Jump to content
Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Roland/Yamaha/Korg stuff - Are hardware synths falling behind?


Johnny1982

Recommended Posts

Do you think that 2007 will bring any big changes?

 

I mean...

 

I wouldn't say today's hardware worksations are obsolete (far from it), but there are definitely things that are extraordinary "small" by todays standarts...

 

I won't consider the Oasys due to it's abusive price.

 

- Only 512 Megs sampling in best cases (fantom/motif).

- Slow file system / data access.

- 128 voice polyphony (there was already 128 voices in 2001) - time to see some more 256 ones.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 56
  • Created
  • Last Reply

If you ask me, we're in a transitionary period. There's been a point for many applications where desktop computers (PC/Mac) have enough power, as well as low pricing, that if the software is available they can do certain things better than 'dedicated' hardware, or even things that dedicated hardware couldn't do at all!

 

A good example is hard disk storage/playback of music, perhaps lossy compressed with MP3 or other compression. In the late 90's, pretty much the ONLY way (at least in the 'consumer' space) to do this was with a desktop computer. Today, hard disk based 'MP3' players are relatively inexpensive and have a more disk space than desktop computers of that era.

 

Conversely, PC hardware can do so much and there are such high economies of scale that it might make sense to use it. Sega have started using PC hardware in their arcade machines, for instance. Which leads me to...

 

Originally posted by Johnny1982:

I won't consider the Oasys due to it's abusive price.

OASYS is really a case in point! It uses some of the same hardware as a PC (Pentium 4 CPU) but has all the benefits of being a custom design, both in terms of software and the hardware form. I don't think the benefits of having purpose built controls, knobs, buttons, and everything really tightly integrated can be underestimated.

 

I imagine Korg's replacements for the Triton line will be based off OASYS. I'd be amazed if the other companies don't follow along similar lines. Already the Alesis Fusion has a software-based design running on a 'general purpose' DSP chipset that has several synth engines.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This arguement comes up on videogame forums too. PC people think PCs are better cuz the numbers are bigger, and Console people think consoles are better because their dedicated machines. I agree with the dedicated machine people for now.

 

A machine that doesn't have to put up with the demands of an operating system and who knows how many other programs that are running in the background. I guess what I mean is that it seems to me that keyboards don't NEED a AMD 64 Dual Core processor, 2 gigs of ram and several hundred gigs of memory. They seem to function fine on their own. Plus, so far, my Fantom XR has never gotten Adware.

"...Keytar in a heavy metal band is nothing more than window dressing" - Sven Golly

 

Cursed Eternity - My Band

Dick Ward - My Me

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Dick Ward (Alias: Mr. Pretentious):

This arguement comes up on videogame forums too. PC people think PCs are better cuz the numbers are bigger, and Console people think consoles are better because their dedicated machines. I agree with the dedicated machine people for now.

Yeah, the trouble is that although PC's may end up with better hardware than the console, to the programmers the device is unknown, and lots of potential customers may not have the latest hardware anyway. In any case you can't ever push it to its potential. Of course this doesn't directly translate to audio stuff, but it does highlight the point that the true numbers, the true measure of performance, whatever it is, doesn't come from a few basic numbers. Teaming a super-fast processor with huge samples means nothing if the code is inefficient/poor quality and the samples medicore and badly edited.

 

There are also quite large differences between PC and console markets... but one point is there's little PIRACY in the console markets. Also historically manufactures applied a lot of quality control, I dunno about today (my interest in games basically cr*pped out with the rise of 3D first-person shooters) and I think since the PlayStation it's not been the case, but Sega and Nintendo wouldn't give out licenses to any old developer. Point is, there ARE benefits (as well as deficits) to "closed" systems.

 

 

Plus, so far, my Fantom XR has never gotten Adware.
Nor has my Mac. :) (But I've lost count of the number of times Logic has crashed...)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

OTOH computers are pretty much a necessity of life so they might as well serve multiple purposes as practical e-world devices, entertainment centers, and DAWs/softsynth hosts. I can't believe that any musician today who owns a computer doesn't also try to use it musically. Yes, I think hardware synths are falling behind... certainly some of the market that would have gone into music hardware ten or twenty years ago now goes towards computer software and interface devices.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by The Pro:

OTOH computers are pretty much a necessity of life so they might as well serve multiple purposes as practical e-world devices, entertainment centers, and DAWs/softsynth hosts.

Of course! My only point is that people assume that everything should/will converge on general purpose/desktop computers, it's not necessarily true. Different approaches have different strengths and weaknesses.

 

Oh, I forgot to mention that sometimes technologies are tied up in patents.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by soundscape:

[QB] If you ask me, we're in a transitionary period.

ya, i think so too. where i see it ending up, (for people who are a bit serious about it), is using a high quality controller (should be available soon) :rolleyes: , and the computers handle the rest.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see it differently. I see controllers that handle whatever VST you throw in it. Computers, even laptops, lack the supreme gig worthiness of a nice normal keyboard, and while the studio musician is a big market, I don't see the gigging musician getting left too far behind :P

"...Keytar in a heavy metal band is nothing more than window dressing" - Sven Golly

 

Cursed Eternity - My Band

Dick Ward - My Me

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by The Pro:

OTOH computers are pretty much a necessity of life

So are refrigerators, but I don't need a refrigerator to play MP3s and handle email.

