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Celebrating 20 Years of Innovation!

“We’d like to thank our clients who continue to use our software for the last 20 years. It is their dedication to bringing the best sound to the audience that inspires us to continue developing new ways to make their needs a reality.” – Colin McDowell

How it All Began

At the 1998 AES in San Francisco, Colin introduced the innovative FilterBank plug-in to the audio world. Twenty years later FilterBank’s unique Peak-Slope-Dip control over high and low shelf EQ shapes – a feature for emulating nearly every shelving EQ shape ever designed – remains unmatched. McDSP’s 20 years of innovation also includes CompressorBank – a precisely calibrated compressor plug-in capable of emulating not just one, but many vintage and classic compressors, the MC2000 – the first multi-band compressor for the Pro Tools platform, Channel G – the only channel strip plug-in with a customized user interface for the digidesign ICON control surfaces, the patented ML4000 and ML8000 mastering plug-ins (US patent # 8433079), the AE400 – the first active equalizer for the Avid HDX platform and S3L and S6L live sound systems, the highly acclaimed 6050 Ultimate Channel Strip, and the award winning SA-2 Dialog Processor.


SA2_EmmyIndustry Recognition

Colin’s work at McDSP includes eight TEC Award nominations in the software signal processing category, a Cinema Audio Society (CAS) award for Best Post Production product, two Electronic Musician Magazine Editor’s Choice Awards, other magazine award nominations and wins from Sound on Sound, Pro Audio Review, and Resolution magazine, and most recently an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development at the 69th Engineering Emmy Awards.

20 Trivia Facts for 20 Years

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Colin grew up in Buffalo NY, down the street from Moog Music.  It was there that Colin, as a young a piano player, borrowed a synthesizer. “I took it home, and I plugged it into my parents’ stereo and I blew it up.  I mean the speakers were just shredded.  I thought I was going to be grounded for life.  But Dad thought it was great, and kept encouraging me to do that kind of stuff.”  Colin still enjoys synthesizers today, and has introduced his interests to his daughters.

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In 1995 Colin works for digidesign where he prototypes the TDM Multi-shell technology – the first operating system of its kind that could run multiple different plug-ins on the same dsp chip.  Much of the memory management was actually done on the dsp chip itself with hand written assembly code!

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In 1997 Colin works for Dolby where he worked on the Dolby E audio encoder / decoder system, for which Dolby received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development.  This was actually Colin’s first Engineering Emmy, so for those of you counting, Colin has two Engineering Emmys.

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In 1998 McDSP is incorporated. McDSP is start in a spare room of Colin’s home in Palo Alto.

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In 1998 Colin sells Filter Bank to McDSP’s first customer, Rob Barrett at the 1998 AES in San Francisco. FilterBank, at the time of its release, had too many good features in a single product; it was 10 plug-ins in one product – 2, 4, and 6 band EQs, filters, and combinations therein. Even today FilterBank has features like Peak-Slope-Dip control over shelving EQ responses that are not found in any other EQ (hardware or software, analog or digital). Many of its curves and topologies remain unique. Says Colin, “FilterBank also sounded great back then, and still does today, in my completely biased opinion.”

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Also at McDSP’s first trade show in 1998, Talking Heads band member Jerry Harrison approaches Colin at AES and asks if they have ever met. Colin means to say “No, I am sure we haven’t because if we had, I would have remembered it.” But nerves and Colin’s odd sense of humor cause him reply, “No, but if we did, I forgot.” Colin recounts, “the entire area around me grew silent, and I knew something hadn’t come out right. Fortunately, Jerry must be used to awkward comments from star-struck fans. Even now, when I see him, I say, “I remember you!” and he always is good natured about it.”

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In 1999 McDSP introduces Compressor Bank, – a precisely calibrated compressor plug-in capable of emulating not just one, but many vintage and classic compressors. Then in 2000 McDSP introduces the MC2000,  a 2, 3, and 4-band version of CompressorBank, and the first multi-band compressor for the Pro Tools TDM platform.  The MC2000 also becomes McDSP’s first TEC Award nominated product in the signal processing software category.

