CDR Preamble: Steinunn Arnardóttir

Steinunn Arnardóttir is based in Berlin and works as a DSP developer at Native Instruments. Projects she has worked on for NI include the Transient Master and several audio effects released in NI’s products Maschine, Traktor and Komplete. Before joining NI she was a part of a small team that developed the Echoplex EP34 plug-in for Universal Audio. Steinunn also produces as well as you can hear below. She’ll be joining us this Thursday at CDR Berlin for the new Maschine studio launch. First, some discussion!

When and where did you first attend or hear about CDR? What do you recall?

I simply recall thinking what a great concept this was – to have this venue where you can meet with all these other people from the field at a peer level, exchanging tips and tricks and getting feedback on your work in progress.

Considering your software engineering/DSP designing, can you please select a favourite digital representation of an analog device? Why so?

That is a big question! Of some of the recent releases, I think my colleagues at NI can be really proud of the Monark, there is a lot of blood, sweat and tears in there – but with some great results. I think the engineers at companies such as Softube and Universal Audio are also very great at this job, coming out with really precise models of devices such as the 1176, LA-2A and the Lexicon reverb. They really are masters of modeling every little detail, regardless of whether they are a desired or non-desired artifact.

Personally, I am also a big fan of extending such software emulations, doing something that the original hardware wasn’t able to do. For example, extending ranges of controls or bending components beyond their physical limits can give you really interesting unexpected results. With every device you model, you also learn something new. There are bits and pieces you pick up on the way that I like using when for example developing creative effects later on. This is also something we do quite a lot at NI.

Please could you describe your work life/creative life tussle. Any tips or tricks for managing to keep making music? Continuing this conversation, do you see your technical roles and creative life as an artist as complimentary or at odds to one another?


I guess different things work for different people. Staying creative in parallel to a full time job can indeed be challenging at points. Especially when working on the same tools you are developing during the day, you can easily find yourself writing a bug report in your music making time! Most of my creative work I do over the weekends when I can really zone into the process.

I however also think it is a great privilege to sit at both ends of that table, and it really leverages each other. Being a musician and user of the tools for production gives you better ideas of what to improve or add, and being a developer makes it possible for you to simply implement the things you find missing yourself. This is what makes NI a special place compared to other places I have worked – most of my colleagues are musicians or producers which makes them really enthusiastic and passionate about making the best and most usable tools possible.

Who/What has also been on heavy rotation on your audio player of late?

Lately to name some randomly it has been Meridian Brothers, Samaris, Zomby, Mount Kimbie, Bibio, Matias Aguayo and other Comeme stuff, Baris K…

Please talk us through the track you last [cmd] ‘S’d ? ([ctrl] ‘S’ to PC users) [in other words, last project you saved]

We (me and Leopold Kristjansson, my partner of Put My Hands in Your Pocket) spend a lot of time building soundbanks and this is what we have been mostly working on lately. Recording and processing sounds. So the last thing I worked on was probably re-recording sounds through a Echoplex tape-delay and then cutting them up. The sounds we use come from our own field recordings, but we also use a lot of samples from old blues, funk, country or whatever sounds good to us. The last thing that got released was a remix of a band called Gluteus Maximus, track called Everlasting. We used some home-recorded sounds in there as well.

Finally, have you any advice or words of warning for producers/musicians developing musical works in progress to play at CDR?

Don’t be shy to put your music out there! I personally hear my own music differently when listening with other people and even more so by seeing how strangers react to the sounds. Not to mention that every new soundsystem brings out something new in the production and for sure the Funktion Ones are going to tell you more than any home studio speakers or headphones!

To register for the CDR Berlin session on October 10th go