :-)

"Can you imagine connecting your computer to your outboard analog gear by justing having it sit in the same room and that’s it? You can already do it right now, kind of, but the effort is huge."

You have a very graphical approach to UI design - you use a lot of symbols instead of words - how come? Molecule for example.
We're always looking to simplify things, that means removing stuff that you understand is not needed. When you have a graphical waveform selector you do not need to also have a label saying “waveform”, for example. If a device only has one switch, it’s also obvious that it’s an on/off switch - again, you do not need a label.

Your plugins are quite niche by nature - why do you like to create effects for a very specific use?
We try to open the full breadth of possibilities of a particular effect like a flanger or a frequency shifter. There is way more creative uses for these than most people imagine and we’re opening this up to them. Focusing on one particular type of effect at a time, or one particular workflow at a time, this also lets the user’s brain remember and categorize these tools much better.

One of my favorite plugins is Array - where did you get the idea for Array?
We’re quite obsessed with sequencing things, adding rhythm to anything that’s static. This just was one of the ideas among the many types of sequenced effects we did.

Tell us about your design process - how do you go from an idea to a product?
There is a great deal of imagining what the product will do to the sound and how the user will want to operate it. So I take time to shuffle and arrange things in my brain, on paper, in Adobe Draw on my iPad. It must be fully settled in as a sketch before I do any coding.

What kind of advances in music technology would you like to see?
I’d love one day to see extremely low-latency audio and MIDI go wireless. We have the theoretical speed of light, but in practice the multiple software and hardware protocol and processing layers hamper all this. This needs to be more simplified and streamlined. Can you imagine connecting your computer to your outboard analog gear by justing having it sit in the same room and that’s it? You can already do it right now, kind of, but the effort is huge.

Zap plugin by Sinevibes
Zap plugin by Sinevibes

Who do you look up to - in music technology or life in general?
I am always looking at the founders of the companies I work with or whose gear I use, I am trying to see what they focused on, how they pushed their companies in the first few years to really expand without losing the initial naive and daring sparkle.

Is there anything you would like to say about your latest or upcoming products? Here’s your chance to advertise your plugins.
We have a lot of stuff going on right now. We plan to do a new instrument that would be the easiest to use subtractive synth we know, aimed at people new to this tech but passionate to create their own sounds. And there are also more advanced products on the way - we’re about to release a really crazy beat repeater, and later an effect that will resynthesize the sound in real time. Successors to our Diffusion and Torsion synths are also on the drawing board.