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Like how much should MI companies invest in research ?


Theo Verelst

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I haven't had an urge to write much about real subjects besides a few very clear ones, but I think this is interesting to publicly contemplate on. Say you have one of the moderate size digital or analog electronic musical instrument companies and can decide on how they invest their revenues. Of course this is partially inspired at the moment by the discussion on the new Behringer clone, that I chose to compare with a Toyota, but if you've taken part in discussion (on or off line) with engineers, electronicists, scientists and more over programmers and people with hobbies in any of the related areas, including enthusiastic electronic music makers, you may have noticed an epidemic with almost the size of a (fake) religion when it comes to the glorification of the technology involved, and where it concerns an enormous amount of incessant interest in even the humblest of electronic musical instrument ideas.

 

So, how much ? In the time I built electronics, and bought my first keyboard equipment, the ideas were relatively new, though maybe for people that were adults in 60s, it already all felt a bit derivative. I think I like the story about Yamaha making the successful digital FM synthesizer with special chips, fast processor and for the time sort of an industrial setup, also much later, and I think I've learned about music and technology by having had access to a number of synthesizer products at the time.

 

Isn't the market a bit full at the moment, and what motivates the people that buy all the stuff ? I don't like a lot of electronic "dance" music that to me has no meaning except mostly negative. There's now a lot of that that appears to have not much meaning by design, which is probably a relief for the audiences. There's of course popular music with synthesizers, too, about which I have not much of an opinion. I feel like Obelix having fallen into the barrel with magic potion as a kid in the 70s, so I don't need much magic in music to know what I like and dislike.

 

So there's the question of what to do with all those people that want the cheapest synthesizer probably to a) satisfy themselves with the music they can produce, b) get some ego kick out of the process and c) maybe become famous or rich that way. There are other motivations possible in general which could include stealing intellectual property, preventing obscurity, betrayal, etc. A number of people in the music since well some part of the 90s at the very least fall in the negative categories.

 

It's possibly a friendly thing to offer cheap products on the MI market, or a personal dream or seeing through a certain artistic interest in tools becomes a realy on the world market or whatever, and of course that bring along the question of the Research (more than Development) in such company being a cost factor, and possibly in the long run a depth investment. The knowledge that the better musical instrument companies possess makes them effective in the markets. Proper knowledge, which supposedly can come from proper research, can make a product more desirable.

 

So you could say Roland did their research in the early 80s and made nice instruments for reasonable prices that people appreciated. But where's the "research" budget in doing that again ? Or what would you spend research on in the well known and often discussed musical instrument market ?

 

I feel strongly that spending serious money on electronic musical instrument design is something else then a standard electronic company development funding to roll out a nice clone, and must not be subject to betrayal or adverse leadership.

 

My engineering Masters (of science) was about computer graphics in a section that was known to be the most advanced in it's mathematical thinking, computer design and programming and applied micro electronics (mostly in that order) knowledge and skills, and my subject was about computer graphics machines that were made for more complicated computations than the current crop of graphics accelerators are made for. It is fun to see that a company like NVidia still goes strong with a relatively limited scientific depth of it's product line, and that the subjects I know well are still, decades later, completely relevant and interesting.

 

I don't know about many audio or DSP engineers that can say say something similar, just the good ones, and some started before I was born :) !

 

Theo V.

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I am not a synth person but I have business skills

 

I think MI is quite crowded with choices plus the usual copycats. Sounds and types of sounds have been heavily commoditized. The mid to high price range is well covered.

 

Is there any room at the low end of $$ ? Like $20-$50 per unit. I honestly don't know.

 

Is there room for something radically different, more expensive ? I think so, but I don't have enough knowledge of this niche possibility.

 

Since this would be a ' project ' a disciplined/detailed project would need to be done. This is needed to clarify how MI is functioning today with its success and failures. Then, the market has to be organized to see if there are any 'gap ' in the offerings. Copyright and IP has to be well understood.

 

As you can tell, I am not as technical as you are. But I think you pose a very important question and there might be room for an innovative creator who has the funds to work with plus the support.

 

 

Why fit in, when you were born to stand out ?

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I've worked on various types of quality sounds, on a few hardware instruments and some sound software and software instruments, and I prefer to have an influence on a potential audience that favors certain quality aspects. Some is related to engineering, like I've mentioned the various issues with samples I hear all the time, and almost everywhere. Some is related to acoustics, where I prefer to continue with the keyboard/synthesizer art along the lines of well formed sounds, as opposed to trying to get the highest volume from the crappiest speakers, and things like that.

 

I get it a lot of people want keyboards and a sytnhesizer that makes them feel good about playing around or doing some performances or home recordings, and I appreciate that some hobby and some pro keyboard players have portability, ease of use and small size high on the priority list.

 

I think that most people at the moment who are somewhat into keyboards and synthesis can easily be deluded to follow the broad way that leads to IMO rather sh*tty sounds that might say what they actually want, and maybe in some cases are accurately tuned to the audience. So I prefer to work on the more interesting sounds, which I have done, and present results of.

 

Then there's the teaching aspect: most musicians will find it easy to understand attention for tone and play-ability of instruments and amplification, and some instruments can offer new ideas in those directions. Probably a bit vague in a short turnaround time market and for people that hop from one thing to another, but completely normal for people interested in good music, for which there are not many instruments that *I* find likable enough.

 

T.

 

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I think that most people at the moment who are somewhat into keyboards and synthesis can easily be deluded to follow the broad way that leads to IMO rather sh*tty sounds that might say what they actually want, and maybe in some cases are accurately tuned to the audience.

