ReValver MkIII (finally) has a bug-fix update, but the question remains about MkIII.V: Free or Pay?

October 17, 2010

Before I get into a bit of a rant, which I did post over at the Peavey ReValver forums, here’s a link to the update for MkIII:

The following is something I posted on the Peavey ReValver MkIII forums in response to the developer’s statement, quoted as follows

Michael Ljunggren

Post subject: Re: Any “soft” release date for 3.5?

PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:31 amOk, here’s a date:
We currently plan to release Mk 3.5 last of October, or first of November. This can change, of course, but there is no reason for it unless we decide to add more stuff to it. Period.

“Release” means we send the CD to the printer. If you want to buy it from the shelves it will take some time; to buy it online you should be able to do it right away.

Will it be free? Most likely will it be a free update if you bought Mk III recently. What do I mean recently? Not decided. Don’t know. But if you had Mk III for a year or two, it won’t be a free update. (Probably some upgrade fee, but again, I have no numbers on that.)

I review software and as such I’d normally try to stay out of stuff like this, but I feel pretty strongly about this issue so I’m going to break the chain of positivity on the blog here and strongly disagree with the above statement. Alright, it’s great that ReValver is finally getting fixes for some nasty bugs that it’s had since launch (two and a half years ago). I’m sure the people still using it really appreciate that. I notice that the stat tracking shows that the Windows version has been downloaded 2831 times, while the Mac version has been downloaded 50. That makes sense, given that the Mac version was pretty much unusable until now (assuming it works well now – I’m not a Mac user so I can’t experiment and comment knowledgeably). Better late than never, as far as support goes, I guess. But… But.

I personally think selling ReValver MkIII.V to people who’ve had it for up to two years now would be kind of a slap in the face to those existing licensees. Sell them ReValver MkIV when it’s ready, alright, that’s fair, but don’t wait to provide necessary support two years after the launch of the product and then immediately afterward come out and say “alright, guys, buy our new upgrade! It includes some improvements to the engine and also has a few extra models!” It’s just… it seems wrong.

Especially given that competitors have released patches that add free additional functionality. Headlining that was Overloud with their TH1 1.1 patch, right after Winter NAMM 2009: tons of new effects, dirts, some new amps, new routing functionality, just a highly robust patch that responded to community concerns in a real way. Then came Amplitube Fender’s update a month or so later to include user requested effects both before and after the amps. Then Guitar Rig 4 came out, and had an update patch which added in some amps and effects. I’m probably forgetting some, those are the ones that stick with me from the other big commercial guys.

In the two years since ReValver MkIII was released, competition has toughened considerably, and some of them are very, very generous to users. The software pie isn’t very big to begin with, and if you want to stay in the game you need to take care of your users. That ought to be plain as day.

IKMM and Overloud in particular have been extremely good about support, with IKMM rolling several previous products into one and re-modeling the amps to bring them up to modern modeling spec; Overloud has been very progressive in addressing bugs and implementing feature requests, including great 64-bit support, changing licensing structures based on user feedback. They’ve also recently stated that they’ll be releasing an update to TH1 that includes something from their new SpringAge plugin to give guitarists a built-in spring reverb option. And Native Instruments has also been great with 64-bit support as well. I don’t like that they’re moving more and more in a “buy Komplete to get all the features” direction, but at least they’ve done a good job of taking care of the existing product.

At this point, competitively speaking, ReValver MkIII.V seems like it just plain should be provided to current license holders, as a reward for just sticking it out this long despite some pretty nasty bugs. Especially since note that it also improves the tube modeling behavior, a competitive update that would make ReValver near the top of the class with its competitors again. What was, at the time of release, an exceptionally powerful engine has, in the meantime, met its match with competitors’ new products. More than met its match in some cases. I’m sure the developer is on top of things, he’s a smart guy and he’s great with DSP. So I believe you when you say ReValver MkIII.V will have better sounding tube behavior. I just can’t see very many people happy about the idea of paying for what is, compared to the competition, basically patch material.

I’m getting the statement about improved tube behavior from a thread at GuitarAmpModeling, where mba64 says:

mba64 wrote:
I think it will be, havent been confirmed of this yet,It is peaveys call, all I can say is that some of the internal tube engine has gone 64bit so no fizzy sound no more.
And the new amps sounds and look great ,Diezel,Orange,Masterpiece,Sensation etc.

So. It’s Peavey’s call. If Peavey insists that users pay for MkIII.V, I guess some will buy it. Die-hards will stick by the product just because. Of course, knowing that MkIV is on the horizon might reduce the likelihood of that among others, and anyone who is familiar with the support history of the product is going to be a little wary of this evident double-dipping.