 

I don't like the single-point-of-failure of the PC. If it goes out (and they do, a lot) then everything is belly up. My 25 year old ARP still works. It's worth even more as time goes by.

 

A computer is worth 1/4 it's value when it's 6 months old. All the PCs and software being used today will not be useable in 5 years or less.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, exactly Prague. Going back to the videogame analogy, my NES has never gone down, I've never needed to upgrade it, it just does what it does and nothing else, but I don't want it to do anything else. I want it to start up instantly and play 8 bit games. I could put those games on my computer with an emulator, but I just want to play a cartridge system. I dunno. I don't see PCs taking the place of anything else. How many people are making internet phone calls?

"...Keytar in a heavy metal band is nothing more than window dressing" - Sven Golly

 

Cursed Eternity - My Band

Dick Ward - My Me

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Dick Ward (Alias: Mr. Pretentious):

How many people are making internet phone calls?

A lot, actually. It's starting to become pretty popular, particularly in the online gaming community. Although I don't expect to see people walking around with laptops instead of cell phones anytime soon.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Dick Ward (Alias: Mr. Pretentious):

[QB] I see it differently. I see controllers that handle whatever VST you throw in it. ...........

that'll work for me.

 

put the computer inside or outside of the keyboard - it doesn't matter to me.

 

what does matter is the quality of the board and the options it makes available for performance techniques.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Dick Ward (Alias: Mr. Pretentious):

[QB] This arguement comes up on videogame forums too. PC people think PCs are better cuz the numbers are bigger, and Console people think consoles are better because their dedicated machines. I agree with the dedicated machine people for now.

 

Yeah, plus most PCs that play games do have dedicated hardware. An AMD 64 probably runs a lot of older games in software today, fast enough to play, even though back when they were released they were the first games that required a 3d graphics card.

 

Newer games still require dedicated hardware for 3d graphics - and that hardware is a large part of why a cheap pc is cheap, because it doesn't have it.

 

Nevertheless, enough people still want add-in 3D graphics for the cost to be relatively reasonable [and as intel have been pretty pants at doing 3D onboard nvidia and ati have got their fingers in the onboard and mobile chipset gigs too and the consoles]

 

So most folk buying 3d graphics are paying for the R&D towards getting better hardware that can implement better algos.

 

Sound on PCs, on the other hand, for games / "you have post" etc used to be add in cards, but now most [see for e.g valve's steam stats] use onboard audio.

 

So, for a PC to implement a whole bunch of real-time fancy, new-fangled hardware synth beating DSP stuff, physical modelling and so on, it either needs to be done on graphics hardware or the new physics cards [assuming enough folk care] or with something else that you put in the PC.

 

It's unlikely AMD / Intel general processing chips are going to advance real-time sound processing.

 

They might get the ball rolling, and get the software side sorted, as they did with physics - fine for 30 or so rigid bodies, but to get an avalanche of rocks and so on, they are going to use add-in cards.

 

Ok, PCs have some grunt advantages now, but usb-midi already lets you use a cheap PC for a lot of that stuff anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by yabbadabbadoo:

Newer games still require dedicated hardware for 3d graphics - and that hardware is a large part of why a cheap pc is cheap, because it doesn't have it.

True, the hardware is dedicated--but then that's not the problem--the problem is that the developer has to support many different systems and therefore inherently can't optimize for one system and "push it to the limit". In consoles, the consistency runs all the way through to the controllers.

 

(Yes, those cheap PC's with onboard graphics are useless.)

 

Sound on PCs, on the other hand, for games / "you have post" etc used to be add in cards
Funny how so many people don't realize the value of audio. Oh well. Anyway, in this area the main implementation is Creative's EAX, I guess you just buy the Creative X-Fi if you want to hear how it's "supposed" to sound.

 

but now most [see for e.g valve's steam stats] use onboard audio.
Wow, looking at all of the stats, seems a lot of gamers have really mediocre rigs.

 

So, for a PC to implement a whole bunch of real-time fancy, new-fangled hardware synth beating DSP stuff, physical modelling and so on, it either needs to be done on graphics hardware or the new physics cards [assuming enough folk care] or with something else that you put in the PC.
New physics cards?

 

It's unlikely AMD / Intel general processing chips are going to advance real-time sound processing.
The DSP/SIMD functionality (MMX/SSE) does quite a lot for sound processing... many plug-ins use it. Or maybe I'm missing something with the "advance" part...?

 

They might get the ball rolling, and get the software side sorted, as they did with physics - fine for 30 or so rigid bodies, but to get an avalanche of rocks and so on, they are going to use add-in cards.
Eh?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For me, there's no comparison on the sound, convenience, versatility, and flexibility of softsynths vs hardware synths in the studio.

