KVR Winner: The ProF.E.T.

KVR Audio has just announced the winner to their Developer Challenge 2018, a competition for anyone who develops audio plug-ins or applications and soundware. KVR members voted and the winner was chosen: the Pro.F.E.T. by Ignite Amps took first place. The Pro.F.E.T. is a digital emulation of a high gain distortion preamp/stomp-box for guitar.

We got to chat with the creators at Ignite Amps about the development process, how The NAMM Show will help with their debut and business growth, and what's on the horizon. 

NAMM: Your winning product is the ProF.E.T. What was your process for creating this innovation? How long did it take to develop?

Ignite Amps: It was quite a long process! Back in 2014 we designed, developed and built what is probably our most representative product so far, the Emissary, a 2 channel 50W all tube head. Our approach is quite unique: we use our analog modeling algorithms to prototype circuits in software form, rather than simulate them after they're physically built. This allows us to reduce prototyping time and costs and gives the customer the opportunity to "preview" the final product as well as helps us tailor it to their needs and desires.

Although everyone seems to love the Emissary lead channel, we understand that not everyone can afford to buy a completely handmade tube amplifier, so we wanted to offer a more affordable and compact solution, with that same crushing signature tone.

The most natural solution for our requirements was to adopt JFETs. The problem with JFETs is that they behave differently from tubes when overdriven so we had to go into a quite complicated and painful process in order to replicate the tube behavior (especially the grid current!) using solid state devices, but we managed to reach a point where it was really difficult to figure out that the distortion was JFET and not tube based.

We then went through the classic workflow we're known for: we created the JFET mathematical model, translated it into code, built it into our real time circuit simulation framework and gradually transformed the Emissary circuit into its solid state version.

After achieving the tone we were searching for and realizing the potential of the device, we decided to give the ProF.E.T. its own "personality" rather than just relegate it to being an Emissary emulation, so we gradually modified the circuit into something more unique, while keeping that clear, aggressive distortion and the four controls based tone stack that many guitarists love.

All in all, it took something like two years to have everything figured out. We're just two guys passionate about music, electronics and software, and our business is not that big to allow us to work full time on research and development, so the ProF.E.T. project was paused multiple times in order to work on other products for our clients, software updates and other collaborations.

The initial idea was to release the software and hardware version together in Q1 2019, but when we discovered that KVR was hosting the 2018 Developer Challenge, it was natural for us to anticipate the software release to enter the competition.

It was a good idea, apparently!

N: How will featuring ProF.E.T. in the Software.NAMM exhibit space at The NAMM Show benefit your business?

IA: We will give the possibility to play with it along with the hardware prototype in order to show off the potential and accuracy of our simulations. With all the plug-ins we released in the past years, we're able to emulate a guitarist full rig at no cost (all of our plug-ins released so far are free!), with just a guitar, a laptop and an audio interface, so people can try it in front of an amp and a cab, or through a power amp and a cab or just into a cab simulation as they wish.

We will also introduce some interesting updates involving the ProF.E.T. itself (of course), the Emissary and NadIR too! After winning the KVRDC18, we're more motivated than ever to improve our products and show them to artists from all around the world!

N: How has The NAMM Show become more inclusive to your community?

IA: Well, we've produced some material (videos and samples) of the ProF.E.T. and we've had lots of friends helping us in doing that. When we release new software we have people from all over the world (literally) making demos and samples and stuff with them. Some do it for testing and reviewing purposes on their channels, some do it for producing their music, some do it for honest fun. It was even more so the case with the ProF.E.T. as we strongly underlined the fact it was our entry for this competition to get us to the NAMM Show.

People reacted well and supported us more than ever and what came out of this experience, once again, was that even if our community is more virtual than others as it heavily relies on the internet, we love being supported by our fans and we love supporting our fans from all over the world, no matter where they're from, what they look like, what creed or religion they have or who they're in love with. United under the sound of music and passion, that's what it is.

N: Why should professionals from your industry come to The NAMM Show this year?

IA: The real question is why they shouldn't? NAMM is the most interesting event regarding innovations in the music industry and the greatest opportunity to create networks of professionals sharing the same passion for music and technology.

It’s the world showcase and this is so obvious that even when you live 10k kilometers away like us, you hear about it every year.

The NAMM Show is the place where musicians and manufacturers from all over the planet come to meet so it really feels like the place you want to be if you want to stay in the game.

N: What are your goals for future innovations?

IA: Regarding software, we want to keep developing and improving our analog modeling algorithms to reduce the gap between analog and digital gear even more. We recently released our "3rd generation" simulations but we're already working on new updates, improving quality and reducing CPU usage even more. We're super excited about the recent progress of our technology and we cannot wait to show it to our community!

Regarding hardware, we’re already planning some new stuff using JFETs, like a bass preamp, and some new tube guitar heads, as usual, starting as custom orders and then developing a line from that.