Kuassa – Indonesia’s first music application
/ 14 May 2013

Created by a collective of like-minded musicians who are passionate about music creative process, Kuassa is the first original music software made in Indonesia. Sub-Cult speaks with one of the masterminds, Grahadea Kusuf, about what Kuassa is all about and how it can help anyone from bedroom producer to professional musician to make the most out of their music.

Can you tell us a bit about Kuassa application?
Applications made by Kuassa are in the form of Digital Audio Processing (DASP) plug-ins that is compatible with any VST platforms for Windows and Mac, and Audio Units for Mac. In short, this is some kind of effect software for pre-audio applications like Cubase, Nuendo, Cakewalk, Logic, Abbleton Live, Fruity Loops, and others. (Users) who are used to producing music in computers, recording musicians, or DJs are usually familiar with our products and terms like VST and AU plug-ins.

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What interests you at the beginning into making this application?
Kuassa started from the recording/mixing studio created by Arie Ardiansyah, Adhitya Wibisana, and myself. When we tried to develop the studio, rather than investing billions of rupiah to buy studio equipment and acoustics, we chose to develop our audio software to sell commercially and get billion rupiah revenue from there instead – although in reality it’s a really long and hard way to achieve *laughs out loud*

This audio software project started as a premium version from Arie’s plug-ins project that was released as freeware:  AradazAmp. Coincidentally at the time, I also made this start-up business the theme for my Master’s thesis at MBA-ITB. But, apart from those reasons, our interests to develop pure pro-audio software are based on our backgrounds and passion as electronic musicians, guitarists, and sound engineers towards music and technology.

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We’d like to know more about the creating process
The creating process starts with studying the electronic scheme for hardware/analog products that we tried to emulate, find a formula and algorithm, implementation, graphical display design that we kept on testing while fine-tuning bit by bit until we get the best sound output with a lightweight CPU resource load. Up until that point, we started beta testing until each and every bug is successfully resolved and the product is ready to launch on the market.

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Were there any challenges and obstacles?
For challenges in general, I suppose we came across the same problems as other software developers. Starting from piracy, to the difficulty of finding Human Resource that is not only skilled in programming but also have a good taste in music.

Just what kinds of products/software can users find in Kuassa, is it solely purposed for guitars?
Other than Guitar Amp Simulator, we also develop products for studio processing such as equalizer and loudness maximize, usually used for audio and broadcasting post-production process such as mixing and mastering.

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What’s your highlighted product?
(I would call it more of a best-seller instead of a highlighted one) Our best-selling product is the Amplifikation Crème, a solid-state high gain guitar amp simulator product that’s suitable for guitar with a modern sound like (the genre) metal.  The sound character on this virtual guitar amplifier is thicker, more powerful, meaty, and full of bottom-end frequency. Amplifikation Crème is also our first product that received lots of good reviews from the community, online and print media, also last December it won a Merit Awards at the Asia-Pacific information technology awards (APICTA Awards 2012).

Is this application aimed solely for guitarists/professional musicians, or those with advanced skills?
Actually, the main segment for this kind of software is pro-audio user like producer, mix engineer, and recording studio. But nowadays, the use of audio plug-ins has begun to spread massively into amateur studios which are widely used for bedroom musicians that are turning into a trend these days. Skrillex’s won at the Grammy was enough proof that a bedroom musician also has the potential to win awards at that scale.

Is Kuassa user-friendly enough for beginners?
Since we started Kuassa in 2010, we already have the vision to stray the segment, cause in the future we’re sure that this segment will be a big one for audio software markets. That’s why we try to develop software with Graphical User Interface (GUI) that is familiar and straightforward. I mean, each of the parameters used for tweaking the software can be directly understood on the first run, we want the users to be able to effectively use our product without having to read the user’s manual, although it will still be included for advanced users.

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How many users have downloaded/purchased your products, up until now?
There have been 350.000 people who downloaded the apps, and more than 4000 license have been sold worldwide. Most of the consumers are from America, Germany, Japan, and France.

Any big names using Kuassa?
It’s obviously not John Petrucci *laughs*, we are very thankful that the products we created are being bought and used by various musicians from a different profession backgrounds that sounds a bit ‘magical’ to us. From the Professor of Guitar at the Royal College of Music Stockholm: Peter Berlind Carlson, video game music composer for Capcom: Masahiro Aoki, Swedish-pop band Cloudberry Jam, 2008 Grammy Award winner Mix Engineer: Gary Noble, to YouTube artists like David Meshow (Canada) and Dimitri Nalbantov (Bulgaria)

As for local users, it’s obviously used by (our own band) Homogenic *laughs* and fellow friends who consists of electronic music producers and guitarists who helped give us feedbacks, including Hendra from RNRM, Arya Harditya aka DTX, Lawrence Random, Hogi Wirjono, Widi Puradireja, Farri from The SIGIT, and more.

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What’s your opinion on the growth of technology nowadays?
According to what we’ve observed, arguably digital is an affordable alternative for users who wants 80-90% the sound quality of analog with today’s processing power multi-core CPU. On the other hand, it could also be said that analog stuff has shifted as a niche product for pro users, collectors or hobbyist.

Do you think music will all-gone-digital in the next five years?
Not really. . .digital will never replace analog. Especially if vintage analog stuff are more in demand now in certain segment.

As Indonesia’s first music application, are you guys going to develop Kuassa into a bigger project?
Of course, we still have our roadmaps way ahead of us. Right now, other than developing our new commercial products, we also tried adding other platforms such as Rack Extension for Propellerhead Reason, mobile apps for iOS and Android, and hardware product. Please wish us luck!

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 Interview by Vita Aviandhono

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