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Communicate with the user

I’ve been just thinking about this whole AAX format change and what it mean for us users, or rather, what it can change. Not technically, but in our relationship with the plugin companies for example. There are many who honestly told its users what will happen, how they’ll try to deal with the change, what is the plausible but not certain deadline, whether or not they are planning to release a Native only version or willing to code a DSP version also. And sadly there are others, who just seem to hide from the things, and in my opinion it is the wrong tactic.

Pro Tools is definitely a leading DAW and the post industry is huge. Also it is mainly built upon trust. And if, this trust is gone for some reason, business will suffer (maybe). I think this big format change is a very good litmus test for us users. It can show who to trust with our money. Obviously companies that made false statements, or don’t communicate with their user base honestly can loose. Loose loyal customers and in the long run, loose money. Engineers tend to love their little toys (plugins) but if the trust is shattered, it is very hard to rebuild it, if possible at all.

Even personally I have a very nice collection of plugins, so I decided to gather my experiences about the companies I’m dealing with. It seems to me that mostly my choices were good. Almost all my lovely plugins are updated to AAX, the companies who made them communicated clearly about their plan, so without hesitation I would buy from them again.

But unfortunately there are some, who couldn’t kept their promises, or even worse, they just don’t tell us anything. Anything, except: “we are working on it, be patient”. But then again, after weeks, there is this terrible silence and abandoned user forums. These are the things that makes us feel sad/angry/furious/disappointed (pick yours).

Before you read on, don’t misunderstand me. I know that this change is extremely hard for companies and probably they’re really try to do their best to deliver the new AAX versions for us. But still, from a user perspective communication and honesty can make a huge difference.

  1. Softube made an announcement that they will probably be ready with the AAX versions in september this year. Unfortunately my Softube plug is still not available for me under PT11.
  2. AudioEase buries itself in secrecy. On their forums they are talking about weeks, but they are talking about this for months. And their plugins (although excellent ones) are one of the most expensive ones.
  3. Slate. Delivered some, introduced brand new products, but still no news on their older plugs.
  4. Waves released their AAX versions, but before that their communication with their user base was catastrophic.
  5. Flux released some AAX version, even have some nice deal, but in my experience their support is just outrageous.

Pro Tools 11 was released on 21, june. I know it’s only the end of october now, but still it seems that some plugin manufacturer could release their stuff in short time, or were honestly communicating with their user base. Others, unfortunately decided to take another route. I’ve heard many fellow engineers who substituted certain plugins with other ones and stopped waiting for their ex-favourites. The plugin market is very saturated and there are many extremely talented developers who delivers and communicate with us users. For me this whole format change is also a good indication. At the end, the honest, trustworthy developers will get our money, others might suffer from the consequences in the long run.
The lesson to the companies is that the user is not stupid. You can tell us what will happen, you can tell us that you have difficulties so you will release the update later.

Be fair, we will trust you and you’ll get our money again.