Who is Youlean?

Youlean is actually an artist name, same as Avicii was for Tim Bergling. Youlean was born as a forum name when I had to create my account for Image-Line forums. I tried to make English sounding version of my real name, but of course, I have misspelled it and that username has stuck since then and that became my brand.

How did all get started? My story…

Chapter 1My technical side

As a kid (before 9), I had 2 main interests. I enjoyed listening cassette tapes and singing, as well as taking things apart. I remember disassembling all my toys within a couple of days of getting them. I had to know what’s inside. One day I got old broken Walkmen from my neighbor and took it apart. Got the motor out, created propeller from pen eraser, needles, and sticky paper, hooked the motor to the AA battery and got a working fan. I was so proud of that. (no, there was no Youtube tutorial for that then) 🙂

Chapter 2My music side

Once I turned 9 years old I started going to the music school and started playing guitar. My father got me into this since he was also a musician. Over the next 10 years I was into playing a classical guitar. I was really serious. I remember practicing up to 14 hours a day. I went to many festivals, ended up winning a lot of guitar competitions and become the best in my generation in the whole country. I had a lot of plans and bright future in classical guitar, but then…

What went wrong?

Chapter 3 – Discovering FL Studio

One day in my music high school, my computer teacher said that we would learn some music software. The plan was to learn Finale and to use it for music notation. I was super excited. He was showing us the program and then left us to finish the exercise on PCs. I ended up finishing the first and had 20 mins left, so I started playing with the PC since I didn’t have one at home. This was 2009 and I was 19 years old. All of my friends had PC but not me. My parents didn’t have money to buy it, but also didn’t want to since they were afraid of computers honestly. Anyways, I saw a fruit icon on the desktop and started the program. This was an outdated FL Studio version 5. I started adding some beats and I really liked it. I asked my teacher what the program is about and he said that that is some advanced program for music creation and that I should not bother. Of course, I did exactly the opposite. After that, I was finishing all exercises really fast so I can play with FL Studio, I couldn’t wait for the next computer class.

Chapter 4 – Getting my first PC and started going to college 

Ever since I saw FL Studio I was begging my parents to buy me a PC. I was really persistent. I was lucky that I won a lot of guitar competitions and earned quite a few prizes so I sold one guitar that I received as a prize, and bought my first PC. I had no internet connection so I went to a friend and downloaded a demo version of FL Studio and rushed home to try it out. I started poking around and ended up making my first beat in a couple of days. It was really shitty, but I was so proud of it! After that, my days were only about playing guitar and making beats with FL Studio. When the time came for a college I decided studying classical guitar performance, but I was not sure what I am going to do in the future…

Classical guitar or FL Studio?

Chapter 5 – Juggling out between guitar and FL Studio

While in college I was constantly juggling out between guitar and FL Studio. I was a determent to create some songs and to become a famous musician. (don’t we all want that?) Unfortunately, let’s say it subtly, my songs were not that good and I could not make more than 1 min of the song. So, things were not looking great. I have also noticed that my mixes were sounding like crap. I was really desperate. I wanted to switch to Cubase since FL Studio had a bad audio engine, right? And then a bomb hit! Madeon won the remix competition and that remix was awesome! Mix, the mastering, producing all done in FL Studio and it sounded amazing! So, clearly FL Studio audio engine was fine, and the problem was me. So I started exploring the effects in FL Studio…

Chapter 6 – Discovering FL Studio Patcher effect

One day I was looking at FL Studio effects and I noticed one nice plugin called Patcher. This was something like Native Instruments Reactor or Flowstone but much simpler. Basically, this was a simple mixer where you can create your own “Interface”. I started poking around and got a really awesome idea. At the time, Patcher was used only for creating simple mixer patches that you can easily recall for mixing sessions. I was thinking, wouldn’t it be nice to design a plugin using other plugins inside a Patcher? It sure it would be! So, I created my first Patcher “plugin” called Analog Distortion. My technical side was kicking in again…

Analog Distortion – Patcher preset

Use Patcher to create actual plugins?

