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An open letter to UA
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Soni-Fi
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#1
15th March 2013
Old 15th March 2013
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An open letter to UA

Dear Universal Audio,

I have been using DAWs since 1990. I remember when Sound Designer II was new. I've transitioned from a Mac-based system, to a PC-based system, and back to Mac again. I also make software for a living, and as you are about to find out, I am kind of a wonk about user experience and workflow issues.

I recently tanked my trusty zero-latency 12 year old TDM system and the thousands of dollars of associated hardware/software, in favor of your Apollo Quad. When it comes to sound quality and reduction of fan noise in my small studio, I couldn't be happier. But I'm writing you today about something that really bugs me: the fact that you are choosing to make my user experience difficult in favor of your free-trial model for selling plug-ins. Let me explain...

First, I want to be upfront about the fact that I think it's great that you allow us to try these plug-ins for free, and I realize that this model is very successful for you. I myself have used a trial plug-in in a session, had it expire, and then felt extremely compelled to buy it because it was now an important part of that creative piece of work. I think this is a great service and I appreciate the ability to be able to listen before I purchase. To this practice, I doth not protest. What is driving me absolutely nuts, is that I can't easily remove the trials from the list of plug-ins in either my DAW of choice (Pro Tools 10) or even your own Console software.

Now it would be easy to accuse Avid of not being on the stick here because some other DAW packages do allow you to manage plug-ins internally. I suppose I will write them a letter as well. But it is really unacceptable that your own software should not allow even some basic filtering (authorized/not authorized/show all).

I imagine that this is due to the fact that it simply forces users to "shop" through your catalog every time they want to use one of the products they've already purchased. I'm sure your business model relies on these impulse purchases, because I've fallen prey to it repeatedly. But the inverse has also happened, where I've simply forgotten I even bought something because it is so completely buried under a mountain of products that I have not (or have not intention of) ever buying!

Sure, I've written your support team, and I got a response from one guy telling me to manually pull them out of the multiple folders used by the different packages. The first time I tried that several plugins became unusable. When I asked about that, I got another response from your support manager who told me that actually this was not a supported method for removing those plug ins, and that they share some interface elements, and BTW...DON'T DO THAT!! I've also read the forums where people suggest these radically manual and risky tactics to fixing your basic usability problem...err I mean...blunt force sales feature.

It's pretty clear that if you were to allow us to filter out the trials you'd lose revenue, and I don't really want that for you. I like your products and I want you to keep making them. But many of us are engineers and we like things tidy, and we also like to optimize our work flow in a way that allows us to get things done easily and quickly. This particular method of brute force salesmanship is offensive to your customers in a way that goes against the spirit of the product you're making, which is supposed to enable us to make great music. It's supposed to assist in letting the technology get out of the way so we can focus on what matters, being creative.

Please get out of the way and let me filter out the plugins I don't own, manually or otherwise, and stop putting your business needs before your customers' needs because that totally sucks.

Thanks.

MLJ
#2
16th March 2013
Old 16th March 2013
  #2
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+1! Even a small change such as font color blue for authorized and font color red for unauthorized would keep all the plugins in front of us , teasing us into a try - yet we could work more efficiently, knowing what we have and what we don't.

It may even increase your sales because we would now know at a glance which plugs we don't already have - you know.....temptation..................... OK nevermind
#3
16th March 2013
Old 16th March 2013
  #3
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Here's another way to look at it: It's a PT Plug In management issue.
Many other DAWs have a way to organise your plugins.
Why should this be UAD's responsibility?
Many plugin manufacturers have In-PlugIn purchases, not just UAD.
I can think of at least two other plugin designers where can buy preset libraries and sample libraries from a link attached to a dead preset name that takes you to the company's web page and offers you to buy it from them.
I wouldn't say UAD's advertising is unacceptably invasive. It's really normal. Expensive car manufacturers do it all the time, you just don't see it, and they advertise real trash at inflated prices. I would just write this all off as the price of living in a consumerist society.
At the threat of appearing to disagree with you, for which I preemptively apologise, I consider it generally acceptable for makers to advertise to the invested customer, and that the above state of play in the general plugin market is not that big a deal and you're in the right section of GS.
Soni-Fi
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#4
16th March 2013
Old 16th March 2013
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Thanks for considering my argument, but I think you missed the point. I know it was a long rambling post, and I apologize for that.

I don't dispute the practice of free-trials as advertising in my post. In fact, I think I go out of my way to make it clear that I accept it and even appreciate it. Sorry if that wasn't clear. I also called out PT as being broken.

There are two problems I'm calling out:
1. UA's own software doesn't allow for filtering or sorting
2. The plug-ins aren't self-contained and therefore manual plugin management is problematic

I'm also suggesting they are reticent to "fix" this because it's in their best interest, even though it's bad for the user.

