Video: The Journey to Omnia.11 v4.0

By Justin Gelske on Jan 19, 2022 12:15:21 PM

In an exciting joint Behind the Sound interview, the minds behind the most significant software update to the Omnia.11 flagship audio processor discuss the newest features offered in version 4.0. With new and updated presets coupled with the introduction of the brand new Silvio Clipper, which provides a cleaner, brighter and more open sound without a loudness penalty, v4.0 is ALL ABOUT THE SOUND!

So, where exactly did this 4.0 update come from, and what sparked the vision for making the best even better? We were able to snag Omnia Founder Frank Foti away from his train work for a few minutes (Frank’s passion, second only to audio processing), with 4.0 co-developer Cornelius Gould to give us a look behind the sound at the journey to v4.0.

You can view the Behind the Sound - The Journey to Omnia.11 v4.0 interview and read a transcription of the interview below.


Justin:
Hey everyone, and welcome to a very special episode of Behind the Sound. Today, we are joined by Omnia founder Frank Foti, and we are also joined by Cornelius Gould, who was a co-developer for the new software version 4.0 update for the Omnia.11. So the reason I've gathered everybody here today is, of course, to talk about that update. And the first thing I kind of wanted to just jump in with was to kind of get an idea of how this update came about. Were there any conversations that were had? Was there an initial goal that you were trying to achieve with the 4.0 update? How did that conversation all get started?

Frank: Justin, I think the thing was, Corny, one day came to me, and he said that the Omnia.11 was not burning anthracite coal the way that he thought it should. And that we had a couple of broadcasters whose steam safety valves were lifting a little too often. And what we ended up finding out was East Wind, the locomotive somehow got inside the code and was affecting things. So now that you guys have humored me by putting up with my goofy railroad gibberish, we'll cut to the chase.

I think the short form is this: one of the things that we're always doing is we're always listening to the work that we've done and listening to the work that's on the radio, that could be other products or things of that nature. And we're always at asking ourselves, okay, what we did, this sounds pretty cool, but if I had to try to raise it, what would I want to do?

I know that's what I do. And I'm pretty sure it's what Corny does, as well. And by the same token, we get really good feedback with regard to Mark Manolio, who's very involved in our customer support department. Max Pandini, over in Italy, who does a lot of work with customers. They bring us back thoughts and opinions as well as good customers. So one of the things we're always trying to do, and probably the thing that's like the brass ring that you're always trying to grab on the carousel, is what can we do to increase performance with respect to clarity, competitiveness, detail, consistency?

I know those are the things that are always going through my mind. And many times, what I find is, based on the work that I may have done, or we've collectively done, or Corny's done after it runs for a while, it kind of ruminates and runs in the background of your own mind. Then new ideas come forward. It's like, hey, what if we do this? Or, hey, what if we do that?

And I can't tell you how many times I've been working either in one of the labs, either downtown at the headquarters or at my home, or Corny will come in. Or he'll ring me up, and he'll say, hey, I was kicking around an idea, what do you think of blah, blah, blah, blah? Or he'll shoot me some design because we work on the same development platform together. And vice versa, by the way. And we'll exchange feedback. And through that, it's been a wonderful collective effort, and new things come about. So I've been, in a way, pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming reaction to people that have put 4.0 on the air.

I mean, to my ear, it was like, okay, we're achieving some things that we've always wanted to do. And the way that people have just like in an overwhelmingly fashion, just come like jumped out of the woodwork going wow. Where did this come from? It's actually been a lot of fun. At least that's my perspective on it.

Cornelius: You know, Frank tells the story pretty much how it went down. Like he says, when you have a product running, and it's running, and it becomes like a status quo, if you will, in the field. And either Frank or I, or customers might come to us and say, hey, I've been trying to do this, and how can I make this effect stand out even more on my station because I think that'll be really cool? Well, usually we can come up with a way that will make them happy, but in the back of your mind, you start going, what if we did something here? Because if we could make this go even further, I bet they're going to like it even more.

So it's like a collection of those things. So when you have an opportunity to come in and make an enhancement or whatever, or something comes to the point where it makes sense to go ahead and do it, like with 4.0, you try to not only hit that main thing but then try to bring forward some other aspects of the audio processing algorithm to bring more tools to play or make it more range for customers to use.

Frank: You know, Corny's being overly modest because I'm old school with regard to burning coal, but Corny needs to come clean here and actually come forward in the fact that he found a way to put rocket fuel in some of the algorithms.

I mean, when we're talking here, Elon Musk and Richard Branson, they got nothing on this guy, folks, nothing. And I'm telling you right here and now. So you heard it first, right here, right now.

