The Story of DC19

A short story from Goodhertz Co-Founder Rob Stenson about how our latest presale plugin, DC19, first came into existence.

If you’ve ever changed the time control on a delay, you know the thrill of that characteristic sound: an instantaneous warping, the whole sound running up or down. Hard to describe, really, and even harder to control.

But what if it wasn’t so hard to control? Or, at least, what if it wasn’t so hard to capture that sound and still remain rhythmic? I started asking myself those kind of questions a few years ago, around when we added the Wet Delay control to Wow Control.

In Wow Control, when you move the Wet Delay, your sound, momentarily, spins out of control, and I couldn’t get enough of it. (Randomizing the Wet Delay in Wow Control is a great way to get some weird sounds.) But the delay in Wow Control isn’t really the point of Wow Control, and adding a full delay feature set to Wow Control didn’t make sense, so I didn’t end up thinking too much more about building out a delay plugin.

But then one day, just over a year ago, I did start to think about delays again: wouldn’t it be cool if you could select a bunch of arbitrary note values for the delay time, and then smoothly move between those delay values with a single knob on a hardware controller? Most delay plugins let you do something similar, i.e. select “Note” or “Dotted” or “Triplet,” but they don’t let you mix those values, and they definitely don’t let you get arbitrarily close to those values using another control (what we call Q, for “Quantize”). I feel like I might be starting to lose you here, or maybe lose myself. Again, hard to describe, easier to hear.

That was the first prototype I put together. Back then it was called “Wow Delay” because I built it by combining parts of Wow Control’s DSP with an experimental new interface. It’s important to note here that I’m the least DSP-savvy engineer at Goodhertz (I’m a designer who knows how to program), so “Wow Delay” was not really a delay — it didn’t even have a feedback control; the feedback was handled in Ableton Live, by sending the B return back into itself, which is why the sound in that video is very raw, maybe even a little scary at times.

Anyway, after I put the prototype together and recorded that video, I posted it to our internal “ideas” channel on Slack and got a positive response. Devin was struck by the idea that, unlike a normal delay, this plugin didn’t force you to make a black-and-white choice between BPM sync’d and completely unsynced delay times. With this control set, you could get at all the “grey” areas in between. As he put it in Slack, “you can smoothly go in (and out) of time.”

But the positive feedback wasn’t quite enough to make it a priority, so the plugin went back on the shelf. Or, no that’s not right. That prototype plugin actually sat on a return in my default Ableton session for over a year, with a few key controls connected to some knobs on my Novation LaunchControl XL (as seen in the video). I used it all the time, but never really looked at the interface.

And then, just about two months ago, I thought to myself: why not actually make the interface look good? So I did some work on the interface, then handed it off to Noah so he could knock out the DSP side of things (i.e. make it a real delay with feedback). And from there the plugin became a collaboration, first between Noah and I, and then — as always — a collaboration with the entire Goodhertz team.

Quickly, we had something cool, but we didn’t know exactly what to call it. Above all, we wanted to emphasize the experimental quality of the plugin, since we don’t think there’s ever been a plugin quite like it. Maybe something with “Concept” in the name… oh also maybe it could have some kind of a codename thing going on, a combination of Delay, Concept, and the internal code name (0019)…


And with a new name settled, I posted another video to the internal ideas channel:

After a few more iterations on the feature set and the design, we started to wonder: should we put this up for presale?

Which is exactly what we’ve done: you can now grab a presale license for DC19 on our order page.

Why buy now? Check out the official DC19 product page.

Sound exciting? Don’t delay, get DC19 today!