And, you know, the user base isn’t exactly thriving, judging by the update downloads. To make this product competitive again and to reinvigorate the lagging interest, I think it’s kind of incumbent on Peavey to make the right call and provide MkIII.V as a patch. More features than that have been included in patches by competitors who have consistently stayed on top of bug fixes, feature requests, and additional support. I can understand wanting to make more money, but it’s pretty egregious to specifically target longer-term supporters for having to pay for it, as they’re the ones who have suffered the longest from Peavey’s dumbfounding lack of support for what was at the time of the acquisition an extraordinarily cool product. The kind of additions and improvements that could make it more than ordinary again shouldn’t be withheld from the longest supporters.

Just my 2 cents.


Peavey announces ReValver MkIII.V

January 14, 2010

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Peavey’s official announcement page

Looks like ReValver will be getting a much needed upgrade, including 9 new amps and effects. The announcement page says nothing about whether this will in fact be an upgrade available to existing customers, but does note that it will be available for sale in Q2 of this year. I would hope that ReValver owners can get this as a patch, especially if it fixes some of the long-standing bugs in the software. ReValver is an excellent program at its core with great sound quality and amazing flexibility and tweakability, but support apart from the RTAS change has been rather lacking since its release back in 2008. Here’s hoping Peavey is able to right the ship on this software and bring it back into competition with the other big guys – the programmer for ReValver (Michael of Alien Connections software before being brought into the Peavey fold) is a very, very smart guy and I’d love to see his work meet with further success and attention.

Hardware into Software, 1: Zoom Tri-Metal pedal into Fender Bassman models

July 25, 2009

Had no time today to revisit the clips, but I did listen to them on my monitors at home; they are somewhat brighter than I had intended but not extremely so. There really are big differences between how the different models and their speaker emulations sound in the different software! The funny thing is that it’s hard to tell before clicking on the Tri-Metal how it’s going to sound into this or that Bassman model. Frankly they all sounded lovely clean, but in different ways; with a high-gain, Recto-ish distortion up front it sure changed a lot, huh? For those interested, my settings on the Tri-Metal were: Treble -4, Midrange boosted in the upper mids, Bass -5, Gain slightly before noon. Yeah, there’s wayyy too much of everything available on the Tri-Metal, it is the definition of over the top, so your best bet with it is to cut rather than boost. It’s got brutal distortion at 1/3 on the gain knob; it’s not playing around!

Still no comments, that makes me sad. Please speak up folks, I crave your participation 😀

Alright, ladies and gentlemen, the long wait is over! This update is my substantial return to this blog, and with it I pledge to provide more interesting content and commentary to suit my readers. I ask that you please help me out by commenting on entries and letting me know what you do and don’t like about my updates, what you think I’m doing well, what I could do better, and any ideas or requests you have for future updates. I’ve got some stuff on the list of things to do, starting with the addition of a new table of contents page to keep track of all of my articles on the blog more sensibly than they are now with the wordpress widgets.

For this update, my signal chain was my Schecter C-1 Classic (my go-to guitar for most of my gear reviewing because of its familiar pickups and sound) into my beloved Zoom TM-01 Tri-Metal distortion pedal, then into an IK Multimedia StealthPedal and on to my DAW. I used the venerable Fender Bassman because nearly all of the software I use has a Bassman model, and it’s a sound that I think everyone has had at least some experience with. There are a number of different revisions of the Bassman amp, and they can differ quite notably in their overall gain, ease of overdriving, and basic tonality; since different software plugins emulate different versions of the amp, don’t be surprised to hear some stand-out differences in the tone. I used only the cabinet simulation native to each software, so what you’re hearing in each case is just what it can do alone. That’s the norm for my work but I want to remind you and let newer readers know that’s the case!

As usual I spent a lot of time tuning each of the plugins to sound its best individually, giving my ears time to rest between tweaking each. I have a great deal of respect for all of the modeling programs that I use, and I think it’s important to try to make them shine on their own, as though each was the only software that I had to work with. Hopefully by doing that I can give you guys something useful even though you might not have access to such a range of programs. My goal in this roundup, and in the ones I will do in the coming days, is to explore how these modelers interact and function with hardware. While probably most guitarists aren’t collectors like me, we do tend to be gear lovers, and one of the important aspects when considering a digital setup is how well it can integrate into our current approach to the guitar. A guitarist making forays into the digital world expects a learning curve, but hopefully the things that have been useful and fun creative tools before getting into amp modeling can retain their utility even when the amp part of the equation is bits and bytes.

As usual the best judge of sound is your ears, so I invite you to listen to the clips and post your thoughts before I post mine tomorrow evening. I play three different sorts of things in the clips, with different emphases on playing style and dynamics; you will probably notice that each of them causes the software to react in a different way, and some of those differences are really interesting. On to the clips!

Amplitube 2

Amplitube Fender

Amplitube Jimi Hendrix

Guitar Rig 3

Pod Farm

ReValver MkIII

Overloud TH1

I hope that this update gives you all something fun and useful to chew on. After this, I won’t be able to use the same model across all of the programs, so the comparisons will have more variables; giving you this one first gives you a baseline for comparison that should keep the rest informative despite the differences I can’t control for in using different amp models! Please post your thoughts and comments, I want to hear what you think before I tell you what I think!