Chapter 7 – Connecting my technical and music side

Some wise man said that when you connect all your bits of knowledge some really nice stuff happens. And sure it did! I started making a lot of Patcher presets and I was really in the flow. When somebody posted a problem on FL Studio forum I was quick to find if I can make a Patcher preset to solve it. I really enjoyed solving people’s problems and FL Studio limitations. Also, had a lot of ideas how to create some mixing tools and the Patcher was perfect for implementing them. I have created a lot of nice tools that people use even to this day. (started making Patcher presets in 2013) I was so creative and did explore/exploit all of FL Studio effects, however, I needed more control and more advanced features so I got an idea to incorporate Flowstone into my Patcher presets.

Chapter 8 – Started using Flowstone 

Flowstone is a more advanced tool that can actually create plugins. It has a nice graphical user interface that makes creating plugins much easier than using an actual code. It was the perfect next step for me. I started adding Flowstone in my Patcher presets and it was really awesome, but then I got an idea. Why not create an actual plugin with Flowstone? So, I did create it. At first, my Flowstone plugins were not that special but I was getting better and better. I always wanted to help people get good sounding mix even if they don’t have that much experience. I got an idea to create the plugin that will balance frequency of the mix automatically. I started working on it and the Freq-Balancer was born…

How did I get from Flowstone to real programming?

Chapter 9 – Working on a Freq-Balancer

The first version didn’t have great graphics but it was working really well. The plugin was getting a lot of downloads. I was really happy, but not satisfied. So, I started working on V2. After a couple of months of work and testing in October 2014, Olav S. Flaa and I decided to release V2. (without Olav, Freq-Balancer wouldn’t be possible, so huge thanks go to him) Freq-Balancer V2 was really awesome and it had almost all features that I wanted to implement. People really liked it and I am getting requests for it even to this day. (yes, there will be Freq-Balancer v3) There were a couple of things that were bogging me down though…

Chapter 10 – Moving to C++ and real programming 

Since Freq-Balancer was made with Flowstone there were 2 really big limitations. I could only create a 32 bit Windows plugin and there were some bugs that I couldn’t do anything about. This really bothered me and I didn’t know what to do. I just couldn’t create professional tools with Flowstone but I didn’t know how to write a single line of code. I was waiting for Flowstone to get support for at least 64 bit, but nothing happened. Once FL Studio removed Flowstone from its installation I have decided that it is time to make a switch to real programming…

Freq-Balancer V1

Released in July 2014

Freq-Balancer V2

Released in October 2014

How did I learn C++?

Chapter 11 – Getting started with C++

Since I went into a real programming the only logical step would be to learn C++. This is the best programming language for making plugins since it has the best performance which is really important for real-time audio that I was getting into. I downloaded one free C++ guide and started reading it. This was March 2015 and I was taking it slowly. Once I have finished that book I wanted to actually try to make a simple plugin with C++. I needed some kind of framework to create all plugin types at once. So, my options were JUCE or little less known IPlug. JUCE was awesome, it had all I needed but one thing was bothering me and that was the license cost. I didn’t have enough money to pay for it so I went for the free, open source IPlug.

Chapter 12 – Improving the IPlug 

I ended up creating the first example plugin in June 2015. IPlug was awesome, it was used by many companies like Valhalla, KlanghelmFocusrite Scarlett Plug-in Suite, etc. but it lacked 2 major features that I wanted in my plugins. The vector graphics engine was terrible and the GUI was not scalable or resizable. So I started working on a framework. I have slowly added both features and much more and while I was working on my GUI engine I got one email…

How did I get into the FL Studio Alpha Team?

Chapter 13 – Entering the KVR developer challenge

I got a newsletter for KVR Developer Challenge. This is the competition where top coming plugin developers are making free VST plugins and people are voting for the best. I thought, why not enter? I have almost finished GUI engine and I could try it out. So, I decided to enter. I had an idea to make a loudness meter since I was fascinated with the concept for a while. Even before I knew about the competition I was looking at loudness meters wanting to create one. I was so pissed off that those meters were expensive and did not know why the heck was that. I thought, screw them, I would make my own, and it would be even better. So, I decided, let’s make loudness meter for the KVR developer challenge…

Chapter 14 – Getting into the FL Studio Alpha Team 

While I was working on KVR Developer Challenge entry, Image-Line makers of the FL Studio asked me to include some of my Patcher presets in FL Studio. I was so happy about that. In October 2016 they have added my 37 presets in FL Studio installation. Shortly after that, I made my ultimate Patcher preset. I have made a game inside the Patcher using ZGameEditor Visualizer. I was so happy even though this is essentially a useless preset, but for me, this was a great achievement since I was pushing my limits to make it. And yes, this was in the middle of the work for the KVR Developer Challenge. I was showing this game to my girlfriend and she told me that I was crazy because I was making the games and not working on my developer challenge entry. Anyways, I posted this on FL Studio forums and after that, they asked me to join their Alpha Team! I was so stunned, this was a dream coming true!

