VANDAL AMPS at Musikmesse Frankfurt

March 31, 2009

For those of you visiting the Musikmesse 2009 (April 1 – 4), there’ll be an opportunity to see & hear the coming Vandal software in action.

Come on over at hall 5.1, booth D41.
We’ll supply stuff (axe, 4 string, Midi pedalboard) so that you can test the plugin for yourself. While we won’t have everything up & running at that time, you can freely get your hands on the current development state and have a personal chat with us. We’ll be happy to explain in detail what else can be expected from the finished product and look forward to all kinds of feedback.

See ya 🙂

Bass Amp Redesign & Sound Clips

March 26, 2009

We’ve made some slight changes to Vandal’s bass amplifier recently.
It’s still an all-tube design, coming with 3 tube gain stages in the preamp section and delivering a fat tone through the push/pull pentode power amp stage.
Here’s the new pot layout:

bass_amp02So, we’ve changed the preamp a bit: Now, the signal first enters the first gain stage, then can be shaped via the ‘contour’ knob (kind of loudness / lower mid dip; an interactive / passive filter network), then gets some compression.
The compressor is a FET-based feed-back model, similar to some stomp designs or vintage studio rack gear. It’s ultra-transparent and musical; you can kick it hard and it still doesn’t do strange things.

The ‘drive’ control feeds an extra tube stage for extra harmonics and extra oomph 🙂

The EQ section is a split design: a passive low/high baxandall network followed by an active 2-band mid control. All filter slopes are 6dB/oct, which in our opinion is the best compromise between being versatile and retaining the character of your bass guitar.

Here are some audio clips:

basstest_dry (VANDAL completely disabled. A bit of silly & aimlessly fingered playing)

basstest_vandal (the amp setting from the picture above)

basstest_vandal_chorus (VANDAL’s stomp guitar chorus in front of the amp)


Here’s a clip by Dimi, certainly in a more sensible context: 😉


Coming next: Vandal Bass Amp

March 4, 2009

This morning was the birth of Vandal’s 2nd amplifier. The bass amp is currently being added to the plugin’s main architecture. This is how it will look like:

bass_amp01Although it already pops up on the screen (upon choosing it from the ‘amps’ list), there’s currently not much coming out of it. It’s work in progress. Soldering lots of wires here… 😀

The architecture we’ve set up the last couple of weeks allows for ‘amplifier mainframes’, which means a generalized architecture of amps that have to be specified in detail. That was quite a bunch of code lines, lots of coffee and headaches… but now we’re prepared for a new beast 🙂

The bass amp is designed to serve a broad range of players and music styles. It’s an all-tube design, btw., housing a highly-interactive passive filter circuitry. The amount of knobs might appear limited at first sight, but we’re certain this baby becomes at least as versatile as the guitar amp. 😉

We’ll see within the next couple of days. Stay tuned.

Vandal stomp box collection

February 22, 2009

We haven’t had much going on here for a month. During that time, the main architecture of the Vandal software has been developed futher. That’s a lot of stuff under the hood that might be of minor importance for users, but it’s very important for all coming features that we equip this thing with.

One of these features is the ability to deal with user-defined stomps setups. Currently, our arsenal is planned to offer between 18-20 different stomp boxes, of various type and origins. Here are some that are already working:stomps1

The LaCrema Overdrive manages to recreate the famous mild crunch tones associated with famous blues/rock-type pedals, like for instance the TS9.

HALVAR was inspired by the DOD250/308 Distortion/Preamp Booster stomp, which allows to tighten up the signal when doing shred and heavy riff-working, cleaning up the bass & such.

Hellfire is a no-compromise attempt at high-gain sounds, features a classic (passive) tone stack and multiple gain stages. Max gain is ~70dB 🙂

Fuzz has that certain sound: ‘muff’, Jimi, Satisfaction, you name it. A love/hate thing, as usual.

stomps2CHORUS is, well, a chorus. A typical stomp pedal unit, rich, colorful, distinctive, analog.

The phase shifter is pretty unique. Actually a phaser and a tremolo (can be both simultaneously). Allows for subtle washy phasing, wah-type resonating as well as sounding completely ill-psycho-something.

The CheWahWah is pretty traditional; characterful, rich, screaming. A wah like one would expect but is rarely offered in the digital realm.

All stomps incorporating distortion/overdrive are oversampled (4x at 44/48k). We want them to not behave like digital zombies just because you’re doing a bending in the 24th fret… 😉

To do: adding Midi CC to all controls. As with all Vandal knobs/buttons, Midi messages (from pedal boards and such) can be used to drive various units and their parameters. We will explain the concept in detail as soon as the time is right.

Here are some audio snippets of the OD/distortion stomps, courtesy of Dimi Nalbantov:



vandalhellfirecrunch (featuring Vandal’s internal delay + reverb)

It’s all about the crunch tone

January 16, 2009

Since a few days, we’ve been tweaking Vandal’s guitar amp tube stages for the ability to deal much better with slight overdrive. That’s a tough one, but I think we’re close to getting that nailed. We’re aware of the fact that delicate, responsive crunch is what divides a good amp from a bad one.

Here’s the current status, a video by Dimi Nalbantov:

What we did is basically fine-tuning the biasing of all affected preamp tubes (2 in ‘classic’ mode, 3 in ‘british hybrid’, 4 in ‘modern high gain’) as well as changing the tube character in particular.
We now have different models of tubes stuffed into the virtual circuits. In some stages we got more or less 12au7 behaviour and 12ax7 tubes when more gain is needed. Apart from ‘mu’ (amplification factor) and characteristics, each tube got implanted its own tonal response. We now got even more degrees of freedom than before, yabbadabbadoo…

It should be audible that we progressed somehow. The whole amp is now more responsive to volume change on the input and reacts a lot nicer on slight overdrive settings. It ‘breathes’ more, hopefully.

We still got stuff to do soundwise… so check back often 🙂

New Vandal Guitar Amp videos

January 13, 2009

Our tester Dimi has published a few videos where he’s getting serious with our software. Have a look:

Read the rest of this entry »

Guitar amp circuit revision

January 12, 2009

Now, this might sound strange…:
Even when you’re developing a software guitar amplifier, you still have to get to know the beast yourself! Our model has gotten pretty complex and so close to the real deal that we have to play with it for longer than initially thought. Otherwise you’re tempted to stick to first-sight impressions and perhaps go on into false directions.

So we’ve done even more intensive listening tests at the beginning of January, after an ear-recalibrating Christmas break. This immediately led to some changes under the hood of VANDAL’s guitar amp: Read the rest of this entry »

Listening tests – part II

January 7, 2009

Of course, development went on in December. We almost had daily builds of the VANDAL plugin that went out to the test team. I’ve got a feeling the sound of the whole software is getting more mature recently… hopefully.

Here are a more audio snippets of VANDAL, once more played by Dimitar Nalbantov (

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VANDAL demo video

December 18, 2008

Sit back, grab some popcorn, and get familiar with VANDAL’s guitar preamp & power amp modes, stomps, post fx (delay, reverb) etc.

Our current development state, brought to you by Dimitar Nalbantov:

Listening tests – part I

December 15, 2008

We could have long and exhausting talks over guitar amplification and such. But that’s pretty pointless if one doesn’t hear how things do actually sound.

Here are a few snippets of ‘VANDAL in action’, played by the brilliant Dimitar Nalbantov (

Read the rest of this entry »