SSR Success Story - Vadik Znamensky, Recording Engineer and Audio Electronics

Vadik Znamensky

Recording Engineer and Audio Electronics

3D Film Production BSc (Hons)*

Audio Engineering Techniques and Technology graduate, Vadik Znamensky, now works as a recording engineer and runs an audio electronics company, Simple Way. He spoke to us about what he's been up to since graduating, designing and building audio equipment, and his plans for the future.

I studied Audio Engineering Techniques and Technology at SSR and graduated in 2013. This was a life changing experience for me, because it led me to doing what I love: working with sound.

I first got interested in audio electronics after moving back to Latvia in 2013. I joined a sound recording studio Dynamic records, where my boss, Petr Glushkov, a talented audio engineer, got my interest and started teaching me about the stuff that goes on "under the hood" of the studio gear. During his years as an engineer, he got really skilled at modding studio equipment, such as preamps, monitors, word clocks and many more. He came to conclude, that even hi end gear manufacturers sometimes use condensers and op amps that are far from the best, and that with minimal investments and a strategic replacement of some elements with superior ones, you can get a really noticeable improvement. Basically, we found out that the signal paths of some really expensive and well respected pieces of gear ended with a 5 cent output op amp, which, if replaced, gave unbelievable results.

And this goes for all signal paths. A cliché such as "a chain is as weak as its weakest link" works perfectly here. Imagine a great musician with a masterpiece of a guitar connected to a Neve pre with a 30 pound DI built with 5 pence op amps. This renders the whole effort almost useless, because all we are going to hear is the best that op amp can do. Which is not much.

So, what started as an experiment to see how much better stuff can sound with better parts turned into a different idea: how much better will it sound if some circuits were to be taken away completely, if everything got more simple. This concept turned into the brand name Simple way.

With the help of Viktor Jerjomenko, who is now our lead engineer, we were able to strip the DI box of all the elements that might degrade the sound. A lot of inspiration came from Hi-End audio. We totally eliminated op amps, negative feedback loop input amplification and went with transistor based analog circuitry.

As a result, the sound became clearer, brighter, more balanced, the attack time seriously improved as well. All this makes an instrument really stand out in a mix.

Now we can say with all certainty, that this DI will no longer be the weakest link in any sound path.

We mostly sell the DI on our website. We are also building a chain of dealers in different countries with a small stock to ensure a super quick delivery. Yet so far, the best salesman was the word of mouth. When it first came out, we started to advertise the DI on Russian audio engineering forums and soon made our first sales. Now, most of Russian and Ukrainian top live artists, such as Leningrad, Therr Maitz, Polina Gagarina, Jolka and many more are using the red DI boxes. Because most of the top engineers all know each other, the DI box sold itself.

Now our goal is to go west and promote our product in Europe and then the Americas. I think it is starting go well enough, we had a feature article in December's Tools for Musik, a German gear magazine. Now I am trying to get reviews featured in other major music magazines. But of course, we will be trying the same methods here as well, get the products out there and have them sell themselves, because there is no better advertisement than comparing it to the other di boxes.

A lot of our future products are almost ready to hit the market. They will include a DI with an external power source, so guitarists can use it in a pedal box in an environment where a 48v connection is unavailable. There will also be a stereo DI, called D2, which will become a helpful tool for keyboardists and DJs. We are also made a prototype of a rack 8 channel DI and it is being tested at the moment. We will also be launching a series of power filters in the near future.

Gear manufacturing aside, we are first of all a recording studio, so I use the skills gained at the SSR every day. Last summer we had to move the studio to a different location, and I was lucky enough to witness and take part in designing and building a studio from scratch. In 3 months we turned an empty cellar into a cosy, great sounding environment.

It makes me really happy to hear that SSR staff and students are enjoying our DI box. I hope that in the near future I will be able to visit SSR and introduce the new stuff and maybe even do a quick workshop.

Thank you for taking the time to tell your story, Vadik, and we hope to see you soon!