Here's FXDB's interview with Zoran Kraljevic of Dawner Prince:
How did Dawner Prince start?
I was into music since my childhood and was always good in electronics. I've always had a band, and although I'm a drummer I've always been a technician in the bands. It was six years ago when my friend and band (Mrke Ploce) guitarist asked me to make him some kind of dirtbox (distortion) as we were in college and money for music equipment was always an issue. This was the moment when my love for guitar effects and the first stompbox was born, a raw version of the dirtbox now called Diktator!
After that I made a truckload of pedals, all kinds of them: clones, modified clones, own ideas,... for my friends and colleagues. It was a very exciting and instructive time!! Soon I realised there was a demand for these pedals and it was logical to establish the Dawner Prince effects company, the only effect pedals company in Croatia. This was 3 years ago.
It was only me and as an engineer and my friend as a testing guitarist.
Although there are some DIY-ers here in Croatia, when we started there were no guitar effects companies in Croatia yet. So we were the pioneers. At the beginning, besides some of my friends-guitarists who gave me some guidelines during pedal tryouts I must say that the only help, inspiration and guides regarding effects electronic design and construction were my head and my ears.
Some of my other friends later on helped quite a bit with media, web, manufacturing,...
Dawner Prince is the exact English translation (from Croatian) of my name and surname.
The logo was designed by me and my dear old friend from college, an academically trained painter. We wanted it to be compact, simple and impressive to reflect the type of business we run (audio engineering) and to have company's initials in it.
What sets Dawner Prince apart from other builders?
The first thing that's weird for people and what they ask me: how come a non-guitarist (I'm a drummer) makes such good guitar effects??! Maybe thats the first and foremost thing that sets me apart from other builders. :) I don't know, either you are born with it or not...
Dawner Prince effects are highly sophisticated audio equipment devices and we strive to maintain that. We incorporated some really new and innovative ideas into the circuitry like advanced power protection, noise filtering, RC rejection filtering, Dawner Prince electronic noiseless true bypass switching system, clever PCB routing along with top end quality parts and components. Those improvements make our pedals studio quality.
A lot of effort is involved in designing the exterior of the pedal and artwork as it needs to reflect the inside quality of the product and be attractive. Every pedal is handmade, hand assembled and fully tested!!
Another important advantage is that although we are a Boutique pedal company, we take care for our pedals to be affordable for a wide range of customers!
How do you start on a new pedal?
Every new pedal comes as an inspiration, just an idea in my head.
Then, after needed theoretical calculations the whole thing goes on breadboard. And thats the fun part!It takes hours and hours of fine adjustments and tweaking, to find the best solutions!
After the circuitry is fully tested and working as it should PCB design/routing comes to desk. Simultaneously we work on the graphics and design.
How do you name your pedals?
Every pedal has a story.
Can you tell us something about the production process?
There is a company that manufacture PCB's and another one that does drilling and painting. Everything else is done in our "bunker" :) - soldering, assembling, silk-screening and testing.
All our pedal circuits are full PCB soldered parts in SMT and THT (audio path) out of top quality audiophile components, all hand soldered.
The enclosures are all CNC-drilled die-cast US-made Hammond cases, powdercoated and silkscreened.
How important is the look of your pedals?
For us it is very important! It is the first thing you see: how it looks. As a Boutique company we take extreme care on the aesthetics.
Is parts selection important?
Of course!There are certain rules in electronics which should be followed! Where goes what and why.
We tested many components from many manufacturers and use the best quality ones for our pedals.
Concerning circuitry we take special care to use the finest components, with low tolerance, excellent tonal response,... especially in the audio path. Of course there are some secret components involved which are masked, they are not "magic dust", it is availabe on the market, they are more expensive but the quality can be heard.
All the mechanical parts are also carefully chosen to provide a long lasting life.
The Diktator, my very first "kid"! It took me 9 months to finish it right (ok I was a bit lazy :)) and it's also the most popular pedal!!
Which of your pedals was your toughest build?
The Starla tremolo. It is a synthesis of an excellent designed analog audio path with a programmed digital microprocessor as the "heart" of the unit. There was a lot of time involved in programming the microprocessor, testing and tweaking the optical system and the clever PCB routing to assure 100% clean audio path free of LFO throb.
Which of your pedals is the most popular?
The Diktator.Our other 3 pedals are yet to be fully advertised.
Who uses your pedals and for which genres?
Our inspiration and our ears are our guide. We don't make pedals "according to" or "should sound like". It is a whole other approach on pedal design. Of course there are some general rules to follow, but we don't like our product to be put in a certain box.
We have famous users too, there will be an atists list on our web page soon.
What does the future of Dawner Prince look like?
Dawner Prince is still a young company but we dare to say it has extremely good prospects.
There are "well tuned" ears, big knowledge in audio electronics and a great inspiration and love behind it all and our goal is to spread that inspiration and love to the pedalboars all over the world!
We are full of new ideas but we are taking them one by one.
After the New year we will be focusing on contracts with some of the world dealers, new official web page is near the end of construction and there will be three new Dawner Prince effects: Starla tremolo, Bully preamp/booster/buffer and Red Rox "grease melting" distortion.
Are you working on any new products?
Right now we are working on two projects: tap tempo delay and chorus with some new features included...