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marled

Dinosaur Plugin Companies

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Recently I've had a very annoying IK Multimedia support case. First it took 14 days until they reacted. Then they played support games with me several times, i.e. they asked
for information I already had given them or that stood even in the last reply! But that happens often with those big company's support teams, that they really don't read what you have written! They just want to keep you busy!

In the end they wanted me to install their product manager and this product(s) on my online computer to copy the installer downloads to my offline computer! I don't want all this bloatware on my lap just to install it on my offline studio!

More and more I dislike those dinosaur companies (in respect to size and that they are outdated):

  • Slow and resource eating products (I noticed this especially the last 5 years, I want to mention plugin shells and Custom Shops specifically)
  • Bloating installations (installers ..., or like the IK Custom Shops, you have to install everything even if you just need a tiny bit of it. This results also in a lot of needless updates).
  • Cumbersome authorization and policies
  • Abysmal support (time, muck around with you)
  • Nontransparent updates, i.e. you often update with no win
  • Bad or no update/upgrade pathes
  • ...
     
Edited by marled
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24 minutes ago, marled said:

Bloating installations (installers ..., or like the IK Custom Shops, you have to install everything even if you just need a tiny bit of it. This results also in a lot of needless update)

This is the one that drives me crazy.  I recently ran and update in Amplitube 5 and ended up with a ton of stuff I didn't want on my HD.  C'mon IK, stop doing this.

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IK support has always been rubbish, imo. They do everything in their power to be as unhelpful as they can including blaming the customer for the issues they are having. There is little to no accountability with them. I never recommend them to anyone and refuse to post them anywhere because of their anti-consumer practices. They are well aware; they just don't care. Plenty of better products out there now.

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Their support has been fine in my cases. Fellow replied within a few days and even specifically pin pointed the issues I was having.

 

But I do agree about the cryptic updates and the bloat. There really is no good reason to force me to install all the  new Mesa Boogie demos when I just need the AT5 patched. Especially given the fact the reason for the slow load time of AT5 is the presents included and apparently moving them out of the application and just using your own user presents improves loading time by tons of time.

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Hate on them all you want but that last group by was pretty epic.

The support cases I had with them were usually related to free give aways not showing up, was surprised support responding within a couple hours on the day of the give away no less.

Massive installs when you don't own much is very annoying.  Group Buy helped me ease that pain, but understand the frustration.  

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3 hours ago, marled said:

Then they played support games with me several times, i.e. they asked for information I already had given them or that stood even in the last reply! But that happens often with those big company's support teams, that they really don't read what you have written! They just want to keep you make themselves look busy!

Fixed.

Reminds me of the time I had acquired an Intel server board to install into an Intel server chassis. The chassis was for older motherboards but I had done my research and determined that the new board was indeed compatible with the older chassis.

So, the motherboard arrives but what I had neglected to research were the spacer screws for attaching the passively cooled CPU heatsinks to the chassis, and luck had it that I didn't have the correct parts.

No big deal, I'll refer to the docs and buy the spacers to spec... Turns out this detail was not mentioned once in any of the manuals/specs for the chassis or the motherboard.

No big deal, I'll just google it... Except that this information didn't exist on the Internet.

No big deal... I'll e-mail Intel's support. I explained the situation and asked for the spacer dimensions and threading, and the Support Man responded with a laconical statement "Motherboard X is not compatible with chassis Y." I replied saying I realize that, but if you would be so kind and point me to what kind of spacer I need. He responded with a more verbose rendition of the same dogma. This went on for quite a few e-mails back and forth, with me trying to persuade him to support me even if the combination of the chassis & motherboard were not officially supported just so I could continue the build, and him using more and slightly different words in different arrangements to repeat the same thing. I have no doubt in my mind that this utter imbecile spent a lot more paid time handling the ticket the way he did than if he'd just given a call to someone with actual technical knowledge (at worst).

Of course, I also was not the brightest, because in retrospect I would probably have avoided the futile battle trying to use the broken commandline interface that was the Support Man, had I just remarked; "Oh, my bad; I actually have this newer, Compatible and Supported motherboard! Sorry about the confusion, now GET ME THE ****ING SCREWS!!"

Well, I eventually acquired a dozen different spacers and found the correct one, proceeded with the install... and found that a removable air duct wouldn't fit due to some capacitors placement on the motherboard.