Justin: So when it comes to 4.0, what would you say has been the biggest difference this time around compared to prior updates for the Omnia.11?

Frank: The thing that I keep hearing is how did we come up with a way to... I even had somebody who said, "How did you explode the high end and make it so clean and so clear, yet I did not give up any loudness? If anything, I gained some loudness." And on that one, I think the locomotive did that work along with Corny because that was even beyond me.

Cornelius: It was kind of fun to play around with a few thoughts that were kind of poking around in my head for a while, but I wasn't sure how to go about doing it. So, when these requests came in, and Frank approached me about working on 4.0, at that point, some things became clear as a possible way to do that. And I poked around and came up with a few breakthroughs here and there and shared them with Frank. Usually, when you share things with Frank, Frank will hear things you don't hear or, "Well, it sounds great, but." But this was one of those few times where I threw it over the wall to Frank, and the only reply was, "Sounds good," so that felt good.

Paul: Yeah. The feedback from our user base, here in the United States, anyway, I can't speak so much for other parts of the world, was pretty immediate. And the comments were like, it seems like the 11 holds the stereo image better, certainly the more highs comment. Those that aren't in a loudness challenged market where the market's super-duper loud notice that, wow, it just sounds more cleaner. It seems like it's more responsive to the input, to the source audio. You're hearing less processing. A lot of people said they heard less processing. That's kind of what I would say. It's a less processed sound to me, is what I get out of it.

Frank: If you're wondering, well, how can that be? There is an explanation. And it all comes down to because we're operating in a very, very defined and limited range, which obviously is 100% modulation or maximum modulation for whatever part of the world you're in. On one hand, I've had people tell me this for years. "Oh, you know, there's only so much you can do." And yeah, I agree with that to maybe about 75%, the other 25% is where and that's where the creativity comes in. Is how do we manage the signal so that we're able to achieve the ability to generate a competitive sound yet either suppress or, in some cases, actually eliminate the components that would annoy the ear. And in audio specifications, that would be called distortion. But the reality is is that anytime you manipulate a signal, you are, in essence, distorting it to some degree. But we're talking about the stuff that you perceive, and that can be annoying.

It really comes down to the mechanisms that we employ to manage and control distortions, both harmonic distortion and intermod distortion. And the last 10, 15 seconds here, a lot of people think, oh, distortion control, that must be in the clipper. Well, yeah, there's some of that going on. But one of the things that Corny has done a phenomenal job on is being able to control those same anomalies or annoyances in the form of intermod distortion and the gain control function. So all of that becomes additive. And when you get all of that working quote, unquote, in concert, then that's when the magic comes on the radio.

While Corny and I work on the algorithms, there's other members of our team that are very involved on the operating system, user interface, networking, and things of that nature. So one of the things that those guys are always doing is combining over the core software and the code. And they also keep a laundry list of the things that they want to see become improved. If it's from an operational, efficiency standpoint, memory efficiency, things of that nature. And so, I'm sure there's a handful of items that were addressed by the other parts of our team that are involved in a release of this manner.

Cornelius: And what I wanted to add to this as well is everyone's hearing us talk about how great the improvements are. If you're a user who's perfectly happy with the way your station sounds with the 3.x version, if you upgrade to 4.0 and do nothing else and just load your same preset back in, it'll still sound exactly the way you have it adjusted now. So the improvement is not forced upon you. But if you want the improvement, you can go in and turn it on and start with... I heard Paul give his advice to folks. "Well, load in your existing preset and just turn on the new clipper update by itself, and you will instantly hear a change of a clarity come into your existing preset."

Paul: That's under FM and advanced. Turn on that Silvio Clipper, and you're taking whatever preset you've always enjoyed in your 11 and adding the new sound of the clipper to it. You might want to make a few adjustments before or around it to compensate for the new sound of the clipper but to each own. But that's what I would recommend for a real quick starting point for somebody who is real familiar with their 11.

Frank: Somebody once asked me not too long ago why did the clipping system get named the Silvio Clipper? Well, there's a reason for that. That guy right there, Silvio Dante, my cat, it's his design. He did it with his steam engine. So just as he's silky smooth in his fur, that's the effect he was trying to get with the audio.

Cornelius: He went up to Frank and said, touch me, touch me, feel how smooth that is? Your audio has to be like that.

Justin: So thank you guys so much for taking the time to join us. It's been awesome hearing all of your perspectives on this. And it's been real interesting hearing how the update came about, and people are really happy with it. So congrats, and thank you.

Interested in learning more about Omnia.11? Send us a message and our team will help guide you in the right direction for your studio.

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Topics: Omnia, Behind the Sound

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