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Although digital audio workstations are very popular, users still crave to have the sound of analog mixing console and tape machines. McDSP releases Analog Channel in 2001, and it quickly fills this void. Analog Channel is said to be able to ‘glue’ tracks together. It earns a 2001 TEC Award nomination.

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In 2003 McDSP introduces Channel G, the first and only channel strip plug-in with a customized user interface for the digidesign ICON control surfaces.  Channel G included models of several large format analog consoles years before any other plug-in manufacturer.   Channel G become a 2003 TEC Award Nominee.

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In 2007 McDSP introduces the ML4000 multi-band dynamics processor and mastering plug-in.  The internal latency on the ML4000 was the lowest in its class, and its unique approach to signal limiting eventually earned a patent  (US patent # 8433079).  The ML4000 is a huge success, and also a TEC Award Nominee.  McDSP later follows up with the ML8000 mastering limiter in 2016.

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In 2008 McDSP celebrates 10 year anniversary and puts Audio Level eXtension (ALX) technology into an iOS app called LouderLogic. It is the same technology from the ML4000 and is reviewed by a tech writer from the NY Times as “perhaps the most impressive audio enhancement app I have used.”

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McDSP Continues to provide FREE updates for all its clients for nearly 12 years until software piracy caused the need to move to a paid upgrade system. The first paid upgrade, version 5 (v5) is rolled out in 2010.

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In 2013 McDSP introduces the AE400 the first active equalizer for the Avid HDX platform, as well as the S3L and S6L live sound systems.  The AE400 becomes a 2013 TEC Award Nominee.  Later in 2016 McDSP releases the AE600 with more than twice the number of bands as the AE400 (6 fixed AND 6 active) and with no less than 13 EQ and filter types per fixed and active bands.
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McDSP releases a version of the very popular FutzBox plug-in for the Propellerheads Rack Extension (RE) platform in 2015, and earns a TEC Award nomination.

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One of Colin’s favorite client anecdotes is about Frank Morrone (Lost, The Kennedys, Sleepy Hollow, When We Were Kings), an award winning independent re-recording mixer in LA and long time McDSP user and advocate. Morrone is demonstrating his mix for a client. The client is pleased with the sound and then asks, “but how is it on the small speakers most consumers use?” Morrone replies, “Those were the small speakers.”

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In 2015 McDSP introduces the SA-2 Dialog Processor plug-in. The SA-2 started with a phone call to McDSP from Academy Award winning re-recording mixer Michael Minkler. Minkler had worked with a similar analog processor developed in the 1990s and wanted a plug-in that could do the same thing — control transients and maintain the clarity and integrity of dialog by attenuating peaks and sibilance. Now Minkler says he can’t work without the SA-2.

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In 2017 the McDSP SA2-Dialog Processor wins the Cinema Audio Society award for Outstanding Product in Post Production and an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development. We are very grateful to the Cinema Audio Society and the Television Academy for their recognition and support! We’d also would like to acknowledge our clients who have supported us for these awards including: Frank Morrone (The Strain, Lost, The Kennedys, Sleepy Hollow, When We Were Kings), Onnalee Blank (Game of Thrones,) Tom Marks (Sense8), Bob Bornow (Deadliest Catch), Scott Weber (Lost, Person of Interest, Queen of the South), Keith Rogers (Westword, Person of Interest), Karol Urban (Grey’s Anatomy, Kingdom), and many others.

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The McDSP Education Program has been going since 2003, and provides academic institutions with copies of every McDSP plug-in for as many systems as they have on campus, for use by students and faculty, at an unbelievably low cost. Hundreds of schools worldwide use McDSP products every day.

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The McDSP 20th anniversary All Access subscription special is a limited time offer. We are glad to have the support of so many for the past 20 years. To show our support back to you, we are offering this amazing deal on Annual Paid Monthly and Annual subscriptions. Click here to find out more. But whatever you do, ACT FAST!!! This is a limited time offer!!!

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“Proud to provide 20 years of solid product development and excellent customer support to the most amazing customers around the world.” -Colin McDowell