 

True, although many current synths offer a very poor keybed that's often unplayable by many of us.

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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I'l go out on a limb here and say most people aren't listening for the same things in a sound that you are.

 

Personally, I'd take a great performance on a "shitty" sound over a mediocre performance on the best sound possible.

 

MI companies invest in what they think they can sell.

 

Your assertion that most keyboard players are easily deluded is, frankly insulting - especially on this forum.

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I'v

 

1) get it a lot of people want keyboards and a sytnhesizer that makes them feel good about playing around or doing some performances or home recordings, and I appreciate that some hobby and some pro keyboard players have portability, ease of use and small size high on the priority list.

 

2)I think that most people at the moment who are somewhat into keyboards and synthesis can easily be deluded to follow the broad way that leads to IMO rather sh*tty sounds that might say what they actually want, and maybe in some cases are accurately tuned to the audience. So I prefer to work on the more interesting sounds, which I have done, and present results of.

 

Then there's the teaching aspect: most musicians will find it easy to understand attention for tone and play-ability of instruments and amplification, and some instruments can offer new ideas in those directions. Probably a bit vague in a short turnaround time market and for people that hop from one thing to another, but completely normal for people interested in good music, for which there are not many instruments that *I* find likable enough.

 

T.

 

I think its good that you are putting your brain on this challenge.

You want to explore and push the envelope.

 

1) Many of us keyboard players are copy cats. We play old classical music. We play popular songs. We play Herbie Hancock solos. I am a copy cat- I like 60/70's stuff.

 

2) this is true. Let me fix your words. Keyboard players are not deluded. But they are locked into what is familiar and what they like. This is human nature. Its difficult to be different.

 

My guess, this is not the best crowd to talk up where you are going with your research. This is a very well established ' market ' of keyboard players, some different genres. Many well trained and road tested.

 

Its interesting to bounce your topic here and its fun to see if we have some ' thinkers ' here that will take up the chat.

Why fit in, when you were born to stand out ?

My Soundcloud with many originals:

[70's Songwriter]

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There is a finite universe of people who will buy musical instrument products. The vast majority prefer to listen to music vs. create their own.

 

There are two primary vectors in business: differentiation and cost reduction. Sometimes a company figures out how to do both at the same time.

 

The people who are really into creating music will spend good money on differentiated products that do a better job of that task, and pay a premium.

 

Example: look at all the super-high end acoustic pianos that are on the market. I fell victim to this last year. No regrets.

 

Looking at the other vector, as costs are reduced (overseas manufacturing, more integrated chips, software running on smartphones, etc.) music creation products become more available to more people. I have more than a few toys that fall into this category, as do we all.

 

So, looping back to R&D investment, it has to be around a purpose, doesn't it?

 

Do you want to create entirely new musical experiences for the dedicated practitioners who will pay a premium, or do you want to find a way to reach many more potential customers through price-point engineering?

 

There is no right answer, BTW.

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So, looping back to R&D investment, it has to be around a purpose, doesn't it?

 

Do you want to create entirely new musical experiences for the dedicated practitioners who will pay a premium, or do you want to find a way to reach many more potential customers through price-point engineering?

 

There is no right answer, BTW.

cphollis FTW.

 

How much one company does or does not invest has to do with all sorts of constantly changing factors including (but not limited to) what they want to try and make, how many they want to make, how they choose to make it, how long it takes them to make it, how they want to bring it to market, etc.

 

Quite frequently, these choices are influenced by how much a manufacturer has to work with, not the other way around.

 

dB

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:keys:==> David Bryce Music • Funky Young Monks <==:rawk:

 

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Quite frequently, these choices are influenced by how much a manufacturer has to work with, not the other way around.

 

dB

 

I read this as how much a financial institution is willing to fork over based on a the business case vs risk. For small manufacturers it could be their own money giving them more flexibility, but still the risk is there.

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Yet it is a fact samples give you more errors than you know about, most very likely. And that would insult me if I let it.

 

T.

 

Errors give music life. Nothing bothers me more than someone trying to play every note with perfect pitch, perfect tone and perfect timing.

 

This post edited for speling.

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Ah, then: What are the errors that samples give you that you,Theo, know about and that e.g. Abeck does most very likely not know about?

 

Theo, enlighten us. Don't quit this thread again like you usually do after writing some nebulous remarks.

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Often, here the hidden presumption seems to be a free mass of ideas that requires the work of a happy few to become successful.

 

What I've want to interject was to make clear that for the important developments isn't the way the economy after the war has worked, by and large, and that would betray if not make bereft the true innovators, unless they walk a tightrope and do so with challenges.

 

It's like people just want to hear a few masterly devised stories about the truth of what's successful in musical instrument making, as if it's a different subject than other objects people want. Of course there are different boundary conditions for the problem after a "music" form came to be that promotes robbing existing music, and people have come to believe computers are to help in that process, but I do not want to pay to much mind to that, because that would waste my time.

 

So you could say anything between the government or your aunt's record shop in some province should decide on who is important in deciding what instrument builder and which specific "mass" (not really, compared with big electronics, probably) produced electronic instrument *should* in your opinion become top of the bill, but I deserve the right to propose long term research should be part of the picture.

 

That's because everything else is doomed. Seriously, just like it went with a lot of digital inventions, only the good ones survive, the rest will be stuff for collectors, maybe, but probably not even that. And considering that that's where I think the money will be too, if there's some freedom left anyway, I think some people and ideological main, existing directions deserve to be saved, if not from oblivion, at least from bankruptcy. And maybe they'll prove to render good results as in that their intended instruments are good for music, and musicians

 

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