No big deal, I'll just saw off a piece... You guessed it; I didn't have a saw. I didn't have any proper tool. But I had an improper one. I had a very sharp four-inch fruit knife. No big deal.

It took me a little over two hours, a lot of sweat, countless profanities to the point I had to start inventing new words to express the depth of my disappointment with the Universe, a cramped hand with calluses, and a retired fruit knife (a true vet). If I was facing the same situation again and the Support Man was my significant other, and they were in possession of the only hacksaw on Earth, I'd grab the fruit knife any day of the week.

To this day I imagine, hope, dream and pray that in this cosmos there exists a mechanism that somehow transfers my pain to the Support Man of Intel. My research is still ongoing, but currently I like the concept of karma, and an armored bulldozer rampage is a close second.

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When you said "dinosaur companies" I assumed you meant those companies who wrote some good software in 2006 but never updated it, and yet still have annual Black Friday announcements offering big discounts. Or that still have draconian copy-protection measures in place decades after anybody has had any desire to pirate them. Acting like they are still the T. Rex of the jungle, not noticing that little furry mammals have eaten all their eggs.

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1 hour ago, bitflipper said:

When you said "dinosaur companies" I assumed you meant those companies who wrote some good software in 2006 but never updated it, and yet still have annual Black Friday announcements offering big discounts. Or that still have draconian copy-protection measures in place decades after anybody has had any desire to pirate them. Acting like they are still the T. Rex of the jungle, not noticing that little furry mammals have eaten all their eggs.

This should be a sticky. Post of the week!

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Although I really like their products for the sound, sadly I have to agree with many points from OP. Somehow I managed to get my head around the plugins and how to incorporate them into my workflow as far as it gets, but the few contacts with support never worked for me, never. Unfortunately Cakewalk's support didn't give me much hope as well, regarding IKM stuff and my bug reports. It's like these two don't like to walk the same direction and time.

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3 hours ago, kitekrazy said:

Acting like they are still the T. Rex of the jungle, not noticing that little furry mammals have eaten all their eggs.

Best line evah!!! 🤣

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Three things I have learned about the company mentioned in the OP.

1. When they release a new product. wait a year and chill. They will eventually fix the major bugs with the updates.

2. Make peace with the Product Manager, and become one with it.

3. Don't buy individual products. Wait for their Total Studio deals or group buys. The free stuff rocks!!! 😎

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5 hours ago, bitflipper said:

When you said "dinosaur companies" I assumed you meant those companies who wrote some good software in 2006 but never updated it, and yet still have annual Black Friday announcements offering big discounts. Or that still have draconian copy-protection measures in place decades after anybody has had any desire to pirate them. Acting like they are still the T. Rex of the jungle, not noticing that little furry mammals have eaten all their eggs.

Reminds me of Synful Orchestra!  Glad I never brought it even though I liked his approach.  Really no major development for long long long time!

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8 hours ago, bitflipper said:

When you said "dinosaur companies" I assumed you meant those companies who wrote some good software in 2006 but never updated it, and yet still have annual Black Friday announcements offering big discounts. Or that still have draconian copy-protection measures in place decades after anybody has had any desire to pirate them. Acting like they are still the T. Rex of the jungle, not noticing that little furry mammals have eaten all their eggs.

I don't have the same experience with music software like you and I also don't know what company you are talking about.

But I have to address your complaint about no updates! IMO if a plugin provider delivers plugins with a reliable and solid code, then it is not necessary for endless updates! I have a couple of older plugins that did not have updates for a longer period, but run perfectly (Klanghelm, Toyko Dawn, ...), much better than others that always have new updates! 😉 But YMMV!

If I look at the update history of my plugins (where available! 😆), then I notice that in the last 3 years a lot of effort has been invested in VST3, MacOS compatibility, Apple Silicon, resizable GUIs, development infrastructure and bug fixes (those that did not supply stable code!). So for me there is no real urge for updates as I don't use MacOS, Apple stuff, can live without VST3 (I still don't see any real advantage!) and don't have a lot of issues with plugins 😄 (except with 1 Hornet rubbish)! Concerning GUI sizes I like bigger ones, but most that I have are enough big (there are some exceptions! 😄) as I only use a 24" screen. The only updates that were crucial for me are 32- to 64-bitflipper!

I don't like updates like AT4 to AT5, that look nice, but concerning resource impact it is completely a regression! It's the same with the NI FX, but there you even cannot go back to former versions AFAIK 😟.

