#1 – How did you get into making impulses?
I started working in music as a session guitarist towards the end of highschool. I didn’t have the standard upbringing most people have of being in a band, playing live, and eventually learning to record yourself. How things sound in a studio is all I have ever known. Because of this, I always found amps and cabinets to be inefficient/cumbersome and knew there had to be a better way to do things. Around 2007, I realized modeling a cabinet accurately wouldn’t be difficult and wouldn’t require any programming to make happen. I went about making a collection of 7 cabs that I used privately for all my session work that I was very pleased with. At this time there weren’t commercial IR libraries or even cabinet specific loaders available to my knowledge. I would end up monitoring through stock Amplitube cabs and apply the IRs in post with TL Space in Pro tools. This plugin had pretty high latency, so monitoring in real time unfortunately wasn’t an option.
I was satisfied with how they sounded for the next 7 years and had no real intentions of ever making any more. In 2014, I founded Rosen Digital with Chris Lucas and Rob Rosen. The first offering I wanted to do was a drum plugin with Evans. I contacted them and pitched the idea. They were interested, but wanted to see how the marketing for the product would look. At this time Rosen didn’t even have a website. The idea came about to sell my impulses, and set it up as a demo for Evans to see that I could actually follow through on the proposal. I decided against selling my own impulses and opted to make new ones, as I felt I could make them better after sitting with them for 7 years.
I believe our initial sampling was 6 cabs. I then went about getting all the marketing/reviewers in order, and we launched a few weeks after. I knew they would be successful but expected it to take much longer than it did. Our first week we made enough to pay for a dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings and that was even crazy to me. We went on to become very successful and shortly after that I decided to start my own company, as I felt it was the best avenue for my products and future ideas.
#2 – How long has 3SA been operating for?
We launched on March 1, 2016 and development on the products, marketing, and website started probably back in December of 2015.
#3 – What product was it that really first put you guys on the map?
Our cabs were immediately successful. I had the built in user base from my work at Rosen, and from there I found ways to make the new cabs better/implement more features. Besides the cabs, the Acoustic Impulses have made a lot of waves. I’m probably most proud of those because while I didn’t invent the concept, I am the first person to do them well/accurately and I did invent the capture process necessary to make them a reality. It’s also a product we’ve needed for a very long time, especially in live scenarios.
#4 – In a market that’s jam-packed full of companies doing impulses, what do you feel 3SA brings to the table that sets you apart?
Innovation and fresh perspective. I’m always finding ways to improve upon my work. Much to the dismay of people who work for me, I will redo a product multiple times from scratch even if it is already out and successful. Our customers greatly benefit from the fact that I won’t put out something unless I feel comfortable using it on a major label album. We were the first company to offer solid state/tube variations. We’re also the only company with a proprietary capture method. Shortly after inventing the capture process for the Acoustics, I realized I could come up with a completely new and more accurate way of sampling cabinets. This was our ACE cab update. They were so well received that people didn’t even want the original versions anymore. We eventually phased out the originals completely. If you buy today the ACE versions in the folder are barely different than the normal, as they are both made with the ACE capture method. The new ACE versions are just that extra 5% smoother. Those who were around for the original update know how drastic the difference was though. The reality is just running a sweep through a cab is only going to get you 75% of the way there.
Presentation is also crucial. So many businesses unfortunately miss this, and above all this has been the main reason for my success at both companies. I spend just as much time on the artwork and videos for 3SA as I do the actual products. In the digital age where nothing is tangible, you really have to make the user feel as if they’re buying a physical product. If you ask any person outside of the metal community what the best amp sim is they will tell you Amplitube, and the only two they’ve ever heard of are Amplitube and Guitar Rig. IK Multimedia has done an excellent job making a beautiful looking product and website regardless of the sound quality. At the end of the day, the optics are the deciding factor for majority of the people.
#4 – How did the Bill Kelliher (Mastodon) Signature Impulse Pack come together?
Bill was using my presets for the Helix and was looking to switch his rig completely to Line 6. I was helping him out with this, but when you have your own signature amps and cabs like he does you’re going to be used to that sound. If what you’re using isn’t nailing that sound exactly you aren’t going to like the product. The Helix is a great product, but quality control from amp/cab manufacturers is atrocious. Even if the Helix had a Butterslax model, it would likely sound nothing like the one he has at home because of the two heads just not sounding the same. After a couple remote sessions of trying to get his exact sound in the Helix, I said the only way you’re going to be 100% happy with this is if I come down and model your gear. We’re very happy with the results and will have some more BK products coming soon!
#5 – Any other artist signature packs coming up that you can talk about?
Not any I can talk about, but lots more in the works! Anytime you do a deal with an artist or big company it’s a long process getting the product right and getting all the legal logistics in place with their team. It’s not uncommon for an artist signature product to take 1-2 years to come out after it’s completed.
#6 – Can you give us a sneak peak of what’s to come in 2019?
Looking at expanding the Acoustic Impulses to other instruments such as Banjo, our own amp sims, and launching a pretty extensive education webseries. The webseries will be based around the recording and release of my own album and will completely interactive. There’s a lot of great resources out there for mixing currently, but zero for everything else. Through the webseries people will learn not just how to mix, but the other crucial components of making an album such as songwriting, pre production, and recording. I’ll also be heavily focused on the business aspects of starting and making a project successful such as securing management/label, getting sync placements, and brand development. I’ve been working on this for almost 10 years, so to finally have it be released is super exciting for me!
We would like to thank Joe Quick for his time and his support of HASR from the beginning. You can check out everything 3 Sigma Audio has to offer at www.3sigmaaudio.com