 

For live, I'd still give a slight edge to hardware synths ...slight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by soundscape:

(But I've lost count of the number of times Logic has crashed...)

I can count on one hand the number of times Logic has crashed on me in the past 2 years.

 

That includes 4 clinic tours and all the time on my personal computers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

p.s.

 

yes, I work for Apple now, but I've also worked for Alesis and Fostex and had access to all kinds of cool and professional dedicated hardware.

 

I think Dave Bryce will vouch that my opinion on this come from the musician/songwriter I am, not from any Apple employee point of view. (even if he doesn't happen to agree with my opinion)

 

I'm not just talking about Logic, I'm talking about ALL the cool software that's out there, on both platforms.

 

Logic, Sonar, DP, Cubase, Native Instruments, Arturia, Korg, M-Audio, and so on and so on.

 

For the studio they can't be beat.

 

Noise free, no grounding problems, FULLY automatable, totally recallable, programmable, and easy real time control of parameters with just about any USB keyboard that has a few knobs and sliders.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by steadyb:

Logic, Sonar, DP, Cubase, Native Instruments, Arturia,

Will any of these be useable in 4 years?

 

What will be the cost requirements of the computer, peripheral, and software upgrades to remain current?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Prague:

Will any of these be useable in 4 years?

Of course they will, and probably updated and better.

 

Originally posted by Prague:

What will be the cost requirements of the computer, peripheral, and software upgrades to remain current?

My Quad G5 should be cooking along just fine in 4 years. I had my Dual G4 that long, and have been using Logic for about 8 years now.

 

4 more years might end up being about $1200 (at a $299 version upgrade per year, which will more likely be 3 upgrades in those 4 years, so $900)

 

And what Logic 10 or whatever (or Sonar, or DP, or Pro Tools, etc.) will be capable of in for years for that $1200 will be absolutely amazing compared to what it can do now.

 

On the other hand, my $6000 K2500 will do exactly what it does now, which is exactly what it could do 10 years ago.

 

A Triton or a JV1080 or a Motif will always do basically what it did on the day it was released, and $1500 in mods or expansion cards will only bring minor improvement.

 

But someone who bought Reason, or Acid, etc. if they bought every single update along the way has spent maybe $500-$800...maybe, and has a program/instrument that is ten times as powerful as what they started with.

 

The rate of advancement in software/computers is accelerating exponentially compared to keyboard/synth hardware. That's just a fact of life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having said all that, it would be safe to say that I'll still be using my Andromeda years from now, but more so because of how fun it is to play. It begs to be grabbed and touched and twisted in real time.

 

I feel the same way about a Hammond B3.

 

And there's nothing like a 7 to 9 foot Steinway or Yamaha grand piano.

 

But I've lived through the days of writing down patch settings, and editor librarians, and sys ex dumps, and I don't miss those things one bit. They were a necessary evil of the time, and a speed bump you had to slow down for in the creative process.

 

As far as unhindered creating goes, it's much better now. You never have to leave your focus on the song to do organizing and housekeeping. At least not nearly as much or as time consuming.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by steadyb:

Noise free, no grounding problems, FULLY automatable, totally recallable, programmable, and easy real time control of parameters with just about any USB keyboard that has a few knobs and sliders.

I agree, and certainly the USB controller options are getting better. But if you work for Apple of all companies you should 'get' the idea of tightly 'integrated' hardware/software. iPod?

 

I find the PowerBook is another example--nothing different about the interface (keyboard/trackpad/GUI) but everything just seems to 'come together' as one experience, it 'feels' (the 'Gestalt', if you will) like an integrated product. It even sounds right when you tap the case!

 

Oh, and I find many plug-ins have quite poorly designed user interfaces, sometimes overly stuck in 'metaphor'-based design (as in making it look like the hardware--but word processors don't look like typewriters!) Hopefully, that will improve in time.

 

However, things can always change week, or next year... the Access Virus TI shows one direction of integration between hardware/desktop computer. Then what if there were a lower cost keyboard along the lines of OASYS that also supported third-party plug-ins? There's the Muse Receptor... VST plug-ins on dedicated Linux-based rackmount hardware.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Prague:

All the PCs and software being used today will not be useable in 5 years or less.

Many corporate environments are still using Windows 2000; I read the average time to replace a PC right now (business or home) is 4 years. Your system may well not run new software in 5 years, but I can't see why it's going to stop working with what you've already got. (Unless you have a motherboard with the 'exploding capacitor' issue or something.) The real point of failure is the hard drive, quite replaceable though.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by steadyb:

Having said all that, it would be safe to say that I'll still be using my Andromeda years from now, but more so because of how fun it is to play. It begs to be grabbed and touched and twisted in real time.

 

But I've lived through the days of writing down patch settings, and editor librarians, and sys ex dumps, and I don't miss those things one bit. They were a necessary evil of the time, and a speed bump you had to slow down for in the creative process.

Exactly, and exactly. The key, in my view, is now to try and integrate everything into a nice package.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...