My game inside the Patcher

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PadghJOWgCc

How did I win the KVR Developer Challenge?

Chapter 15 – Releasing the Youlean Loudness Meter

So, I continued to work on my loudness meter plugin. I was adding feature by feature. I was really in the flow, however, there was not much time to finish the work. I only had 3 months to do everything. There was one interesting sentence in the rules though. It said that I must add all features before the deadline December 1, but I might fix the bugs after that. So I decided to add as many features as possible and to fix the bugs in the voting period. (December 1-18) And so I did. I have released the plugin before the deadline and waited to see if there were going to be bugs reported so I could fix them…

Chapter 16 – Winning the KVR Developer Challenge

Of course, there was a major disaster. The plugin wasn’t working for almost everyone using a Mac. This was a disaster. The bad thing is that I have just finished my GUI engine and it was not tested at all on Mac so basically anything could be wrong there. I was so sad, but what to do, I started working on a fix. After a few days, I managed to fix it! This was such a relief. After that, there were a couple of other small fixes and I was waiting to see the results. And then December 19, 2016, came, I opened my browser and it said: “In first place, and a clear winner by almost 100 votes, was Youlean Loudness Meter, by Youlean“! I can’t tell you how happy I was, I told my girlfriend and she was really happy too! (she was even happier than me) 🙂 This was really an amazing day and an amazing reward for years of my work!

Why did I start working on Loudness Meter V2?

Chapter 17 – Going to the NAMM Show 2017

One of the prizes for KVR Developer Challenge was a free trip to the NAMM Show in Los Angeles. I was really looking forward going there. My girlfriend wanted to go with me since we have never been in the USA and we really wanted to visit LA, but she couldn’t go since we didn’t have enough money for everything. We both have just finished Master’s degrees a year before and got our first jobs. (my Master’s degree was in Classical Guitar Performance) Anyways, I was waiting for an email from KVR stuff but there was none. I got contacted by NAMM stuff and they arranged my arrival there. It was time to go, but I still was not getting any emails from KVR. I was thinking what to do but decided I ain’t missing this chance, so I did catch my plane. When I arrived I asked what I need to do there but no one knew. The day after, I was checking my email again and I got an idea to check the spam folder, and to my surprise, there were dozens of emails from KVR stuff! Holly crap! I have quickly replied to them and I found out that I needed to do a presentation about my plugin the day after. Note to everyone, don’t use crappy Yahoo mail, or/and check freaking spam folder if you are expecting an important email! I went to do my presentation in Software.NAMM booth and of course, I found out that I don’t have the right cable to connect to the video beam. I went from developer to developer asking them to borrow the cable and they were all really nice. One developer gave me the cable, so I went doing my presentation. Over the next few days, I met with many top plugin developers and really learned a lot. It was a great experience, just don’t go unprepared like me and make business cards before you go to an event like this. It will be much easier than searching for FedEx in a foreign country and designing business cards on the go. 🙂

Chapter 18 – Creating Youlean Loudness Meter V2

Once the dust was settled, I needed to see what I was going to do next. I had many ideas for Loudness Meter still so I decided to start working on V2. Since I had to finish original Loudness Meter quickly my code got a bit messy. Actually, this was really a 30 000 lines of spaghetti code. So I started working on it. Many works had been done in 2017 and I did prepare Loudness Meter to be upgradable. So since February 2018, I started releasing the new BETA versions. The plan is to release PRO and free version of the plugin. I need to create some kind of business so I can support Loudness Meter long into the future and release many more new plugins that I have on my mind. Also, I want to redo my first plugin, Freq-Balancer. I am hoping for your support to continue my journey!

That is it, for now… 😉

Youlean at NAMM Show 2017

NAMM 2017 Los Angeles

Youlean at NAMM 2017 - Los Angeles

Posted by Youlean on Sunday, February 26, 2017

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