Interview: Tone Empire’s Gaurav Dayal

Guarav Dayal

Over the last couple of years, there’s been a few plugin companies that have caught my attention, one of them is Tone Empire. It all started when I stumbled upon a video of a music producer (Gaurav Dayal) demonstrating how he was emulating these larger than life sounding Dre Styled drums. He was in his home studio using Logic X and was processing his drum sounds through a multi-fx plugin, called Goliath.

The walkthrough of his process seemed simple and I was very intrigued by the sound Gaurav was achieving ‘in the box’ with such simple movements. Long story short, I went to Tone Empire,  downloaded Goliath as well as a couple of other plugins (demo) and I’ve been a fan ever since.

Fast forward a bit, July 2022, I had an opportunity to interview Gaurav Dayal, the CEO of Tone Empire, and took it! In this interview, I pick his brain about music production, his career path, and what drove him to create Tone Empire.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

What Is Tone Empire and How Was The Company Started?

Tone Empire is a proud American brand based out of Irvine, California

I started as a composer and music producer in the business about 22 years ago, Digital was in its early stages and I had never recorded on any analog outboard or tape.
Listening to records from the 60s/70s/80s made me realize that digital sucks (at the time early 2000s!) Lol.

So I started acquiring analog equipment piece by piece. I soon realized the BIG difference! I started Beatskillz as a plugin company for retro virtual instruments development in 2015, but then soon had a craving for making great-sounding analog vibe plugins. Hence Tone Empire was born (2017) so I could focus only on vintage/analog vibe processing plugins exclusively on that brand.

Why The Name ‘Tone Empire’?

The name came from “ The Empire Strikes Back ! “ lol an Empire of great sound! 🙂

Tone Empire’s Primary Goal

We aim to push boundaries with analog-sounding plugins, be it using current circuit modeling technologies and also we have now ventured into AI-based “Black Box “ modeling which focuses on capturing the sound directly from Analog gear as opposed to “modeling it“
Each technology has its advantages and limitations.

What’s Your Background Music Experience/Career Highlights

Started out in 1998 in India, and got a big hit ‘DIL Le GAYEE’ which sold over 20 million copies of CDs/tapes and now countless streams. I have done a few Bollywood films and had many placements in Hollywood including the soundtrack for ‘Gravity-2013’ starring Sandra Bullock, and also Selena Gomez hit “a come and get it. Various placements on Netflix and other TV programs such as Shameless as well as others.

I also became the first Indian person to start a music production school called – The Beatfactory Academy (2008). We now have 3 branches in India. 14 Years of Electronic Music Production Education.

Which Tone Empire Plugin Are You Most Proud Of And Why?

I’m proud of all of them as each has taken a lot of work, listening, coding, re-coding, improving, customer feedback, and implementation. Lots of work to make them sound unique and have a signature sound for the Brand. As you notice, our customers are fans, and even though they have many choices, they stick with us and understand what we are delivering here!

That’s most important, we found our tribe, our unique audience.

What Was The Process For Creating Loc-Ness?

I love to smash Drums like most of us…lol. So I wanted to make something that has a specific type of musical smashing and a choice of saturation types that sound musical. The starting reference point was the Shure Level-Loc as our name suggests 🙂 but it went on to become another beast entirely. I would say it’s superior sounding to any analog-based smasher. Very happy with it and the sales prove it worked!

Loc-Ness: Hear It In Action

This is the smashing capability Gaurav is talking about.

What Are Your Top 5 Tips For Using The OptoRed Plugin?

Honestly, I don’t believe in tips or “ you’re doing it wrong “ type advice or videos. I’ve certainly never followed any rules when it comes to recording or mixing. Yet the record sales and product sales have proven that my intuition is correct for me. I encourage everyone to use it how they see fits their workflow or music/sound. In the end, all these plugins and tools serve the music. Without good music, these are useless apps :).

How Would You Use Loc-Ness and OptoRed Together?

Again, this is just the way I use it, please don’t take my method as the only way :

I would use OptoRED to tame my peaks and smooth the jumps first since it does it so well, then use Loc-Ness to bring up the sound and punch with parallel mixing.

For more information on this compressor, check out the article he shared early this month titled OptoRED – Not Your Typical Optical Compressor.

What’s Next On The Horizon For Tone Empire?

There’s a lot on our plate, right now we’re testing out some new plugin technology, Audio Capture Plugins. In this video, I’m comparing the software emulation to the real analog hardware counterpart.

Take a listen to the audio demonstrations and let us know what you think.

Wrapping It Up

One thing that’s always been of interest to me is knowing how a person thinks and a bit about their journey to success. Everyone has a similar, but different route as well as complications they face along the way.  I’m glad I had a chance to speak with Gaurav as I know he’s a busy person.

There are so many questions I could have asked, if there are any you can think of that you’d like answered, please… don’t be shy, feel free to ask them in the comments below and I’ll see if I can get the post updated with some answers or maybe even addressed in a second interview (crosses fingers).

Also, if you’re new to the site and wondering how plugins deals and discounts work, please head over to –> How AudioPluginDeals Works <–


About Author: Greg Savage is a music composer/sound designer and music business mentor with 20+ years of experience. For information on the music business and mentoring please visit

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