Also, your car analogy might not be relevant, but I'm not sure because I don't understand it. But I'll go there with you...the way plug-ins work in UA's own Console software right now is as if once I buy a car, I have to go look for it in a lot full of the other cars I didn't buy, every time I want to drive it.

I hope this makes things clearer. And yes...I'm moaning in the hopes that I can actually influence some change here. Idealistic...I know.
#5
16th March 2013
Old 16th March 2013
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Can you put the ones you don't own into the unused plugin folder? I don't own UAD but this can be done for other plugins.
#6
16th March 2013
Old 16th March 2013
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+1!

yeah this is kind of annoying, and while I'm not sure who is responsible for resolving this (avid and/or uad), it's a fixable issue. a simple separation in the filtering between authorized and non-authorized plugins is all that's needed. you can still have them all in the same drop down.

there was an issue with plugin alliance trials at one point which was annoying and confused me a few times. after the trials ended, the plugin remained intact on the track but the output of the track was muted. very confusing.

I don't think we have to overanalyze this into some sort of capitalist marketing agenda. I wonder how much of this could be a workflow oversight?

as a workaround, you can have the UAD plugin manager list open to easily see what plugs you have/don't have authorized.

oto
#7
16th March 2013
Old 16th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveE View Post
Can you put the ones you don't own into the unused plugin folder? I don't own UAD but this can be done for other plugins.
OP says this actually disables some authorized plugs as they share some system gargamajangle.
Soni-Fi
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#8
16th March 2013
Old 16th March 2013
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Thanks folks.... I agree that it doesn't need to be over-analyzed, and I certainly don't mean to be making gross assumptions about UA's intentions. I'm just making it clear that I understand why they do this so that it's clear I don't have my head in the sand here.

That workaround idea is a good alternative to what I do now, which is keep the "My Software" window on the UA website open. Thanks!

As for the manual approach, I've tried it and had to re-install after I got an error. I have been told by UA CS that it's not officially supported because the plugins share some interface elements, but I managed to get it to work in PT without (as of yet) any errors. The UA Console is not as forgiving, as I am still getting errors there when I manually remove plugs from that folder.

Honestly, it's just a major PITA and feel unnecessary to me. Kinda like not being able to see the name of the current preset that's been loaded into a plugin, but I realize most people have just learned to deal with these small issues.

Thanks again for your responses.
#9
17th March 2013
Old 17th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soni-Fi View Post
That workaround idea is a good alternative to what I do now, which is keep the "My Software" window on the UA website open. Thanks!
actually you don't even need to be on the web. the little UAD station/dock that installs when you download software for their cards (or apollo I assume) can be opened and locally there's a list of plugs which clearly say "authorized" or "not authorized."

agreed though, there's no reason for this not to be sorted out.

maybe they'll listen...
#10
17th March 2013
Old 17th March 2013
  #10
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Quote:
as a workaround, you can have the UAD plugin manager list open to easily see what plugs you have/don't have authorized.
Problem with that is you don't choose which plug you want to use from the plug-in manager. In Logic when you go to insert a plug you get a very long vertical list, and cross-checking between the plug-in manager and Logic's insert list is rather drab and archaic.

Same thing with UA's own Console.

If they can show "authorized or unauthorized" in the plug-in manager, it would be great to add that same capability in your DAW and in Console.

It could be a simple * asterisk for "authorized" or a "U" or an "A" following the plug's name to denote authorized or unauthorized, or as I mentioned earlier, a different color font for each, or (insert your solution!) - just to aid us (their customers, and the customer is always right lol)) in having an easier workflow.

Regardless of any simple solution, all of their plugs would still be seen every time we opened our DAW's inserts or Consoles inserts - so it truly would be a "win, win" situation. And what company doesn't want happy customers?!
#11
19th March 2013
Old 19th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ac55 View Post
Problem with that is you don't choose which plug you want to use from the plug-in manager. In Logic when you go to insert a plug you get a very long vertical list, and cross-checking between the plug-in manager and Logic's insert list is rather drab and archaic.
never said you could. a mere workaround to visually remind yourself which plugs you are/aren't authorized to use.
#12
19th March 2013
Old 19th March 2013
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never said you could.

did'nt say you did!

yes it's a workaround, but not a solution - and that's what this thread is about
#13
22nd March 2013
Old 22nd March 2013
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well until UA makes the change, "workaround" is as good as it gets.

<insert proper emoticon here.>
#14
23rd March 2013
Old 23rd March 2013
  #14
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Even a "favorites" list would be super helpful. A lot of the NI products allow you to create lists of patch "favorites" which is great because their synths have a lot of patches to wade through.
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