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41 minutes ago, marled said:

if a plugin provider delivers plugins with a reliable and solid code, then it is not necessary for endless updates

Perhaps, but how much software do you use that hasn't been updated since 2006?

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15 hours ago, Batwaffel said:

They do everything in their power to be as unhelpful as they can including blaming the customer for the issues they are having.

This.

Classic example was when many customers said the contrast wasn't great on ST4 UI. Their answer was that it's not the UI, it's your screen (that somehow seems to be just fine with all other UI's)

 

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1 hour ago, Starship Krupa said:

Perhaps, but how much software do you use that hasn't been updated since 2006?

As I said before, I did not start that early. I think I started about 2009 with music software. And I still use a lot of plugins that did not have an update since about 2011 ... 2014. Look also at the Cakewalk plugins, there are many that date back very long:

  • 2010:
    • Rapture
  • 2011:
    • DropZone
    • RXP
    • SFZ
    • SI-Instruments
    • Square I
    • True Piano
    • z3ta+
  • 2013:
    • BiFilter2
    • Blue Tube Bundle (Cakewalk version only)
  • 2015:
    • Channel Tools
    • Percussion /Vocal Strip
    • Session Drummer
    • TransientShaper
    • Tube Leveler
  • 2016:
    • Boost11
    • CA2A

IMO many of those plugins are very capable in spite of their older! 😄 And they are very resource friendly also!

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2 hours ago, marled said:

But I have to address your complaint about no updates! IMO if a plugin provider delivers plugins with a reliable and solid code, then it is not necessary for endless updates!

Indeed. For me the lack of updates may be a sign that the codebase is actually solid. People need to get back to thinking about software as purpose-built tools instead of hydras with fuzzy motives that end up doing a little bit of everything badly if given enough development time. When you have an appropriately defined, clear purpose and role in mind for the software project, there exists an attainable state where the software is complete. The contemporary digiconsumer doesn't seem to appreciate complete software. They will feel much better if the products they purchased are constantly receiving patches because it feels like dusting & polishing your silverware and reassures them that the bits don't get to rot.

Also, what I've seen happen with the popularization of the subscription model for consumer segment software is; the developers become lazier - not more motivated, they know how to spoonfeed the average end-user that feeling of their product/service being catered to and maintained, they direct more energy towards making themselves look and sound active and competent than actually developing the software, they prefer to introduce new features and change visible parts of the software rather than rewrite/refactor the buggy foundation/backend or refine and optimize what already works but which users already take for granted, they like to keep their changelogs busy just for the sake of posing to the subscriber that their subscription money is actually "sustaining software development" because as we know their justification for the monthly billing is the fairly recently invented axiom that without this "software development is simply not sustainable" - despite commercial software having been around and sustaining jobs for decades and the numerous examples of the old model working fine today. "Good enough" is the new gold standard of what to strive for, because there is actually less pressure on developers to innovate and excel at their craft and the focus has shifted to keeping up appearances.

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Well, I don't have any of those except for (most of) the 2015-2016 ones!

I definitely don't need to have all the shiniest new toys, my favorite soft synths are my AIR Hybrid 3, Xpand!2, Boom, and Vacuum Pro. I don't think Hybrid 3's code has been touched in half a dozen years, probably the same with the others. I am a big fan of how older plug-ins were coded for a world with slower processors and less memory. Hybrid is much less likely to bog down my system than say, Chromaphone.

But I don't know how long they can remain my "go-to's" given that AIR show no signs of updating them to have scalable GUI's.

I like the sound quality and configurability of the Sonitus fx that come with Cakewalk, but I never use them because their UI's are cramped. And I don't even have huge screens.

But the debate isn't about utility, we were talking about these companies trying to market their aging software as if it were the latest hottest stuff. For instance, iZotope seem to understand that even though the Exponential reverbs are some of the best-sounding reverbs money can buy, they can't market them as they might be able to if they gave them face lifts. I just paid $34 for 2 licenses each of R4 and Nimbus. 5 years ago they would have gotten more than 10X that (although not from me).

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12 minutes ago, sarine said:

what I've seen happen with the popularization of the subscription model for consumer segment software is; the developers become lazier

What examples are you thinking of here? I ask because the only subscription-model software I use is Cakewalk, which has a charge of zero, so I'm not familiar with how it's played out elsewhere (Adobe for instance). I do know that Cakewalk/SONAR failed financially as a seat-licensed product and its quality (no idea about market share) has flourished as a free subscription-licensed project.

