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Do we need some new ISO standards?


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Ah, the wild and wooly 80s, when we transitioned from side burns to Aquanet. Things were chaotic in the relatively new synth market, but there were a few agreed upon standards at that time. Obviously, MIDI was so profound a standard that it's only recently that we are talking about 2.0. But I want to talk about a different, more universal standard.

When MIDI arrived and you no longer needed CV/Gate or an attached keyboard to trigger your synthesizer, modules exploded onto the market, and with a few notable exceptions, they went for the EIA/DIN/CEA/IEC standard 19" server rack form factor.

And then, like magic, a combination of softsynths, USB, and changing tastes completely destroyed the 19" rack market. You used to be able to set your watch to the Big 3 manufacturers product cycles in that regard for workstations: every few years put out an 88 note weighted and 76 and 61 key unweighted workstations, and then a few months later, release the module equivalent(s). Now we have the Integra and some niche boutique products.

 

I totally get it. Miniaturization, smaller homes and spaces, and the lack of a need for robust, gig-proof gear makes something that wide and big seem antiquated. The days of going to your local bar and seeing a Marshall full stack next to a 21 space rack of processing are over (for now), and the keyboard players I've seen recently are laptop-tethered, or they just have a Kronos/Nord/Montage.

 

So with Behringer, Roland, Arturia, Waldorf, Moog, etc all making non-standard but similarly sized modules, do you think the environment is right to ask for some standards across these companies? I'm so tired of my studio looking like I've networked a bunch of calculators, handheld games, and remote controls.

"For instance" is not proof.

 

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It will take some time but the next standard will be an iPad or equivalent that has umpty bajillion RAM, a buttload of storage and fast processors. 

Software takes up no space, the paint doesn't get chipped and the"switches" and "faders" don't wear out. The standard is some form of .VST.

 

Piles of random devices hooked together with cables will become "vintage". So will the current selection of keyboards. 

 

It's already here but adaptation creates standards and the last generation of computer-phobic people will take about more 30 years to die off. 

Then there will be a "new" form of Nostalgia -  "Remember that pseudo-analog batwing diesel powered plugin that didn't use waveforms, I got one!!!!"

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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Well, we have Eurorack and 500 series modules...at least those are a start. But you just KNOW that whatever standard is adopted, some company is going to need just that extra 1/4" to fit in what they want.

 

I do see MIDI 2.0 as offering a solution for virtual instruments - a big controller that looks like an old analog synth (think OB-8), with controls that configure themselves based on data they get from the virtual instruments, and caption their scribble strips. This could work with hardware, too, but doesn't answer what you propose.

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