In theory, the biggest pitfall of seat-licensed software is that, due to the need to attract new and upgrade licenses, development becomes focused on new features that will induce people to buy them. It would be nice if what really drove software purchases was how less crashy the latest version is, but it just doesn't work that way because people aren't savvy enough software shoppers. Companies aren't going to come out and say "the last two releases were bug-laden monstrosities, but we fixed that without adding any new major features and now we would like you to pay us more for the new version." The fact is, under the seat license model, there is a powerful incentive to direct coding resources at new features and not at fixing bugs. Programming hours cost the same no matter what they are doing, so do you listen to the complaints of people who have already bought the program and spend your hours fixing them, or do you add new features and try to get more people to buy it?

You point out a potential pitfall of the subscription model where there may be less incentive to improve the software if the company perceives that the revenue stream is captive. As I say, I have no real world examples to look at. I have seen quality suffer under the seat license model, but all of the payware software licenses I own are seat model.

From what I understand, Pro Tools has become less bug-ridden since they started pushing subscriptions. I don't know about Adobe products. Did you have specific examples in mind where the quality of the product seems to have suffered?

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4 hours ago, sarine said:

Indeed. For me the lack of updates may be a sign that the codebase is actually solid. People need to get back to thinking about software as purpose-built tools instead of hydras with fuzzy motives that end up doing a little bit of everything badly if given enough development time. When you have an appropriately defined, clear purpose and role in mind for the software project, there exists an attainable state where the software is complete. The contemporary digiconsumer doesn't seem to appreciate complete software. They will feel much better if the products they purchased are constantly receiving patches because it feels like dusting & polishing your silverware and reassures them that the bits don't get to rot.

Also, what I've seen happen with the popularization of the subscription model for consumer segment software is; the developers become lazier - not more motivated, they know how to spoonfeed the average end-user that feeling of their product/service being catered to and maintained, they direct more energy towards making themselves look and sound active and competent than actually developing the software, they prefer to introduce new features and change visible parts of the software rather than rewrite/refactor the buggy foundation/backend or refine and optimize what already works but which users already take for granted, they like to keep their changelogs busy just for the sake of posing to the subscriber that their subscription money is actually "sustaining software development" because as we know their justification for the monthly billing is the fairly recently invented axiom that without this "software development is simply not sustainable" - despite commercial software having been around and sustaining jobs for decades and the numerous examples of the old model working fine today. "Good enough" is the new gold standard of what to strive for, because there is actually less pressure on developers to innovate and excel at their craft and the focus has shifted to keeping up appearances.

Brilliant posting! I agree to 100%!

 

4 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

In theory, the biggest pitfall of seat-licensed software is that, due to the need to attract new and upgrade licenses, development becomes focused on new features that will induce people to buy them. It would be nice if what really drove software purchases was how less crashy the latest version is, but it just doesn't work that way because people aren't savvy enough software shoppers. Companies aren't going to come out and say "the last two releases were bug-laden monstrosities, but we fixed that without adding any new major features and now we would like you to pay us more for the new version." The fact is, under the seat license model, there is a powerful incentive to direct coding resources at new features and not at fixing bugs. Programming hours cost the same no matter what they are doing, so do you listen to the complaints of people who have already bought the program and spend your hours fixing them, or do you add new features and try to get more people to buy it?

You suppose like a lot of people that every software needs a lot of bug fixing. I agree that complicated software products like DAWs or graphic applications may always have some bugs, but even there exist huge differences. What I want to say is more that smaller things like FX plugins, synths should not have many bugs if they were developed in a really professional way with a proficient crew! But I know, nowadays mentality is to deliver half-baked software as soon as possible, unfortunately!

Another problem of the subscription model, a major one IMO, is that the customer does not have the same influence on the development target, because subs are almost always on a whole package. The customer cannot honour single, great plugins by his choice to buy them! I think subs will lead to average plugin product lines without great innovation! Additionally, subs will bind the users to one or a few companies, because you pay for a couple of products and do not need others. In contrast If you buy plugins, then you choose the ones that are extraordinary and/or have a good price/merit relation, what stimulates the competition.

But nowadays you can see this development, the loss of market economy, in a lot of areas ! More and more people (we!)  are the slaves of the big companies, of the media and of the state (sorry, for getting political 😆, I know we should not)!

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